Constitution Day is celebrated in America every year on September 17, the anniversary of the day the framers signed the document. Here are nine things you should know about the U.S. Constitution.
1. The Constitution contains 4,543 words, including the signatures and has four sheets, 28-3/4 inches by 23-5/8 inches each. It contains 7,591 words including the 27 amendments. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world.
2. Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention, where he served as the U.S. minister. John Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention and did not attend either. George Washington and James Madison were the only presidents who signed the Constitution.
3. There was a proposal at the Constitutional Convention to limit the standing army for the country to 5,000 men. George Washington sarcastically agreed with this proposal as long as a stipulation was added that no invading army could number more than 3,000 troops.
4. The original draft of the Constitution contains multiple spellings errors. The most noteworthy of these errors is “Pensylvania.” A delegate from that state left out one of the N’s when he signed.
5. The Constitution’s iconic opening line was not included in early drafts of the document. The preamble originally started with individual states listed from north to south: “We the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts…” et al. The five-person Committee of Style is considered to have been responsible for composing much of the final text, including the revised preamble.
6. A proclamation by President George Washington and a congressional resolution established the first national Thanksgiving Day on November 26, 1789. The reason for the holiday was to give “thanks” for the new Constitution.
7. In addition to English, the only other language used in various parts of the Constitution is Latin.
8. From 1804 to 1865 there were no amendments added to the Constitution until the end of the Civil War when the Thirteenth amendment was added that abolished slavery. This was the longest period in American history in which there were no changes to our Constitution.
9. More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution. The Constitution has only been changed seventeen times since 1791.