Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Constitution Day!

On this day in 1787 the United States Constitution was signed, however it was not until 2004 that an official observance was recognized by Congress. Prior to 2004 the day was celebrated as Citizenship Day.

The law which officially recognizes today as Constitution Day provides that any U.S. public school receiving federal funds must set aside a portion of classroom instruction specifically for teaching the history of the Constitution.

Here are some fun facts regarding the Constitution:

1. The U.S. Constitution Center advises our Constitution is the shortest and the oldest Constitution in the world.

2. The Constitution located at the National Archives in Washington D.C. was hand written by Jacob Shallus. He was an assistant clerk to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and was paid $30 for his touble.

3. Our Constitution was NOT the first plan of government for the United States. The Articles of Confederation failed miserably and necessitated the meeting of the Constitutional Convention to form a new plan.

4. Most people refer to the influence of John Locke when discussing the formation of our Constitution, but Monesquieu’s influence should not be overlooked. He discussed the need for balanced forces pushing against each other referencing Polybius, a 2nd century BC philosopher who discussed checks and balances.

5. Over 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789….only 27 have actually gone through the entire amendment process.

The U.S. Constitution is one of my most favorite topics to teach about….Since 2006, I’ve written about it several times here at History is Elementary. You can see those postings here.

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