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Recognizing Constitution Day

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Sept. 17 is Constitution Day, a day in which all federally-funded educational institutions must provide education on the United States Constitution.

In recognition of Constitution Day, the university shares the following information about the U.S. Constitution:

  • The Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
  • The convention started on May 14, 1787. It was originally convened to revise the Articles of Confederation. By June, though, it became clear that rather than amend the existing articles, the delegates should draft an entirely new document.
  • A total of 55 delegates attended the convention, although some did not stay the whole time.
  • While many of the convention's delegates were lawyers, others were soldiers, planters, educators, ministers, physicians, financiers, and merchants.
  • George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, was President of the convention.
  • During the convention, the delegates were divided over the issue of state representation in Congress, with smaller states wanting equal representation and more populous states wanting proportional representation.
  • The delegates eventually agreed to the "Connecticut Compromise," a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the House of Representatives and equal representation of the states in the Senate.
  • Much of the Constitution was written by Gouverneur Morris, one of the leading figures at the convention, who lost a leg in a carriage accident early in life and graduated from college at the age of 16.
  • Only 39 of the 55 delegates actually signed the Constitution. Some of those who would not sign wanted the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights.
  • Even after it was signed, the Constitution would not become binding until it was ratified by at least nine of the 13 states.
  • Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a series of essays defending the Constitution, known as The Federalist Papers. The 85 essays originally appeared in four New York newspapers.
  • Some states ratified the Constitution quickly but other states remained opposed to the document. Ultimately another compromise was reached, where additional states would ratify the Constitution with the assurance that amendments would soon be proposed.
  • It took 10 months for the first nine states to ratify the Constitution. Delaware was the first and New Hampshire was the ninth.
  • In 1789, in light of the states' compromise, the first Congress adopted a Bill of Rights which contained 12 amendments to the Constitution.
  • In 1791, 10 of the 12 amendments were ratified by the states, and became what we now know as the Bill of Rights.
  • Today's Constitution contains a preamble, seven articles, and 27 amendments.
  • The last amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1992.

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