On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the Constitution of the United States. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Constitution...
Benjamin Franklin Had To Be Carried Into The Convention
At the time the convention was held, Benjamin Franklin was 81 years old and suffered from severe gout, which prevented him from being able to walk. For at least the first few days of the Convention, he was carried to Independence Hall on a chair by four prisoners from the jail on Walnut Street.
Writing The Constitution Cost $30 You know the names of Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, but lets also give some credit to lesser known figures such as Founding Father Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Preamble to the Constitution and is responsible for much of the document's wording; and Jacob Shallus, the Pennsylvania General Assembly assistant clerk who actually held the pen that actually wrote the Constitution. While it might not sound like much money, that $30 would be around $900 at today’s rates. That still doesn’t sound like much considering it is one of the most important documents in American history.
Some Words In The Constitution Are Spelled Strangely Because the way words were spelled in English wasn’t yet standardized, some of the wording, spelling, and punctuation might seem odd to today’s readers. Alexander Hamilton made an error himself when he wrote in the name of each state by spelling “Pennsylvania” and leaving out an “n.” A number of the mistakes were simply omissions, which were inserted by Shallus by placing a word between the lines, and spellings varied from labour, the British spelling, to “chuse” instead of choose.
Not Every Founding Father Signed The Constitution
Thomas Jefferson never signed the Constitution because he was in Paris serving as the Minister to France. John Adams didn’t sign it because he was the Minister to Great Britain and out of the country. A handful of Founding Fathers, such as George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Edmund Randolph were present for the signing but refused to put their name on the document. Other Founding Father such as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock refused to even attend the signing. When Patrick Henry was asked why he declined to attend the convention, he supposedly said, "I smelt a rat."
For Decades, It Was Unknown Who Would Succeed If Something Happened To The President According to Article II, Section 1: "In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President." While this section states that the Vice President inherits the powers and duties of the presidency, it does not state that he or she should assume the office of the presidency itself. But when President William Henry Harrison became the first president to die while in office in 1841, Vice President John Tyler began referring to himself as the President, and the convention stuck. The tradition continued until 1967 when the 25th Amendment was ratified, making succession to the presidency official.