7 Things You May Not Know About the Constitutional Convention

7 Things You May Not Know About the Constitutional Convention

1. Several framers met with untimely deaths.

Was there a curse of the Constitution? Alexander Hamilton was famously killed by Aaron Burr in 1804, but he wasn’t even the first framer of the U.S. Constitution to die in a duel with a political rival. In 1802, North Carolina delegate Richard Spaight was mortally wounded by a dueling pistol fired by sitting congressman John Stanly. Four years later, Virginian George Wythe died of arsenic poisoning, likely at the hand of a debt-riddled grandnephew and heir. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris died in 1816 after a ghastly bit of self-surgery in which he unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge a urinary tract blockage with a piece of whale bone, while New York’s John Lansing mysteriously vanished in December 1829 after leaving his Manhattan hotel room to mail a letter.

2. Rhode Island boycotted the Constitutional Convention.

America’s littlest state had a big independence streak. Rhode Island, distrustful of a powerful federal government, was the only one of the 13 original states to refuse to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention. It was a decision that rankled even the normally temperate George Washington, who wrote in July 1787 that “Rhode Island … still perseveres in that impolitic, unjust, and one might add without much impropriety scandalous conduct, which seems to have marked all her public councils of late.” On the condition that a Bill of Rights be included, Rhode Island became the 13th state to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790, more than a year after Washington was sworn in as president.

READ MORE: How the United States Constitution Came to Be

3. Some big names were absent from the Constitutional Convention.

When Thomas Jefferson gushingly called the Constitutional Convention delegates “an assembly of demigods,” he wasn’t being full of himself. Jefferson was not among the founding fathers who gathered in Philadelphia; he was in Paris serving as minister to France. John Adams was also abroad, serving as minister to Great Britain. Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Patrick Henry—who turned down an invitation because he “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy”—also did not participate.

4. Attendance was spotty.

When the Constitutional Convention opened on May 14, 1787, only delegates from Pennsylvania and Virginia were present. It wasn’t until May 25 that a quorum of seven states was achieved. Weather—ever the convenient excuse—was blamed for the tardiness, but the convention was plagued throughout with attendance issues. While James Madison boasted that he never left the proceedings for more than “a casual fraction of an hour,” his fellow delegates were not as fastidious. Nineteen of the 74 delegates to the convention never even attended a single session, and of the 55 delegates who did show up in Philadelphia, no more than 30 stayed for the full four months. New Hampshire’s delegation arrived two months late, by which time two of New York’s three delegates had left in opposition to the proceedings, leaving just Hamilton behind and depriving the state of a quorum to vote. Thus, Washington wrote that the Constitution was signed by “11 states and Colonel Hamilton.”

5. Not all the delegates who attended the convention signed the Constitution.

Although 55 delegates participated in the Constitutional Convention, there are only 39 signatures on the Constitution. Fourteen men, having already left Philadelphia, were not present for the signing, and only Delaware delegate John Dickinson had a proxy sign for him. Three delegates—Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts and Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia—were dissatisfied with the final document and refused to ink their signatures.

6. “We the People of the United States” was a late change.

The Constitution’s iconic opening line was not included in early drafts of the document. Instead, the preamble started with a much less pithy litany of individual states listed from north to south: “We the people of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts…” and so on. Credit for the late alteration goes to a five-person Committee of Style—comprised of Hamilton, Madison, Morris, William Samuel Johnson and Rufus King—and Morris is considered to have been responsible for composing much of the final text, including the revised preamble.

7. The man who hand-wrote the Constitution was not a delegate.

While Morris has been nicknamed the “Penman of the Constitution,” the real hand wielding the quill that scrawled the final copy of the Constitution belonged to Jacob Shallus. The assistant clerk of the Pennsylvania State Assembly was paid $30 and given just two days to write most of the document’s 4,543 words on four sheets of vellum parchment. While his script was exquisite, Shallus wasn’t totally flawless. Between the final article and the delegate signatures on the Constitution’s final page is an “errata” paragraph listing some of the minor errors he had made along with their corrections.

READ MORE: Before Drafting the Bill of Rights, James Madison Argued the Constitution Was Fine Without It


7 facts you might not know about the history of Thanksgiving

Tradition has it that the first Thanksgiving – a celebration of good harvest – took place in 1621, when English Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts shared a meal with their Native American neighbours. However, historian Michael Gannon argues that the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place half a century earlier, in Florida.

On 8 September 1565, he says, following a religious service, Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.

When Thanksgiving became a public holiday

According to the US National Archives, on 28 September 1789 the first Federal Congress passed a resolution asking that the president of the United States recommend to the nation a day of thanksgiving. A few days later, George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday 26 November 1789 as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” – the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution.

The dates of Thanksgiving celebrations varied as subsequent presidents came and went, and it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation – in the midst of the Civil War – that Thanksgiving was regularly commemorated each year on the last Thursday of November.

Why did the dates of Thanksgiving change?

The US National Archives says that in 1939, with the last Thursday in November falling on the last day of the month, Franklin D Roosevelt became concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen economic recovery. He therefore issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November.

Some 32 states consequently issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to accept the change. As a result, for two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving.

To end the confusion, on 6 October 1941 Congress set a fixed date for the holiday: it passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day.

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is televised nationally on NBC, has been marching since 1924. That year, the department store’s president, Herbert Strauss, organised a six-mile procession from Harlem to the Macy’s store in Herald Square. The parade featured animals – including elephants – from the Central Park Zoo, and was nearly three times as long as it is today: for the purposes of television filming, the route was later reduced to 2.5 miles.

Turkey hasn’t always been on the menu at Thanksgiving

While turkey is today the bird of choice for Thanksgiving dinners across the United States, this was not always the case: according to History.com, for the first ever Thanksgiving in 1621 the Native Americans killed five deer as a gift for the colonists, meaning venison would most likely have been the dish of the day.

Why does the president of the USA pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving?

Each Thanksgiving, the president of the United States ‘pardons’ a hand-selected turkey, sending it to a farm where it lives out the rest of its days. But, contrary to popular belief, President George HW Bush was not in 1989 the first president to grant such a pardon.

According to the White House, the tradition dates to Abraham Lincoln’s days, when his son Tad begged him to write a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family’s Christmas table, arguing it had as much a right to live as anyone. Lincoln complied, and the turkey lived.

The tradition of American football on Thanksgiving

Each Thanksgiving, millions of Americans tune in to watch the Detroit Lions play American Football. This tradition dates to 1934, when the team took on the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. Despite losing the inaugural game, since then the Lions have played football every Thanksgiving except between 1939 and 1944.

Emma Mason is Digital Editor at HistoryExtra.com

To read more American history, click here.

This article was first published by HistoryExtra in 2014


Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." Turns 37: Here Are 7 Things You May Not Know About the Song

37 years ago in May 1984, Lee Greenwood released his signature song "God Bless the U.S.A.." The iconic song was written by Greenwood and helmed by his long-time producer Jerry Crutchfield. Here are 7 interesting facts regarding the song that you may or may not know about.

1. "God Bless the U.S.A." may be Greenwood's most popular song but the song never made it to #1. The song was initially included on Greenwood's 1984 album You've Got a Good Love Comin'. It only reached No. 7 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in 1984. Greenwood has had songs that performed better on the chart, yet none of those hits can ever eclipse the popularity of "God Bless the U.S.A.."

2. The popularity of the song soared after the September 11 attacks and during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The song was re-released as a single in 2001. It re-entered the country music charts at No. 16 and peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 2001.

3. Greenwood first wrote the song after hearing the news that a Soviet Su-15 interceptor shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007. Greenwood said that he "wanted to write `God Bless the U.S.A.' all my whole life. When I got to that point, we were doing 300 days a year on the road, and we were on our fourth or fifth album on MCA. I called my producer, and I said I have a need to do this. I've always wanted to write a song about America, and I said we just need to be more united."

4. The song mentions a number of American cities by name. Greenwood explains how those cities made it into the song. "I'm from California, and I don't know anybody from Virginia or New York, so when I wrote it-and my producer and I had talked about it-[we] talked about the four cities I wanted to mention, the four corners of the United States. It could have been Seattle or Miami but we chose New York City and Los Angeles, and he suggested Detroit and Houston because they both were economically part of the basis of our economy-Motortown and the oil industry, so I just poetically wrote that in the bridge."

5. Greenwood perforrmed the song at the 1984 Republican National Convention with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in attendance. Later, Greenwood performed the song on numerous cases for Donald Trump's rallies.

6. In 1989, Greenwood released a Canadian version of this song called "God Bless You Canada." In 2003, the finalist of American Idol season two recorded the song and it raised $155,000 for the American Red Cross. The song even reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

7. This is what the cover of the original single looks like:

.


Glenn Beck: Here's why YOU should fight to #FreeBritney

Texans have been celebrating Juneteenth for years now, but Glenn Beck believes the new national holiday, which celebrates the emancipation of former American slaves, has been hijacked by the "woke Left."

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn said the actual meaning of Juneteenth was not what he saw commemorated this past weekend. Some even chose to celebrate by twerking against an ambulance, both preventing EMTs from tending to gunshot victims and also proving America's shame is nearly nonexistent today. But, maybe even worse, the woke Left is now trying to pit Juneteenth against what is perhaps our nation's greatest day of unification: the Fourth of July.

"We've been telling you about a little thing called Juneteenth, for I don't know, maybe 15 years now," Glenn said. "And no one in the media gave a flying crap about it. But now they're all oh-so-woke. Oh, my gosh. They're so woke and they have found Juneteenth. I wish it was at all sincere. Don't you? Don't you wish that just a little bit of their discovery was actually sincere?"

"Juneteenth, I think is a great holiday. And I don't know why people have to denigrate Juneteenth . except for the fact, that I think a lot of people understood exactly what this was: the latest Marxist move to separate us even further. You either celebrate Juneteenth as liberation day, or you celebrate July 4th, which is just a white day. Nowhere in the history of Juneteenth is that true," he continued.

"This is a great holiday, but not a replacement for the Fourth of July, and that's exactly what it's becoming," Glenn went on to say. "Don't tell me that I don't care about Juneteenth when I see the celebrations that happened around this country that were an absolute disgrace, and proof positive that shame will never come back to our society."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn Beck:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.


7 Things You Might Not Know About the Bill of Rights

It's a document that still protects our most basic and fundamental freedoms more than two centuries since its inception, asserting that people are born with certain rights that must be defended even against their own government. While most of us learned about the Bill of Rights in grade school, here are a few fun facts you might not know about one of America's most important documents:

1. Dec. 15 was first recognized as Bill of Rights Day by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

2. George Mason of Virginia refused to sign the original U.S. Constitution in 1787, and listed his 16 objections on the back of one copy. Among them was the lack of a bill of rights, as well as the lack of a measure to abolish the slave trade.

3. Most people know that the Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. What you may not know is there have been more than 11,000 proposed constitutional amendments since the Constitution was first ratified in 1787.

4. The Bill of Rights was based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which had been written by George Mason two months before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. James Madison, who helped draft the U.S. Constitution, drafted the original Bill of Rights.

5. Madison’s original version of the Bill of Rights included 20 amendments, which were then proposed to Congress on June 8, 1789. The list was whittled down to 17 amendments, then again down to 12. After being sent to the states for ratification, the final Bill of Rights was altered to include the 10 amendments we all know today.

6. Congress commissioned 14 copies of the Bill of Rights when it was ratified in 1891. One was kept for the federal government, while the other 13 were sent to the 13 original states. Most states have retained their original copies, and the national copy can still be viewed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Georgia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania do not have their original copies.

7. North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights was missing for nearly 140 years after it was stolen by a Union soldier during the Civil War. The document was recovered in 2003 with the help of the National Constitution Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Gorbachev: 7 Things You May Not Know About the Last Soviet Leader

The first president and the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev celebrates its 85th birthday on Wednesday, March 2.

Gorbachev has been praised by millions around the world &ndash especially in the West &mdash as the man who put Russia on the road to democracy and ended the Cold War.

Now, almost 25 years after the USSR collapsed, he is one of the most famous politicians in the world, an avid public person and a renowned author.

Here are some interesting facts from Mikhail Gorbachev&rsquos biography.

He starred in ads for Pizza Hut and Louis Vuitton

In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev with his 10-year-old granddaughter appeared in a television ad for the Pizza Hut fast food chain. According to his representatives, Gorbachev received numerous offers to star in an ad, and agreed for the Pizza Hut offer because he could earn money for his research foundation. In turn, Gorbachev added that he always wanted to promote something that would be not only about consumption but also about socialization.

In 2007, the father of perestroika was featured in an advertising campaign for French fashion brand Louis Vuitton. Gorbachev portrayed a respectable man travelling around Berlin in a limousine &ndash with a signature LV traveling bag beside him.

Gorbachev won a Grammy Award

In 2004, Mikhail Gorbachev won a Grammy award in the Spoken Word Album for Children category for the project he worked on with fellow winners former US president Bill Clinton and Italian actress Sophie Loren.

They recorded spoken-word sections for an album based on Sergei Prokofiev&rsquos children&rsquo story "Peter and the Wolf." The former Soviet leader narrated the introduction and the epilogue to the story.

Nobel Peace Prize

In an official statement, the Nobel Committee praised the changes the Soviet leader had brought to his country and the global environment, including ending easing tensions between the East and the West and slowing down the arms race.

Gorbachev was awarded the US Liberty Medal

In 2008, the US National Constitution Center awarded Gorbachev with its Liberty Medal for his "courageous role" in ending the Cold War.

The public ceremony took place on September 18, 2008 and set the stage for international commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Liberty Medal was presented to Gorbachev by George H.W. Bush.

He starred in a film by Wim Wenders

In 1993, Mikhail Gorbachev played a cameo role in the movie "Faraway, So Close!" by German director Win Wenders.

Gorbachev has also appeared in a number of documentaries.

The fall of the Berlin Wall

Perestroika and the policy of glasnost (openness) carried out by Gorbachev in the USSR prompted a series of radical political changes in the Eastern Bloc.

The growing liberalization in the Eastern Bloc finally resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thus the Soviet leader played one of the key roles in German reunification, particularly the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gorbachev visited the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

The period of Gorbachev&rsquos rule was shadowed by the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

In February 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa for the first time visited the Chernobyl power plant.

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7 things that you may not know about Rosa Parks

7 things that you may not know about Rosa Parks
1. Parks had been thrown off the bus a decade earlier by the same bus driver – for refusing to pay in the front and go around to the back to board. She had avoided that driver’s bus for 12 years because she knew well the risks of angering drivers, all of whom were white and carried guns. Her own mother had been threatened with physical violence by a bus driver in front of Parks, who was a child at the time. Parks’ neighbor had been killed for his bus stand, and teenage protester Claudette Colvin, among others, had recently been badly manhandled by the police.

2. Parks was a lifelong believer in self-defense. Malcolm X was her personal hero. Her family kept a gun in the house, including during the boycott, because of the daily terror of white violence. As a child, when pushed by a white boy, she pushed back. His mother threatened to kill her, but Parks stood her ground. Another time, she held a brick up to a white bully, daring him to follow through on his threat to hit her. He went away. When the Klu Klux Klan went on rampages through her childhood town, Pine Level, Ala., her grandfather would sit on the porch all night with his rifle. Rosa stayed awake some nights, keeping vigil with him.

3. Many of Parks’ ancestors were Indians. She noted this to a friend who was surprised when in private Parks removed her hairpins and revealed thick braids of wavy hair that fell below her waist. Her husband, she said, liked her hair long and she kept it that way for many years after his death, although she never wore it down in public. Aware of the racial politics of hair and appearance, she tucked it away in a series of braids and buns — maintaining a clear division between her public presentation and private person.

4. Parks’ arrest had grave consequences for her family’s health and economic well-being. After her arrest, Parks was continually threatened, such that her mother talked for hours on the phone to keep the line busy from constant death threats. Parks and her husband lost their jobs after her stand and didn’t find full employment for nearly 10 years. Even as she made fundraising appearances across the country, Parks and her family were at times nearly destitute. She developed painful stomach ulcers and a heart condition and suffered from chronic insomnia. Raymond, unnerved by the relentless harassment and death threats, began drinking heavily and suffered two nervous breakdowns. The Black press, culminating in JET magazine’s July 1960 story on “the bus boycott’s forgotten woman,” exposed the depth of Parks’ financial need, leading civil rights groups to finally provide some assistance.

5. Parks worked alongside the Black Power movement, particularly around issues such as reparations, Black history, anti-police brutality, freedom for Black political prisoners, independent Black political power and economic justice. She attended the Black Political Convention in Gary and the Black Power conference in Philadelphia. She journeyed to Lowndes County, Alabama, to support the movement there, spoke at the Poor People’s Campaign, helped organize support committees on behalf of Black political prisoners such as the Wilmington 10 and Imari Obadele of the Republic of New Africa and paid a visit of support to the Black Panther school in Oakland

6. Parks was an internationalist. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War in the early 1960s, a member of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and a supporter of the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in D.C. In the 1980s, she protested apartheid and U.S. complicity, joining a picket outside the South African embassy and opposed U.S. policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joined other activists in a letter calling on the United States to work with the international community and no retaliation or war.

7. Parks was a lifelong activist and a hero to many, including Nelson Mandela. After his release from prison, he told her, “You sustained me while I was in prison all those years.”


Revolutionary War soldiers feared that the British would steal the bell, melt it down, and use it to make cannons, so in 1777, armed members of the Continental Army personally escorted it to Allentown, a small city outside of Philadelphia, and hid it in a church. It returned to Philadelphia in 1778.

The bell used to tour the country, but in 1915, due to its delicate condition, it was decided that it should find a permanent home. It has its own building, the Liberty Bell Center, directly across from Independence Hall.