September 17, 2009 is the 222nd anniversary of the day our Constitution’s framers signed the 4,400 words making up this document. The framers took 100 days to give form to the final version of the Constitution. Some say it is the oldest and shortest constitution of any major government in our world. Jefferson did not sign because he was serving as US Minister in France. John Adams did not sign as he was US Minister in Great Britain.
Jacob Shallus, a clerical worker for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, carefully wrote the four pages on calfskin parchments. However, Jacob misspelled “Pensylvania” above where delegates signed and despite his mistake; he got paid $30.00 for his calligraphic efforts. We all cherish his magnificent “We the People” thick and back- slanting Gothic style letters which have become a logo for the Constitution over these many years.
42 delegates attended the Convention, but only 39 signed. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts did not sign because the constitution did not contain a Bill of Rights. Ben Franklin was the oldest to sign aged 81and did so with tears in his eyes, and Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey only 26 was the youngest to pen his name to the parchment. Franklin had gout during the convention and 4 prisoners from Philadelphia’s Walnut Street jail carried him to the assembly on a sedan chair. Two signers became president: George Washington and James Madison. Madison kept a journal of his memories of the convention and eventually was published in 1840.
After the Assembly adjourned, the wife of the mayor of Philadelphia asked Franklin what kind of government did we have? Franklin’s famous answer echoes through the 222 years to us today, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
And hopefully we will keep it. To celebrate Constitution Day, get a pocket copy of the US Constitution from Liberty Day, 303-333-3434. Or you can drop by the Auditor’s Office, 201 West Colfax Avenue, 705 Denver, Colorado 80202 and pick up your own copy. Read it and sign it yourself.
Check with ConstitutionFacts.com where I got much of this information.