Do You Really Know the U.S. Constitution?

Staff

Patrick Henry turned down an invitation to the Constitutional Convention because:

Patrick Henry, a leading figure in the American Revolution, decided not to be a delegate because, as he later revealed, he "smelt a rat."

How many words make up the main body of the Constitution?

The shortest written national constitution in history, the U.S. Constitution, not counting the signatures and amendments, totals just 4,400 words. The entire document fits on four oversized pages.

Which national holiday did George Washington proclaim should honor the success of the Constitution?

In 1789, the year following ratification, President George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday during which the people should give thanks to God for the new Constitution.

The Constitutional Convention was convened in which season:

The delegates drew up the Constitution in the heat of the Philadelphia summer. They met each day for 100 days in a hot, stuffy room — the windows were closed so no one outside could hear the proceedings.

Which of the Founding Fathers did not sign the Constitution?

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were both absent from the convention because they were serving as U.S. Ministers overseas. Adams was in England, and Jefferson was in France.

The framers of the Constitution met with the original purpose of:

The Constitutional Convention was convened with the intention of making changes to the country's existing constitution, the Articles of Confederation. Soon after discussions began, however, they decided it would be best to discard the Articles and start over.

What was the longest period in which the fewest Constitutional amendments were passed?

From 1804 to 1865, no amendments were added to the Constitution. That run ended with the close of the Civil War, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.

How many times have legislators tried to remove the Electoral College requirement from the Constitution?

Since the ratification of the Constitution, people have been trying to change the way the president is elected. There have been 500 propositions to amend the Constitution to get rid of the Electoral College. None of them has passed.

Which of these was a common reason why many Americans didn't initially support the new Constitution?

The U.S. Constitution was met with mixed reviews when it first came out in 1787. Many believed it didn't go far enough to protect individual rights. They wanted a Bill of Rights added to the document before they would ratify it. (This didn't happen; the Bill of Rights was introduced in Congress in 1789, a year after the Constitution was ratified.)

Which state name is misspelled in the signature section of the Constitution?

A delegate from Pennsylvania misspelled his state's name when he signed. He left out one of the N's.

How many U.S. presidents signed the Constitution?

Just two U.S. presidents were present for the signing of the Constitution, including first president George Washington and fourth president James Madison.

The word "democracy" never actually appears in the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution never once mentions the word "democracy." Instead, the Founding Fathers focused on the formation of a republic, with indirect rather than direct voting.

The Bill of Rights was written and ratified at the same time as the U.S. Constitution.

While the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787, it took four more years before the Bill of Rights was completed in 1791.

Other than English, which language appears in the U.S. Constitution?

The U.S. Constitution is written entirely in English, with the exception of three Latin phrases, including "pro tempore," "ex post facto" and "habeas corpus."

Where can you go and view the original U.S. Constitution today?

You can see the original four over-sized pages of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives in Washington. The document remains on display to the public, but was hidden away in Ft. Knox briefly during WWII.

Where was the Constitution written?

The Constitutional Convention met and drafted the document at the State House Philadelphia — the same facility where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Who is known as the "Father of the Constitution?"

James Madison earned the title of "Father of the Constitution" with his extreme dedication to the drafting of the document. He not only attended every meeting, but kept detailed notes of the process. He also drafted the Bill of Rights a few years later.

Which state boycotted the Constitutional Convention?

Rhode Island was the only one of the original 13 colonies to boycott the convention. The state was also the last to ratify the document once it was complete.

Who was the oldest delegate to sign the U.S. Constitution?

At 81, Franklin was the oldest of all the delegates. He was in such poor health that he had to be carried into the convention each session and required help signing his name to the document.

Who has the final authority to interpret the Constitution?

The Supreme Court has final say over interpreting the Constitution and can overturn any law it feels is unconstitutional.

How many articles does the Constitution contain?

The Constitution of the United States outlines the structure of the government and basic laws in just seven articles, plus a preamble — or introduction.

What did the Connecticut Compromise result in?

The Connecticut Compromise resulted in two legislative houses, with equal representation in one and representation based on population in the other.

The Constitution specifically banned slavery when it was signed in 1787.

Slavery was not abolished until the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865, long after the Constitution itself had been written and ratified.

What name was given to the series of documents designed to win support for the Constitution among the public?

Drafted by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, the Federalist Papers consisted of 85 articles and essays designed to win support for the freshly-drafted Constitution.

How many Constitutional amendments have been repealed through 2016?

Just one amendment — the 18th, which banned the sale of alcohol —has ever been repealed. It took another amendment, the 21st, to undo the effects of the 18th.

Which of the following is not part of the Bill of Rights?

It wasn't until the 15th amendment was passed in 1870 that African-American men won the right to vote. This issue is not recognized at all in the Bill of Rights, or in the Constitution itself.

Who was the president of the Constitutional Convention?

Despite his reluctance to attend the convention, Washington was unanimously elected its president in 1787.

The Constitution originally did not start with the famous line, "We the People of the United States…"

To reflect the strength of individual states at the time, the document originally began, "We the People of" followed by a list of each individual state.

Why did the delegates reject the idea of opening the convention with prayer?

While Ben Franklin suggested opening each session of the convention with a prayer, the group found that they were unable to scrap up funds to pay a chaplain to lead the prayer, forcing them to abandon the idea.

What day is recognized as Constitution Day?

Each September 17th — the date that the delegates signed the Constitution — is celebrated as both National Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

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About This Quiz

The U.S. Constitution is a document with a history, and most of us learn all about it in school -- well, maybe not all about it. This Constitution Day, test your knowledge of some lesser-known facts about the U.S. Constitution.

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