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Constitutional Questions

Dateline: 04/02/2000

"As the British Constitution is the most subtle organism which has proceeded from the womb and long gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." -- W. E. Gladstone

True, Mr. Gladstone. But, since the Founding Fathers inked the first quill, Americans have been arguing about our Constitution. In fact, discussions of parts of it, like the First Amendment (religion in schools and flag burning), and the Second Amendment (gun control) can get downright heated.

We argue over what the words mean now. We argue over what the words meant 200 years ago. We argue until the Supreme Court finally says, "The words mean this." And then -- we argue about that.

But, there are some important and interesting facts about our Constitution that really are not open to debate. And, some that are.

Q. What does the word "constitution" mean?

A constitution contains the basic principals by which a government functions.

"Our constitution, adopted by the sovereign power, is amendable by that power only. To the constitution all laws, executive actions, and, judicial decisions must conform, as it is the creator of the powers exercised by the departments of government." -- National Archives and Records Agency

Q. When and where was the Constitution written?

The 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention began assembling at the State House in Philadelphia, PA on May 14, 1787, hut a quorum was not present until May 25.

Q. Who were the oldest and youngest people who worked on the Constitution?

The oldest was Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, then 81. The youngest, Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, 26. The average age of representatives at the Constitutional Convention was 44.

Q. What did the delegates at the Constitutional Convention do as private citizens?

It was reported that 34 of the 55 delegates either were or considered themselves lawyers due to their study of the law. Other delegates were farmers, teachers, doctors, soldiers, preachers, bankers and storekeepers.

Next page Who's the "Father of the Constitution?" >Page 1, 2, 3

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