SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- September 17, 2015, is the 228th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States. While more than 25 amendments have been added, the Constitution itself has remained as the overriding law of the land for the U.S. In honor of Constitution Day, here are 10 not-so-well-known facts about the Constitution you can use to impress your friends, family and co-workers during Constitution Day.
1. Of the 39 signers of the Constitution, only two held the office of President of the United States, George Washington and James Madison. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were out of the country during the Constitutional Convention, serving as U.S. Minister to France and Great Britain, respectively, according to constitutionfacts.com.
2. The Constitution was signed in the same building as the Declaration of Independence, says constitutioncenter.org. This building is also where George Washington was given his commission as commander of the Continental Army. This building, now known as Independence Hall, still stands in the Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
3. The Constitution itself does not contain a clause which allows the Vice President to become President. Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution states, "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..."
John Tyler was the first Vice President to assume the responsibilities of the Presidency when William Henry Harrison died in 1841. According to constitutionfacts.com, Tyler immediately began referring to himself as President, and every succeeding Vice President put in a similar position did the same, even though there was technically no Constitutional authority to do so. It wasn't until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967 that the law officially allowed the Vice President to become President.
4. Only 27 of the 33 Amendments that have been sent to the states for ratification actually became Amendments to the Constitution, a ratification rate of 82 percent. Constitutioncenter.org says that while 33 have been sent to the states, more than 11,000 potential Amendments have been introduced to Congress, a ratification rate of just 0.3 percent.
5. Constitution Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 17, was originally called Citizenship Day and was officially recognized by Congress in 1952, according to softschools.com. Newspaper mogul William Hearst, the site says, was the original advocate of the holiday and used his newspapers to promote the idea. Senator Robert Byrd (D), West Virginia, proposed the amendment changing Citizenship Day to Constitution Day.
6. The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Constitution was moved to Fort Knox for safe-keeping, says constitutioncenter.org. The document wasn't returned to the National Archives until 1952. It now sits behind protective glass framed with titanium. To preserve the parchment's quality, the cases contain argon gas and are kept at 67 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 40 percent, according to constitutionfacts.com.
7. Jonathon Dayton from New Jersey was the youngest signer of the Constitution at age 26. The oldest? Pennsylvanian Benjamin Franklin who, at 81, was so weakened physically from gout and a bladder stone that he needed assistance signing the document. According to constitutionfacts.com, tears streamed down Franklin's face while he signed.
8. Known as the "father of the Constitution," James Madison was the only one of the 55 delegates to attend every session of the Constitutional Convention. The journal he kept during the convention was purchased by the government in 1837, published in 1840, for the price of $30,000, says constitutionfacts.com. That $30,000 is equal to $654,000 today.
9. At just 4,543 words, including signatures, and 238 years old, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest of all written national constitutions, according to constitutioncenter.org.
10. George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26, 1789, both constitutionfacts.com and constitutioncenter.org say the reason for the holiday proclamation was to give thanks for the new Constitution.