Though there’s quite a bit most Americans know about the constitution, there are few a misunderstandings, read on to learn a little more about the original constitution:
- Catholics, women, and African Americans weren’t allowed the right to vote under the original Constitution, not without substantial property. It wasn’t until the 15th amendment that African Americans men were granted the right to vote, and not until the 19th that that same right was extended to women.
- Several rights that we enjoy today weren’t written into the original constitution. The original writing recognizes the right to a civil jury, prohibits ex-post-facto laws, and discusses a habeas corpus petition, but it’s the Magna Carta that published details about the right to due process and the right to travel, not the Constitution.
- “The People” are the source of all governmental power and legitimacy, according to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Neither makes mention of God. Likewise, neither document mentions the word democracy. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, did, however, discuss democracy at length in the Federalist Papers.
- “The Bill of Rights” was never actually a bill that went before Congress. James Madison intended to insert the changes through the constitution, but Roger Sherman argued that they should be tacked on as ‘amendments.’ The Bill of Rights got its name from the Bill of Rights by the English Parliament passed one hundred years prior.
- James Madison had to boil down a list of more than 200 proposals before being left with ten amendments. He submitted 17 to Congress, basing loosely it on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776. The Senate combined some amendments, and they turned down the amendments that would protect conscience and the press.
- Georgia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut didn’t immediately approve the bill of rights.
How well do you know the constitution? What are some interesting things you know about the document or the Founding Fathers who did or didn’t sign the constitution?