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Constitutional Convention

Constitutional Convention

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Constitutional Convention Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention averaged 42 years in age.19

Fifty-five men assembled in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention: 29 were university graduates (of schools ranging from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Oxford to William and Mary, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton); that leaves 26 who never graduated from college, including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were both absent, serving diplomatic posts in Europe.20

Having returned to America just two years earlier, Ben Franklin presided over the Pennsylvania delegation to the Convention at the ripe young age of 81. Franklin was the convention's oldest delegate. The youngest was 27-year-old Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, two of the most critical figures in the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, were 30 and 36, respectively.21

During the 1920s and '30s, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were on display in the Library of Congress. After negotiations were completed between the Librarian of Congress and the Archivist of the United States, on 13 December 1952, the Constitution and the Declaration were transferred to the newly erected National Archives building. The transfer itself had become considerably more complex than the day in 1920 when the Librarian of Congress transported the founding documents in his Model-T Ford truck. The 1952 transfer was described as follows: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence "were placed in helium-filled cases, enclosed in wooden crates, laid on mattresses in an armored Marine Corps personnel carrier, and escorted by ceremonial troops, two tanks, and four servicemen carrying submachine guns down Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues to the National Archives."22

On 6 August 1787, the Constitutional Convention's Committee of Detail proposed a draft of the Constitution in which the president would serve a seven-year term without possibility of reelection, to be elected by a majority of both legislative houses. It added that the executive should be addressed as "Your Excellency," since there was no small amount of anxiety over how to address this unprecedented phenomenon in Western society: a democratically elected leader who was neither royalty ("Your Highness") nor deity ("Your Holiness").23

About half of the Constitutional Convention's delegates were slaveowners.24

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