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21 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Constitution

The United States Constitution is a framework for how our government operates. As democracy was an experiment at the time, it was our second attempt at enshrining the basics on paper. The Articles of Confederation, drafted during wartime, proved to be so inadequate that the whole thing was scrapped and replaced during the Constitutional Convention in 1789. It was not a simple task.

1. MAKING THE CONSTITUTION WAS A SWEATY, SMELLY AFFAIR.

The Constitution was drafted in Philadelphia in 1787 over the course of a humid summer. The windows of Independence Hall were shut to discourage eavesdroppers, and many delegates, who were mostly from out of town, wore and re-wore the same thick woolen garments day after day. Many framers stayed at the same boarding houses and shared rooms that, we can only imagine, reeked with a distinct eau du freedom.

Tidbits like that glimpse into history are fun, but this list also has important information about the formation of the Constitution itself.

11. THE FIRST AMENDMENT WAS ORIGINALLY THIRD.

When the Bill of Rights was drafted, James Madison proposed 19 amendments (the House sent 17 of them to the Senate, which were consolidated into the 12 amendments that went to the states). The first two, however, were not ratified immediately. The first amendment set "out a detailed formula for the number of House members, based on each decennial census," writes Andrew Glass at Politico. "Scholars have calculated that had the amendment, which is still pending, been adopted, today's House would have either 800 or 5000 representatives." (It currently has 435.) The second amendment regulated Congressional compensation. That amendment was not ratified for another 203 years: Originally the second, it became the 27th amendment.

Read all 21 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Constitution at Mental Floss.


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