Written by Victoria Bannon
Happy Constitution Day! On September 17th, we celebrate the 42 Founding Fathers of the United States who gathered in Philadelphia to write and sign the Constitution over the steamy summer of 1787. Constitution Day celebrates the last day of the convention, where 39 of the delegates signed the Constitution and created the government that we have today.
The delegates traveled hundreds of miles to get to one another in May 1787, something that is unfamiliar to K12-powered virtual students, who can connect with their classmates and teachers with just a click of a button. The delegates chose to meet in Philadelphia, the largest city at the time, with just over 40,000 people.
There they endured four months of writing and compromising with each other about what the new government would contain. At the end, all but three of the delegates agreed with the construction of the Constitution and signed their names. The delegates were representatives from the 13 states, ranging in age from 26-year-old Jonathan Dayton to 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin, who was carried into the delegation in a large sedan chair held by four convicts from the local prison.
Take the opportunity today to look at a copy of the Constitution. At 4,400 words, it is the shortest-written and longest-standing Constitution in the world. You can also look at the Bill of Rights, which was published just four years later by future president James Madison, who is known as the Father of the Constitution. Think about what it meant to these men, who had spent most of their lives under the noose of colonialism, to finally get to decide what worked for them, much like many online students are able to adapt their education to their needs. It’s no wonder that Benjamin Franklin cried while signing his name.
As Benjamin Franklin was leaving the Convention, the wife of the mayor of Philadelphia approached him and asked what the new government would be. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam. If you can keep it.” And 229 years later, we still have.