Can You Fill In the Blanks for This US Constitution Quiz?

HISTORY

37 PLAYS

By: Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: rdegrie / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The United States Constitution could very easily not have come into being, at least not for all thirteen colonies. Though allies in the revolution, the states were hardly friendly, each with its own currency, culture, and debts. This last item was one of the most significant reasons why the wealthier states were hesitant about joining the union. Between that and disagreements over slavery, not all the representatives at the constitutional convention were even willing to sign their names to the final work product.

Once created, the constitution went through further changes, first with The Bill of Rights, and then with a succession of amendments over the centuries, further expanding and defining the shape of rights. Part of these changes are owed to historical events like the Civil War, but another element that played a role was the changing meaning of language. With the rise of mathematics in the 1800s, English began to be codified more rigidly, double negatives were suddenly frowned on and specificity was key in all things. More than a hundred years later, we use this evolved version of the language to interpret words written in the 1700s by men who might not recognize much of our society as being theirs were they to see it.

The U.S. Constitution is one of the most important documents in history. Though it is "just a piece of paper," its influence is so far-reaching, knowing about it is an essential civic responsibility. Test your constitutional knowledge with this quiz!

"The U.S. Constitution was the ______ constitution binding the states together." What number fills in this bit of history?

The Articles of Confederation were the first constitution binding the then-colonies together as states, but it was seen as insufficient in the wake of victory. As a result, a new constitution was written.

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"The states appointed ___ delegates to attend the constitutional convention." Do you know the number that helped define how we built this country?

A grand total of 74 delegates were appointed to the constitutional convention. As mentioned earlier, some states were not keen on the idea of the union, and only 55 delegates attended.

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"The only state that sent zero delegates to the constitutional convention was _____________." Who decided to skip the party?

Many states were upset with the notion of yoking themselves to states with cultures and practices to which they objected. Out of frustration and protest, Rhode Island sent no delegates to the convention, despite being asked to.

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"Governor Edmund Randolph and his friends composed their proposal for a federal government in the ____________ Tavern." Can you name this famous watering hole?

Located at the intersection of 4th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, the Indian Queen Tavern was an upscale establishment (unusual in that it sold wine in addition to cider and beer) where many of the constitutional convention's delegates were quartered for the duration.

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"When the authors of the constitution were considering installing a king, Royall Tyler's play _________ convinced them otherwise." Can you name the play?

Revolutionary War veteran Royall Tyler was one of the most vocal members of a camp of Americans unwilling to accept a king, writing a play lampooning the idea of an aristocracy. So successful was the play and its like that the sentiment against a new monarch kept the founding fathers from writing one into the constitution.

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"Letters criticizing the new U.S. Constitution in New York newspapers were attributed to a person going by the name _______." Can you guess the fake name used by this "printed word troll"?

The Federalist Papers, written by John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, were a response to the letters published in newspapers criticizing the constitution; they were a defense. The author of these letters (in a preview of how internet culture would take to anonymity and noms de plume) called themselves "Cato."

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At the top of the document, there is the passage, "... in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common _________, promote the general Welfare, and ..." Can you fill in the blank?

English was a very different language at the time of the nation's founding, with alternate word spellings that were considered equally acceptable, and haphazard rules regarding punctuation and capitalization. Given the surrounding syntax, it would seem this word, spelled eccentrically, should be capitalized, but it isn't.

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The constitution reads, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in ____________ of the United States ..." Do you know what goes in the blank?

With the American governmental system an entirely new prospect, the authors of the constitution wrote of "a congress" as it was still a hypothetical as the idea was put to paper. Understanding the meaning of the documents written in this period often means having to know the circumstances of the authors.

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There's a rule at work, summarized as "Representatives in the House must have been U.S. Citizens for at least _______ years." How would you fill the blank?

The U.S. Constitution lays out a constellation of rules around who is eligible for high office. For Congressmen of the House of Representatives, eligibility requires possessing citizenship for at least seven years.

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Early in the constitution it reads "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the ________ States ..." What do you think goes in the blank?

Certain word choices in the constitution look deliberate and strange but were likely just customary English at the time it was authored. The use of the word "several" to describe the states sounds unusual but comes up in other documents.

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It is written, "The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every _______ Thousand ..." Can you guess what is not written?

The rules enumerating the population size of each representative's district are laid out in the constitution at thirty thousand. This requirement is one of the reasons for the clause requiring a census every ten years, in order to apportion representation fairly and accurately. The constitution specifically does not refer to only counting only citizens or eligible voters.

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One assumes the intern in charge of spelling wrote in the constitution that "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of ____________." What's left out of this?

In a passage so specific that it exists as its own paragraph, the constitution lays out that the House of Representatives is the final word on impeachment. This power is further defined but not delegated.

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Here's a fact: "At the time of the founding, U.S. Senators were chosen by the ____________." By the who?

In a practice ended by the seventeenth amendment, the states' legislatures chose their U.S. Senators. This had several effects, one of which was that it meant being elected to state office meant a lot, and it was also a product of the lack of mechanisms in place to hold large-scale popular elections.

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"The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of _________ of the Members present," is a passage of note, but what's missing?

If the House of Representatives' power to impeach a president is akin to a criminal indictment, the Senate's power is that of the jury trial. Unlike a jury trial, however, the jury need not be unanimous to obtain a conviction.

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Quick civic fact: "The legislature has the power under the constitution to pass laws regulating the way states run elections _____________." What words will win out?

The constitution gives the legislative branch the power to regulate how elections are held for their own ranks, dictating to the states. The only exception to this rule is they may not dictate where these elections take place.

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It's a fact that "current members of congress may not hold any civil office which was either created, or ___________ during their tenure." What should go in that blank?

Members of Congress are forbidden from holding certain offices because it could lead to corruption. This includes any office created or given a raise in pay, meaning that a sitting senator could not create a paid job and have it concurrently with being a senator.

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You should know that "in the event a presidential veto, Congress may pass the bill in question if there is a _____ vote in both houses." What belongs in the blank?

As with the U.S. Senate's power to remove a president from office, a presidential veto can only be overcome by a two-thirds majority vote by the Congress. This requires a two-thirds majority voting in favor of the bill in the Senate and again in a separate vote in the House.

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The constitution reads, "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, ________ and Excises ..." What's missing?

The constitution uses words that appear as synonyms in many places. Some of these had specific meanings in the time of the founders, while others were just added for clarity. An impost is a tax, but the word is also used to describe a weight added to a racehorse to handicap it.

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The powers of Congress include the power "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of ___________". Can you fill the blank?

In the time of the founding of the U.S., weights and measures were highly variable, with units like "gallons" and "bushels" being subject to geography and culture. The U.S. briefly considered embracing the new "metric system," which standardized all measurements according to a unified system, but it was thought Americans were too closely tied to the old names of things.

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Congress has the power to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful ______, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" What do you think belongs in the space?

Though not a very flashy passage, this section of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to support science and the arts by protecting "exclusivity." In other words, this is what gives the Library of Congress the power to issue copyrights.

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Congress also has the power "To declare War, grant _____________ ..." Which of these goes in that blank?

Though still technically in the constitution, "Letters of Marque" are an antiquated method of making trouble for a rival nation. In essence, a Letter of Marque is a license to conduct what would be considered piracy on a specific type of vessel, such as Spanish or British ships.

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"_______ shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person." What belongs in this quote from the constitution?

This first listed limit on the powers of Congress, now obsolete, was the compromise the abolitionists made to get the southern states to sign the document. Essentially what it does it prevents Congress from touching the transatlantic slave trade until 1808.

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Quick quote for you: "No Bill of Attainder or __________ Law shall be passed." Can you lick this Latin phrase?

Ex post facto laws are laws written retroactively, meaning that they make it possible to charge someone with a crime that was not a crime when the act was done. A bill of attainder is a law criminalizing a person or class of person and can mean finding them guilty without a trial.

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Simply put, "the amendment that superseded the section in the constitution about the event of the president's removal from office or death was the _______ amendment." What's missing from this picture?

The twenty-fifth amendment, enacted in 1967, was put in place because of the assassination of JFK. The event forced the nation to consider not just how a president's death would be handled but also his incapacitation.

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"The last right enumerated in the first amendment is the right ____________." Which right is the right right?

All of these rights are described in the first amendment. Still, one of them has to be the final one mentioned, and that is the right to petition the government. Interestingly, this is as close to having a right to vote granted by any constitutional document describes.

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"There are _____ amendments in the Bill of Rights." Of course there are, but what number goes there?!

Although the Bill of Rights went through several drafts before passage, and these drafts streamlined the bill and combined some of the amendments into single items, there are only ten in the final published draft. Other amendments would follow this bill.

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Part of the fifth amendment reads, "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to ____________" How do you populate the blank space?

The fifth amendment defines the rules by which the government may try suspected criminals, limiting its powers and giving people rights not present in other countries. While most people associate the fifth amendment with a right against self-incrimination, it is also a host of other protections.

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"The constitution required ratification by no fewer than _________ states." Easy to say, but easier with the blank filled in, don't you think?

All thirteen states eventually ratified the constitution, though it took time for some whose populace's provincial worries made them paranoid about federal intrusion. To ratify the document however, only nine needed ratify it.

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"A well-regulated militia, ___________, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Court some controversy by filling in this blank.

The second amendment went through many drafts. The appositive part of the sentence (the blank in this case) is meant to clarify the section preceding it. There was language around military service and religious obligations in earlier drafts, but it was removed, leaving this awkwardly constructed syntax; essentially a cut and paste error.

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"Article six of the constitution requires that ________." Quick! What does Article six require?

The matter of debts loomed over the young United States, with huge debts owed from the war, and not all states wealthy enough to pay them. Though the constitution did not come up with a remedy for the debts, it did insist that they remain until paid.

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"The only mode of slavery permitted by the constitution is in the event of ___________." What?! What could possibly go there?

While most people think of the thirteenth amendment as banning all forms of slavery, it explicitly allows for prisoners to be slaves. Section one reads, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

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Fact: "The constitution has a total of ___ amendments." What's missing

The U.S. Constitution has been modified numerous times. Some amendments took weeks to pass and others took more than a century. The grand total of amendments thus far is twenty-seven.

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Here's a memory test for you: "The twenty-second amendment ________." What belongs in the blank?

The twenty-second amendment was passed largely as a reaction to the FDR administration. FDR was elected to three terms, and while he did not live to serve the full twelve years, his reelections horrified his political opponents, who pushed for this bill.

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Short and sweet: "The eighteenth amendment ________." What does it blank?

Prohibition, called "the noble experiment" was a fourteen year debacle begun with the passage of the eighteenth amendment. The result was a black market that gave birth to American organized crime and ultimately the culture of the drug trade.

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The constitution reads "The right of citizens of the United States to _____ shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." What belongs in the blank?

The fifteenth amendment makes reference to the right to vote, protecting it, but given that the right to vote is not guaranteed anywhere else in the document, this can be a bit confusing. In fact, this amendment was essentially pointless when it was passed, as the Supreme Court ruled in apparent contradiction to it, requiring the passage of the Civil Rights Act decades later.

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