The U.S. Constitution is a document with a history, and most of us learn all about it in school -- well, maybe not all about it. This Constitution Day, test your knowledge of some lesser-known facts about the U.S. Constitution.
Patrick Henry, a leading figure in the American Revolution, decided not to be a delegate because, as he later revealed, he "smelt a rat."
The shortest written national constitution in history, the U.S. Constitution, not counting the signatures and amendments, totals just 4,400 words. The entire document fits on four oversized pages.
In 1789, the year following ratification, President George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday during which the people should give thanks to God for the new Constitution.
The delegates drew up the Constitution in the heat of the Philadelphia summer. They met each day for 100 days in a hot, stuffy room — the windows were closed so no one outside could hear the proceedings.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were both absent from the convention because they were serving as U.S. Ministers overseas. Adams was in England, and Jefferson was in France.
The Constitutional Convention was convened with the intention of making changes to the country's existing constitution, the Articles of Confederation. Soon after discussions began, however, they decided it would be best to discard the Articles and start over.
From 1804 to 1865, no amendments were added to the Constitution. That run ended with the close of the Civil War, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.
Since the ratification of the Constitution, people have been trying to change the way the president is elected. There have been 500 propositions to amend the Constitution to get rid of the Electoral College. None of them has passed.
The U.S. Constitution was met with mixed reviews when it first came out in 1787. Many believed it didn't go far enough to protect individual rights. They wanted a Bill of Rights added to the document before they would ratify it. (This didn't happen; the Bill of Rights was introduced in Congress in 1789, a year after the Constitution was ratified.)
A delegate from Pennsylvania misspelled his state's name when he signed. He left out one of the N's.
Just two U.S. presidents were present for the signing of the Constitution, including first president George Washington and fourth president James Madison.
The Constitution never once mentions the word "democracy." Instead, the Founding Fathers focused on the formation of a republic, with indirect rather than direct voting.
While the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787, it took four more years before the Bill of Rights was completed in 1791.
The U.S. Constitution is written entirely in English, with the exception of three Latin phrases, including "pro tempore," "ex post facto" and "habeas corpus."
You can see the original four over-sized pages of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives in Washington. The document remains on display to the public, but was hidden away in Ft. Knox briefly during WWII.
The Constitutional Convention met and drafted the document at the State House Philadelphia — the same facility where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
James Madison earned the title of "Father of the Constitution" with his extreme dedication to the drafting of the document. He not only attended every meeting, but kept detailed notes of the process. He also drafted the Bill of Rights a few years later.
Rhode Island was the only one of the original 13 colonies to boycott the convention. The state was also the last to ratify the document once it was complete.
At 81, Franklin was the oldest of all the delegates. He was in such poor health that he had to be carried into the convention each session and required help signing his name to the document.
The Supreme Court has final say over interpreting the Constitution and can overturn any law it feels is unconstitutional.
The Constitution of the United States outlines the structure of the government and basic laws in just seven articles, plus a preamble — or introduction.
The Connecticut Compromise resulted in two legislative houses, with equal representation in one and representation based on population in the other.
Slavery was not abolished until the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865, long after the Constitution itself had been written and ratified.
Drafted by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, the Federalist Papers consisted of 85 articles and essays designed to win support for the freshly-drafted Constitution.
Just one amendment — the 18th, which banned the sale of alcohol —has ever been repealed. It took another amendment, the 21st, to undo the effects of the 18th.
It wasn't until the 15th amendment was passed in 1870 that African-American men won the right to vote. This issue is not recognized at all in the Bill of Rights, or in the Constitution itself.
Despite his reluctance to attend the convention, Washington was unanimously elected its president in 1787.
To reflect the strength of individual states at the time, the document originally began, "We the People of" followed by a list of each individual state.
While Ben Franklin suggested opening each session of the convention with a prayer, the group found that they were unable to scrap up funds to pay a chaplain to lead the prayer, forcing them to abandon the idea.
Each September 17th — the date that the delegates signed the Constitution — is celebrated as both National Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.