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Ben Franklin to attend Constitution Week events at ASU's West campus

September 16, 2006

Benjamin Franklin, statesman, philosopher, printer, inventor, signer of the U.S. Constitution, will headline a series of activities scheduled at Arizona State University’s West campus during Constitution Week, Sept. 17 through Sept. 23. The activities are open to the general public and admission is free.

Franklin, who also put his name to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, will appear on Thursday, Sept. 21, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at Second Stage West, at ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix. He will preside over the Constitutional Convention of 1787, reading the Constitution and later answering questions about the historical document and the subsequent Bill of Rights. Senators from ASU’s West campus student government will serve as delegates to the Constitutional Convention, putting historically accurate questions to Franklin. Franklin will be played by actor Phil Soinski, who has made many appearances as the colonies’ greatest ambassador and is an expert on his subject.

The U.S. Constitution is the oldest Federal constitution in existence and lays out the basic rights of citizens of the United States. The document was framed in Philadelphia by a convention of delegates from 12 of the 13 original states. ASU’s West campus Constitution Week celebration features events that offer analysis and interpretation of the document, as well as some of the history that led to its framing.

In addition to Franklin’s visit, other events include:

·         “Signing of the Constitution,” an activity designed to illustrate our greater familiarity with pop culture than the Constitution, presented by Student Life on Sept. 19 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) in the Sands Breezeway;

·         “Domestic Spying: What are the Checks on Presidential Power?,” a documentary aired by Communications Studies professor Majia Nadeson in her Crisis Communication class, Com 414, in CLCC 158 on Sept. 19 (12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.);

·         The Bill of Rights: What it Says, What it Means, and How it Works in the Criminal Justice System,” a presentation by School of Criminology and Criminal Justice faculty associate Andrew Clemency in his Discretionary Justice class in the Kiva on Sept. 21 (6:30 p.m.)


Constitutional Facts

·         The U.S. Constitution was written in the same Pennsylvania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where George Washington received his commission as Commander of the Continental Army;

·         Written in may of 1787, the Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, but it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states – New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify, making the Constitution law;

·         The Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries;

·         In 1791, Americans added a list of rights to the Constitution; the first 10 amendments became known as the Bill of Rights;

·         Of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and three delegates dissented.  Two of America’s “founding fathers” didn’t sign – Thomas Jefferson was representing the United States in France and John Adams was doing the same in Great Britain;

·         12 of the 13 states were represented at the Constitutional Convention, as Rhode Island did not send delegates;

·         Established on Nov. 26, 1789, the first national “Thanksgiving Day” was originally created by George Washington as a way of “giving thanks” for the Constitution.  President George W. Bush signed into law the recognition of “Citizenship Day and Constitution Week” on Sept. 17, 2001;

·         The original Constitution is on display at the national Archives in Washington, D.C.  When the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox in Kentucky for safekeeping;

·         More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress.  Thirty-three have gone to the states to be ratified, and 27 have received the necessary approval from the states to become actual amendments to the Constitution.