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A constitutional Q & A

September 14, 2006

Q. How many words are there in the texts in the present Constitution, including the signatures?

A. The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures, but not the interlineations, and it takes about an hour to read.

Q. What are the measurements of the original Constitution?

A. 28-3/4 inches by 23-5/8 inches

Q. What has been the longest period during which no amendment has been added to the Constitution?

A. 61 years (1804-1865)

Q. How many amendments to the Constitution have been repealed?

A. One. The Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition).

Q. How is an amendment repealed?

A. By adding another amendment

Q. How long did it take to frame the Constitution?

A. Fewer than 100 working days.

Source: U.S. National Archives & Records Administration

More Constitution 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 sent 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.