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The Constitutional Convention was the birthplace of America in many ways. It set out the basic tenets of our government. But there was also a lot of drama that took place, and the framers were actually just everyday men trying to make things better. Here’s the real story of the birth of the Constitution.
1. Rhode Island refused to send any delegates to the convention because they didn’t want a powerful federal government. They only agreed to ratify the Constitution if the Bill of Rights was added, and they held off on doing so until a year after Washington was elected President.
2. The convention might actually have been a bit of a party. The founders drank quite a bit. We have a bill from the tavern they partied at two days before signing and it showed that the 55 delegates drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.
3. There are quite a few grammatical and spelling mistakes found in the original document, the worst of which was probably misspelling Pennsylvania as “Pensylvania.”
4. Patrick Henry refused to participate in the convention because, he said, he “smelt a rat.”
5. The convention was called to deal with the problems in the Articles of Confederation, but after the convention adjourned, the country was left without a federal government for the better part of a year, which is when Congress first met under the new Constitution.
6. There were quite a few delegates to the convention who didn’t really make time for the commitment. Although the convention opened on May 14, they didn’t reach quorum until May 25, and a full 19 of the 74 delegates never came to a single session. A mere 30 stayed the full four months, and New York’s whole delegation except for Alexander Hamilton left after two months, which led Washington to write that the document was signed by “11 states and Colonel Hamilton.”
7. The actual document of the Constitution was not written by a delegate, but instead was a mere assistant clerk who was paid $30 and expected to finish the document in two days.
8. The only delegate who was at every meeting was James Madison and he kept fastidious notes of the proceedings. That journal was published in 1840.
9. One of the proposals during the convention was to limit the standing army to 5,000 men, but Washington shot it down by saying they could only do it if they also stipulated that invading armies could only have 3,000 men.