Weird History 17 Things You Didn't Know About the US Constitution  

Mike Rothschild
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The history of the US Constitution is one of great minds meeting in secret to hammer out a document that would change the world. It's also one of arguments, false starts, hurt feelings, compromises, changes, and prominent Founding Fathers who didn't even sign it. For a document that was almost perfectly written (the inclusion of slavery and exclusion of women's suffrage notwithstanding), it took many drafts to get it right - and even then, it needed to be amended with a Bill of Rights almost right away.

United States Constitution trivia provides fascinating backstory into the document. Did you know several of the most important Founders never signed it? Or that it's among the shortest founding documents in history? Or that many states stridently opposed it, with one going so far as to have a small-scale armed revolt when it came time for ratification? These and more US Constitution facts will have you seeing the document in a whole new way.

Here are all kinds of things you probably didn't know about the US Constitution. Read on to learn more about the document that framed America in its early days and lays out the law to this day.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Never Signed It


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Photo: Tony Fischer/Flickr

Despite being one of the quintessential Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson played virtually no role in the drafting of the US Constitution, as he was serving in Paris as Minister to France at the time of its writing. He returned in 1789, over a year after the document had been ratified.

John Adams didn't sign it either; he was serving out of the country as Minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention.

It's Really Short


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Photo: via Wikimedia
The ratified Constitution is the shortest governing document of any major nation, comprising an efficient 4,500 words. Even with all 27 amendments, it's under 7,600 words. By contrast, the average length of a state constitution in the US is 26,000 words, with Alabama's running on for 172,000 words.

It Could Have Used a Good Spell Check


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Photo: via Reddit

As befitting a hastily transcribed document written in ink, the Constitution has many spelling errors. The most well-known is the botched spelling of "Pennsylvania" in the signatories, leaving out an "n." There's also an it's/its error in Article 1, Section 10.

Beyond that, many words are spelled in the British style, including labor and defense - along with many uses of "chuse" for "choose" - an accepted alternate spelling of the time.

The Philadelphia Convention Didn't Intend to Write a New Document


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When delegates convened in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, it was not with the purpose of creating a new US constitution. The intent was to make some changes to the existing constitution, known as the Articles of Confederation.

However, the Articles were so weak, and left the US in such a precarious position that the delegates decided it would be best to just start over with a new governing document. James Madison strongly believed the document needed to be scrapped, and while waiting for delegates to reach Philadelphia, wrote a first draft of the Constitution.