Happy Constitution Day. Here are two Top Ten lists and links to ideas in support of the First Amendment
10 Fast Facts on the Constitution
1. 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. Now called Independence Hall, the building still stands today on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, directly across from the National Constitution Center.
2. Written in 1787, the Constitution was signed on September 17th. But it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states.
3. The U.S. Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries.
4. Some of the original framers and many delegates in the state ratifying conventions were very troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights. In 1791, Americans added a list of rights to the Constitution. The first ten amendments became known as The Bill of Rights
5. Of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and 3 delegates dissented. Two of America’s “founding fathers” didn’t sign the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was representing his country in France and John Adams was doing the same in Great Britain.
6. Established on November 26, 1789, the first national “Thanksgiving Day” was originally created by George Washington as a way of “giving thanks” for the Constitution.
7. Of the written national constitutions, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest.
8. At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and at 26, Jonathon Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.
9. 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 for safekeeping.
10. More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.
Top 10 Ways to Support the First Amendment
1. Learn what it says. Only one American in 25 can name the five freedoms of the First Amendment: freedom of religion, speech and press, and the rights of petition and assembly.
2. Take a stand. “Sign” the First Amendment and join the “1 for All” campaign.
3. Tweet for freedom. Use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about the importance of the First Amendment.
4. For educators, incorporate the First Amendment into your school curriculum. Lesson plans for grades K-12 explain the origins of the five freedoms and how those freedoms operate in today’s world.
5. Express yourself. Be engaged in the world around you; let others know how you feel.
6. Stay informed. Free speech is even better when we know what we’re talking about. Read. Learn. Share.
7. Support your local library. Gain free admission to the marketplace of ideas.
8. Hold public officials accountable. Ask where they stand on the First Amendment and the free flow of information.
9. Stand up for others. We all love our own freedom of speech, but it’s important to support the rights of others to express their own opinions.
10. Talk about it. Discuss freedom of faith in your place of worship. Explore First Amendment-themed books in your book club.