A brand new survey – and these 20 incredible facts – are shedding light on the increase in public knowledge of the Constitution for 2020’s Constitution Day.
The modern political landscape is shaping how citizens view and research government oversight. Indeed, current politics have led to an increase in how well Americans understand their government, their rights, and the U.S. Constitution itself.
Each year, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (University of Pennsylvania) releases a survey of the U.S. population. In this survey, citizens test their knowledge of civics in the United States. Annenberg releases the survey on Constitution Day, which marks the date when the signers of the Constitution completed their task.
The U.S. Constitution became a legally binding document in 1787, making Constitution Day 2020 the 233rd year of the prestigious document’s existence.
Below, we’ve listed 20 must-know facts about the Constitution in honor of Constitution Day 2020.
But first – what are the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s findings on U.S. citizens’ knowledge of our most important document?
Public knowledge of the U.S. Constitution jumps 48% in 3 years
For 2020, the Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey “finds that nearly three-quarters of Americans correctly named freedom of speech as one of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment”.
This may not seem like much, but the percentage is up 48% from 2017. Annengberg adds that “more than half were able to name all three branches of government—that is up from 39-percent last year.”
Want to brush up on the U.S. Constitution yourself for Constitution Day? We’ve gathered 20 must-know facts about the Constitution in honor of Constitution Day 2020.
20 must-know facts in honor of Constitution Day 2020
The following facts are sourced to and verified by ConstitutionFacts.com.
The Signers of the Constitution:
I. A total of 39 delegates signed the Constitution. You can find the full list, by state, here.
2. “George Washington and James Madison were the only Presidents who signed the Constitution.“
3. “The oldest person to sign the Constitution was Benjamin Franklin (81). The youngest was Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey (26).”
4. Because of his poor health, Benjamin Franklin needed help to sign the Constitution. As he did so, tears streamed down his face.
5. “Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention.
6. “John Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention and did not attend either.”
7. “Of the forty-two delegates who attended most of the meetings, thirty-nine actually signed the Constitution. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign due in part due to the lack of a bill of rights.” When it came time for the states to ratify the Constitution, the lack of any bill of rights was the primary sticking point.
8. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was known as the “Sage of the Constitutional Convention”. He was also the mediator at the convention and was often saying “we are here to consult, not to contend”.
9. “James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
10. “Of the fifty-five delegates attending the convention – 34 were lawyers, 8 were known for signing the Declaration of Independence, and almost half were Revolutionary War veterans. The remaining members were planters, educators, ministers, physicians, financiers, judges and merchants. About a quarter of them were large land owners and all of them were public officials (39 were former Congressmen and 8 were present or past governors).
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