Constitution Facts

The Second Continental Congress began meeting in May, 1787.  By September, 39 delegates signed the approved Constitution.  It was then sent out to the States to approve.

George Washington was sworn in as the First President of the United States under the Constitution on April 20th, 1789.

There are about 7,500 words in the Constitution with the 27 amendments.

The Constitutional Amendments 1-10, called the Bill of Rights, were ratified and added in 1791.

New Hampshire’s Role at the Second Constitutional Convention

New Hampshire was too broke to send representatives John Langdon and Nicholas Gilman to the Convention.  Langdon, a wealthy merchant and ship builder out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, paid the way for himself and Gilman.  Yet they in July, close to three months late.

Nicholas Gilman was known as the most handsome signer of the Constitution.  He was often picked on by his fellows for his handsome features and cocky attitude.

Delaware was the first state to approve and sign the Constitution in December of 1787.  New Hampshire was the ninth and final approval needed to approve the Constitution in June of 1788.

Facts About the Signers

William Samuel Johnson from Connecticut was the longest surviving signer.  He died at the age of 92.

Benjamin Franklin was the oldest signer at 81, and was the first to die three years later at the age of 84.

Hugh Williamson, the last man to sign the Constitution, was an avid astronomer.  Though, he claimed that all planets and comets have mild climates that supported intelligent life.

David Brearley from New Jersey wanted to erase State boundary.  He noted that more populated states (like Virginia) would have an unfair advantage to less populated states (like Georgia) when voting.  Brearley wanted ‘…all the existing boundaries be erased, and that a new partition of the whole be made into thirteen equal parts.’  His suggestions was ignored by Congress.

James McHenry, a signer for Maryland, was the writer of our National Anthem during the war of 1812.

Bachelors of the Convention

3 Bachelor’s signed the Constitution:

  • Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire
  • Abraham Baldwin of Georgia
  • Daniel Jenifer of Maryland

Duels and Land Schemes

Alexander Hamilton, the signer from New York, died in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804 over an election for the New York Governor.  Hamilton speared Burr in the press for retaliation of Burr’s similar tactics 4 years earlier in the Presidential election.  Burr lost the election for Governor.  He challenged Hamilton to a duel on the west bank of the Hudson River.  Hamilton missed, but Burr hit.  Hamilton died the next day.  Burr was charged with murder, but he never faced trial.

Richard Dobbs Spaight of North Carolina also died in a duel.  Federalist John Stanly, who was elected to Spaight’s seat after his retirement, badmouthed Spaight so often that Spaight retaliated by printing angry handbills and passing them out to voters.  They ended their argument with a duel, but Spaight, being so sickly, was no match for Stanly.  He was hit and died the next day.

Johnathan Dayton from New Jersey was notorious for bad land deals and investments.  At one point he invested $18,000 of Congress’ money into a land speculation deal.  Congress hunted down the money and forced Dalton to repay it.  He later convinced Aaron Burr, now Vice President under Jefferson, to invest in Spanish held lands out west, and when Jefferson got wind of the scheme, arrested Dayton for treason in 1807.