Today (Sept. 17) is Constitution Day, which marks the anniversary of when the framers signed the US Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
Don't know how to celebrate? Start by reading a full transcript of the US Constitution, which you can access here .
Let's keep the party going with five interesting facts about the US Constitution.
How long is the Constitution?
"The US Constitution has 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world." ( ConstitutionFacts.com )
Side note for skeptics: Does the US really have the oldest Constitution of any major government in the world? Often, the short answer is "yes," with some disclaimers. Here's an extended discussion of the question.
The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are different, right?
Yep. Consider this handy explanation from the National Constitution Center : "The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776. It was a list of grievances against the King of England intended to justify separation from British rule. The Constitution was written and signed in 1787. It was a charter of government that came to be ratified by the states, and it continues to be the supreme law of the land."
How many framers signed the Constitution?
Thirty-nine, according to the Constitution Day website .
ConstitutionFacts.com adds that actually, 42 delegates attended most of the meetings. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign due in part to the lack of a bill of rights, the website explains.
I heard the Constitution didn't go into effect right away. What's up with that?
Well, the people needed to approve the document. The National Constitution Center notes, "The Constitution went into effect once nine out of the 13 states ratified it, which occurred on June 21, 1788. Article V of the Constitution established the process for ratification."
Can you give me one more cool Constitution fact to share with my friends?
Sure. "The word 'democracy' does not appear once in the Constitution," according to ConstitutionFacts.com .
And a bonus fact from the same website: "William Few of Georgia was the only member to represent the yeoman farmer class which comprised the majority of the population of the country. Nineteen of the members who were chosen to represent their state never attended a meeting."
More Sonya Sorich: