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Constitution Day 2016: WE, the People: The Final Handwritten Copy

Constitution Day is September 17

Alexander Hamilton Misspelled Pennsylvania

On the final handwritten document, the name Pennsylvania is misspelled. At bottom of page 4, where the signatures appear, there are brackets drawn around the names of the delegates and the name of the state they represent is added. Alexander Hamilton, delegate from New York, was the one writing the names of the states. 1

 

 

National Archives

The Constitution on permanent display (Charters of Freedom) at the National Archives was inscribed by Jacob Shallus on parchment.

Corrections on the Final Signed Engrossed Copy

The Convention adjourned late Saturday, September 15. The completed Constitution was ordered to be engrossed and print copies ordered. The Convention would meet again on Monday, September 17, for signing.

Jacob Shallus, a clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, was chosen to write the manuscript. But it was a short amount of time for the work and Shallus made some mistakes. He edited in the corrections and then created a list of the corrections at the end of the document on page four.

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Corrections

Last Minute Change

The delegates made a last minute change (September 17) that Shallus had to correct.

Article I Legislative. Section 2. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every forty Thousand but each State shall have at Least one Representative...

was changed to thirty Thousand...

Signatures

There is the signature of someone who was not a delegate:

Barely visible on the left side of page 4, is the name William Jackson. Jackson was the Secretary to the Convention.

One delegate signed twice; once for himself and once for another delegate:

George Read from Delaware signed the name of fellow Delawarean John Dickinson. Dickinson had been forced to leave the Convention early due to illness.

There is a signature "by" someone who wasn't there?

John Dickinson, delegate from Delaware, had to leave the Convention early due to illness. He authorized fellow Delaware delegate George Read to sign for him. So John Dickinson was the signer who did not sign.

There is a signature by a delegate who was not authorized to cast a vote for his state.

Alexander Hamilton signed for New York. But there were three delegates from New York. When his fellow delegates, John Lansing and Robert Yates, left on July 10, leaving no majority of delegates, New York no longer had a vote.

Original Handwritten Copies

National Archives

National Archives holds the original documents; the National Archives website includes high resolution images and transcriptions.

Footnotes

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