First Fleet Leaving Portsmouth (1787.05.13)

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The late 18th century was a time of social and political change. France was recovering from revolution.  America had likewise just gone through a revolution to achieve independence.

In Britain the industrial revolution had pushed thousands of poverty-stricken  people from the country villages to the crowded cities. Crime in the cities grew as people could not find work having been displaced by industry.  The jails were over flowing as the Crown dealt with the under class of criminals.  In 1787 the government needed a new way to the problem of the burgeoning prison population.

The initial idea had been to transfer the British jail population to the Crowns colonies in America.  However, in 1783 the Crown lost the American option due to the Americans winning their war for independence.  The British looked around their empire for other locations to house their jail population.

The explorers from Captain Cook’s discovery expedition 18 years earlier came upon the idea of Botany Bay, Australia.  Their idea was to use the land down under as a giant repository for convicts. It wasn’t the ideal choice because the place had only been glimpsed once and the 15,000 mile voyage would take more than 8 months.  Of course, the jails in  Britain were full to capacity.

 Between 1788 and 1868 165,000 British and Irish convicts made the perilous voyage to a strange land now referred to as Australia.  The majority of the 165,000 convicts sent to Australia were impoverished and illiterate.  The under class were victims of the Poor Laws and social conditions in Georgian England. Eight out of ten prisoners were convicted for larceny.   Many did not consider themselves to be criminals.  They were trying to survive in an industrialized Britain.

Apart from unskilled and semi-skilled labourers from Britain and Ireland, transportees came from varied ethnic backgrounds: American, Corsican, French, Hong Kong, Chinese, West Indian, Indian, and African.

There were political prisoners and prisoners of war, as well as a motley collection of professionals such as lawyers, surgeons and teachers.

The average age of a deportees was 26, and their group included children who were either convicted of crimes or were making the journey with their mothers. Just one in six was a woman.  Depending on the offence, for the first 40 years of transportation convicts were sentenced to terms of seven years, 10 years, or life.

Most of the convicts stayed in their new home of Australia.  They were free to return home after they served their jail term in Australia.  However, a return voyage was not likely for many.  After all, how were they going to afford the trip back to this original home in Britain?  Aside fro the expense of going back to Britain, many of the transporters had begun to see Australia as their true home.

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FIRST FLEET ON KRNN, 5/13 at 8am:  Sailors and convicts set sail from Portsmouth, England, to found the first European colony in Australia, Botany Bay with the “First Fleet”, on this date in 1787.  We hope you join us aboard the boat headed for an all Aussie playlist on Crosscurrents, 5/13 at 8 am.

 

 

 

4 Minute Mile First; Oxford, England; and Sir Roger Bannister (1954.05.06)

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On a windy evening in Oxford on May 6th 1954, Roger Bannister, proved himself as the most publicized British sports icon of the age after the second world war. He did not an Olympic title, he established just one individual world record (which he lost after barely six weeks) and he walked away from the running track at the top of his game when he was only 25.   However on 6 May 1954, on the Iffley Road cinder track that he had helped to construct as an undergraduate a few years earlier, he ran a mile in under four minutes, a time which many in the public, the media and many athletes, too had considered not humanly possible.

Yet Bannister’s record on May 6th,almost never took place. For after working in a hospital that morning, he nearly decided not to travel to the Iffley Road track in Oxford due to high winds.  However a chance meeting with his coach, Franz Stampfl, convinced him to give it a try. Stampfl told him: “If you pass it up today you may never forgive yourself for the rest of your life.”  It was only 30 minutes before the race was due to start at 6pm that Bannister decided he would compete. “My pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway were getting a little impatient,” he told me in 2014.

“They were saying: ‘Make up your mind!’ But it was I who had to do it. I was very concerned about the weather but when the wind dropped it proved just possible.”

Bannister’s race was more extraordinary given his minimal training. He did not attend his gynaecology lectures, enabling him to run for 45 minutes at lunchtime, and did only 35 miles a week.

What is also ignored is Bannister had felt “stale” a month before breaking the record and so he elected an unusual plan: a three-day break to go hiking. It was, he admitted, “bordering on the lunatic”. It gave Bannister a chance to relax from training and gave him a welcome distraction from the time record. His main training session included 10 repetitions of 400m with short rest periods between each lap – his intent was to do each one in around 60 seconds.

“I heard the lap times as they went by,” he says. “The first was 58. The half-mile 1.58. But the three‑quarters was three minutes and one second so I knew I had to produce a last lap of under 59.

“I was also unsure whether I should start my finish immediately or wait another 150 yards and overtake Chataway in the back straight. I decided I would stay a bit longer and then went. There was plenty of adrenaline then, I can assure you!”

When he crossed the finish line he collapsed, almost unconscious. He described feeling like “an exploded flashbulb” but he had the record. And it changed him. As he put it: “I suddenly and gloriously felt free from the burden of athletic ambition I had been carrying for years.”  His sub-four mark lasted six weeks before the Australian John Landy broke it by more than a second. But later in 1954, when the pair met at the Empire Games in Vancouver, Bannister was triumphant after an epic contest – later called, with complete justification, the Miracle Mile – coming from 15 yards down with a surprise sprint off the last bend.

“I felt it was a piece of unfinished business to be able to reproduce the performance of my sub-four-minute mile in a race,” Bannister said. “And I ran the final lap in the last race I had in England beforehand in 53 seconds to persuade Landy that his best chance was to run me off my feet.

“However at the half-mile he looked as though he was doing it. He was 15 yards ahead and I thought either he’s going to break a world record in 3min 56sec or he’s going to have to slow. But I managed to catch him by the bell – and then I just managed to choose the right moment to take him by surprise.”

For having won the Empire Games and European Championships in 1954 he relinquished his track shoes when he was just 25 – at his absolute prime – to focus on medicine.  Bannister admitted in 2014: “If I were to start running today I could not combine training with being a medical student.

“Most top athletes will train two-three hours a day, whereas I would run half an hour – very hard – five days a week.”

But while this gentleman athletes is gone – his legacy will endure for ever, namely: 3:59.4.

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BANNISTER 4-MIN MILE ON KRNN, 5/6:  The mile distance had never been run in under four minutes until Roger Bannister did so on this date in 1954.  You are invited to join us on the running track for the music tracks on Crosscurrents, 5/6 at 8 am.

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ROGER BANNISTER QUOTES:

Just because they say it’s impossible doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.

It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.

Sport, like all of life, is about taking your chances.

Samuel Johnson and his Dictionary Of The English Language (1755.04.15)

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Samuel Johnson’s impressive accomplishment A Dictionary of the English Language, published on 15th April 1755, the enormous work took Johnson nearly 9 years to complete, curiously almost completely single-handedly, and is now considered as one of the most important dictionaries in the history of the English language.

When it came out the book was enormous, not just in scope (it contained a 42,773-long word list) but also in size: its pages were 18 inches (46 cm) tall and nearly 20 inches (50 cm) wide. Johnson himself pronounced the book “Vasta mole superbus” (“Proud in its great bulk”). One of Johnson’s significant innovations was to illustrate the meanings of his words by literary quotation, of which there are around 114,000. The authors most frequently cited by Johnson include Shakespeare, Milton and Dryden but also included sentences taken from the popular press of his day.

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ENGLISH DICTIONARY ON KRNN, 4/15:  A text which was authoritative, comprehensive, and innovative, The Johnson Dictionary Of The English Language was published on this date in 1755.  If you fancy a bit of English slang, then get your agenda sorted and tune in the British skiffle playlist on Crosscurrents, 4/15 at 8 am.

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Johnson—a celebrated humourist and anecdotist who also wrote uncountable works of journalism and criticism, biographies, essays, poems, and even a novel and a stage play—brought a huge amount of that wit and linguistic originality to his dictionary, which defined over 42,000 words, using 114,000 literary quotations to illustrate them. Famously, for instance, he defined oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people”—but that famous definition is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the slights, barbs and quips Johnson included in his dictionary.

BACKFRIEND

The Oxford English Dictionary calls a backfriend “a pretended or false friend,” but Johnson was more straightforward and defined the word as “a friend backwards”—or in other words, “an enemy in secret.”

EXCISE

No one likes paying tax—and Johnson knew it. Excise was defined as “a hateful tax levied upon commodities and adjudged not by the common judges of property but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.”

FINESSE

Johnson didn’t much care for French loanwords, and omitted a great deal of francophone words—including such familiar examples as champagne and bourgeois—from his dictionary. Many of those that he did include, meanwhile, had some serious shade thrown at them: Finesse is dismissed as “an unnecessary word that is creeping into the language”; monsieur was described as “a term of reproach for a Frenchman”; and ruse was labeled “a French word neither elegant nor necessary.”

GYNOCRACY

A gynocracy is a governing body of women, or women seen as a ruling class. In Johnson’s pithier words, however, a “gynecocrasay” was defined as a “petticoat government.”

LEXICOGRAPHER

Johnson seemingly didn’t think much of his own job: On page 1195, he called a lexicographer “a harmless drudge” who “busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words.”

LUNCH

Lunch wasn’t so much a time as a quantity in Johnson’s eyes: He defined it as “as much food as one’s hand can hold.”

PATRON

Johnson was commissioned to write his dictionary and paid a staggering 1500 guineas (around $300,000 today) for his troubles. Even still, he couldn’t let the opportunity to have a dig at the London publishers who acted as his financial backers go by: He famously defined a patron as “a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.”

PENSION

A pension is “an allowance,”  adding that “in England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.”

POLITICIAN

As well as “one versed in the arts of government,” Johnson defined a politician as “a man of artifice; one of deep contrivance.”

Kitty Hawk, Wright Brothers, and First Flight (1903.12.17)

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 On the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk, NC, the Wright Brothers made the first controlled flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft on this date in 1903.

                You are invited to take flight with brothers Orville and Wilbur for a “bands of brothers” playlist on Crosscurrents, 12/17 at 8 am….and hear the following bro’s

Beach Boys: Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson

The Allman Brothers Band: Duane and Gregg Allman

The Vaughan Brothers: Jimmie and Stevie Ray

Sunnyboys: Peter and Jeremy Oxley

The Undertones: Damian and John O’Neill

Crowded House: Neil and Tim Finn

Kings of Leon: Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill

The Kinks: Dave and Ray Davies

The Black Crowes: Chris and Rich Robinson

Sly and the Family Stone: Sly and Freddie Stone

The Proclaimers: Charlie and Craig Reid

The Everly Brothers: Don and Phil Everly

Brothers … Neville, Chambers, Homes, and Isely

Cowboy Junkies: Michael and Peter Timmins (with sister Margo Timmins)

10 Things You May Not Know About the Wright Brothers

  1. Thanks to a coin toss, Orville was the first brother airborne.

The brothers tossed a coin to see who would first test the Wright Flyer on the sands of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Older brother Wilbur won the toss, but his first attempt on December 14, 1903, was unsuccessful and caused minor damage to the aircraft. Three days later, Orville, in coat and tie, lay flat on his stomach on the plane’s lower wing and took the controls. At 10:35 a.m., the Wright Flyer moved down the guiding rail with Wilbur running alongside to balance the delicate machine. For 12 seconds, the aircraft left the ground before touching down 120 feet away in the soft sands. The brothers exchanged turns at the controls three more times that day, and each flight covered an increasing distance with Wilbur’s final flight lasting nearly a minute and covering a distance of 852 feet.

  1. A toy launched their flying obsession.

When the brothers were youngsters in 1878, their father returned home one evening with a gift that he tossed into the air. “Instead of falling to the floor, as we expected,” the brothers recalled in a 1908 magazine article, “it flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor.” The model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper and powered by a rubber band mesmerized the boys and sparked their passion for aviation.

  1. Neither brother received a high school diploma.

Wilbur finished four years of high school, but the family moved from Richmond, Indiana, to Dayton, Ohio, before he could receive his diploma. Orville, although intellectually curious, dropped out of high school before his senior year to launch a printing business.

  1. The Wright brothers once printed a daily newspaper together.

Wilbur eventually joined Orville’s printing business, and in 1889 the brothers began to publish a weekly newspaper, the West Side News. The following year, they published a short-lived daily newspaper, The Evening Item. In 1892 they switched gears and opened the Wright Cycle Company, a successful bicycle repair and sales shop that financed their flying experiments.

  1. The brothers never married.

The tight-knit brothers, born four years apart, were wedded to their work; Wilbur told reporters that he didn’t have time for both a wife and an airplane.

  1. The Wright brothers flew together just one time.

Orville and Wilbur had promised their father, who feared losing both sons in an airplane accident, they would never fly together. The father made a single exception, however, on May 25, 1910, and allowed the brothers to share a six-minute flight near Dayton with Orville piloting and Wilbur the passenger. After landing, Orville took his 82-year-old father on his first and only flight. As Orville gained elevation, his excited father cried out, “Higher, Orville, higher!”

  1. After the first day airborne, the 1903 Wright Flyer never flew again.

The brothers made four flights in the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903, and as Orville and Wilbur stood discussing the final flight, a sudden strong gust of wind caught hold of the aircraft and flipped it several times. The aircraft sustained such heavy damage to its ribs, motor and chain guides that it was beyond repair. The Wright Flyer was crated back to Dayton and never flew again.

  1. Orville was involved in the first fatal aviation accident.

After their success in 1903, the Wright brothers continued their aircraft development. They marketed their two-passenger Wright Military Flyer to the U.S. Army, which required a demonstration. On September 17, 1908, Orville took to the air for a demonstration flight at Fort Myer, Virginia, with Army Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as a passenger. Just a few minutes into the flight, the propeller suddenly disintegrated, the aircraft spiraled out of control and it smashed into the ground at full speed. Rescuers pulled an unconscious Selfridge from the wreckage, and the lieutenant died hours later. Orville was hospitalized for six weeks after suffering a broken leg, four broken ribs and a back injury that impaired him for the rest of his life.

  1. For decades, Orville refused to donate the Wright Flyer to the Smithsonian Institution.

The 1903 Wright Flyer is one of the most popular exhibits at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, but for decades Orville refused to donate the aircraft to the national institution. In 1914, the Smithsonian attempted to restore the reputation of its former secretary Samuel Langley—whose experiments with his Langley Aerodrome ended in failure nine days before the Wright brothers first left the ground—by altering the aircraft and then concluding it was the first machine “capable” of manned flight. A furious Orville loaned the Wright Flyer overseas to the London Science Museum in 1925, believing it to be “the only way of correcting the history of the flying machine, which by false and misleading statements has been perverted by the Smithsonian Institution.” After the Smithsonian admitted in the 1940s to misrepresenting the Langley Aerodrome, Orville agreed to donate the aircraft to the institution. It finally arrived at the Smithsonian in 1948, nearly a year after Orville’s death.

  1. Neil Armstrong carried a piece of the Wright Flyer with him to the moon.

When another aeronautical pioneer from Ohio, Neil Armstrong, became the first man to step foot on the moon in 1969, inside his spacesuit pocket was a piece of muslin fabric from the left wing of the original 1903 Wright Flyer along with a piece of wood from the airplane’s left propeller.

THE WRIGHT FLYER

The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world’s first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights’ first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

The Wrights pioneered many of the basic tenets and techniques of modern aeronautical engineering, such as the use of a wind tunnel and flight testing as design tools. Their seminal accomplishment encompassed not only the breakthrough first flight of an airplane, but also the equally important achievement of establishing the foundation of aeronautical engineering.

Allowing 200 pounds for the propulsion system, they estimated that the aircraft with pilot would weigh 625 pounds. Based on this estimate, they calculated power, thrust, and speed requirements and concluded they needed an 8-horsepower engine generating 90 pounds of thrust to achieve a minimum airspeed of 23 miles per hour.

A reproduction of the Wright brothers’ preliminary sketch of the 1903 Wright Flyer, drawn in pencil on brown wrapping paper. The notations are in Wilbur’s handwriting. The original is at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Seeking a power plant for their airplane, the Wrights contacted many of the dozens of firms that by then were manufacturing gasoline engines. Ten responded, but none could meet power and weight Trequirements the Wrights specified, or could do so at a reasonable price. Undeterred, the brothers decided to build their own.

The engine was cooled by water from a narrow vertical water reservoir mounted on a forward strut. The system was not a radiator in the typical sense, for the water did not circulate. The reservoir simply replenished the water jacket as the water evaporated from it.

The aluminum crankcase: A first

The Wright engine, with its aluminum crankcase, marked the first time this breakthrough material was used in aircraft construction. Lightweight aluminum became essential in aircraft design development and remains a primary construction material for all types of aircraft.

Making the propellers

Conceiving the aerodynamic propeller was another example of the Wrights’ great ability to think visually and turn abstract ideas into working hardware. The Wrights decided to use two, slow-turning, large propellers, because this arrangement offered great efficiency, and the propellers could be spun in opposite directions to neutralize the gyroscopic effects of the whirling blades.

Each propeller was 8 feet in diameter and made from two laminations of 1-inch spruce. The blades were shaped with a hatchet and a drawknife and the tips covered with fabric and varnished to prevent splitting.

Chain-and-Sprocket transmission system

Wilbur and Orville again drew upon their familiarity with bicycles in creating the transmission linkage. To transfer power from the engine to the propellers, they devised a simple chain-and-sprocket arrangement running from the engine crankshaft to a pair of steel propeller shafts. To make the propellers rotate in opposite directions, they simply twisted one of the two chains in a figure eight.

A small complement of instruments recorded flight data. A Richard anemometer and a stopwatch were mounted on the front strut to the pilot’s right. They recorded distance through the air in meters and the duration of the flight, readings from which airspeed could be calculated. A Veedor revolution counter was mounted at the base of the engine to record engine revolution.

The instruments were arranged so all could be turned off, along with the engine, the instant the flight was over by a single movement of a wooden lever mounted on the lower wing.

The Wrights’ initial confidence waned, however, as they began to confront an unsettling pattern of setbacks. Between technical problems and bad weather, they at times wondered if their self-assured intention to fly the airplane in 1903 was premature.

The grand junction railroad

Because of its size and weight, the Flyer could not be hand launched like the Wright gliders. The brothers built a 60-foot launching rail from four 15-foot two-by-fours laid end to end. To take off, the airplane rode down this track on a small, wheeled dolly or “truck,” as the Wrights called it. The brothers referred to their launching track as the “Grand Junction Railroad.”

Flyer was airborne for only 3 1/2 seconds, but the power of the engine and the responsiveness of the controls bolstered Wilbur’s confidence. He wrote home, “There is now no question of final success.”

With damage repaired, the Flyer was again ready for flight on December 17. The Wrights arose that morning to freezing temperatures and a 27-mile-per-hour wind. At 10:35 a.m., the Flyer lifted off the launching rail with Orville at the controls. The overly sensitive elevator control caused the Flyer to dart up and down as it sailed slowly over the sand, coming to rest with a thud 120 feet from where it had taken off. The flight was short—only 12 seconds—but it was a true flight nevertheless. A human had flown.

       “After a while they shook hands, and we couldn’t help notice how they held on to each other’s hand, sort o’like they hated to let go; like two folks parting who weren’t sure they’d ever see each other again.”

John T. Daniels, Kitty Hawk lifesaving crewman,

recalling the moments before the first flight

Lincoln, Civil War, and the Gettysburg Address (1863.11.19)

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Lincoln had been invited on this date in 1863 to give a “few appropriate remarks” to dedicate a cemetery for Union soldiers killed at Gettysburg.  Despite its brevity and earning little attention at the time, the Gettysburg Address is one of Lincoln’s greatest speeches which you are invited to celebrate on Crosscurrents, 11/19 at 8 am.

GETTYSBURG ADDRESS ON KRNN, 11/19 at 8 am.  live on air link: http://www.krnn.org

 

Get Out to Vote and Susan B. Anthony (1872.11.05)

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 American civil rights activist Susan B. Anthony was later arrested for voting “illegally” in the presidential election on this date in 1872.   You are encouraged to vote on Tuesday after you listen to the suffragist song fest on Monday Crosscurrents 11/5 at 8 am.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY ON KRNN, 11/5: live onair link:  http://www.krnn.org

Quotes:

Nothing is hopeless that is right.

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain.

We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

Women should have equal pay for equal work and they should be considered equally eligible to the offices of principal and superintendent, professor and president. So you must insist that qualifications, not sex, shall govern appointments and salaries.

“Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.”

“No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.”

Post script:

     She was fined $100 though she never paid it.

     The legal arguement on her behalf was based on the 14th and the 15th Amendment.

     She pledged her vote for U.S. Grant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurel and Hardy, silent movie, and “Second Hundred Years” (1927.10.08)

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 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy first appeared together as convicts escaping from a penitentiary in the silent short-film “Second Hundred Years” released on this date in 1927.  Laurel and Hardy are perfect inspiration to the craziness to which you are invited on Crosscurrents, 10/8 at 8 am.  STAN AND OLLIE ON KRNN 10/8: live on-air link:  http://www.krnn.org

 

 

 

Continental Congress, Founding Fathers, and Constitution (1787.09.17)

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The product of four months of secret debate, convention delegates signed the final draft of the Constitution on this date in 1787.  You are invited to convene for a unconventional Constitutional celebration on Crosscurrents, 9/17 at 8 am.

CONSTITUTIION DAY ON KRNN, 9/17 http://www.krnn.org

I.  On September 17, 1787, only 39 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document.

II.  The original Constitution signed on September 17th and ratified June 21, 1788 is only five pages long.

III. Three Latin phrases appear in the Constitution: pro tempore, ex post facto, and habeas corpus.

IV.  James Madison is viewed as the “Father of the Constitution” despite his misgivings towards some of its content.

V.  The 85 articles of The Federalist were instrumental in getting the Constitution ratified and were written by Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.

VI.  The Constitutional Convention lasted from May 25, 1787 through September 17, 1787. George Washington served as president of the Constitutional Convention, but did not speak during any of the proceedings until the Convention’s final day.

VII. During the Convention, George Washington sat in a chair that had a representation of half a sun on the top, which Benjamin Franklin regularly gazed at during troublesome moments of the proceedings. Asked why, he said he was unable to decide if the sun was rising or setting. Only when the Constitution was signed did Franklin decide the sun was rising.

VIII. Franklin, at age 81, was the oldest delegate, and had to be helped to sign his name.

IX.  John Shallus, a clerk for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, physically wrote the Constitution down on parchment paper. The Convention paid him $30 for his services, which is worth about $800 today.

X.  Rhode Island was the only state that refused to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention and was the last state to ratify the Constitution (May 29, 1790).

XI.  One of the Constitutional Convention’s debates was the title of the nation’s Chief Executive. One possible idea: “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.” Eventually everyone settled on “The President of the United States.”

XII. The U.S. Constitution is the shortest governing document of any nation today, and contains only 7 articles and 27 amendments. It is also the oldest; Norway’s comes in second and was codified in 1814.

XIII. Giving comfort to grammar errants everywhere, the official copy of the Constitution contains an incorrect word — Article 1, Section 10 uses “it’s” when it should be “its,” even in 18th-century usage. However, the word “chuse” as used in the Constitution was acceptable at the time. So was the alternative spelling of Pennsylvania, Pensylvania; the Constitution actually uses both spellings.