On September 17, 1787 the delegates signed off on the Constitution, sending it to the States to be ratified, Here's a brief quiz on the text of what they sent.
1. What provisions of the Constitution may not be amended?
T or F:
2. The Constitution refers to the national government as "republican."
3. The Constitution prohibited women and blacks from holding national office.
4. The Constitution refers to Jesus Christ.
5. The Constitution sets age and citizenship requirements for the major federal offices--congress, executive, and judiciary.
Answers, with brief commentary, will appear below late tomorrow in the Comments section.
1. No amendment providing for a tax on (exceeding the amt of ?) or the outright abolition of the importation of such persons states may think okay to admit can be passed before 1808, i.e., don't touch the slave trade till 1808. Also, no amendment can repeal the requirement that any direct or capitation tax which may be passed must take into account the popular proportionality of each state in accordance with a census count. Lastly, that each state gets two senators cannot be amended.
2. False. The constitution says the U.S. government guarantees a republican form of government to each state. Does this not imply that the general govt. is itself republican in form?
3. False. The constitution speaks of persons eligible for office. However, insofar as it lets the states establish the qualifications of electors, and insofar as it was well known that states (other than NJ?) prohibited blacks and women from voting, the the constitution acknowledged that blacks and women would not vote under it (and hence would not hold federal office). The 15th Amendment changed this regarding black men and the 19th regarding women generally (although women could vote in some states prior to that, and could conceivably have run for, won and held federal office).
4. False. Though the constitution states that it was signed in convention "in the year of our Lord" 1787, and no other Lord is meant by this than Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the "Sundays excepted" on the time for presidential approval or rejection of congressional bills, obliquely acknowledges the Christian sabbath.
5. False. Judicial positions require presidential appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate. No mention of age or residency there.
John mostly gets them right, but some explanation is needed. Here's the text of the Constitution:
1. Article V. Nothing about taxes here but rather about the prohibition of the slave trade. What is at stake here is whether the Constitution is pro- or anti-slavery. Congress forbad the African slave trade as soon as the Constitution permitted, providing the death penalty. Without a strong navy, the prohibition went unenforced. Lincoln was the first President to have a slaver hanged. See William Lee Miller's account.
The equality of representation in the Senate is a key tenet of federalism and the electoral college.
2 F, the Constitution is a republican document but it doesn't say so. The guarantee is to the states. Art. IV, 2.
3. F, nothing keeps blacks and women from holding federal office. In fact, blacks could vote in some northern original states. See the dissent in Dred Scott and Lincoln's speech on that case, June 26, 1857.
4. T, Article VII. Obviously thisreference to "the Year of our Lord" 1787 does not produce a theocracy and may not even have any religious significance. But it is interesting to say the least to note the parallel between Christian time and Declaration time. Presidential proclamations--check Obama's next--still end with this formulation for their dates.
5. F, the significance of the lack of such designations for the federal judiciary is that they are not a co-equal branch, but rather one inferior to the elected ones.