Boom! National Park Service Ranger Explains Constitution, Bill of Rights
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Boom! National Park Service Ranger Explains Constitution, Bill of Rights

October 7, 2019


Today’s society, we tend to laugh. We tend to joke. We kind of get to poke fun at our government. What gets done. What doesn’t get done. Try doing it for the very first time. Try doing it for the very first time. Because that’s exactly what these men are
doing. They are flying by the seat of their pants. No one knew if it would work. No one knew how long it would work. If it didn’t work, whose job was it to fix
it? What these men put on paper still govern this
country today. Could they have address every issue during
the Constitutional Convention? No. But, they left the door open for flexibility. Something called the Bill of Rights, that
will allow for address some of those things as times went on. As I mentioned earlier, in Congress Hall,
1791, they ratified the Bill of Rights. First ten amendments to the Constitution granting
citizens freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. The right to bear arms, along with many others. In 1791, there were ten. There are now 27 amendments to the Constitution. As you run through the amendments, pay close
attention to the year they were added. It will be a benchmark in American history. Pay close attention to the year they were
added. When they added the 13th, 14th, 15th amendment,
dealing with the issue of slavery. When were they added? Coming out of the Civil War. When senators finally get elected. When the public finally gets to elect their
Senate. When women finally get the right to vote. The 26th amendment passed the fastest, passed
in 1971. Why would that be such a big deal? Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Because, prior to that, young men, when they
turned 18, had to register for Selective Service. Which meant they could get drafted. They could get sent overseas, get hurt, maimed,
paralyzed, and yes, die, without ever having the right to vote in this country. There are rights, privileges, and freedoms
we have in this country many other countries will never have. Some are fighting and dying as we speak to
get some semblance of what we have here, in this great nation. Of everything in this room, the only original
item happens to be that chair. That is the actual chair that George Washington
sat in during the time that he presided over the Constitutional Convention. Now, it’s been nicknamed “The Rising Sun”
chair, because during the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin often wondered if the sun on
the back of that chair was rising or setting, because just looking at it, he couldn’t tell. During the final days of the Constitutional
Convention, Franklin shared with many of his colleagues that he then had the happiness
to know that the sun on the back of that chair was indeed a rising, and not a setting sun. Perhaps Franklin was being a little optimistic
about the work they’d accomplished here, the documents they’d put in place, the strong
central government and the future of that young nation. When asked about the Constitution, Franklin
commented that he did not agree with everything that was in it, but he doubted that they could
have done any better. He doubted if they could have done any better. It is one thing to see a picture of this room,
it’s another to read all about it in the history book. But, I don’t think anything compares to physically
standing right here in this room, trying to imagine what happened then, and how it affects
our lives today. I mentioned to you earlier that each one of
these tables represented one of the original 13 colonies, later states. They were laid out as such: New Hampshire. Rhode Island. Connecticut. Massachusetts. New York. New Jersey. Delaware. North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Maryland. Virginia. Pennsylvania. But, at the Constitutional Convention, there
were only twelve states present, not 13. Only 12 states sent representatives to the
Constitutional Convention. The lovely state of Rhode Island chose not
to send anyone to the Constitutional Convention. Anyone here from the state of Rhode Island? Rhode Island? See, they still don’t show up. This concludes our tour of Independence Hall. Once again, if you have the time, if you have
the interest, I strongly recommend seeing the West Wing in Congress Hall. When you exit Independence Hall, first building
to the right would be the West Wing. That has the documents. It has the ink stand. Don’t need a ticket, walk right inside that
building as soon as you get there. In about ten minutes, at 11:20, there will
be a tour of Congress Hall, and there will be a 20 tour of that building. Thank you very much, enjoy the rest of your
day.

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