Pennsylvania Ratifies the Constitution of the United States December 12, 1787 and a visit to the National Archives.

While all the political maneuvering of the Connecticut settlers and the Pennsylvania Government and others was going on, it was becoming apparent that the newly independent 13 colonies needed a stronger Federal government and this led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Much to my amazement Timothy Pickering was voted a Luzerne County delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He pushed to have the new constitution ratified. He was an influential man and had a lot of connections, so this was probably an advantage to the new county.

In my opinion, the new constitution brought order to the new country and probably improved chances for the Connecticut settlers in Pennsylvania to get their titles confirmed. It would take a good decade for a finalization of those titles and more.  In any event, it is pretty amazing to know that our ancestors, my Solomon Goss and his siblings were there when this new country was established.

1940 Picture of the signing of the constitution

See Constitution Daily for a list of 10 reasons why American’s first constitution failed: https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-reasons-why-americas-first-constitution-failed

The states and the dates of ratification of the new Constitution are listed here, in order of ratification

Ben’s Guides online  https://bensguide.gpo.gov/

  • Delaware: December 7, 1787
  • Pennsylvania: December 12, 1787
  • New Jersey: December 18, 1787
  • Georgia: January 2, 1788
  • Connecticut: January 9, 1788
  • Massachusetts: February 6, 1788
  • Maryland: April 28, 1788
  • South Carolina: May 23, 1788
  • New Hampshire: June 21, 1788 (With this state’s ratification, the Constitution became legal.) This is when the Articles of Confederation ended and the the date began to operate a new government under the Constitution.
  • Virginia: June 25, 1788
  • New York: July 26, 1788

The new government began on March 4, 1789

George Washington was elected first President of the United States. John Adams was Vice President. War and Treasury Department are established by Congress. Henry Knox will be the Secretary of War, Alexander Hamilton will be the Secretary of the Treasury.  The Supreme Court is created and composed of six men and five associate justices. Also provided for an Attorney General and judicial system of 13 district courts and three circuit courts. Thomas Jefferson is officially named Secretary of State, and John Jay is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

  • North Carolina: November 21, 1789
  • Rhode Island: May 29, 1790 (Rhode Island did not hold a Constitution

The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791.

In June of 2011, I wrote about a trip that my hubby and I where planning to Washington D.C.  At that time he went to conferences a lot and I would tag along. Here is what I wrote about seeing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the National Archives Rotunda. I wrote this post on my blog: Massachusetts Meanderings which was originally on Blogger but I later moved it to WordPress. At some point I will remove it from the internet and turn it into a PDF that is edited and updated for viewing on a PAGE on this blog at the top in the menu area under the picture.  https://sgossfamily.wordpress.com/massachusetts-meanderings-trip-april-2011-overview/

I have done a minor amount of editing to the entry below and do wish to caution you that things might have changed since I visited there in 2011, so go and study up before you visit the National Archives, which is amazing experience.

https://museum.archives.gov/founding-documents

While planning our trip to D.C., I struggled with whether to do research at the National Archives or not.  I  decided that I was content.  However, I had not toured the Rotunda in a long time and that was very cool.  The Nation’s Charters of Freedom documents are on display there. 

Here is a Wikipedia short blip about them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charters_of_Freedom 

Since I could not take pictures inside Wikipedia has a nice one showing what the Rotunda looks like, however, the Rotunda is now darkened so it is not quite as bright as their photo implies. 

The Charters of Freedom are:  The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Three of our Nation’s most important documents. 

There is so much to do at the National Archives I was surprised.  I don’t remember all this from 1999?  I think things have changed a lot and restoration has been done for there was evidence that the Rotunda area was quite different than memory serves.

You stand in the line to the left and enter into the National Archives in what might be the lower floor.  Once through security you can pretty much wander around to different areas and exhibits on your own following the signs. 

National Archives, Washington D.C.

Statues in front of the National Archives

Another Statue

The National Archives building on the outside is very ornate as you see from the photos.

To do research you go into the Archives on the North side of the building.  I just remember the security checkpoint but there might be more to see there according to a reliable source?  There are actually two buildings one in D.C. and the other in College Park.  You will have to determine which works for you.  When I went years ago I was so green I didn’t know how to use a microfilm reader.  I was so intimidated by it all. I suggest that you prepare by visiting the website and studying the rules and regulations.  Also do a search of the NARA catalog and pin down as much as possible what you want to research like Civil War pensions or Revolutionary war pensions and more.  I know that they have changed things greatly since then and have hours for pulling the documents, so you do need to study up and plan. 

The other option is to hire someone to help you via the APG (Association of Professional Genealogist).  There is a chapter in D.C. called the National Capital Area Chapter of APG.  The cost of a Civil War Pension file has gone up greatly and this is an alternative.  A professional will be working for you and knows what they are doing and will make sure copies of the whole pension or service file are made for you.  Yes, they will charge you but they can get the documents for less, I believe.  

My great grandfather George A. Barclay’s Civil War pension file was not at NARA!  I waited so patiently for it but they said they didn’t have it. AUGGH!!!  It was at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs! They, the VA, copied the whole thing and didn’t charge me anything.  It was at least 2 inches thick.  Yes, I was very fortunate.  I obtained other documents as well before they raised the rates.

My first stop was the Archives Shop.  Now I did see the movie “National Treasure.”  The gift store that is in the Archives did not look a bit like the one in the movie…giggle!  I studied the gift shop carefully and pondered how I wish I could do more reading.  I am amazed at all the books that are written about many topics of history. So little time!

Now they have restrooms near the Archives shop and a Cafe?  I don’t remember all that from before? I did not go to the Cafe for I was not hungry.  I headed to the Rotunda and was immediately stopped with the crowd of people waiting to get in. 

The line wandered around with cording to guide you and there were these reading boards and a video being displayed but I had to keep moving so I didn’t get to read all of that part.  As you enter you first find a display about the Magna Carta.  They had one of seven copies of this document.  There is actually a hereditary organization you can join:  http://www.magnacharta.org/  It would take a lot of work to prepare for membership.  I counted 10 generations for a client to just get to crossing the Atlantic Ocean and that didn’t include England and those generations. 

As I waited to get into the Rotunda area, I observed the murals on the wall showing our founding fathers looking very much like a Renaissance painting which was a little odd to me????  I tried to count the eagles but could only find six and not the nine they said were in the area. It was very dark and cool in there. 

At a certain point they let in a group of people, lining you up shoulder to shoulder four lines deep by the gates and steps.  I think they wait ten minutes and let you into the Rotunda area as a big group.  I headed for the left which was backed up with a line but you can move about if you want.

They have display boards with glass and they have prepared materials to lead you to the viewing of the main document.  First was the Declaration of Independence and I was amazed that they have copies with corrections on them. 

The sad part was the Declaration of Independence is so faded.  They say it was in light for many years at another location and the ink and parchment do not do well in those conditions.  This time the containment area they had it in did not keep dimming and coming back.  So it seems they have learned to preserve documents of this type in a different manner.  It did make me nervous when the people would lean on the glass but apparently it is okay to do that.  There are guards standing there watching. 

It was difficult to read all that they had prepared and keep the line moving but I noticed that the crowd had diminished.  It was about 5:20 pm and they are open till 7 pm for summer.  Hmmm…maybe it is in the timing?

The next document was the Constitution and the displays led up to how it was created after the Articles of Confederation did not work.  They had George Washington’s copy with his corrections.  The last was the Bill of Rights and more explanation about its origins. 

I wish my dad was here to see these documents.  He was the true Patriot in my family!

If you do make it to Washington D.C. I suggest that you go and visit the Rotunda at the National Archives and view these documents. I would do it again, if I get the chance.

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About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Solomon Goss and Olive (Scott) Goss (Son of Philip & Mary (Kendall) Goss, TRIP - Massachusetts & Connecticut Genealogical Trip April 2011 (formerly Massachusetts Meanderings), Washington DC and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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