If so, the New Hampshire Center for Constitutional Studies invites you, your child, or your employees, to take this brief Constitutional quiz. It is a good test of your knowledge of the laws that govern this nation, and equally important, of your child's education.
Should you find yourself a bit rusty, NHCCS would like you to
know that they offer a one-day seminar on the American Founding called
The Making of America. This course covers
the period starting in 1400 B.C. to the present time.
Now try taking the quiz. It consists of fifteen rather basic questions and only you will know how you do. HINT: You see the answers are given on the next page.
2. What document did the Constitution replace?
3. In what year was the Constitution debated?
4. What form of government did the Constitution set up for America?
5. New Hampshire was the __th state to ratify the Constitution with __________________ and _______________signing as New Hampshire's Founding Fathers.
6. What branches of the national government do the first three Articles of the U.S. Constitution cover?
7. What is the Bill of Rights?
8. What is the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
9. What is the practice of judicial review?
10. What Article of the constitution authorizes Presidential executive orders?
11. What Article of the Constitution authorizes federal education programs?
12. What is the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution? What was its original intent?
13. What is the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
14. How many signers in all to the U.S. Constitution? Can you name those representing your state?
15. How many signers to the Declaration of Independence? Can you name the founding fathers who signed for your state?
For more information on our one-day course, please call 603-679-1320.
We would happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the instruction,
and/or to discuss the possibilities of having The
Making of America course be delivered in your general area.
1. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, signed by John Hancock on July 4, 1776 and signed by the congress on August 4, 1776.
2. The U.S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, which were the original agreements made between the states after they had won their independence from England in 1784. Originally, the Constitutional Convention, called in 1787 and during which the Constitution was drafted, was only supposed to have been a meeting to revise the Articles of Confederation. In fact, through a great deal of political intrigue, an entirely new document was written, and this is what we now know as the United States Constitution.
3. In 1787, starting in May and lasting until September 17, 1787. For four long arduous months, in the heat of the summer, they debated at Independence Hall, in Philadelphia PA. Hammering out what is now considered the most perfect political document in the history of the world.
4. The Constitution set up a Constitutional Republic. This established a republican form of government, which guarantees individual rights to a minority of one! Article IV Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution also guarantees that each State joining the Union will provide a republican form of government. Many people think that America is a democracy but it is not. The Framers loathed that form of government and said it could only be used to elect our representatives. After that task, ALL people would be ruled equally under the law and so in America we follow the RULE of LAW in running the government.
5. 9th State. Once NH signed; the Constitution was approved by the required 2/3 majority. Nicholas Gilman of Exeter and John Langdon of Portsmouth represented NH. Their names appear among the 39 Founding Fathers attached to the bottom of the Constitution.
6. The first three Articles cover, respectively, the Legislative branch, the Executive branch, and the Judicial branch. Each Article enumerates the boundaries of the Federal Government. Many people think that the purpose of the Constitution gives them their rights when, in fact, the Constitution merely protects the people's God given rights, as stated in The Declaration of Independence, from an over reaching central government. Since the people and the states had ALL the rights and ALL the authority and ALL the power to run their state and govern themselves, the Founding Fathers did not want to infringe on any authority the people were not willing to turn over to a central government. Hence, the Framers wrote the Constitution to read like a sort of job description. In this way, if the Constitution did not mention a specific grant of authority to the Federal government it was not to take it for itself. Each Article specifically lists the authority the people were willing to entrust to each branch of the government. The people effectively granted this authority, in convention, state by state, when the Constitution was signed into the Supreme law of the land.
7. The Bill of Rights is composed of the first TEN Amendments of the Constitution. These ten amendments were passed in the year following the adoption of the Constitution. Having suffered under a tyrannical king, many Americans were frightened of a central government and refused to sign the Constitution if a Bill of Rights explicitly stating certain basic rights, without limiting others they took as "inalienable," was not attached. George Washington convinced the people they should pass the Constitution and trust him to make certain a Bill of Rights was delivered as the next order of business. The people so loved and trusted the General that they went ahead and did just as he said. And, as President, George Washington kept his word to the people.
8. The first amendment to the Constitution guarantees that the Federal government can NEVER interfere in religion, freedom of speech and peaceable assembly. It states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It is very important that the people understand this amendment, as with the others, apply ONLY to the federal government.
9. The practice of judicial review is where the Supreme Court not only adjudicates cases brought to it by the people, through the appeal process as a result of decisions made at the lower levels of the judicial system, but also determines the "Constitutionality" of certain laws. The Supreme Court started doing this under John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson's cousin, back in the early 1800s. This encroachment upon the Congress infuriated Jefferson, as well as James Madison, the father of our Constitution. It happened in just one case called "Marbury vs. Madison." This case was heard by the Supreme Court with Chief Justice John Marshal writing the majority opinion. In writing the decision, Marshall established the precedent that the Supreme Court could not only decide the winner of a case, but could also determine if the law being applied was Constitutional. Since this "authority" was not expressly written into the Constitution (see Article III) Jefferson and others said the Supreme Court was not allowed to just take it for themselvs. It was the subject of great debate and since that time, numerous Supreme Court decisions have given greater and greater power to the Federal government. This has had a major impact on individual rights for with the Court asserting the right to interpret the "meaning" of the Constitution, in order for the Federal government to take more power for the other two branches, they only have to ensure that they appoint judges who favor a very strong central government. James Madison said that the Constitution must only be interpreted according to the context in which it was written and accepted in convention. We have already seen that the people did not want a Federal government that was too strong; that is why they insisted on a Bill of Rights!
10. None. The practice of Executive Orders was originally restricted to apply to a President's staff and department officers. They were administrative in nature and dealt only with internal executive branch operations. However, the scope and influence of Executive Orders has grown over the years. We know this is not acceptable because Article I of the Constitution states that all lawmaking authority rests with the Congress, the two branches consisting of the House and the Senate.
11. None. Although the Founding Fathers highly valued education and even had ideas on how and what it should consist of, they felt it was a better idea to entrust the educating of America's young to the states and to the children's parents.
12. The Interstate Commerce Clause is found in Article I Section 8 if the Constitution. It says, "…the Congress of the United States shall have the power to… Regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states…" In fact, commerce between the states was one of the reasons Madison, Washington, Franklin and the other founding fathers decided to write a Constitution. After fighting so hard with Britain for their independence, and so many lives being sacrificed to win their independence, it saddened Washington, who went through that war and knew the suffering his men endured, to see the bickering which had developed between the states over border tariffs. The remedy was to lift control of this and other issues like coinage of money to a central source in order to bring order to this young confederation. The clause was originally written to correct a flaw in the Articles of Confederation, a flaw that allowed each state to coin its own money and to establish tariffs against products coming from other states. The Founding Fathers recognized that the states were coining money at inflationary rates in order to pay their debts, and that the tariffs they were imposing on one another were counter-productive, destroying productivity, and suppressing job growth. In writing the clause, the Founding Fathers intended only to allow the congress to stop such harmful tariffs and trade laws, and to give the power to coin money solely to the Congress. The Founders intended the Congressional strictures over "interstate commerce" to apply to the states themselves, not to individual businesses within them. They did not intend on allowing the Congress the power to regulate private business in any way. Interestingly, this was one of the most contentious points debated during the convention; many states did not want to turn this authority over to the Federal government. This clause very nearly cost us the Constitution; the very idea of it was so despised by the delegates.
13. The second amendment provides for "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The Founding Fathers fought the revolution initially with the guns that the colonists kept and owned themselves. Had the people not had arms, we might not enjoy our freedom today. Not only does this amendment strictly forbid any government, be it State or Federal, from establishing any law infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms, it mentions the Militia. At the time of the writing of the Constitution, it was widely understood that the term Militia referred to every individual capable of bearing a firearm. The Militia was not understood under the current revisionist concept of the National Guard. It was understood to be a spontaneously generated body of free individuals living in the United States.
14. Out of the 13 states, 12 states appointed a total of 72 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Only 55 actually showed up, as many States appropriated no money to cover travel, food and lodging expenses. Many could not afford to attend without financial help from their respective state, so they stayed at home. Of the 55 delegates who did attend, 39 actually signed the Constitution. John Langdon and Nicholas Gilman signed for New Hampshire.
15. There are 56 Signers to the Declaration of Independence. The 56 men who signed this document committed "treason" in the eyes of the mother country England. The British Crown ordered their deaths; if caught, they would be hanged to unconsciousness, cut down and revived, disemboweled, quartered, their body parts burned in oil and scattered about. Knowing this could be their fate; these men pledged their lives, their honor and their fortunes that America might be free from the oppressive tyranny of King George III. These men so loved the thought of being a free nation, that they were willing to risk not only their lives, but their entire fortunes. Some of them did lose their lives and almost all lost their fortunes helping America to become an independent nation; but, none ever lost their sacred honor. They all became heroes to the cause of freedom. The New Hampshire Signers are: Matthew Thornton, Josiah Barlett and William Whipple.