Close to Nowhere

We the people
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

How many of us spent any time at all over the 4th of July holiday thinking about the Constitution of the United States of America?

I normally don’t and am not sure why I was thinking about it so much this year.

Did you know it was written on four large parchment pages? Newspaper size pages! I didn’t know that either.

And there were (are) typos. Well, not exactly typos. It was handwritten by Jacob Shallus. He had to “scribe” it in one weekend, “spreading the more than 4,000 words across four pages,” according to Henry Bain of Prologue magazine, who wrote an article about the errors in the Constitution.

And, he had to use a quill pen. Which explains the ink splotches.

After Shallus finished the Constitution, he wrote footnotes on the last page, listing all the “typos” and mistakes so future generations would know why it looked scratched out in some places.

Alexander Hamilton took on the task of writing each state beside each signer’s name. Next to Benjamin Franklin, Hamilton wrote his state as Pensylvania.

As time passed and printers reproduced the document over and over, errors and mistakes crept in. Seems like each printer used his own style and preferences. It’s too bad the Associated Press Style Book wasn’t around then. That’s what newspapers use, The South Reporter included, to help with grammar, punctuation, etc.

William Hickey, a member of the Senate’s clerical staff, prepared a text of the Constitution for printing, in the early 1840s. He noted a  printed copy, considered as correct, was found to contain several errors in words and 65 in the punctuation.

There are also errors in the Amendments. Minor ones, but still -- some words that are meant to be singular are plural and vice versa.

The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are The Bill of Rights. There were orginally 12, but the last two were dropped.

Oddly enough, the sixth through the 10th amendments deal with crime and punishments.

As for me though, the amendment that calls for a free press is my favorite.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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