Millions of people have passed through the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to see the original parchments that are our Charters of Freedom. They pause to look at the faded writing on the Declaration of Independence, the bold opening words “We the People” on the Constitution, and the straightforward enumeration of our Bill of Rights.
This year, for the first time, visitors will be able to see what is sometimes referred to as the “fifth page” of the Constitution—the Resolutions of Transmittal to the Continental Congress. A special display for the 225th anniversary of the Constitution in September, will feature this document. “It’s up there with the Constitution in terms of value,” says curator Alice Kamps.
The resolutions spell out how the new Constitution would be adopted by the United States and how the new government would be put into effect.
Instead of seeking the consent of Congress and the 13 state legislatures, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention proposed that the Constitution “be laid before the United States in Congress assembled” and then submitted to special ratifying conventions elected by the people in each of the states. Once nine states had ratified it, this new instrument of government would go into effect in those nine states.
This process was carefully devised to ensure that the authority of the new government came from the people. Without the resolution, the Constitution, in the words of James Madison, “was nothing more than the draft of a plan, nothing but a dead letter, until life and validity were breathed into it by the voice of the people.”
The page will only be on display from September 14 to 17. See the “fifth page” and the other four pages of the Constitution at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
Read article here: http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=10252