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“I have studied history my entire life, and I’m just endlessly fascinated that the Constitution was able to be worked out. It’s brilliant,” said Wayne A. Huss, PhD yesterday in the Merck Auditorium of Maguire Hall.
Dr. Huss, GMercyU’s History Professor and Program Coordinator, led a discussion called “An Introduction to the U.S. Constitution” in celebration of Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the document on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pa. The Constitution is one of the most important documents in American history. It is also the longest surviving charter of government in the world.
Beginning with a pop quiz on the U.S. Constitution, Dr. Huss then walked through a timeline of the era, the structure of the Constitution, the various types of powers it bestowed to the federal government and the 13 states, and the ratification process. He explained that some of the framers were influenced by The Age of Enlightenment (a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries), which led to the Constitution’s checks and balances that ensured no one branch of the U.S. government held too much power.
Dr. Huss also set the scene and humanized the framers and delegates.
“The Constitution was drafted in secrecy – could that happen today? They worked behind locked doors and closed windows in hot, humid Philadelphia. Could you imagine wearing high-necked shirts and wigs at that time? Do you think tempers might’ve flared?” Dr. Huss posed to the audience of history enthusiasts. “They were human beings, not statues.”
These details made the compromises reached to create the Constitution that much more remarkable.
The spirit of Constitution Day was especially appreciated by one of Dr. Huss’s history students, who came to class on September 17 bearing cupcakes.
“I wondered why and another student said, ‘It’s Constitution Day! You have to have cupcakes on Constitution Day,’” Dr. Huss said with a smile. “Great group of students this year.”