National Constitution Center

Philadelphia
PA

A few of the 39 signers and three dissenters
at the National Constitution Center

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Opened in 2003, the nonprofit Center “illuminates constitutional ideals and inspires acts of citizenship” by providing a theatrical overview, multimedia history, interactive exhibits, and life-size statues of the signers of the Constitution. Includes periodic special exhibits.

Much of the information is general (for example visitors will not learn about the special role of James Madison at the Constitutional Convention of 1787), but the cumulative impact will be worthwhile for adults and older children.

Associated People

Washington’s refusal to accept a salary for his services was emblematic of his somewhat ostentatious public virtue. He did open a public expense account, however, and some have claimed that he made money from it by overcharging Congress. In fact, the £150 per month that he requested for expenses was not just for him, but also for his entourage, which sometimes swelled to a crowd. His account books, which still exist, list charges for things like ferry fares, innkeepers’ fees, candlesticks, saddle repair, meat, fruit, mounds of cabbages and beets, and (admittedly) oceans of grog, liquor, and wine. Washington even charged Congress for fifteen shillings Cash paid a beggar by the General’s order. But although he was not averse to placing his headquarters in the occasional mansion, he otherwise made do with precious few luxuries.

Edward G. Lengel
General George Washington: A Military Life (2005)