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Palmerton Area Historical Society hears about Constitution

Published October 28. 2010 05:00PM

The Oct. 11 program of the Palmerton Area Historical Society was scheduled to be about William Penn with a video of the reconstruction of his home, Pennsbury Manor. Instead Secretary Betsy Burnhauser substituted a program about the Constitution because "our Constitution is under assault."

In 1777 the Continental Congress passed the Articles of Confederation which gave very little power to a central government. A group met at Mount Vernon in 1785 and decided maybe something should be done. There were more meetings at Annapolis and Montpelier (James Madison's home).

By 1787 the states were asked to send delegates to the State House in Philadelphia. Fifth-five came and worked during a hot summer with the windows closed and under an oath of secrecy. George Washington was elected president of the convention.

The Virginia plan was for two chambers. The lower house was to be elected by popular vote and would in turn choose the upper house members. There would be a supreme and lower courts.

The New Jersey plan wanted one chamber with each state having one vote. The chief executive would have a life term and there would be a federal court system.

The Connecticut plan included equal representation in the Senate and the lower chamber elected by popular vote. The president would have a four-year term and federal judges were appointed for life. Slave importation would end in 1808.

After 127 days of debate the 4,000-word document was signed by 39 members of the convention. Delaware was the first to ratify the new Constitution and Pennsylvania was second. Rhode Island, which had refused to send delegates, took 2-1/2 years to ratify it.

A video, "The Sunrise of the American Constitution," showed the work in the State House at the convention.

In Society business: George Ashman reported acquisitions had been received from 19 people since August. He said the Chamber of Commerce wants to get new banners for the town in line with the upcoming centennial of the incorporation of the borough in 2012.

Jim Burnhauser reported a security system has been added at the Little White Church.

The membership drive has begun with applications being included with the next newsletter.

Eighty historical throws have been sold. They are available at the Heritage Center and will make beautiful Christmas gifts, said Burnhauser.

The Christmas party will be held at Bert's on Dec. 13, 6 p.m. There will be entertainment this year.

Painting has brightened the church. Greg Soltis repaired windows and a flag has been added in the vestibule.

A wireless microphone has been purchased along with a PowerPoint projector. The latter will be used for a program about the history of the Society on Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. in the Knights Gallery of the library.

Jane Borbe and Bill Smelas were elected president and vice president respectively. Helen Steinmetz and Howard Cyr were re-elected to the board of directors for a four-year term.

A new display will be at the Heritage Center beginning in January. Loans of quilts and coverlets at least 50 years old will be appreciated.

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