A visit to Independence Hall on a key Constitution anniversary
This Memorial Day weekend starts with a fitting anniversary, the day 225 years ago that the constitutional convention started in Philadelphia.
The official tour of the Hall requires tickets, which you can pick up for free at the Independence Visitors Center or get online or online for a nominal fee.
For more information on the Hall, go to: http://www.nps.gov/inde/independence-hall-1.htm
While you are waiting for your tour group, there are other historic landmarks nearby and a ton of information about them , as well as knowledgeable Park Service folks.
Our interest on this day was going to the Pennsylvania Assembly Room, where the delegates met for much of the summer of 1787.
The original Rising Sun Chair used by George Washington sits in the restored meeting room, as well as other artifacts.
It was Ben Franklin who named the chair as the Constitution was signed, saying it was a symbol of better days to come for the young country.
On this day 225 years ago, the delegates who met in the same room didn’t include Franklin (who was ill) but did include enough official delegates to officially start the convention.
In 2012, the same room was filled with a very knowledgeable tour guide, inquisitive tourists (who turned off their cellphones) and two NCC staff members gazing at the Rising Sun Chair.
About 40 chairs sit in the room, in addition to the Rising Sun Chair, along with period-piece tables and other artifacts that all are positioned behind a wooden railing.
The other room on the tour is the former state Supreme courtroom, where a mob invaded the room in 1776, tour down the British colonial standard and burned it.
It also includes a cast-iron Prisoner’s Dock, with railings and a barred lock.
Back in the Assembly Room, another noticeable feature is the heavy green drapes that hang inside the windows.
During the convention, drapes covered all the windows in rooms where the delegates met, to keep the sessions secret and block out nosy reporters.
Today, we saw ducts in the flooring in the Assembly Room for a modern climate-control system, something that the Framers would have welcomed with open arms.
In 1787, it was a very hot summer, and the combination of the closed, draped windows and the woolen clothes of the period made most of the Framers hot under the collar – literally.
Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of Constitution Daily.