A local historian shares the unique history of the first draft of the Constitution here in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Inside the Center City building, lie some of the rarest documents found in the United States. The Pennsylvania Historical Society has kept them under lock and key for decades. In just days, you can have a look for yourself.
Typically, these one of a kind documents are kept in a vault that is surrounded by several other vaults. We took an exclusive tour inside to show you what we’re talking about.
Dr. Lee Arnold in the chief historian at the society and we can’t even show you exactly where he keeps these documents for security reasons. “They thought the first name of our country was going to be the United People and States of America,” Arnold explained. “No one knows that.”
Arnold showed us the first draft, ever, of the United States Constitution.
The hard to read handwriting belonged to James Wilson. He represented Pennsylvania during the drafting of the constitution. He also signed the Declaration of Independence.
Arnold says the Democratic National Convention is a perfect time to show this one of a kind off. Also on tap, the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, in remarkably good shape. It too is incredibly rare.
“When I first came here, none of these were encapsulated like this,” Arnold said. “They were just lying loose in folders and I was absolutely terrified to touch them.”
You won’t be able to touch them, but get just inches away; a chance to see the first words in ink that shaped the United States of America.
“These are the documents that were birthed in Philadelphia. They were printed here. They were handwritten here. This was our first capital. They really belong here and deserve to be displayed here,” Arnold said.