Here are some of the interesting things we learned:
1. The State House of Pennsylvania was constructed between 1732 and 1756 and it later became known as Independence Hall. From 1775 to 1783, this was where the Second Continental Congress met (except for 1777 - 1778 when the British occupied Philadelphia). George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775 in the Assembly Room and the Declaration of Independence was adopted there on July 4, 1776. The Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781 and the U. S. Constitution was drafted in 1787. George Washington sat in the "rising sun" chair during the Constitutional Convention. And, when people were on trial, they had to stand during trial in a cage on the floor of the courtroom. This is where the saying "stand for trial" came from.
2. The United States Constitution was written in 1787 and was signed on September 17th. But it wasn't ratified until 1788. Some of the original delegates in the ratifying conventions were upset that the Constitution lacked a description of individual rights so a list of rights was added in 1791. The first ten amendments became known as The Bill of Rights. Two of America's "founding fathers" didn't sign the Constitution because they were traveling. Thomas Jefferson was in France and John Adams was in Great Britain. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and Jonathon Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest. Since the Constitution was written there have been 111,000 proposed amendments. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.
3. Christ Church is known as "The Nation's Church" because of the famous Revolutionary-era leaders who worshiped there. It was founded in 1695 as the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania. At Christ Church, 25% of Philadelphia’s free and enslaved Africans were baptized, a school was created to educate slaves, and the first black priest, Absalom Jones, was ordained. During the Revolutionary Era, Christ Church welcomed the Continental Congresses. Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross were parishioners. Later, George Washington and John Adams attended services while they were the nation’s Chief Executives. Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the Constitution are buried at Christ Church. We took a picture of Ben Franklin's grave.
4. According to vexillologists (flag experts), Betsy Ross is said to have sewn the first American flag. This is one of her houses in Philadelphia. Although there has been some historical controversy over the fact, there is some historical evidence that Ross did in fact sew the first flag. The Continental Congress did not indicate why it chose the colors of red, white, and blue. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Confederation chose these same colors for the Great Seal of the United States and said: white meant purity and innocence, red meant valor and hardiness, and blue meant vigilance, perseverance, and justice. Mary Young Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1813. It flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 (1812-1814) and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. Pickersgill's flag today hangs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Her house still stands as a museum you can visit in Baltimore, Maryland.
5. Benjamin Franklin was an inventor and scientist, philosopher and writer, a politician and businessman. We saw a Franklin Stove, an iron furnace Franklin invented that allowed people to heat their homes. We saw bi-focal glasses, a glass armonica, lightning rods and other neat stuff. We also learned that Ben Franklin was the first to use swim fins. He established the first volunteer fire-fighting union and fire insurance company in Philadelphia. And, of course, he is best known for the infamous kite-and-key experiment in June of 1752.
6. T and H have about 14 cups of blood in their bodies. Blood transports chemical messages, nutrients, and oxygen through the body. Different animals and insects have different colors of blood. Butterflies have green blood and many sea creatures have yellow blood (we think this is because of the lack of iron but we can't remember for sure). We are standing in front of a giant heart at the Franklin Institute.
7. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) is most known for figure painting. He was also a lover of nature, however, and an accomplished painter of landscapes. Renoir used landscape painting as a way to escape the confines of the studio and to practice his art in the open air (en plein air). Renoir and many of his friends created their landscapes while outdoors at Fontainebleau and other towns surrounding Paris. At the time, landscape paintings contained figures to provide context. Pure landscape painting became more prominent in the 19th. c. when the meaning and importance of nature were changing because of the industrial revolution. Many of Renoir's landscape scenes from the 1870s have been characterized by art historians as pure landscapes with a focus on pictorial elements, such as the effect of light and color rather than a story behind the painting. Even Renoir's late paintings show his appreciation of landscape.