A Daughter of the American Revolution celebrates upcoming Constitution Week
Former chapter and Idaho State Regent Ann Beebe has been a part of the Daughters of the American Revolution since the organization’s 100th anniversary in 1990. She also served on the National Board of Management in Washington before taking a job with Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
The United States Constitution has been upheld in Beebe’s family as one of the biggest priorities. Her mother, Elizabeth, was a member of the DAR in South Carolina and her maternal grandmother, Ottie Lee Rast, was a charter member.
Beebe feels most people don’t typically spend too much time studying and pondering U.S. history, the way they did when she was young.
“My mother’s mother was a charter member of the DAR when it was first founded (1880), so I always grew up with that kind of pride. I was kind of late getting involved in DAR because when I was young I thought they just put on their hats, pins and white gloves and went to the meetings and sat around and drank tea and talked about relatives. When I got involved it taught me a lot more about our founding than I had paid attention to. Constitution Week is about the founding fathers spending a whole summer in Philadelphia, beating the Constitution into shape before any of the representatives would even vote on it,” Beebe said.
Constitution Week is Sept. 17-23. It was enacted Aug. 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it was President George W. Bush who officially declared Constitution Week in September 2002. The DAR had petitioned Congress prior to Eisenhower’s enactment to recognize the importance of the Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States is a most impressive document, Beebe said, adding that it is so inclusive and enduring, in her opinion it had to be from the minds of pure genius.
The term “founding fathers,” conjures up images of a group of older men, but most of them were relatively young. Despite the presence of Benjamin Franklin, who was 81, the average age of the signers was just 43. James Madison, father of the Constitution, was only 36 years old, while the articulate Alexander Hamilton was an even more youthful 31. The youngest delegate, Jonathan Dayton from New Jersey, was just 26 years old.
The delegates to the convention as a group were very well educated. Thirty-one attended college and 15 graduated. Three were college professors and two were college presidents. The schools they represented included the most prestigious in America at the time namely Princeton, Columbia, William and Mary and Harvard. Six attended universities in England. All of this education aided the delegates in creating a new government. Drawing on their training in philosophy of political theory and history went a long way toward helping the founding fathers produce a the Constitution.
“These men worked together in close quarters and a closed up building in Philadelphia from May to September of 1787. Imagine how hot it would’ve been in a closed building — they even kept the window shut to keep out eavesdroppers — during the summer with no air conditioning. They were totally focused on creating a constitution which would establish the rights and privileges and responsibilities of American citizenship. I wonder if they knew at the time that their efforts were the foundation of the most incredible governmental document in human history,” Beebe said.