8/14/2005

Sense From the Hall of Framers

I can never agree with George Will but thos time I will (pun?) . This piece's first 3 paragraphs are a poignant description of our Constitution. Of course later he spoils it by bashing liberals but what else is new ? Love the title too -- law

PHILADELPHIA -- At one end of Independence Mall, at the historical center of this city where so much of America's foundational history was made with parchment and ink, stands the brick and mortar of Independence Hall. Built between 1732 and 1756, this model of what is called the Georgian style of architecture is where independence was voted and declared, and where, in 1787, the Constitution was drafted.

At the other end of the mall sparkles a modernist jewel of America's civic life, the National Constitution Center, a nongovernment institution that opened July 4, 2003, and already has had more than 2 million visitors. It is built of gray Indiana limestone -- it is possible, even in Philadelphia, to have a surfeit of red brick -- and lots of glass. The strikingly different, yet compatible, styles of the 18th-century building where the Constitution was drafted and the 21st-century building where it is explicated and studied in its third century is an architectural bow to the fact that a constitution ratified by a mostly rural nation of 4 million people, most of whom lived within 20 miles of Atlantic tidewater, still suits an urban nation that extends 2,500 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

The center is a marvel of exhibits, many of them interactive. For example, it uses newspapers and film to give immediacy to such episodes as the Supreme Court holding in 1952 that President Truman exceeded his constitutional powers -- what a thought: there are limits on the commander in chief's powers -- when he seized the nation's steel mills to prevent a labor dispute from disrupting war production. And it shows President Eisenhower, 13 years after sending paratroopers into Normandy, sending them to Central High School in Little Rock..

Sense From the Hall of Framers

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