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The Constitution was written on cows

By Ed O'Keefe

The U.S. Constitution was probably written on the backs of cows. No, really.

On this 223rd Constitution Day, specialists at the National Archives are working to confirm that one of the nation's most important documents was written on specially prepared cow skin.

"Every once in a while people are confused: They think these documents are written on paper," Kitty Nicholson, supervisory conservator with the National Archives, explained on Federal News Radio on Friday.

"They're written on a specially prepared animal skin that's much more durable than paper," Nicholson said. "Thicker and stronger. And it was reserved for the most important documents that we have."

Nicholson and her colleagues aren't 100 percent certain, but believe that the Constitution was written on cowhide because of the size and quality of the parchment. A planned DNA analysis of the parchment should confirm their hunch.

The Archives is giving out cake today to mark the Constitution's birthday.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday reminded Twitter users that he shares his birthday with the Constitution. (He's turning 77.)

"Just the way Mom and Dad planned it," he said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 17, 2010; 1:12 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Public Service  
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