The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, a.k.a. the Bill of Rights, are the nation's most basic guarantees of individual liberty. Over the past two centuries, however, five of the original 13 states have managed to lose the handwritten copies of the Bill of Rights sent to each of them for ratification.
What ever happened to the precious parchments? Georgia simply can't find its copy. North Carolina thinks a Yankee yegg grabbed its historic document during the Civil War when General William Tecumseh Sherman tramped through Raleigh. And some New Yorkers speculate that Governor George Clinton walked off with the state's manuscript when he left the statehouse in 1804.
Probably the most embarrassed over the missing text is Pennsylvania, which will be host of the bicentennial celebration of the charter's ratification in Philadelphia next year. "We have no idea what happened to our copy," says the state's head archivist, Harry Whipkey. Next-door Delaware can't provide a copy either; like Maryland, Delaware returned its version to the Federal Government after the Bill of Rights' ratification. So Philadelphia officials are now contemplating crossing the Delaware to see if they can borrow New Jersey's original for the festivities.