For handwritten documents, both the original articles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights have surprisingly few mistakes—fewer than modern readers may think. There are several words that may seem to be spelled wrong, but are in actuality the way they were spelled in eighteenth-century America—for example, defence (instead of defense) and chuse (instead of choose). There are others which were spelled in the British manner, such as honour, controul, and labor. The most glaring “error” sits right above the list of signatories—Pennsylvania is spelled with one N (Pensylvania). However, here again, it was common to spell the state’s name with one N at that time. In fact, the Liberty Bell is inscribed with the word Pensylvania.
There is, however, one error, that cannot be blamed on the times; it is one that plagues people to this day. It appears in Article 1, Section 10, which reads:
“No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws.”
(it’s should, of course, be its.)
There is one other glitch that actually has far more serious implications. In the Takings Clause (eminent domain) section of the Fifth Amendment, is a mark which completely changes the meaning of the sentence. The section reads:
“…nor shall private property be taken for public use[,] without just compensation.”
Some say it is a comma, but because it doesn’t appear as other commas in the document, others have deemed it a smudge or errant pen mark. If the mark is indeed a comma, the phrase would give the government a lot more legal wiggle room when it comes to confiscating personal property!