General Question

JLeslie's avatar

What is the reasoning behind the President using many pens to sign a bill into law?

Asked by JLeslie (55804points) August 24th, 2010

I vaguely remember learning that the pen kind of goes down in history as the one that signed that particular document, but I am not sure what happens to the pin afterwards?

My husband says he just saw the president use several pens for one signature, like if I wrote J with one pen, L with another and so on.

What’s the real practice regarding this?

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7 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

They’re Presidential souvenirs.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is a link to an article on the tradition and some examples.

richardhenry's avatar

From the article @Pied_Pfeffer links to:

The practice of using multiple pens to sign important legislation dates at least as far back as Franklin Roosevelt and is now one of our government’s frivolous little quirks, much like that oversize gavel Nancy Pelosi carried around the other day.

The rationale is fairly simple. The pen used to sign historic legislation itself becomes a historical artifact. The more pens a President uses, the more thank-you gifts he can offer to those who helped create that piece of history.

skfinkel's avatar

Each person who did significant work on a bill gets a pen. The pens themselves then have some significance to those people. I had this experience in the state of Washington, after working very hard on a bill—all the people who had done much work were assembled, and the pens were distributed to us.

Response moderated (Spam)

I believe the president has chosen who will get the pens, but I did see him give one to a little boy standing by his desk. And I know the child did not work on a bill or anything. Perhaps his father did. Who knows, who cares? Not me.

marymaryquitecontrary's avatar

It seemed like a good idea at the time….
It was a vast Right-wing conspiracy…
I am not a crook….

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