Commentary

Constitution Day Marks Good Time For Reflection

September 17 is Constitution and Citizenship Day. It is important to remind ourselves of the Constitution, and other founding documents, for as No. 21 in Declaration of Rights in the 1776 N.C. Constitution reminds us: “a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary, to preserve the blessings of liberty.”

Commentary

Constitution Day: Tar Heels Take Center Stage in Famous Painting

On September 17, 1787, thirty-nine delegates signed the U.S. Constitution and then submitted it to the various state ratification conventions to approve. What was accomplished on that day was nothing less than remarkable: delegates had agreed on the final draft of the first written national constitution that still remains in effect. Today is Constitution Day, and we as Americans remember the signers’ actions and the document’s importance to ensuring the rule of law, even in our modern world.

Commentary

Questions About the Role of Original Intent: Antifederalists played important role in founding era

Over the past year and a half, I have been traveling across North Carolina with my colleague Michael Sanera leading constitutional workshops. In them, we emphasize the federal nature of the American government and remind Tar Heels that knowledge of history is essential to understanding original intent and the Constitution’s meaning. The question-and-answer sessions are interesting, so I thought I’d share some of the oft- repeated questions with readers.

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Person, Thomas Letter 1 (August 6, 1789)

Former Regulator, Thomas Person describes his love of Liberty, comments on North Carolina popular opinion regarding the Constitution, suggests political strategy to ensure that amendments are added to the Constitution, and criticizes what he considers to be Hugh Williamson’s aristrocratic ways. 

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Address to the Freemen of North Carolina (Publicola)

During the ratification debates, many Federalists and Antifederalists assumed pseudonyms when writing essays supporting or opposing the U.S. Constitution’s adoption.  Under the penname Publicola (meaning friend of the people), Archibald Maclaine of Wilmington, a Federalist, printed a reply to George Mason’s objections to the Constitution.  It appeared in installments in the New Bern State Gazette on March 20 and March 27, 1789.

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Edenton, A Speech at

On November 8, 1787 in Edenton at the Chowan County Courthouse, Hugh Williamson called for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  In February 1788, his speech was published in the New York Daily Advertiser and later in other publications, including Pennsylvania Packet, Charleston Columbian Herald, and Philadelphia American Museum. 

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Spaight, Sr., Richard Dobbs (1758-1802)

A New Bern native and father of North Carolina Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., Spaight was a leading Federalist delegate to the Constitutional Convention and governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795.  He later allied with Jeffersonian Republicanism after disagreeing with Federalist support for the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798).