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.

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Wynns, Thomas (1760-1825)

Thomas Wynns was a politician and general from Hertford County, North Carolina. He served in the North Carolina House of Commons, the North Carolina Senate, and in the United States House of Representatives. He was also commissioned as a major general in the North Carolina militia.

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Collins, Josiah Sr. (1735-1819)

Josiah Collins, Sr. (1735-1819) was a prominent businessman, merchant, plantation owner, and land speculator from Edenton, North Carolina. Collins was a well-respected member of the Edenton community, and he engaged in global trade, rope making, land development, and farming. He built and operated Somerset Place on Lake Phelps, which became one of the largest plantations in North Carolina and the upper South.

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Dismal Swamp Cannal

The Dismal Swamp Canal, originally chartered in 1790, connects the Albemarle Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. Opened in 1805, the Dismal Swamp Canal created a passage between northeastern North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia. By the mid-1820s, the Dismal Swamp Canal was widened and deepened enough for reliable commercial traffic. As a result, international trade shifted from Albemarle Sound towns, like Edenton, to Norfolk, Virginia.  Today the Dismal Swamp Canal is primarily used for recreational boating.

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Hill, William Henry (1767-1808)

A Brunswick County native, William Henry Hill was the state’s district attorney, a state senator, a University of North Carolina Trustee, and a U.S. Congressman.  Unlike many of his North Carolina contemporaries in Congress, Hill was a staunch Federalist who, according to Lawrence F. London, “believed in a strong central government.”  

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Holland, James (1754-1823)

James Holland or “Big Jim” Holland was a North Carolina Militiaman and politician from Anson County, North Carolina. He served in the Revolutionary War and was elected to the North Carolina State Senate (1783, 1797) and the North Carolina House of Commons (1786, 1789). He also served in the United States House of Representatives (1795-1797, 1800-1810). Later in life Holland moved to Tennessee and served as the Justice of the Peace (1812-1818). He died in Maury County, Tennessee in 1823.