North Carolina developed four different state seals during the colonial period and there have been six state seals since North Carolina declared its independence. While the Great Seal changed many times throughout North Carolina history, some variations on symbols have remained and appear on the current Great Seal.
Subject: Political Documents
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.
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.
The Latin phrase Esse Quam Videri, “to be rather than to seem,” was chosen as the North Carolina state motto by jurist and historian, Walter Clark.
Born in Virginia in 1738, Samuel Spencer played important roles in several chapters of the history of North Carolina. He served as the de facto executive of North Carolina after the American Revolution broke out. Shortly thereafter, he was elected a superior court judge in North Carolina, remaining on the bench until his death. He is, however, best known as the leader of the antifederalist faction at the Hillsborough Convention of 1788.
Nine years before James Iredell penned To The Inhabitants of Great Britain and challenged Sir William Blackstone’s parliamentary sovereignty argument, Judge Maurice Moore, an associate justice of the superior court of Salisbury and father of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Alfred Moore, undermined Great Britain’s legal defense for increased economic regulation.
Before the Fundamental Constitutions was penned, this 1665 document permitted freedom of religion in the colony. It also provided order in a disruptive settlement.
In “To the Inhabitants of Great Britain” (1774), North Carolinian and future Supreme Court Justice James Iredell challenged William Blackstone’s legal interpretations and opposed what he described as Parliament’s attempt “to exercise a supreme authority” over the colonies.
Noted for its similarities to the Declaration of Independence, “Principles of An American Whig” (1775) was written by North Carolinian and later United States Supreme Court Justice James Iredell. The essay reveals that a budding American independence movement had been blossoming into political maturity.
Until 1868, the Governor was North Carolina’s only elected executive. The Constitution of 1868, however, created the office of Lieutenant Governor and provided for the popular election of the office of the Governor and the Lt. Governor, each for four-year terms. In 1970 the Lt. Governorship became full-time and evolved into the only elected post with executive and legislative duties.