Ratification Debates

Subject

Commentary
Ratification Debates

Constitution Day Marks Good Time For Reflection

1664-1775

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.”

Colonial North Carolina

North Carolina’s Ratification Debates Guaranteed Bill of Rights

1776-1835

The 1787-89 debates over ratifying the Constitution offer another example of North Carolina's longstanding role as a battleground state in U.S. political history.

Commentary
Colonial North Carolina

North Carolina’s Ratification Debates Guaranteed Bill of Rights

1776-1835

The 1787-89 debates over ratifying the Constitution offer another example of North Carolina's longstanding role as a battleground state in U.S. political history.

Commentary
Early America

Constitution Day: Tar Heels Take Center Stage in Famous Painting

1776-1835

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
Early America

Questions About the Role of Original Intent: Antifederalists Played Important Role in Founding Era

1664-1775

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.

Commentary
Federalist

Tar Heel State Helped Protect American Freedom

1776-1835

North Carolinians' skeptical approach to government power helped pave the way for a U.S. Bill of Rights.

Early America

David Stone (1770-1818)

1776-1835

A Bertie County native, a College of New Jersey (Princeton University) graduate, and part of the Marache Club, David Stone served not only as Governor of North Carolina (1808-1810) but also as a state legislator in the House of Commons (1790-1795, 1810-1811), as a U.S. Representative (1799-1801), and as a U.S. Senator (1801-1807, 1812-1814).   As governor he worked to protect personal property rights and promoted education in the Jeffersonian spirit.  As a US Senator, he was censured by the General Assembly for opposing war efforts.   

Business and Industry

Archibald Maclaine (1728-1790)

1664-1775

An influential supporter of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Archibald Maclaine may have been even more influential if not for his defense of Tories within the state. One of the original trustees of the University of North Carolina, Maclaine was known for his belief in the law and order and for his willingness to stand in the minority for issues he supported.

Primary Documents

Timothy Bloodworth to John Lamb (July 1, 1789)

1664-1775

Antifederalist Timothy Bloodworth's letters are scarce.  Most of what we know is from what his contemporaries remarked and from his comments during the ratification debates.  In this letter, Bloodworth expresses a deep concern to preserve liberty, discusses what he considers to be dangers inherent in the U.S. Constitution, and suggests political strategy.

Primary Documents

Thomas Person to John Lamb (August 6, 1789)

1776-1835

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. 

Early America

An Address to the Freemen of North Carolina (Publicola)

1776-1835

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.

Early America

A Speech at Edenton

1776-1835

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.