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Day 22 of the Convention

Friday, February 7, 1868

The Convention was called to order on Friday at 10 o’clock, Mr. Pres. Cowles in the Chair. 

Mr. Harris of Wake, moved to reconsider the resolution adopted yesterday, that the Convention meet daily at 10 A.M., and 4 P.M.

Agreed to, when Mr. Harris moved to strike out 4 and insert 7 1/2 P.M.

Mr. King of Lenoir, opposed, when the yeas and nays were called for and the vote stood as follows: yeas 42, nays 58.

The article of the constitution on the executive committee was taken up. An amendment was offered (not clear whether Mr. Durham or Mr. Graham of Orange) to strike the offices of Lt. Governor, Superintendents of Public Works and Instruction, and Attorney General. The motion lost, 13 to 86.

Mr. Durham moved to strike the terms from four years to two. Amendment lost.

Delegates discussed property qualifications for office. Mr. Harris of Wake said that he knew men with a property qualification, who did not know enough to bell a buzzard*. He voted for intelligence.

Mr. Rich introduced an amendment to provide the Governor with veto power. He noted that in New York, there had been an instance where a railroad by the use of money, had twice passed a bill, which was properly vetoed by the Governor to the benefit of the State. Mr. Heaton raised concerns, and said the “Convention should pause and consider before it adopted this section.” And stated further that he was “opposed to lodging this kingly power in the hands of one man, to thwart or hinder the will of the people. Mr. Jones echoed these concerns stating that this “power has hung like an incubus upon the people for years…the Convention was not prepared to decide. Upon motion by Mr. Ashley, the amendment was laid on the table.

After other debate of various sections, the day ended with an amendment offered by Mr. Durham to preclude the office of Governor or other executive office positions from persons of African descent or of mixed blood. The amendment was not taken seriously. Mr. Rich questioned what was meant by mixed blood – “Scotch-Irish or what?” At the laughter of delegates, Mr. Harris, of Wake said he wished to amend that the father of mulatto children or his descendants would not be eligible. Mr. Durham responded – that would turn out half the members of the Republican party. Mr. Harris responded – and you will take the lead. After a few further commends, the amendment lost and on motion the convention adjourned.



Ferrell, Joseph, ed., Compilation of the Official Report of the Proceedings of the Convention (Chapel Hill, N.C.: unpublished manuscript 2007). (See day 8 for fuller explanation of this resource.)

*This explanation of “To bell a buzzard” is provided by Dan Gill, Riverisms, Words and Saying from River Country:

To bell a buzzard: Buzzards can be a serious nuisance in the country, especially if you have livestock. They can actually kill vulnerable newborn calves and pigs unless aggressively chased away. To bell not only means to ring a bell but also to yell or bellow or otherwise raise a commotion. Therefore, someone who doesn’t have sense enough to bell a buzzard fails to comprehend the consequences of a situation and take appropriate action.

Ann McColl

Ann McColl is an attorney and state constitutional scholar.