Thursday, February 13, 1868
The Convention was called to order on Thursday at 10 o’clock, Mr. Pres. Cowles in the Chair.
Mr. Abbot’s resolution from February 10 to limit who could move the previous question to the chairman of a committee, authors of resolutions or minority reports was called and adopted. (See February 10, Day 24 for further discussion.)
Mr. Tourgee proposed that on and after Friday there would be two sessions, morning and evening. The resolution was read and adopted.
In regard to matters of the constitution, the report of the “Committee on Legislature, its Organization, the members, appointment, election, tenure of office of its members, its powers, duties, except as otherwise referred” was taken up.
After a reading of the full report, delegates debated amendments. Mr. Graham of Orange moved to strike out annually and insert biennially. The amendment was lost. Mr. Graham then sought to amend the change the basis of apportionment from the number of registered voters to taxation.
Mr. French of Chowan spoke against the proposed amendment. In his lengthy speech, he said, in part*:
“Another future opens before us. Not property, not a few families, however old, or however respectable, are to rule the North Carolina of the hereafter—but the free and mighty people—the hardy fisherman of the Sounds and the Coast, the unpurchaseable ploughers of her fields and her valleys, the stout hewers of her forests, the delvers in her mines, the husbandman who feeds his flocks upon the green slopes of her mountains; there are to be her voters and her Legislators. The people are to govern; not money, not lands, not families, not jackasses.
That strange man Swedenborg, in one of his wonderful books, tells us that during one of his visits to the Spirit-world he there met spirits who had been in that state 25 years, and yet didn’t know that they were dead. And so we have men in North Carolina, who don’t seem to know that they, politically, and many of their old favorite notions, are dead, and that this Convention is called for their burial.”
After further debate, the vote was called on the amendment. Yeas – 16. Nays – 88.
Other sections were read and adopted with some changes to the draft.
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Ferrell, Joseph, ed., Compilation of the Official Report of the Proceedings of the Convention (Chapel Hill, N.C.: unpublished manuscript 2007).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.)
*The debate and other quotes from this day’s proceedings are close to verbatim from the reported resources with some adjustment to put all comments in first person, present tense.