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Day 29 of the Convention

Saturday, February 15, 1868

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

Mr. Welker’s proposed ordinance on the prohibition of distillation of grain – discussed the day prior – was brought up as part of unfinished business. After efforts to delay a vote, the delegates voted on the amended ordinance. It was adopted.

The discussion of debt obligations from the day prior also came up again. Mr. Tourgee spoke at length. In part he said,*

“I have received somewhat disingenuous treatment from my friends, and I am surprised at it. But human nature is weak. Nevertheless, I ask delegates are they aware of what they are doing? A large portion of the property is stricken out of existence. What will the debt be in ten years, if assumed? And what is it to be assumed for? The honor of the State. The old State is dead, and beyond better or worse for honor. Impoverished by war and the act of God, North Carolina is destitute. This Convention is working on the crest of an extinct volcano. I warn delegates of the danger of your votes.”

Mr. Jones of Washington then also spoke at length. He countered, (in part)*

“this morning’s argument is but a re-statement of the position taken yesterday. The gentleman from Guilford is entitled to persistence, in regard to the ground taken by him yesterday. He seems intent to make the Constitution of North Carolina, the era of his powers. Why is it that none but this gentleman can harangue the House? Did he suppose that no man but he in North Carolina, was acquainted with the institution, nature, and constitution of a government? Or did he think that he was the only one that had come there, to erect a wind-mill and that could kick as Don Quixote did?

“…if the father dies, and the son succeeds to his property, has that son a right to say I cannot pay that debt? Would that be honest? Would it be fair? How would the State of North Carolina maintain its dignity? North Carolina was his native place. He loved it. He honored it. He venerated its time honored institutions. He would not have her detract from her public honor. If they would be true to themselves, then in the language of the bard: “To they own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day: Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

When the vote was taken, delegates sided with Mr. Washington on the issues of debt placing Mr. Washington among 72 delegates and Mr. Tourgee among 9.

The Convention returned to voting on sections of the Bill of Rights. Most sections were read and adopted without further debate. After the adoption of Section 24, Mr. Ashley moved the following as an addition section to follow section 24t:

“The people have a right to the privileges of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.”

The motion was sustained.

After reading and adopting sections through section 34, 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.

Ann McColl

Ann McColl is an attorney and state constitutional scholar.