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Day 4 of the Convention

Friday, January 17, 1868

The Convention was called to order on Friday at 11 o’clock, Mr. Pres. Cowles in the Chair.

The Rules of Order were presented and adopted after a brief debate.

Mr. Samuel Stanford Ashley of New Hanover proposed a rule to restrict access to the floor of the convention. He noted that yesterday, “persons passed through this hall with hats on, lit their pipes at the fire places, and obstructed the dispatch of business by continuous chatting.” After discussion, the resolution was put and lost.

The most important work of the day was establishing the committees for drafting sections of the constitution. The Committee of Sixteen presented the list of thirteen committees with a plan for each to have thirteen members. One of the committees is “On Education, Common Schools, University and the means of their support.” On motion of Mr. Tourgee – one of the members of the Committee – the report was received and adopted. Delegates then adopted a resolution providing for the Committee of Sixteen to study and report on the best method of carrying into effect the Constitution or establishing a civil government.

After various procedural matters were addressed and just before adjournment, Mr. Durham of Cleveland offered a resolution that stated in part:

That, recognizing the helpless condition of North Carolina and the power of the Federal Government to force the acceptance of the terms of reconstruction proposed by Congress, it is nevertheless the sense this Convention that those measures, known as the Reconstruction Acts are unconstitutional, unwise, unjust and oppressive; subversive of the rights and liberties of eight millions of people, and calculated to hasten and complete the destruction of that wise system of government, which, faithfully adhere to, secured so much happiness and prosperity to the American people.

The President decided that resolutions would lie over under the rules. On motion the Convention adjourned. 

As there seemed to be some slow times during the day, one of the delegates, Albion Tourgee, found the time to write from his desk at the Convention. He describes the debate that occurred the day before regarding Mr. Pool’s resolution to restrict the topics of the convention.

[This he composes at his desk]

January 17th

My dear Wife,

I have an idle moment in Convention and send you a few lines. Shane sent you the Daily Standard in which you will find our reports, and get more idea of our proceedings. I am very well satisfied with the Convention and think we shall have an effective and pleasant session. How far we shall go and what we shall do is impossible to say with any definiteness.

Will see by today’s report that we had quite a brief skirmish yesterday on the subject of shutting off legislation. I am very well satisfied with the stand which self and Mr. Welker are taking in the convention. We are very comfortably quartered. We have a splendid room and are very comfortably situated in every respect. Mr. Welker’s not very well today. A bad cold only. I am still of the impression that this session will be a long one. I am very anxious to hear from you. We are now passing upon rules of order. God bless you.


Ann McColl

Ann McColl is an attorney and state constitutional scholar.