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Day 50 of the Convention

Wednesday, March 11, 1868

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

Various ordinances were considered.

The Convention then received the report of the Committee established on March 9 to investigate President Cowles’ legal qualifications to serve and any impact on the validity of the actions of the Convention. [See coverage on March 9 for Mr. Tourgee’s resolution.] Mr. Rodman spoke on behalf of the committee of three that also included Mr. Heaton and Mr. Pool. In its report, the committee noted, in part*:

It is a well known principle of law, that the acts of officers de facto cannot be collaterally impeached. This principle has been often applied to hold valid the acts of Sheriffs and other similar officers who were in office, but not rightfully so. Also, to hold valid marriages performed by Justices of the Peace and Ministers who had not been duly commissioned or licensed, but habitually performed the function of those offices. It is conceived that this principle completely covers the case of the presiding officer of this body.

The report was received and adopted.

The Convention then proceeded in third and final reading of the Committee on Suffrage (passed yeas –80, nays –8) and Article on Eligibility to Office (yeas – 76, nays—9).

When the Convention reconvened for its evening session at 7:30 p.m. it took up various ordinances.

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Ferrell, Joseph, ed., Compilation of the Official Report of the Proceedings of the Convention (Chapel Hill, N.C.: unpublished manuscript 2007).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 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.