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Day 6 of the Convention

Monday, January 20, 1868

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

The most important work of the convention today was establishing the membership of the thirteen committees that would be responsible for drafting sections of the constitution. Previously, on January 17, the Committee of Sixteen had recommended the thirteen committees. Today, President Cowles announced the membership and chairs. For Education, Rev. Samuel Stanford Ashley was announced as the chair. Other members appointed are delegates Welker, Rose, Blume, Read, Sweet, Hood, Hayes of Halifax, Graham of Orange, Ellis, French of Chowan, Logan, and Fisher.

Rev. S.S. Ashley is the delegate from New Hanover. He came to North Carolina in 1865 to lead the efforts of the American Missionary Association in establishing schools for blacks, including in Wilmington. The Freedmen’s Bureau, established by Congress, also named Ashley to lead their efforts in this part of the State. Ashley is from Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

As the leadership of these committees is crucial to the work of the convention, it is worth further noting the selections made by President Cowles. Overall, of the 120 delegates to the convention, 107 were Republicans – the party identified with President Lincoln and the abolitionist cause. Of these 107 delegates, 15 were blacks, 18 were mid-western/northern whites, and 74 were whites who were native to North Carolina. The influence of outsiders is much greater than this, however, with Cowles appointing six mid-western/northern delegates to chair standing committees. 

As the appointment of committees was the last business of the day, on motion the Convention adjourned.

Ann McColl

Ann McColl is an attorney and state constitutional scholar.