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Wednesday, January 22, 1868

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

Among the resolutions and ordinances proposed, Mr. Tourgee, a member of the Committee of Sixteen proposed a change to the Committee of Punishments and Penal Institutions to add Public Charities.

Delegates returned to the issue of their per diem pay. For discussion was an amendment by Mr. Bryan for $4 for delegates and $7 for President, another amendment from the previous day by Mr. Rich of $8 and $12, respectively, along with the original resolution of Mr. Hood for $6 and $10. A vote was called on the amendment by Mr. Rich, which passed, yeas 61, nays, 55.

A lengthy debate then ensued in regard to the convention hiring a reporter to cover the daily events. This would be in addition to the Journal that would record the actions taken at the convention. While some delegates thought this an unnecessary expense and likely to result in biased reports, other delegates thought the work of the convention so important that as much as possible should be reported. More specifically, the resolution provides “that the Committee on Contingent Expenses shall contract with some competent person to report the proceedings of the Convention, in a condensed form, for publication in one of the daily papers of the City, at a rate not exceeding the daily pay of a delegate—and if the Convention decides at the end of the session to publish, the right of property to rest in the State, if not, in the Reporter.”

To provide a sense of the debate, here are some of their remarks in abbreviated form*:

  • Mr. Rodman: The Convention has assembled to do an important work, and I hope it will leave an indelible mark in the history of the country. I am sure there is no one present who would object, in consideration of the small expense to be incurred and the good intended to be done.
  • Mr. Durham of Cleveland: There is in my opinion no necessity for a Reporter, and it is an innovation upon established customs, for there had been no such officer before. If a reporter is had, let us have a verbatim report. But it is not desirable to employ a Reporter to give his version of what is said or done here. He will sit and put down in his language, as he pleases, the speeches of delegates. 
  • Mr. Hodnett: When tens of thousands of our people are unable to pay the necessary taxes, and poor old North Carolina lies bleeding, why was the Convention asked to make these offices? I come here as a friend of free schools, free speech, and free labor. Where are the means to effect the education of the youth of the State? They are being raised in degradation and ignorance, while offices are being created here for the purpose of feeding hungry political aspirants.
  • Mr. Galloway: The delegate has spoken of bleeding North Carolina. The party to which the delegate belongs had shed the blood of North Carolina. It is the Republican party which intends to heal her wounds. The delegate has also spoken of free schools. It has been heretofore free schools for one class and oppression for the other. But the Republican party would regenerate the State.
  • Mr. Carey: The loyal people have sent delegates here to form a Constitution. I desire for everything they might say to be put down. My colleague, Mr. Hodnett has not fulfilled what he said in Yanceyville. He said he would come here and support the Reconstruction Acts.
  • President: The delegate must confine himself to the question.
  • Mr. Carey: I will do so. I hope the delegates to the Convention would have all that was done reported, so that their children’s children might read of what was done here.

After further discussion, the question recurred on the passage of the resolution, when the yeas and nays were demanded, the results were as follows:

Yeas—79. Nays—25. 

On motion the Convention adjourned.

EdNC remarks

The Committee on Contingent Expenses contracted two days later with Joseph W. Holden to cover the convention. Holden was a local Republican leader and took over the Daily Standard at the age of 21 when his father, W.W. Holden was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson in 1865. Later that year, W.W. Holden lost the special election to Jonathan Worth, who served as Governor during the 1868 convention. The convention already had hired Joseph W. Holden as the convention printer, including of the official Journal.

The materials used for EdNC’s coverage of the convention include an extraordinarily useful document created by Joseph Ferrell, professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government. This document compiles the official Report of the Proceedings of the Convention published each day in the Daily Standard by Joseph Holden, the official reporter of the Convention. Mr. Ferrell has expanded Holden’s report by adding material from the Daily Sentinel, the newspaper followed by Democrat Conservatives, when the Sentinel reported remarks or occurrences omitted from Holden’s report, and inserted material from the Journal of the Convention (the record of official actions) to fully identify the action being taken.

Without the action taken on day eight of this convention, this kind of full reporting would not be possible. 

*The records of the debates come from the resources mentioned above. The reports are revised to return to first person (as it likely would have been said). Because debates often were lengthy, this convention coverage provides excerpts of the debates.

Resources

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

Wake Capital County of North Carolina, Volume II, Reconstruction to 1920, K. Todd Johnson, Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake County (2008).

Ann McColl

Ann McColl is an attorney practicing in the field of education law since 1991. She currently serves as co-founder and president of the Innovation Project.