A November to remember in North Carolina

| November 26, 2013 | 2 Comments

imagesby Brent Laurenz, NC Center for Voter Education, published in Greenville Daily Reflector, November 24, 2013.

As important milestones in the history of North Carolina go, November 21 is probably not a memorable date to most North Carolinians, but it is a significant one.

On that day in 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, after failing to do so a year earlier.

By the time North Carolina officially ratified the Constitution, George Washington was already serving as our nation’s first president and the first Congress of the United States had been seated.

Before formally ratifying, it took North Carolina two separate conventions and a spirited debate about our young republic before we officially joined the Union.

The first convention was held in Hillsborough in the summer of 1788, where delegates met and debated the newly created U.S. Constitution. The two sides of the debate were represented by the Federalists, arguing in favor of the Constitution, and Anti-Federalists, who had concerns about a strong central government usurping states’ rights.

At the end of almost two weeks of debate, both sides were deadlocked and voted to neither ratify nor reject the Constitution. Instead, the North Carolina delegates put forward a list of proposed amendments that they believed would strengthen the document.

A little more than a year after North Carolina failed to ratify the Constitution, the Bill of Rights was adopted by Congress, assuaging the fears of many Anti-Federalists. With the Bill of Rights now added, North Carolina convened a second convention on Nov. 16, 1789, this time in Fayetteville, to again debate ratification.

With the Bill of Rights now part of the Constitution, the debate was less fierce in the second convention and the delegates voted in favor of ratification on Nov. 21, 1789, formally adding North Carolina to the Union.

The debate over the Constitution and statehood occurred almost 225 years ago, but the issues discussed still resonate today. We are still debating

the role and scope of the federal government in the 21st century, and we still have vastly differing opinions on those issues. The beauty of the Constitution, and our system of government, is that it is built specifically to handle rigorous debate and clashes of ideas peacefully.

Even when a clash of ideas turned violent, as was the case with the American Civil War, the nation survived and emerged on the other side of the conflict perhaps even stronger than it was before.

As we continue to debate the important issues of how America should be governed, and continue to tinker with the Constitution, it’s always important to reflect on just how revolutionary an idea our Constitution was in the 18th century. This one document and the belief in representative democracy have helped shape more than 200 years of progress and prosperity for the nation and North Carolina.

When North Carolina officially ratified the Constitution on Nov. 21, 1789, it was one more step toward achieving the vision the original Americans aspired toward. And it’s a vision we still strive for today.


Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

Comments (2)

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  1. Norm Kelly says:

    It appears that not all aspire to the same vision.
    The Bill of Rights was added that allowed the NC delegates to accept the new Constitution. It appears the Bill of Rights assuaged the concerns of the non-federalists – with the powers of the central planners apparently in check, the delegates accepted the new Constitution.
    What’s happening now is that the liberals are saying the Constitution is a living document, where the written words’ meaning can change over time. Limited federal power then appears to mean unlimited federal power now. State sovereignty then means no state power/authority today.
    Liberals are turning the entire system upside down. Central planners have taken over Washington and refuse to acknowledge the Constitution. People like Heir Obama, Queen Nancy, Prince Harry, K Hagan, David Price, are all more interested in concentrating power in Washington than they are in recognizing state sovereignty. Of course, they claim it’s for the good of the people, or “it’s for the kids” to get us to accept it, but the result is the same. Central planner control of life, overriding state authority, reducing freedom, limiting private business, bypassing laws, having unelected government employees make rules that we must abide by while bypassing the Congress. Some, like the EPA, have told Congress that if the elected officials refuse to act on certain measures, then the EPA will bypass them altogether and enforce their own rules. And for some reason, Congress didn’t fire the EPA administrator or cut off funding for EPA completely.
    Lawlessness has taken over Washington. Executive order by the President, rules made by EPA, various other organizations like the Dept. of Ed, is what controls our lives today. Central planners have taken over too much and continue to expand their ‘authority’. Though they have limited authority, they refuse to accept this and continue to work outside their authority.
    The non-federalists won the first time around. Will we win this time? Only the TEA people appear to stand between us and full-blown socialism.

  2. Hampton Brady says:

    The anti-federalists 1789 remind me of the modern-day republicans. That is to say as the anti-federalists go, so goes the republicans. After they finally consented to join the union in 1789, they continued to oppose it under the mask and guise of “states-rights.” Likewise the republicans today. When they lose an election, they refuse to adhere to their lost and recognize the winner. Instead, they continue to bitch, harp, and complain (making everybody around them miserable). Today, 225-years after the anti-federalists/republicans joined the union, they are as miserable as they were in 1789 and prior. They hate government. They hate rule and authority. They hate their neighbor (if the neighbor is a black democrat). They don’t even like women except when they can use them in bed. May God have mercy on Republicans.

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