North Carolina's Ratification
Ratification of the Constitution by the State of North Carolina, November
21, 1789. North Carolina was the twelfth state to do so. North Carolina held a
ratification convention in 1788, convening on July 21 and adjourning on August
4. At that convention, the convention drafted a "Declaration of Rights" and a
list of "Amendments to the Constitution," but in the end, the convention voted
"neither to ratify nor reject the Constitution proposed for the government of
the United States."
Another state convention met later the next year, and in the face of the
ratifications of eleven other states, the state drafted a short ratification
message. Added to it were the Declaration and Amendments list adopted the year
before. The following text is taken from the Library of Congress's copy of
Elliot's Debates. The Declaration and Amendments lists follow the message.
Whereas the General Convention which met in Philadelphia, in pursuance of a
recommendation of Congress, did recommend to the citizens of the United States
a Constitution or form of government in the following words, namely,
A copy of the Constitution was included in the
Resolved, That this Convention, in behalf of the freemen, citizens and
inhabitants of the state of North Carolina, do adopt and ratify the said
Constitution and form of government.
Done in Convention this twenty-first day of November, one thousand seven
hundred and eighty-nine.
President of the Convention.
J. Hunt, James Taylor, Secretaries.
Resolved, That a declaration of rights, asserting and securing from
encroachment the great principles of civil and religious liberty, and the
unalienable rights of the people, together with amendments to the most
ambiguous and exceptionable parts of the said Constitution of government, ought
to be laid before Congress, and the convention of the states that shall or may
be called for the purpose of amending the said Constitution, for their
consideration, previous to the ratification of the Constitution aforesaid on
the part of the state of North Carolina.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS.
1. That there are certain natural rights, of which men, when they form a
social compact, cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among which are the
enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing, and
protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
2. That all power is naturally vested in, and consequently derived from, the
people; that magistrates, therefore, are their trustees and agents, and at all
times amenable to them.
3. That government ought to be instituted for the common benefit,
protection, and security, of the people; and that the doctrine of
non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and
destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
4. That no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive or separate public
emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public
services, which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate,
legislator, or judge, or any other public office to be hereditary.
5. That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of government
should be separate and distinct, and that the members of the two first may be
restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the public burdens:
they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into the
mass of the people, and the vacancies be supplied by certain and regular
elections, in which all or any part of the former members to be eligible or
ineligible, as the rules of the constitution of government and the laws shall
6. That elections of representatives in the legislature ought to be free and
frequent, and all men having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest
with, and attachment to, the community, ought to have the right of suffrage;
and no aid, charge, tax, or fee, can be set, rated, or levied, upon the people
without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected; nor can
they be bound by any law to which they have not in like manner assented for the
7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any
authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people in the
legislature, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.
8. That, in all capital and criminal prosecutions, a man hath a right to
demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the
accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence, and be allowed counsel in his
favor, and a fair and speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage,
without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, (except in the
government of the land and naval forces;) nor can he be compelled to give
evidence against himself.
9. That no freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his
freehold, liberties, privileges, or franchises, or outlawed or exiled, or in
any manner destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the
law of the land.
10. That every freeman, restrained of his liberty, is entitled to a remedy
to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same if unlawful; and
that such remedy ought not to be denied nor delayed.
11. That, in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and
man, the ancient trial by jury is one of the greatest securities to the rights
of the people, and ought to remain sacred and inviolable.
12. That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy, by recourse to the
laws, for all injuries and wrongs he may receive in his person, property,or
character; he ought to obtain right and justice freely without sale, completely
and without denial, promptly and without delay; and that all establishments or
regulations contravening these rights are oppressive and unjust.
13. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
14. That every freeman has a right to be secure from all unreasonable
searches and seizures of his person, his papers and property; all warrants;
therefore, to search suspected places, or to apprehend any suspected person,
without specially naming or describing the place or person, are dangerous, and
ought not to be granted.
15. That the people have a right peaceably to assemble together, to consult
for the common good, or to instruct their representatives; and that every
freeman has a right to petition or apply to the legislature for redress of
16. That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of writing and
publishing their sentiments that freedom of the press is one of the greatest
bulwarks of liberty, and ought not to be violated.
17. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a
well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is
the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in
time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as
far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that.
in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and
governed by, the civil power.
18. That no soldier, in time of peace, ought to be quartered in any house
Without the consent of the owner, and in time of war, in such manner only as
the laws direct.
19. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be
exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his
20. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner
of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force
or violence: and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable
right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of
conscience; and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be
favored or established by law in preference to others.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.
1. That each state in the Union shall respectively retain every power,
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitution delegated to the
Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the federal
2. That there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand,
according to the, enumeration or census mentioned in the Constitution, until
the Whole number of representatives amounts to two hundred; after which that
number shall be continued or increased as Congress shall direct, upon the
principles fixed in the Constitution, by apportioning the representatives of
each state to some greater number of the people; from time to time, as the
3. When Congress shall lay direct taxes or excises, they shall, immediately
inform the executive power of each state of the quota of such state, according
to the census herein directed, which is proposed to be thereby raised; and if
the legislature of any state shall pass any law. which shall be effectual for
raising such quota at the time required by Congress, the taxes and excises laid
by Congress shall not be collected in such state.
4. That the members of the Senate and House of Representatives shall be
ineligible to, and incapable of holding, any civil office under the authority
of the United States, during the time for which they shall respectively be
5. That the Journals of the proceedings of the Senate and House of
Representatives shall be published at least once in every year, except such
parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances, or military operations, as in
their judgment require secrecy.
6. That a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all
public moneys shall be published at least once in every year.
7. That no commercial treaty shall be ratified without the concurrence of
two thirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate. And no treaty,
ceding, contracting, restraining, or suspending, the territorial rights or
claims of the United States, or any of them, or their, or any of their, rights
or claims of fishing in the American seas, or navigating the American rivers,
shall be made, but in cases of the most urgent and extreme necessity; nor shall
any such treaty be ratified without the concurrence of three fourths of the
whole number of the members of both houses respectively.
8. That no navigation law, or law regulating commerce, shall be passed
without the consent of two thirds of the members present in both houses.
9. That no standing army or regular troops shall be raised or kept up in
time of peace, without the consent of two thirds of the members present in both
10. That no soldier shall be enlisted for any longer term than four years,
except in time of war, and then for no longer term than the continuance of the
11. That each state respectively shall have the power to provide for
organizing, arming, and disciplining its own militia; whensoever: Congress
shall omit or neglect to provide for the same; that the militia shall not be
subject to martial law, except when in actual service in time of war, invasion,
or rebellion; and when not in the actual service of the United States, shall be
subject only to such fines, penalties, and punishments, as shall be directed or
inflicted by the laws of its own state.
12. That Congress shall not declare any state to be in rebellion, without
the consent of at least two thirds of all the members present, in both
13. That the exclusive power of legislation given to Congress Over the
federal town and its adjacent district, and other places purchased or to be
purchased by Congress of any of the states, shall extend only to such
regulations as respect the police and good government thereof.
14. That no person shall be capable of being President of the United States
for more than eight years in any term of fifteen years.
15. That the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one.
Supreme Court, and in such courts of admiralty as Congress may from time to
time ordain and establish in any of the different states. The judicial power
shall extend to all cases in law and equity arising under treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the authority of the United States; to all cases
affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers, and consuls; to all cases of
admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the united
States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states, and
between parties claiming lauds under the grants of different states. In all
cases affecting ambassadors, other foreign ministers, and consuls, and those in
which a state shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original
jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have
appellate jurisdiction as to matters of law only, except in eases of equity,
and of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, in which the Supreme Court shall
have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and
under such regulations, as the Congress shall make: but the judicial power of
the United States shall extend to no case where the cause of action shall have
originated before the ratification of this Constitution, except in disputes
between states about their territory, disputes between persons claiming lands
under the grants of different, states, and suits for debts due to the United
16. That, in criminal prosecutions, no man shall be restrained in the
exercise of the usual and accustomed tight of challenging or excepting to the
17. That Congress shall not alter, modify, or interfere in, the times,
places, or manner, of holding elections for senators and representatives, or
either of them, except when the legislature of any state shall neglect, refuse,
or be disabled, by invasion or rebellion, to prescribe the same.
18. That those clauses which declare that Congress shall not exercise
certain powers he not interpreted in any manner whatsoever to extend the power
of Congress; but that they be construed either as making exceptions to the
specified powers where this shall be the case, or otherwise as inserted merely
for greater caution.
19. That the laws ascertaining the compensation of senators and
representatives for their services, be postponed in their operation until after
the election of representatives immediately succeeding the passing thereof,
that excepted which shall first be passed on the subject.
20. That some tribunal other than the Senate be provided for trying
impeachments of senators.
21. That the salary of a judged shall not be increased or diminished during
his continuance in office, otherwise than by general regulations of salary,
which may take place on a revision of the subject at stated periods of not less
than seven years, to commence froth the time such salaries shall be first
ascertained by Congress.
22. That Congress erect no company of merchants with exclusive advantages of
23. That no treaties which shall be directly opposed to the existing laws of
the United States in Congress assembled shall be valid until such laws shall be
repealed, or made conformable to such treaty; nor shall any treaty be valid
which is contradictory to the Constitution of the United States.
24. What the latter part of the 5th paragraph of the 9th section of the 1st
article be altered to read thus: 'Nor shall vessels hound to a particular state
be obliged to enter or pay duties in any other; nor, when bound from any one of
the states, be obliged to clear in another.'
25. That Congress shall not, directly or indirectly; either by themselves or
through the judiciary, interfere with any one of the states in the redemption
of paper money already emitted and now in circulation, or in liquidating and
discharging the public securities of any one of the states; but each and every
state shall have the exclusive right of making such laws and regulations, for
the above purposes, as they shall think proper.
26. That Congress shall not introduce foreign troops into the United States
without the consent of two thirds of the members present of both houses.