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II A J E F F E R S O N I A N R E P U B L I C ORMORE THAN a year after its refusal to ratify the United States Constitution at Hillsborough, North Carolina remained outside the Union. Only the tinystate of Rhode Island had chosen the samecourse. Insofar aspossible , however, North Carolina complied with the regulations of the national government . Movement of the citizensof other states into North Carolina was not hampered, for example, and customs duties were collected according to the federal schedule. The state, in fact, quite early anticipatedbecoming a memberof the new nation. By the end of July 1788 eleven states had ratified the Constitution, and the Congress resolved that steps be taken to implement it earlythe next year. Following elections, the first Congress under the new document would convene on the first Wednesdayin March. Federalists in North Carolina lost no time in launching avigorous campaign of education to reversethe decision of the Hillsborough convention. When the General Assemblymet in November, members were deluged byaflood of petitions urging that a new convention be called to reconsider the decision not to ratify. Anti-Federalists were unable to slow the demand, and both houses, by large majorities, passed resolutions callingfor a second convention to meet in Fayettevilleon 16 November 1789. In May 1789 the United States Congress began to consider amendments to the Constitution, and in June James Iredell and William R. Davie, at their own expense, published the debates of the Hillsborough convention. They had had the foresight to employ a reporter to take down its proceedings. In August, delegates were chosen to the Fayetteville convention. The Federalists won an easy victory, electing 195 out of 272 members. The Federal Constitution Accepted North Carolina's second constitutional convention organized inFayetteville and, like its predecessor, elected Governor Samuel Johnston president. The 228 F 229 A Jeffersonian Republic debates ofthis convention werenot published, asthe thoroughness ofthe discussion in Hillsborough precluded the need for another report. Delegates had had ample opportunity to reflect upon what had already been said, and to make up their minds. On 21 November 1789, after a session of just six days (much of the time being spent on unrelated matters), the Constitution was ratified on behalf of North Carolina by a vote of 195 to 77. It hasbeen said that the state rejected the Constitution because it had no Bill of Rights, and that its final acceptance came only after the first ten amendments were added. This is not entirely correct, but it is possible that North Carolina's refusal to ratify was a kind of sacrificial offering to secure a Bill of Rights. The Anti-Federalists may have recognized that only a dramatic step such as this would draw attention in an effective way to so serious a defect. When North Carolina called for a second convention in November 1788, the amendments had not even been proposed in Congress. Not until May 1789 did they come under discussion and not until September were they submitted to the states for ratification. When North Carolina consented to the Constitution in November 1789, not a singlestate had ratified the Bill of Rights. Although there was no doubt in the minds of most delegates that their former objections would soon be met, recommendations made by the Hillsborough convention for still further amendments were rejected by Congress. Because of its delay in joining the Union, North Carolina had no voice in selecting George Washington as the first president of the United States. The penultimate state to join, it wasthe last to withdraw from the Union in 1861. For president, George Washington wasthe unanimous choice. A good general , though not a brilliant one, he was a poor speaker and knew little of the principles ofgovernment. Yethewashonest, fair-minded, dignified, and faithful to the liberty of America. He could command obedience, and both Federalists and Anti-Federalists trusted him. As president he could control the factionsand his authority would be respected. People everywherespoke of the "experiment" in government that was under way, and the personal character of the president was an important factor in its success. On 30April1789, in New York, he took the oath of office. The new government faced countless problems. It had to address the needs not covered by the Articlesof Confederation—a revenue law, for example.Many officers had to be appointed and federal courts created. The Revolutionary War debt had to be paid, commerce regulated, and some portions of the Treaty...


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MARC Record
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