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Ratification Debates

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An Address to the Freemen of North Carolina (Publicola) Encyclopedia

During the ratification debates, many Federalists and Antifederalists assumed pseudonyms when writing essays supporting or opposing the U.S. Constitution’s adoption.  Under the penname Publicola (meaning friend of the people), Archibald Maclaine of Wilmington, a Federalist, printed a reply to George Mason’s objections to the Constitution.  It appeared in installments in the New Bern State Gazette on March 20 and March 27, 1789.

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Anti-Federalism Encyclopedia

Anti-Federal was the name given to the men and the movement opposing the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  Ironically, Anti-Federals wanted a more federal government than the Federals; the term resulted from a Federal political strategy to present Anti-Federals as opponents of limited government.  Before they ratified (approved) the Constitution, Anti-Federals wanted a Bill of Rights to be included.

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Timothy Bloodworth to John Lamb (June 23, 1789) Encyclopedia

Antifederalist Timothy Bloodworth's letters are scarce.  Most of what we know is from what his contemporaries remarked and from his comments during the ratification debates.  In this letter, Bloodworth expresses his concern regarding the Constitution, comments on politics in New York and Virginia, describes public opinion in North Carolina regarding the Constitution, and calls for a committee to explore amendments.

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Timothy Bloodworth to John Lamb (July 1, 1789) Encyclopedia

Antifederalist Timothy Bloodworth's letters are scarce.  Most of what we know is from what his contemporaries remarked and from his comments during the ratification debates.  In this letter, Bloodworth expresses a deep concern to preserve liberty, discusses what he considers to be dangers inherent in the U.S. Constitution, and suggests political strategy.

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Timothy Bloodworth (1736-1814) Encyclopedia

Timothy Bloodworth was an influential Patriot, Anti-Federalist, and Democratic-Republican.  Without the advantages of great wealth, a prominent family, or a prestigious education, Bloodworth typified a new generation of working-class politicians during and after the American Revolution, and his ambition, ability, and likable personality made him one of North Carolina’s most durable politicians.

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William Blount (1749-1800) Encyclopedia

As businessman, Revolutionary War veteran, signer of the Constitution, territorial governor, and United States Senator, William Blount spent his lifetime looking for opportunities. No place in the late-eighteenth century United States  offered better opportunities for a person with Blount’s disposition and connections than did the trans-Appalachian frontier. Ultimately Blount’s grasp exceeded his resources, leading Blount to devise a desperate plan that failed—and led to his expulsion from the United States Senate.

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William Richardson Davie (1756-1820) Encyclopedia

Soldier, lawmaker, governor, and diplomat, Davie is best remembered as the principal founder of the University of North Carolina.  Despite his many accomplishments, Davie’s ardent Federalism fostered a growing voter disenchantment with him, and he spent his last years living in a self-imposed political exile.

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A Speech at Edenton Encyclopedia

On November 8, 1787 in Edenton at the Chowan County Courthouse, Hugh Williamson called for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  In February 1788, his speech was published in the New York Daily Advertiser and later in other publications, including Pennsylvania Packet, Charleston Columbian Herald, and Philadelphia American Museum

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Fayetteville Convention of 1789 Encyclopedia

Called by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1789, the Fayetteville Convention was the second meeting to consider ratification of the Federal Constitution in North Carolina. It followed the Hillsborough Convention, at which delegates, rather than rejecting the new Constitution, refused to ratify it.

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Federalist Party Encyclopedia

Originally, the term “Federalist” referred to supporters of the federal constitution of 1787.  Though the Federalist Party existed for less than half of a century, it helped define the new nation. Though they may have lost many political battles, Federalists may have won the war, for their vision of a cosmopolitan and industrialized America eventually came to fruition.

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Hillsborough Convention of 1788 Encyclopedia

Meeting in Hillsborough, North Carolina, Antifederal and Federal delegates convened from July 21 to August 4, 1788 to consider ratification of the newly proposed U.S. Constitution.  The two-week long deliberations resulted in neither ratification nor rejection.  North Carolina refused to make a decision.  Ratification was postponed until the 1789 Fayetteville Convention.

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James Iredell, Sr. (1751-1799) Encyclopedia

James Iredell (1751-1799) was a leader of the North Carolina Federalists during the state ratification debates of the federal Constitution.  Following ratification, President George Washington appointed the North Carolinian to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death in 1799.  His best-known opinion is his dissent in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) that provided the basis for the subsequent adoption of the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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Willie Jones (1741-1801) Encyclopedia

Willie Jones was an influential Jeffersonian states’ righter and patriot during the Revolutionary War and Federalist periods.  Willie Jones (pronounced Wiley) is remembered mostly for opposing the ratification of the United States Constitution.  His political philosophy has had a lasting influence.

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Archibald Maclaine (1728-1790) Encyclopedia

An influential supporter of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Archibald Maclaine may have been even more influential if not for his defense of Tories within the state. One of the original trustees of the University of North Carolina, Maclaine was known for his belief in the law and order and for his willingness to stand in the minority for issues he supported.

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Alexander Martin (1740-1807) Encyclopedia

Born in New Jersey in 1738, Alexander Martin was a politician and North Carolinian delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention. He was the only delegate to the Federal Convention who sought election to a state convention and lost. 

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