North Carolina – State Constitution

The people of North Carolina lived under the Carolina Charter of 1663 since the founding of their state, this document granted power to Lord’s Proprietors, and as such they were constrained by notable British laws such as the Magna Carta.  Naturally however, after the Revolution North Carolina was tasked with drafting up its own constitution.  The Constitution of North Carolina was ratified on December 18, 1776 by the fifth provincial congress and it defined North Carolina and its government until rewritten completely in 1868.  At its very core this document believed that almost all the power should be in the hands of the people.  It greatly limited the power of many government officials including the governor of the state.  It consisted of fourteen articles dealing with everything from suffrage to capital punishment, and although it has since been revised and rewritten, this document formed the basis of Government in North Carolina.

s the press not being restrained in any way, the right of any man to a fair trial by jury, and the freedom to practice one’s own religion.  Many of the contents of the Declaration of Rights can be attributed to the authors of the North Carolina Constitution taking an example from John Adams in Massachusetts and their constitution, as well as those of Virginia and Delaware.  While they did consult with members of their state for very specific parts of the constitution, it was finally ratified with very little input from the people of North Carolina.

The Constitution of North Carolina established many government positions such as a governor, judges, and law enforcement.  It also very clearly set up a three-branch system of government encompassing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  However, the most power by far was that of the General Assembly.  The General Assembly had the ability to appoint all executive government positions, as well as the ability to pass laws.  The members of the General Assembly were decided by a general election from the public, although there were many issues regarding fairness of representation in the assembly, it remained the source of almost all government power until the Constitutions revisions nearly one-hundred years later.

One reason that the General assembly was able to wield so much power was because the North Carolina state constitution greatly crippled the powers of any other significant government positions.  The Governor could only hold a term for one year at a time, could only be in office every three out of six years, and had very little authority when it came to making policies.  The Governor’s weakness was primarily due to the people’s fear remembering the many conflicts and issues they had with the royal governors.

The Constitution of North Carolina only underwent one minor change in the 1780s when it granted Fayetteville the ability to elect a Senator in 1789, it would then go unmodified for the next 46 years.  While the Constitution did have its failings such as a lack of a clear local government and no concrete structure for the judicial branch, It did successfully establish a central government in the chaotic era following the revolution, and it held strong until the Civil War forced its revisal.  The basis of the Constitution and the rights it grants to the people of North Carolina still remains in power today


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