Tag Archives: Bill of Rights

Constitution Day Event at Historic Henderson County Courthouse

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789. Part of the Vault Collection. Available online at http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/29.

In honor of Constitution Day, the State Archives of North Carolina is presenting public programs at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on September 18, 2017.  The program will be given at 9 AM, 10:30 AM, and 1 PM.  It will feature the odyssey of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from North Carolina’s role in the development of the document through its theft after the Civil War and recovery almost 140 years later.

The historic courthouse is located at 1 Historic Courthouse Square on Main Street in Hendersonville.

The event is free and open to the public.

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See North Carolina’s Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on www.ncdcr.gov.]

Award-Winning Constitutional Scholar Highlights Bill of Rights, How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

See North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Image credit: State Archives of North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In honor of the Bill of Rights’ 225th anniversary on Dec. 15, you will have a rare opportunity to see North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights from Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Admission is free. To protect the fragile document from light, it is on view for a very limited time.

In addition, the museum will offer free programs about the Bill of Rights on Dec. 14. Linda R. Monk, a nationally award-winning author, journalist and constitutional scholar, will present The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution. (Did you know North Carolina was the only state to refuse to ratify the U.S. Constitution until a bill of rights was added?) Monk’s work has been featured on PBS, Voice of America, MSNBC, C-SPAN and NPR, and she writes commentary for newspapers nationwide.

After Monk’s program, State Archivist Sarah Koonts will briefly highlight the saga of North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights, from its theft by a Union soldier during the Civil War to its recovery by the FBI in 2003.

 

History à la Carte: The Bill of Rights: How North Carolina Saved the Constitution

Wednesday, Dec. 14, noon-1 p.m.

Register at NCMOH-programs.com and purchase a boxed lunch — or just bring your own. Beverages provided. For information, call 919-807-7982.

Linda R. Monk, J.D., Constitutional Scholar and Author

North Carolina’s role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution helped result in James Madison sponsoring the first 10 amendments in Congress. Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, that Bill of Rights upholds the key freedoms Americans cherish to this day.

Monk, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has twice won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for public education about the law. She served as series advisor for the PBS documentary “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal.”

Monk uses an accessible, narrative style to explore truths about our constitutional democracy. She conveys this depth of knowledge in a manner that is relevant and understandable to average citizens. Monk also presents seminars and lectures for audiences that include the Pentagon, National Archives, Fulbright Scholars and the Smithsonian Institution.

 

North Carolina’s Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m.

Sarah Koonts, Director, Division of Archives and Records

North Carolina’s state archivist will briefly trace the intriguing history of North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights. The journey started when a Union soldier stole it from the State Capitol in 1865 and ended in 2003, when it was recovered in an undercover FBI sting operation. After legal battles in state and federal courts, North Carolina won possession of the document in 2005 and ownership in 2008.

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights is one of 14 original copies of the 12 proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution prepared by three federal clerks in 1789. A copy was drafted for the legislatures of the existing 13 states to debate; the other copy was for the federal government. After the ratification of the first 10 amendments in 1791, North Carolina retained custody of its copy of the document.

For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or YouTube.

About the N.C. Museum of History

The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum collects and preserves artifacts of North Carolina history and educates the public on the history of the state and the nation through exhibits and educational programs. Each year more than 300,000 people visit the museum to see some of the 150,000 artifacts in the museum collection. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

 

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

View North Carolina’s Original Bill of Rights June 15-19 at the N.C. Museum of History

The point of controversy eventually rested on one issue and the argument in North Carolina was vigorous, at times contentious. Conservatives led by James Iredell wanted the document left alone. Their opponents, led by Willie Jones, insisted on added protections for individual liberties.

The document protecting individual liberties that North Carolina demanded before ratifying the U.S. Constitution will be displayed Wednesday, June 15, through Sunday, June 19, in the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” at the N.C. Museum of History. Admission is free.

For a while there was heated debate about the Bill of Rights, each side rounding up more allies. The internal stalemate escalated, preventing North Carolina from taking action, but by November 1789, the state finally ratified the U.S. Constitution with the longed-for Bill of Rights as its first 10 amendments.

George Washington had a copy of the Bill of Rights created for each state. North Carolina’s copy was held in the State Capitol building when, in 1865, it was stolen by a Union soldier. Recovered in an FBI sting operation almost 150 years later, North Carolina’s official copy of the Bill of Rights resides in one of two vaults in the State Archives.

Rarely displayed because of its fragile condition, museum visitors will be able to view this document for one week in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives exhibit at the Museum of History in Raleigh.

“The Bill of Rights belongs to the people of North Carolina,” stated Sarah Koonts, state archivist. “We are the custodians of a document that guarantees freedom and liberties to United States citizens and we are happy to have the opportunity to exhibit this treasure to the public.”

Visitors to the Treasures of Carolina exhibit will discover the important role of the State Archives of North Carolina — the state’s memory bank. From parchment documents to digital files, the State Archives collects, preserves and makes accessible over 100 million treasures chronicling the Tar Heel State, past and present.

The variety of public records and private manuscript collections in the exhibit focuses on three themes: providing evidence of civil and property rights, government transparency, and the preservation of North Carolina’s history and culture.

 A sampling of the exhibit treasures includes:

  •  The earliest will known to exist in North Carolina, recorded in 1665 by Mary Fortsen. It is unusual because female property owners were extremely rare in the 1600s.
  • An 1839 petition for United States citizenship, signed by Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in Siam (now Thailand). They settled in Wilkes County and married sisters. Altogether, the families had 21 children.
  • The hand-drawn map used as evidence during the 1867 trial of Tom Dula, who was indicted and hanged for murdering Laura Foster. Dula’s fate is told in the popular ballad “Tom Dooley.”
  • A Civil War letter from Martha A. E. Henley Poteet to her husband, Francis Marion Poteet, who was away at war. She enclosed a cutout of her 4-week-old daughter’s hand with the request “write to Me what to name her.” The family lived in McDowell County.
  • A 1903 copy of the North Carolina Constitutional Reader. In 1901 rules were enacted to prevent illiterate African Americans from voting, and this book was published to help African Americans read the Constitution in case they were questioned at the polls when trying to vote.
  • Audio recordings of World War I soldiers’ oral histories.

 Treasures of Carolina will run through July 31, 2016. The Bill of Rights will be displayed June 15 through June 19.

 

Landing Pages and the Bill of Rights

It’s been far too long since I’ve given you an update one what’s going with our online projects. First of all, we’re testing out the built in landing pages for the tool that runs the North Carolina Digital Collection. What that means for you is that there are now new landing pages for:

Both Black Mountain College and Women, Marriage and the Law are collections that have been around for a while but neither have ever had landing pages to introduce what the collections are and what you should (and shouldn’t) expect to find in them. War of 1812 Pay Vouchers is a new project that one of our archivists, Aaron Cusick, began loading in February. Currently 1,709 of the 5,000 vouchers are available online and we hope that the whole collection will be available very soon.

And now for the Bill of Rights – if you were one of the many people who attended the event this Monday, thank you for helping us celebrate this anniversary for one of our most important treasures. If you weren’t able to attend the event, the Department of Cultural Resources has a new YouTube video about the document and Monday’s celebration.

Other related materials include:

  • Many of the photos that I took during the day are available on our Facebook page.
  • The official photographs of the event are available through the Cultural Resources Flickr account.
  • Jeffrey Miles with the Dept. of Cultural Resources has set up a Storify page to capture tweets from various social media staff throughout the department about the Bill of Rights event.
  • You can always view North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights in our Treasures collection.

Don’t forget that we’re about to have another anniversary, this time for the Carolina Charter of 1663. If you missed joining us for the Bill of Rights celebration, perhaps you can join us as we spotlight the Carolina Charter on Monday, March 25, at the State Capitol. We’ll hope to see you there.

Don’t Miss the Chance to See North Carolina Treasures in Person

In the next few weeks the public will have a chance to see two treasures of the State Archives in person since both the Bill of Rights and the Carolina Charter of 1663 will be on display in the State Capitol this month.

On Monday, March 18th the recovery of North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights will be celebrated in Raleigh. The celebration will include a procession at 12:45 PM, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan W. Kluttz, to carry the document from the legislative building to the State Capitol. North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights will be on display there from 1:30 PM-5:30 PM. The Bill of Rights was recovered in a sting operation conducted by the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2003, but the search for the rare document began not long after it was taken from the State Capitol in April 1865 by an unknown member of Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops.

To learn more about the search for this precious part of North Carolina’s history, see the brief online narrative of events created by the State Archives on the return of the document to the state in 2005. For more information about this coming Monday’s events, see yesterday’s press release on this blog.

The next Monday, March 25th, the first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663 will be on display in the State Capitol from 9:00 AM-5:30 PM to mark 350 years since it was issued. More information on that event will be forthcoming. The Charter of 1663, composed of four pages, marks the beginning of organized, representative government in the Province of Carolina. Even though the Proprietors had substantial power, the colonists were given rights through the charter that were to have lasting influence on the region’s population and its history.  It’s also a lovely document, well worth seeing if you have a chance.

If you’re in Raleigh on these two day, please come join us. These documents are only on display on special occasions in order to preserve them for future generations and, while you can always view digital copies of both the Bill of Rights and the Charter in our Treasures Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections, it is a very different experience to see them in person.

If you find that you can’t join us, I will likely be posting about the Monday, March 18th events on one of our Twitter accounts: WebArchivist. Other Dept. of Cultural Resources accounts will also be tweeting the event that day including @ncsymphony@ncstatecapitol, and @ncculture. You can also follow the hashtag #NCBOR for tweets about the Bill of Rights event.

[Updated, 3/19/2013: You can see photos from the Bill of Rights event on our Facebook page.]

Celebration of Recovery of North Carolina’s Copy of the Bill of Rights

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

Celebration of Recovery of North Carolina’s Copy of the Bill of Rights

 RALEIGH – The 10th anniversary of the recovery of North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights is being celebrated on Monday, March 18, in Raleigh. A procession led by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan W. Kluttz will travel from the legislative building to the State Capitol at 12:45 p.m. The fragile document will be carried to the State Capitol for a rare public display from 1:30-5:30 p.m. A State Capitol Police escort, ROTC color guard, bagpiper, and school children will join the procession.

In 2003, efforts were re-energized to reclaim the document that had been removed from the State Capitol in 1865 by a Union soldier. It is one of 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights President George Washington dispatched to the states for ratification. North Carolina had insisted on the inclusion of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution before it would join the United States of America.

The document changed ownership a number of times, and was offered for sale back to North Carolina in 1925 and 1995. In 1925, N.C. Historical Commission Secretary Robert B. House declared, “So long as it remains away from the official custody of North Carolina, it will serve as a memorial of individual theft.”  That stand on principle remained until the document was returned.

An antiques dealer acquired the document and sought to sell it to the newly constructed Constitution Center in Pennsylvania. North Carolina was contacted and law enforcement officials agreed to stage a sting operation to return to North Carolina its copy of the Bill of Rights. The FBI led the operation, which was conducted in 2003. After a lengthy court battle, in April 2005 the document was returned to the state. Final resolution of challenges on ownership came in March 2008. The document is housed in the vault of the State Archives with other precious historical documents.