In honor of Constitution Week the Fort Dobbs Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution have placed a special display at the entrance to the Iredell County Public Library.
Constitution Week runs each year from September 17th through September 23rd. The week was designated by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress on August 2, 1956 in recognition of the historic importance of the Constitution and the significant role it plays in our lives today.
Our government is based on the United States Constitution. It was written by fifty-five men who spent four months during the summer of 1787 creating the seven articles that became our Constitution.
The marathon meetings began on May 25, 1787 and took place at Independence Hall in Philadelphia with General George Washington presiding. Thirty-nine of the original 55 men stayed until the document was completed and signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
The delegate representatives from North Carolina who signed the Constitution were Hugh Williamson from Edenton along with William Blount and Richard Dobbs Spaight of New Bern.
On February 4th, 1789 presidential electors from 11 states unanimously named George Washington as the first president. The Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789, as the first Congress met in New York City.
The first Congress immediately began working on several amendments to the Constitution that would focus on protecting the civil rights and liberties of the citizens of the new country.
The result of their efforts was the addition of 10 amendments to the Constitution on December 15, 1791 which we know today as The Bill of Rights.
North Carolina ratified the Constitution by a vote of 195-77 in Fayetteville on November 22, 1789 after Congress completed the amendments and distributed them to the states for approval.
Charley Hartley is one of our library patrons with a reputation in western North Carolina for being an authority on the history of the creation of our nation’s Constitution.
Mr. Hartley points out that many people don’t realize that both the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights each have a Preamble. Most people are familiar with the Preamble to the Constitution which states:
“We the people of the United States, in order to forma more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
What most people are not familiar with is the Preamble to the Bill of Rights as it is often not included in publications such as the library’s 2004 edition of World Book Encyclopedia’s.
Here is what the Preamble to the Bill of Rights says:
“The Conventions of a number of States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
Articles in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.”
The Daughters of the American Revolution is a service organization made up of approximately 170,000 members with nearly 3,000 chapters. The DAR was organized on October 11, 1890 for historic, educational, and patriotic purposes. Over 760,000 members have been admitted to membership since 1890.
Membership in the DAR is eligible for any woman over 18 years of age who can prove lineal blood line descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage, and death.
The first DAR chapter in Iredell County was the Mary Slocum Chapter organized in Mooresville in October 1903 by Mrs. George C. Goodman. The Fort Dobbs Chapter in Statesville was organized by Mrs. W. A. Thomas on April 28, 1908.
The Ford Dobbs Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated itself to keeping the French and Indian War site of Ford Dobbs alive and is responsible for acquiring the land and the placement of the Ford Dobbs marker in 1910.
Joel Reese, Local History Librarian
Iredell County Public Library
This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Celebrating the history of the U.S. Constitution” on Sept. 21, 2005