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title:“North Carolina Ratification Convention Debates”
date written:1788-8-1

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:48 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 27, 2022, 8:16 a.m. UTC

North Carolina Ratification Convention Debates (August 1, 1788)

The Convention met according to adjournment.
Mr. Iredell—Mr. President, I believe, Sir, all debate is now at an end. It is useless to contend any longer against a majority that is irresistible. We submit, with the deference that becomes us, to the decision of the majority; but my friends and myself are anxious that something may appear on the journal to shew our sentiments on the subject. I have therefore a resolution in my hand to offer, not with a view of creating any debate, (for I know it will be instantly rejected) but merely that it may be entered on the journal, with the yeas and nays taken upon it, in order that our constituents and the world may know what our opinions really were on this important occasion. We prefer this to the exceptionable mode of a protest, which might increase the spirit of party, and raise animosity among the people of this country, which is an event we wish to prevent, if possible. I therefore, Sir, have the honour of moving,
"That the consideration of the report of the committee be postponed, in order to take up the consideration of the following resolution."
Mr. Iredell then read the resolution in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the Clerk's table, and his motion was seconded by Mr. John Skinner.
Mr. Joseph M'Dowall and several other gentlemen, most strongly objected against the propriety of this motion. They thought it improper, unprecedented, and a great contempt of the voice of the majority.
Mr. Iredell replied that he thought it perfectly regular, and by no means a contempt of the majority. The sole intention of it was, to shew the opinion of the minority, which could not, in any other manner, be so properly done. They wished to justify themselves to their constituents, and the people at large would judge between the merit of the two propositions. They wished also to avoid, if possible, the disagreeable alternative of a protest. This being the first time he ever had the honour of being a Member of a representative body, he did not solely confide in his own judgment as to the proper manner of bringing his resolution forward, but had consulted a very respectable and experienced Member of that House, who had recommended this method to him; and he well knew it was conformable to a frequent practice in Congress, as he had observed by their journals. Each Member had an equal right to make a motion, and if seconded, a vote ought to be taken upon it, and he trusted the majority would not be so arbitrary as to prevent them from taking this method to deliver their sentiments to the world.
He was supported by Mr. Maclaine and Mr. Spaight.
Mr. Willie Jones and Mr. Spencer insisted on its being irregular—and said they might protest. Mr. Jones said, there never was an example of the kind before; that such a practice did not prevail in Congress when he was a Member of it, and he well knew no such practice had ever prevailed in the Assembly.
Mr. Davie said, he was sorry that gentlemen should not deal fairly and liberally with one another. He declared it was perfectly Parliamentary, and the usual practice in Congress. They were in possession of the motion, and could not get rid of it without taking a vote upon it. It was in the nature of a previous question. He declared that nothing hurt his feelings so much as the blind tyranny of a dead majority.
After a warm discussion of this point by several gentlemen on both sides of the House, it was at length intimated to Mr. Iredell, by Mr. Spaight, across the house, that Mr. Lenoir and some other gentlemen of the majority, wished he would withdraw his motion for the present, on purpose that the resolution of the committee might be first entered on the journal, which had not been done; and afterwards his motion might be renewed. Mr. Iredell declared he would readily agree to this, if the gentleman who had seconded him would, desiring the House to remember that he only withdrew his motion for that reason, and hoped he should have leave to introduce it afterwards. Which seemed to be understood. He accordingly, with the consent of Mr. Skinner, withdrew his motion, And the resolution of the committee of the whole House was then read, and ordered to be entered on the journal. The resolution was accordingly read and entered as follows, viz.

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