Friday, December 11, 2009

The Writings of Stephen Moore

by Terri Bradshaw O'Neill, copyright © December, 2009.

Stephen Moore was a prolific writer and record keeper and fortunately, much of his writing is preserved in various repositories. The following document may be found at the Wilson Library, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.1 It appears to be a draft of an address, written about 1797, organizing his thoughts on the topic of revising the Constitution.
            All political power is vested in and derived from the people only.~~
                        A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of Liberty.~~

Happy for us my fellow citizens of North Carolina, that the two foregoing articles are not only implied, but are wisely recorded in our list or Bill of Rights, as the uncontroverted Privileges of the body of the people at large—they are of ancient authority, & it wants nothing but the becoming spirit of a free people to establish & maintain the same Principles to the last days of our liberty—

We are now in the 21st. year since our present Govern. had its formation, & was there no other reason than the general Idea set forth in our declaration of rights, that a frequent Recurrence & al.

It would be highly proper that the people should claim a Privilege of reminding our rulers that they have not a life inheritance in their power of Governing—long used customs (even without an original authority) gain root themselves into establishments, & are frequently in that way made use of for pernicious purposes; but my fellow citizens, we need not at present be urged by Ideal motives for revising our Constitution—look to our Gen. Assembly in session, & look to the harvest of their labour. If the crop be worth the seed, I am bad at calculation.

Next, turn your attention to the Judicial benches of our counties, & you will there see crowds of Justices Sacrificing the laws of their Country. If it be not altogether from their ignorance, it is by their aspiring for popularity or for some other sinister purpose. Judicial acts of partiality are now become so common & the Courts are so contemptible in several other respects, that many people rather submit to private injuries, than be put to the hazard of being wronged by such mock Judiciaries

These and sundry other more minute Evils, with the detail of which it is not necessary to lengthen this address, must convince every considerate person that (although our Constitution is upon the whole as good as we could have expected at the distressed time of its formation) still a 21 years trial, together with the sundry changes in our general as well as State Governm’t. shews an absolute necessity for a number of very important changes in the fundamentals of our Constitution—

The ability & Constitutional or rather innate propriety of taking in hand a reformation, being beyond contradiction, let us next consider the measures we are to pursue to bring about the desired purposes—And to this end it is recommended that the free men in each County, do for the sake of uniformity, in an orderly & peaceable manner, convene at their usual places of holding Elections, on the ____ & ____ days of August next, and then make a Judicious choice of 5 reputable & well informed men, to represent their body in a general convention of the States & that Selection to meet at the Seat of Government on the ___ day of November, & then & there to take the Government into their hands, and frame & establish such a Constitution for the future Government of our Country as in their wisdom they shall see right.
1#2205-Stephen Moore Papers, Series 2, 1769-1794, Folder 3B - Southern Historical Collection.

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