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The signers of the Declaration of Independence from North Carolina

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Most North Carolinians have never heard of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence who signed representing North Carolina.

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They are Hugh Williamson, Richard Dobbs Spaight, and William Blount.

William Blount

In May 1782, William Blount was elected one of North Carolina’s four delegates to the Continental Congress. At the Congress’s 1782 session, Blount helped defeat a poll tax and a liquor tax and opposed a reduction of the army. He also agreed to consider a land cession act to satisfy North Carolina’s massive tax debt owed to the Confederation.  Blount left Philadelphia in January 1783 and resigned from Congress three months later to accept an appointment to the North Carolina House of Commons steering committee.

Hugh Williams

During the Revolutionary era, Hugh Williamson served as surgeon-general of the North Carolina Militia from 1779 to 1782, a member of the House of Commons of North Carolina in 1782, and a member of the Continental Congress from 1782 to 1785 and then from 1787 to 1788. He was the most vocal of North Carolina’s delegates to the 1787 federal Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia. Williamson was in favor of representation by population in order to favor larger states and, although himself against slavery, he accepted the compromise that allowed the slave trade to continue for twenty more years. In 1789 Williamson was elected a representative from North Carolina to the U.S. Congress, where he opposed the Bank of the United States, the assumption of state debt by the federal government, the whiskey excise tax, and the Jay Treaty.

Richard Dobbs Spaight

Richard Dobbs Spaight was an American Founding Father, politician, planter, and signer of the United States Constitution, who served as a Democratic-Republican U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 10th congressional district from 1798 to 1801. Spaight previously served as the eighth governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795. He ran for the North Carolina State Senate in 1802, and Federalist U.S. Congressman John Stanly campaigned against him as unworthy. Taking offense, Stanly challenged him to a duel on September 5, 1802, in which Stanly shot and mortally wounded Spaight, who died the following day.

Commemorative Plague in Wake county

This commemorative plaque honors the three members of the North Carolina delegation to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 who were signers of United States Constitution. The plaque is bronze and rectangular, with a simple single scallop rising on the top edge. Above the inscription the plaque bears the insignia of the National Society Colonial Dames of the XVII Century, the plaque’s sponsor.

The plaque is located on the wall in the interior of the rotunda of the North Carolina State Capitol. The interior of the rotunda houses other State Capitol memorials including statuary, paintings, and plaques commemorating significant events and individuals in North Carolina’s history.

The North Carolina legislature had selected Governor Richard Caswell, William R. Davie, Willie Jones, Alexander Martin, and Spaight to attend the Constitutional Convention as delegates. However, Jones did not support the concept of the federal government, and Governor Caswell was ill at the time. Governor Caswell selected Blount and Williamson to attend in their place, and Davie and Martin vacated the convention prior to signing, leaving Blount, Williamson and Spaight as signatories.

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