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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Franklin [state] Constitution
Franklin (state)
Volume 22, Pages 661-670


Your Committee appointed to collect and adjust the reason which impels us to declare ourselves Independent of North Carolina, Report as follows, to-wit:

Whereas, We the freemen inhabitants of part of the Country included in the limits of an Act of North Carolina Ceding certain vacant Territory to Congress, having declared ourselves Independent of North Carolina, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind make it proper that we should manifest to the world the reasons which Induced us to a declaration, which are as follows:

First. That the Constitution of North Carolina declares that it shall be justifiable to erect New States Westward when ever the Consent of the Legislative shall Countenance it, & this Consent is implied we conceive in the Cession act which has thrown us into such a situation that the influence of the Law in common cases was almost a nullity

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& in criminal Jurisdiction had intirely ceased, which reduced us to the Verge of Anarchy.

Second. The Assembly of North Carolina have detained a certain quantity of Good, which was procured to satisfy the Indians for the lands we possess, which detainure we fully conseive has so exasperated them that they have actually committed hostilities upon us, & we are alone impeled to defend ourselves from these Raviges.

3dly. The resolutions of Congress held out from time to time incouraging the erection of New States have appeared to us ample incouragment.

4thly. Our local situation is such that we not only apprehend we should be separated from North Carolina; but almost every sensible disinterested traveller has declared it incompatible with our Interest to belong in union with the Eastern part of the State, for we are not only far removed from the Eastern parts of North Carolina, But separated from them by high & almost impassable mountains, which Naturally divide us from them which have proved to us that our interest is also in many respects distinct from the inhabitants on the other side & much injured by an union with them.

5th and lastly. We Unanimously agree that our lives, liberties and Property can be more secure & our happiness much better propagated by our separation, & consequently that it is our duty and unalienable right to form ourselves into a new Independent State.

A Declaration of Rights made by the representatives of the Freemen of the State of Franklin:

1st. That all Political power is vested in & derived from the people only.

2nd Sec. That the people of this State Ought to have the sole & exclusive right of Regulating the Internal Government and Police thereof.

3d Sect. That no man or set of men, are intitled to exclusive or Separate Emoluments or Privileges from the community, But in consideration of Public services.

4th Sect. That the Legislative, executive & Supreme Judicial Powers of Government Ought to be forever Separate & distinct from each other.

5th Sect. That all powers of suspending Laws or the execution of laws, by any authority without the Consent of the Representatives

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of the People is injurious to their Rights & ought not to be exercised.

6th Sect. That Elections of Members to serve as representatives in General Assembly ought to be free.

Sect. 7th. That in all criminal prosecutions every man has a Right to be informed of the accusation against him, and to confront the accusors & witnesses with other Testimony, & shall not be compeld to give Evidence against himself.

8th Sect. That no freeman shall be put to answer any criminal Charges but by indictment, Presentment or Impeachment.

9th Sect. That no freeman shall be convicted of any Crime but by the unanimous Verdict of a Jury of good & Lawfull men in open Court, as heretofore used.

10th Sect. That excessive Bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor crewel & unusual Punishments inflicted.

11th Sect. That General Warrants, whereby any officer or Messinger may be commanded to search suspected places, without Evidence of the fact Committed, or to seize any person or persons not Named whose offence is not particularly described & supported by evidence, are dangerous to Liberty, & ought not to be granted.

12th Sect. That no freeman ought to be taken, imprisoned or disseized of his freehold, Liberties or Privileges, or outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the Laws of the land.

13th Sect. That every freeman restrained of his liberty is intitled to a remedy to inquire into the lawfulness thereof & to remove it if unlawful, & that such remedy ought not to be denied or delayed.

14th Sect. That in all Controversies at law respecting property the Ancient mode of tryal by Jury is one of the best securities of the Rights of the People, & ought to remain sacred & inviolable.

15th Sect. That the freedom of the press is one of the great Bulwarks of liberty, & therefore ought never to be restrained.

16th. That the people of this State ought not to be taxed, or made Subject to the payment of any impost or duty without the consent of themselves or their Representatives in General Assembly freely given.

17th. That the people have a right to bear Arms for the defence of the State; and as Standing Armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the Millitary

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Should be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.

18th. That the people have a right to Assemble together, to consult for their common good, to instruct their Representatives, & to apply to the Legislature for Redress of Grievances.

19th. That all Men have a Natural and unalienable right to worship God Almighty according to the dictates of their own conscience.

20th. That for redress of Grievances and for amending and Strengthening the laws, Elections ought to be often Held.

21st. That a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.

22nd. That no hereditary Emoluments, privileges, or honours ought to be Granted or Confered in this State.

23rd. That perpetuties & Monopolies are Contrary to the genius of a free State, and ought not to be allowed.

24th. That retrospective laws punishing Facts committed before the existence of such laws, and by them only declared criminal, are oppressive, unjust and incompatible with Liberty; wherefore no expost facto law ought to be made.

25th. That the people have a right by their Representatives to enact laws to encourage Virtue & Suppress vice and immorality.

The Constitution or form of Government agreed to and Resolved upon by the representatives of the free men of the State of Franklin, elected and chosen for that particular purpose, in convention Assembled, at Jonesborough, the 17th Dece’r, Anno Dom. 1778.

Sect. 1st. That the legislative Authority shall be vested in two distinct branches, both dependent on the people, to-wit, a Senate and house of commons.

Sect. 2nd. That the Senate shall be composed of three Representatives Annually chosen by ballot from each County until there be ten Counties in the State, after that period one from each County.

3rd. That the house of Commons shall be composed of Representative annually chosen by Ballot four for each County until there be ten Counties within the State and after that period two for each County.

Sect. 4th. That the Senate and house of Commons Assembled

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for the Purpose of legislation shall be denominated the General Assembly.

Sect. 5th. That each Member of the Senate shall have usually resided in the County in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceeding his Election, & for the same time shall have possessed and continue to possess in the County which he represents not less than one hundred Acres of land in fee.

Sect. 6th. That each Member of the house of Commons shall have usually resided in the County in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceeding his Election.

Sect. 7th. That all Freemen of the age of twenty-one years, who have been inhabitants of any one County within the State twelve Months immediately preceeding the day of any Election, & possessed of a freehold within the same County of fifty acres of land for six months next before and at the day of Election shall be intitled to vote for a Member of the Senate.

Sect. 8th That all freemen of the age of twenty-one years, who have been Inhabitants of any County in this State twelve Months immediately preceeding the day of any Election, & shall have paid public taxes, shall be intitled to vote for Members for the house of Commons for the County in which he resides.

Sect. 9th. That all persons possessed of a freehold in any Town in this State having a right of representation, & also all freemen who have been Inhabitants of any such Town twelve Months next before & at the day of Election, & shall have paid public taxes, Shall be intitled to Vote for a Member to represent such Town in the house of Commons; provided always, That this Section shall not intitle any inhabitant of Such Town to Vote for Members of the house of Commons for the County in which he may reside, nor any freeholder in such County who resides without or beyond the limits of such town to vote for a Member for said Town.

Sect. 10th. That the Senate & house of Commons, when met, shall each have power to choose a speaker and other officers, and shall be Judges of the qualifications and Election of their members, sit upon their own adjournment from day to day, & prepare bills to be passed into laws. The two houses shall direct writs of Election for supplying intermediate vacancies and shall also Jointly by Ballot adjourn Themselves to any future day & place.

Sect. 11th. That all Bills shall be read three times in each house before they pass into laws, & be signed by the Speaker of Both

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houses. On motion and seconded, the yeas & nays shall be taken on the passing of any act and printed with the Same.

Sect. 12th. That every person who shall be chosen a member of Senate or house of Commons or appointed to any Office or place of Trust, before taking his Seat or entering upon the execution of his office, Shall Take an Oath to the State, and all Officers also shall take an Oath of Office.

Sect. 13th. That the General Assembly by a Joint Ballot of both houses, shall appoint Judges of the Supreme Courts of law and Equity & Attorney General, who shall be Commissioned by the Governor and hold their Offices during Good behavior.

Sect. 14th. That the Senate and house of Commons shall have power to appoint the General and field Officers of the Militia and all Officers of the Regular Army of the State.

Sect. 15th. That the Senate and house of Commons Jointly at their first meeting after each annual Election Shall by ballot Elect a Governor for one year, who shall not be Eligible to that Office longer than three years in Six successive years; that no person under thirty years of age and who has not been a resident in this State above one year and shall not have in the State a freehold in land & Tenements above the Value of two Hundred & fifty pounds, Shall be Eligible as a Governor.

Sect. 16th. That the Senate and house of Commons Jointly at their first meeting after each annual Election shall by Ballot Elect five persons to be a Council of State for one year, who shall advise the Governor in the Execution of his Office, & that three Members Shall be a quorum; their advice and proceedings Shall be entered in a Journal to be kept for that purpose only, and Signed by the Members present, to any part of which any Member present may enter his dissent; and such Journal shall be laid before the General Assembly, when called for by them.

Sect. 17th. That there Shall be a Seal of this State, which Shall be kept by the Governor and used by him as Occasion may Require, and Shall be called the Great Seal of the State of Franklin, & be affixed to all Grants and Commissions.

Sect. 18th. The Governor for the time being shall be Captain General & Commander in Chief of the Militia, & in the recess of the Gen’l Assembly shall have power by & with the advice of the Councill of State, to Imbody the Militia for the Public safety.

Sect. 19th. That the Governor for the time being shall have power

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to draw for & apply such sums of Money as Shall be voted by the General Assembly for the Contingencies of Government, & be accountable to them for the same, and he also may, by & with the advice of the Council of State, lay Embargoes or prohibit the Exportation of any Commodities for any term not exceeding thirty days at any one time in the recess of the General Assembly, and shall have the power of granting the pardons and reprieves, except where the prosecutions shall be carried on by the General Assembly or the law shall otherwise direct. In such case, he may, in the recess, grant a Reprieve Untill the next sitting of the Gen’l Assembly; & may exercise all other executive Powers of Government, limited & restrained as by the Constitution is mentioned, and according to the laws of the State; and on his death, inability or absence from the State, the Speaker of the Senate for the time being, & in case of his death, Inability or absence from the State, the Speaker of the house of Commons shall exercise the powers of Government, after such death or during such absence or Inability of the Governor or Speaker of the Senate or until a new nomination is made by the General Assembly.

Sect. 20th. That in every case where any officer, the Right of whose appointment is by this Constitution vested in the General Assembly, shall during their recess die, or his Office by their means become vacant, the governor shall have power, with the advice of the Council of State, to fill up such vacancy by granting a temporary Commission, which shall expire at the end of next Session of the General Assembly.

Sect. 21st. That the Governor, Judges of Supreme Courts of Law and Equity and Attorney General, shall have adequate Salaries during their continuance in Office.

Sect. 22nd. That the General Assembly shall by Joint Ballot of both houses annually appoint a Treasurer or Treasurers for this State.

Sect. 23rd. That the governor and other officers offending against the State by violating any part of this Constitution, Maladministration or Corruption, may be prosecuted on the impeachment of the General Assembly, or presentment of the grand Jury of any Court of Supreme Jurisdiction of this State.

Sect. 24th. That the general assembly shall by Joint Ballot of both houses, Triennially appoint a Secretary for this State.

Sect. 25th. That no persons who heretofore have been or hereafter may be receivers of public Monies, shall have a seat in either

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house of General Assembly, or be Eligible to any office in this State, untill such persons shall have fully accounted for & paid into the Treasury all sums for which they may be Accountable & liable, if legally called upon.

26th Sec. That no Treasurer shall have a Seat in either Senate, house of Commons or Council of State during his Continuance in that office, or before he shall have finally settled his accompts with the public for all Moneys which may be in his hands at the expiration of his office belonging to the State and have paid the same into the hands of the Succeeding Treasurer.

Sect. 27th. That no officer in the regular army or Navy in the Service & pay of the United States, of this or any other State, Nor any Contractor or agent for supplying such army or Navy with Clothing or provisions, shall have a seat in either Senate, house of Commons or Council of State, or be Eligible thereto, any member of the Senate house of Commons or Council of State being appointed to and accepting of such office shall thereby Vacate his Seat.

Sect. 28th. That no member of the Council of State shall have a Seat either in the Senate of house of Commons; provided nevertheless, that the Governor & Council shall attend the General Assembly during the sitting of the same, and that it shall be a part of their official duty to revise all bills before they can be passed and recommend such amendments as they may think proper.

Sect. 29th. That no Judge of the Supreme Court of Law or Equity shall have a seat in Senate, house of Commons or Council of State.

Sect. 30th. That no Secretary of this State, Attorney General or Clerk of any Court of Record shall have a seat in the Senate, house of Commons or Council of State.

Sect. 31st. That no Clergyman or preacher of the gospel of any denomination shall be Capable of being a Member of either the Senate or house of Commons while he Continues in the service of the pastoral function.

Sect. 32nd. That no person who shall deny the being of a God or the truth of the Protestant religion or the divine authority either of the old or new Testament, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the Civil department within this State.

Sect. 33rd. That the Justices of the Peace within their respective

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Counties in this State shall in future be recommended to the Governor for the time being by the representatives in General Assembly, and the Governor shall Commission them accordingly, and the Justices Commissioned shall hold their offices during good behaviour, & shall not be removed from office by the General Assembly unless for misbehaviour, Absence or inability.

Sect. 34th. That there shall be no Establishment of any one religious Church or denomination in this State in preference to any other, neither shall any person on any pretence whatsoever be compelled to attend any place of Worship contrary to his own faith or judgment, nor be obliged to pay for the purchase of any Glebe or the building of any house of worship or for the maintainance of any Minister or Ministry Contrary to what he believes right or has voluntarily and personally engaged to perform; but all persons Shall be at liberty to exercise their own mode of worships; provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to except preachers of treasonable or Seditious doctrines from legal trial or punishment.

Sect. 35th. That no person in the State shall hold more than one lucrative Office at any one time; provided that no appointment in the Militia or the office of a Justice of the Peace shall be Considered as a lucrative office.

Sect. 36th. That all Commissions & Grants shall run in the name of the State of Franklin & bear test & be signed by the Governor; all writs shall run in the same manner & bear test & be signed by the Clerks of the respective Courts. Indictments shall conclude against the peace & dignity of the State.

Sect. 37th. That the delegate for this State to the Continental Congress while necessary, shall be chosen annually by the General Assembly, by ballot, but may be superseded in the meantime in the same manner, and no person shall be Elected to serve in that capacity for more than three years successively.

Sect. 38th. That there shall be a sheriff, coroner or coroners & Constables in Each County within this State.

Sect. 39th. That the person of a debtor, where there is not a strong presumption of fraud, shall not be Continued In prison after delivering up bona fide all his Estate, real and personal, for the use of his Creditors, in such manner as shall be hereafter regulated by law; all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient securities, unless for Capital offences, when the proof in Evident or presumption great.

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Sect. 40th. That any foreigner who comes to settle in this State, having first taken an oath of Allegiance to the Same, may purchase or by other just means acquire, hold and transfer land or other real estate, and after one year’s residence shall be deemed a free Citizen.

Sect. 41st. That a School or Schools shall be established by the legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such Salaries to the masters, paid by the public, as may enable them to instruct at low prices; and all useful learning shall be duly encouraged & promoted in one or more Universities.

Sect. 42nd. That no purchase of Lands shall be made of Indian natives, but on behalf of the publick, by authority of the General Assembly.

Sect. 43rd. That the future legislature of this State shall regulate intails in such a manner as to prevent perpetuities.

Sect. 44th. That the declaration of the rights is hereby declared to be a part of the Constitution of this State, & ought never to be Violated, on any pretence whatsoever.

Sect. 45th. That any member of either House of the General Assembly shall have liberty to dissent from & protest against any act or resolves which he may think injurious to the public, or any individual, & have the reasons of his dissent entered on the Journals.

Sect. 46th. That neither house of the General Assembly shall proceed upon public business unless a Majority of all the Members of such house are actually present; & that upon Motion made & Seconded, the yeas & Nays upon any question shall be taken & entered on the Journals, & that the Journals of the proceedings of both houses of the General Assembly Shall be printed & made public immediately after their adjournment.

This Constitution is Not Intended to preclude the present Convention from making a temporary provision for the well ordering of this State untill the General Assembly shall establish Government agreeable to the mode herein described.

Resolved, That this Convention Recommend this Constitution for the Serious Consideration of the people during Six Ensuing Months, after which time and before the expiration of the Year they shall choose a Convention for the Express purpose of Adopting it in the Name of the people, if agreed to by them, or altering it as Instructed by them.

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