1868 Inaugural Speech of Governor Worth

The below is each page as scanned in of the 1868 Inaugural Speech of Governor Worth who was appointed by the President–although he says elected in his speech, thereby ousting the then elected present North Carolina governor. Worth was a straight military man. Please note the passage where Worth says the Congress gives us rights. He does not say God or unalienable rights.


The Informer
April 2002


Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Commons:

It is known to you that the pressure of important official duties, for some days past, has left me no time for the preparation of a formal inaugural address.

The orders of General Sickles, forbidding our Courts to exercise laws which have existed with us and our ancestors for many hundred years, in the face of the previous proclamation of the President, declaring that civil law existed in all the States which had engaged in the late rebellion, astounded the State.

My mission to Washington touching this encroachment on the right of the State to administer her laws, not pretended to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, and other imperative administrative duties since my return, have engrossed my attention and left me no time to prepare an address suitable for the occasion.

This order of a military officer, asserting, in effect, his right to annul such of our laws as he may deem unwise, is suspended by order of the President. This arbitrary step is scarcely arrested, when a measure is proposed by Congress, looking to the sanction of this military supremacy over our laws.

In the midst of the progress of these events we are astounded by a proposition, originated by North Carolinians, and brought before Congress under auspices calculated to alarm us, that North Carolina, one of the original thirteen, is no longer a State, but a territory of the United States.

The scheme proposes that a new Convention be called, the members of which are to be elected by voters with qualifications prescribed by Congress, including negroes, excluded from voting by our Constitution. This Convention, thus elected, is to frame a new Constitution for the District formerly known as the State of North Carolina. The Constitution, when formed, is to be approved, not by the people, who are to live under it, but by the Congress of the United States, with power in the Congress to approve, modify, or reject the same: and with a test oath framed with apparent intent to reverse the principle, that the majority of the people to rule.

It is remarkable that the avowed and prominent projectors of this scheme were distinguished actors in the origination of the present State government, and have sought, or hold office under it.

Under these circumstances, I assume, by the choice countrymen, the painfully responsible duties of Governor the State, without time, in carefully considered to review these revolutionary movements.

I can only add to the solemn oath which I have just taken, that feeling profoundly the responsibility of the position which I am placed by the confidence of my countrymen, shall constantly and fervently pray that the Ruler of the universe will endow me with wisdom equal to the emergencies.

I ardently desire, independent of my official oath, to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States an the Constitution of North Carolina, and cannot, therefore, to any scheme of compromise based on the idea that North Carolina is not a State of the American Union; nor to scheme of amending the original compact, which the shall have no hand in proposing. I feel as profoundly as any body can feel, the necessity of composing, on a permanent basis, our national dissensions, and have been unable to conceive of any other means so well adapted to effect as that prescribed by the wisdom of our fathers in the fifth article of the Constitution of the United States.

My intercourse with the people of the North leads me to believe, that the great body of them do not entertain towards us the destroying malevolence, which we would infer from the speeches of many of their intemperate partizan leaders and a portion of the press. The great mass of the nation is patriotic, with becoming charity for what they deem the errors of other sections; but the partizan fury of ambitious demagogues keeps in restraint the will of the great and well meaning masses. If a national Convention could be called, as contemplated in the Constitution, these masses, as I believe, would fill it with sober, and wise, and patriotic men. In such a Convention, proper concessions would be made to the feelings and views of every section. All could be heard. The spirit of compromise, by which the parts of a great nation can alone be held together, would have its due weight. Under the provisions of this article, the amendments to the Constitution, which such national Convention might propose, would have no validity until ratified by three-fifths of the States.

If my wishes could prevail, North Carolina would be the ‘first State in the Union to hold up to the nation its constitutional olive branch.

I trust that I need not assure you, that no act of mine, official or personal, under any circumstances, will give any countenance to the parricidal scheme of erasing North Carolina from the galaxy of States of the American Union. In making this declaration, I desire to deny the possible implication that there is, within my knowledge, any other patriotic citizen of the State, who would voluntarily assent to such degradation.

In my very childhood the lessons of parental instruction taught and impressed on my heart affection for the American Union. The civil war through which we have passed has not erased these impressions. The reflection of riper years but strengthened them. When, in spite of my remonstrances, a sectional war arose, my sympathies and my duty, as I conceived, required me to yield obedience to the defacto government of the section in which I lived; but when the party claiming to fight for the preservation of the Union prevailed, I gladly renewed my allegiance to the Union, and will not now invite its dissolution by an act of Congress.

My recent intercourse and observation of the press force me to the conclusion that the main ailment of continued sectional alienation and obstruction “to the restoration of fraternal feeling,” which ought to “be the earnest wish of every patriotic heart,” is the false and persistent misrepresentation, emanating from bad men in our midst, who seek to make the impression that our Courts and juries, in the administration of justice, discriminate to the prejudice of Union men and our late slaves.

Notwithstanding the extraordinary efforts of our Judiciary, well known to every body here, to have justice impartially administered, a studied effort is persistently kept up, with too much success, to mislead the minds of well meaning people in the dominant States.

Let us not despair. We still have the Constitution, which, in the language of the great and good Gaston, “With-all its pretended defects and all its alleged violations, has conferred more benefit on man than ever yet flowed from any other institution, and which, under God, if we be true to ourselves, will insure the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity.” If this temple of liberty is to be destroyed, I pray that North Carolina may have no hand in this act of vandalism. Let us in our forlorn condition emulate the example of the present chief magistrate of the nation, who, amidst the tempest of fury which assails him, firmly steers the ship of State by this chart of our liberties, and is thus inscribing his name high on the temple of fame.

Besides the protection to our constitutional rights, which the Executive may give us, I trust and believe the Supreme Court of the United states, the ultimate arbiter of such questions, arising under the constitution, as can be brought under its jurisdiction, may be relied on for an intelligent and fair discharge of its high functions, and I do not entirely despair that Congress may become better advised, and cease to engender dislike to the government by unfounded suspicions of our loyalty.

I do not deem it necessary to add anything to my recent recommendations as to our State affairs. All the information I have been able to obtain tends strongly to confirm my recommendation, that we should promptly erect a penitentiary; and that every citizen of the State, by precept and example; should encourage domestic manufactures, and to carry out this recommendation as far as I can by example, I appear before you to-day, clothed in the handiwork of North Carolina manufacturers and made up by North Carolina mechanics.

As you are about to leave for your respective homes, I trust you will feel it individually your duty to exhort your constituents to attend diligently and quietly to their respective callings; to offer no opposition to any law, State or National, which they may deem unconstitutional, excepting through the regular channel of the courts; to be diligent in bringing malefactors to justice, and thereby giving security to the orderly.

Gloomy and impoverished and depressed, as are our people, if they continue quietly to discharge all their duties, in the end they may expect the rewards which usually follow well doing.

I avail myself of this occasion to return my thanks to the people of the State for the comparative unanimity with which they have re-elected me as their Governor; and I pray God to inspire me with all those qualities of the head and of the heart, necessary to perform aright the duties of my

Doc. No. 25