Constitutional Tales Digitalization Project...

1865 North Carolina Freedmen’s Convention Resolution
The Constitutional Tales highlights the role of African Americans in advocating for and establishing schools after the Civil War and the impact of this role on the progressive education provisions in the 1868 Constitution. North Carolina was among the first states where African Americans held a Freedmen’s Convention to organize and express their political rights. The convention was held in early October of 1865 in Raleigh at the St. Paul’s AME Church. Northern journalist Sidney Andrews described the resolution as “one of the most remarkable documents that the time has brought forth…This is their first political act; and I do not see how they could have presented their claims with more dignity, with a more just appreciation of the state of affairs, or in a manner which should appeal more forcibly either to the reason or the sentiment of those whom they address.”

The Constitutional Tales Digitization Project has transcribed this resolution. It is of great historical significance as the first political writing of organized African Americans after the Civil War in North Carolina. Click here for the Resolution.

Address of the Equal Rights League, 1866
The following address was issued by the Equal Rights League in Wilmington. Although not dated, the American Missionary Association archives place it in January, 1866 which is the same month that James Harris - a leader of the Equal Rights League - visited Wilmington. Click here for the Address.

Source: American Missionary Association Archives, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, North Carolina # 100288.

Calvin Wiley Letters

Calvin Wiley was Superintendent of Common Schools for North Carolina from 1852 through 1865. The story of his loss of power just after the Civil War is an important part of Constitutional Tales in explaining how others lead the pursuit for public schools in the 1868 Constitutional Convention. The North Carolina State Archives has many of his papers. Some were shared with the State Capitol to have on display for the Constitutional Tales presentation on November 5, 2009. The following letters are high resolution scans of these letters created by the State Archives before the letters were sent on loan.

Letter from Governor Vance to Calvin Wiley, February 3, 1865.

This letter reflects the relationship Wiley had with the war-time governor and the issues they were discussing as the War was coming closer to an end. [Link to page 1, page 2, page 3 and page 4.]

Letter From Jonathan Worth to Wiley, August 11, 1865.

Jonathan Worth, a friend of Wiley’s who had served under Governor Vance and continued in the new administration of Governor Holden, responds to Calvin Wiley in this letter. It is clear in this exchange that Wiley is concerned about this position and influence with this Governor whom he had opposed. [Link to letter.]

Letter from Governor Holden to Wiley, September 18, 1865.

Governor Holden responds to Calvin Wiley in this letter, letting him know that Wiley has lost his position as superintendent of common schools on account of the rebellion and cannot make any report to the governor or to the constitutional convention. [Link to page 1 and page 2.]

Printed Circular from Calvin Wiley October 25, 1866.

Calvin Wiley was very concerned about the plight of public schools after the Civil War and now had no official position from which to assert his views. He sent out circulars like this one, as he was well known in the state and hoped to use his connections to influence legislators. [Link to circular.]

Letter from S.S. Ashley to Calvin Wiley, March 27, 1869.

In this letter, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Samuel S. Ashley, seeks Calvin Wiley’s assistance with legislation that would give state authority to prescribe textbooks. This is particularly interesting, because Wiley’s notes about the letter are recorded on the second page. [Link to page 1 and page 2.]