Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Richard Dobbs Spaight

                    Richard Dobbs Spaight was born on March 25, 1758, in New Bern, North Carolina.  His father was the Secretary of the Crown for the colony of North Carolina.  His parents died when he was eight years old, and he was sent to Ireland to be educated and graduated from the University of Glasgow.

                    Spaight returned to North Carolina in 1778 and served during the American Revolutionary War as an aide to General Richard Caswell until 1781.  He began his political career when the General Assembly elected him to be a delegate to the Continental Congress (1782-1785).  He then served in the North Carolina House of Commons (1785-1787) where he was named Speaker of the House.  He was nominated for governor in 1787 but was defeated by a majority in the General Assembly; he was also nominated for the United States Senate in 1789 but was again defeated.

                    In 1787 Richard was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention where the United States Constitution was drafted.  He was only 29 years old when he signed the Constitution.  He was also a member of the state convention which voted not to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788, but he voted for ratification.

                    Richard Spaight married Mary Leach on March 24, 1788, and Mary had the honor of being the first lady to dance with George Washington when Washington was honored with a ball at Tryon Palace in New Bern in 1791.  Richard and Mary became parents of at least one son and one daughter as his posterity includes a son named Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. and a grandson named Richard Spaight Donnell.

                    Spaight retired from politics for a few years because of bad health.  He later served in the state House of Representatives (1792) and was elected as Governor of North Carolina.  He was re-elected by the General Assembly to serve two more terms of one year.  While he was governor, sites were selected for the new state capital of Raleigh and the newly-chartered University of North Carolina.  While he was governor, he also served as chair of the university's Board of Trustees.  He stepped down as governor in 1795 because he had served in the office for the constitutional limited three terms.

                    In 1798 Spaight was elected to the United States House of Representatives to fill the unexpired term of Nathan Bryan.  He was elected as a Federalist in 1799 to a two-year term of office, but he became associated with the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson due to his views on states rights.  He lost his bid for re-election in 1801, but he returned to serving his state in the North Carolina Senate the same year.

                    Spaight died on September 6, 1802, in New Bern, North Carolina, at age 44.  He died as a result of injuries from a duel with John Stanly, the Federalist Congressman who had defeated him in the election of 1800 for the House of Representatives.  He is buried in his home town of New Bern.

                    Richard Spaight was honored by having Spaight Street in central Madison, Wisconsin, named after him.  Many of the main streets in Madison were named in honor of the signers of the United States Constitution.  Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. became Governor of North Carolina in 1835, and Richard Spaight Donnell was a Congressional Representative.

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