Friday, October 30, 2009

The HAUNTED State Library of North Carolina?

The State Library of North Carolina opened in 1812. Its Government and Heritage Library provides direct services to state government employees and to anyone with a research interest in the history, culture, geography, economy and people of North Carolina. The genealogy services are enjoyed by family researchers from all over the country and other parts of the world. The State Library serves as the repository of state government publications and is the coordinating agency of the State Data Center.

But, it it haunted????????   Haunted Carolina Website

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The African-American Political Phoenix in North Carolina

This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the negroes’ temporary
farewell to the American Congress,
but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up someday and come again.
George H. White (1852-1918) --
The only African American in the 55th Congress.

George Henry White was born in Rosindale, Bladen County, North Carolina, on December 18, 1852. His mother was a slave, his father a free farmer. White had one sister. He went on to marry three times, and have four children. With African, Native-American and Irish ancestors, White's life was one true to the ideal of the American melting pot.

Mr. White graduated from Howard University in 1877 and joined the North Carolina Bar in 1879. He began law practice in New Bern. His political career began in 1880 with his election to the North Carolina House of Representatives. He went to the State Senate in 1885. Mr. White championed legislation pertaining to education, particularly laws securing funding and authorization to open black schools and provide training for black teachers. White served as solicitor and prosecuting attorney in North Carolina's second judicial district from 1886-1894.

In 1896, Mr. White was elected to Congress from what was known as the "Black Second" district, a boot-shaped area in eastern North Carolina with a large black majority that stretched from the southern coastal region to the Virginia border (see illustration). The only African American in the 55th Congress (1897–1899), George White was part of a large Republican majority swept into office riding the coattails of presidential winner William McKinley. [The North Carolina History Project website provides an excellent overview of fusion politics in North Carolina: Fusion Politics/George White]

Upon election to the 56th Congress (1899–1901), Congressman White’s second term focused on anti-lynching legislation. He introduced a bill to make lynching a federal crime, subjecting those who participated in lynch mob violence with possible capital punishment. Some saw the measure as radical. The bill died in committee. Nearing the turn of the century, many parts of the American South began to pass Jim Crow legislation designed to disenfranchise black voters and eliminate black government officials. White became the primary target of white supremacist politicians who feared African-American political influence.

In 1898, white supremacists in the City of Wilmington in New Hanover County (then the largest city in the state) incited race riots and seized power from an integrated fusion city government [See: 1898 Wilmington Riot Timeline].   The rioting resulted in the numerous deaths and extensive property damage. The black owned Wilmington Journal newspaper was burned to the ground (see above).

Congressman White would return to Washington and vent his frustration with racists elements in government in his first substantive floor speech. On January 26, 1899, during a debate to extend the standing army after victory against Spain, White abruptly changed the subject to disfranchisement, arguing in favor of the bold proposal that states with discriminatory laws should have decreased representation in the U.S. House proportionate to the number of eligible voters they prevented from going to the polls. "If we are unworthy of suffrage, if it is necessary to maintain white supremacy," White chastised his colleagues, "then you ought to have the benefit only of those who are allowed to vote, and the poor men, whether they be black or white, who are disfranchised ought not go into representation of the district of the state."

Also in 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly followed the trend among neighboring states and enacted new registration laws to restrict black voters. On June 30, 1900, Congressman White announced his intention not to seek reelection to the 57th Congress (1901–1903). On January 29, 1901, Congressman White delivered his famous valedictory address to the 56th Congress, predicting the return of blacks to Congress. The speech, which spanned over four pages of the Congressional Record, championed respect and equality for African-Americans.

In 1901, Mr. White began a second successful career in Washington, DC, and then later in Philadelphia, PA, engaging in banking and practicing law. He organized a town for African Americans in southern New Jersey along with Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Booker T. Washington. The Town of Whitesboro was erected on 1,700 acres of land near Cape May. By 1906, its population had grown to over 800 inhabitants.

George H. White, Sr., died in Philadelphia on December 28, 1918. Twenty eight years would pass before the next black Representative was seated at the U.S. Capitol.

Personal Note -- Some of Law Writer's relatives departed from North Carolina following George Henry White by migrating from the Wilmington area to Whitesboro, New Jersey.  Growing up decades later, Law Writer spent many a summer day in Cape May, Wildwood and the surrounding quaint towns visiting with relatives who continue to live in and near Whitesboro. Law Writer can attest personally to the natural beauty of coastal southern New Jersey and the Cape May area (maps shown at left), the many similarities to North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast, and the independence and strong sense of heritage embraced by the people of both scenic and historically significant areas.

JAMES EDWARD O'HARA -- In 1868, James Edward O'Hara became the first African American to be admitted to the North Carolina Bar. In 1882, Mr. O'Hara was elected to represent the Second Congressional District. He served two terms.


Black Americans in Congress, by the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representative. Black Americans In Congress

Irving Joyner, The African American Lawyer in North Carolina,  The North Carolina State Bar Quarterly, Spring 1992.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Legislative Process: Second & Third Reading

NC House of Representatives Chamber

Once a bill passes third reading in the chamber in which it was introduced, the bill is sent to the other house, where it goes through the same process as in the first house. Thus, the bill will be referred to committee, and if approved, debated and voted on at the second and third readings on the floor. If the second house makes changes to the bill, the bill must return to the house of origin with a request that that body concur in the changes made by the second house. The bill is ready to be enrolled and signed into law if the original house concurs in the changes made by the second house. If the original house objects to the amendments adopted in the second house, the two presiding officers may appoint members to a conference committee which seeks to reconcile the differences between the two chambers. If the conference committee reaches an agreement on the disputed subject, the committee reports to each house and the two houses vote on the recommended text. If either house rejects the conference committee's recommendation, new members to the conference committee may be appointed to try again, otherwise the bill is defeated.

The Legislative Process: Enrollment, Ratification, and Publication

NC Senate Chamber

A bill is enrolled after is passes both houses. In North Carolina, a clean, engrossed copy is prepared, including all amendments, with space for the signatures of the two presiding officers, and the governor, if necessary. (The enrolled copy is taken to each presiding officer during the daily session.) Each officer signs the enrolled copyand when the second signature is affixed, the bill is said to have been ratified. If the bill is a local law, it becomes law at that point. All public bills other than bills making appointments, proposing constitutional amendments, or revising districts are presented to the Governor on the day following ratification for the Governor's approval or veto. If the Governor signs the bill or takes no action on the bill within ten days after presentation, the bill becomes law. After adjournment of the General Assembly, the Governor has 30 days to act on a bill. The Governor is required to reconvene the General Assembly if a bill is vetoed after adjournment, unless a written request is received and signed by a majority of the Members of both houses that it is not necessary to reconvene. If the Governor vetoes a bill, the bill is returned to the original house where 3/5 of present and voting members can vote to override the veto. If the original house votes to override the veto, the bill is sent to the second house where 3/5 of present and voting members must also vote to override the veto before the bill can become law. After it becomes law, the term "bill" is no longer used. The enrolled act or law is given a chapter number and is published under that number in a volume called "Session Laws of North Carolina."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Improving the English Language

Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster were about the science of the English language, but Mark Twain was all about the art and comedy of English.

Enjoy below -- and visit the Mark Twain Project.      

Mark Twain
 "A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling"

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet.

The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

[Law Writer must note that the "Plan" above has also been attributed to  M.J. Yilz, in a letter written to the The Economist.]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NC Legislative Architecture

The North Carolina State Legislative Building opened in 1963. The building was designed by Edward Durrell Stone (1902-1978) in the modern style. It is located one block north of the Capitol in Raleigh. The building has a 22-foot wide, red-carpeted stair that leads from the front entrance to the third floor galleries for the House and Senate. There are roof gardens as well as garden courts at the four interior corners. Each pair of brass doors leading to the House and Senate chambers weighs 1,700 pounds. A 12-foot diameter brass chandelier in the rotunda weighs 750 pounds. Brass chandeliers in the chambers and the main stair are eight feet in diameter and weigh 625 pounds each. The building is open to the public daily and tours are available.

Architect Edward Durell Stone with his son, landscape architect Edward Durell Stone Jr., photographed during the 1960s. (Photo by Benjamin Hicks Stone.)

Mr. Stone also designed the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  He was appointed to the Presidential Commission of Fine Arts by Richard M. Nixon in 1971, reappointed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976, and again in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. Of Interest: Link to other structures designed by Edward Durrell Stone and his firm.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Legislative Process -- First Reading

The legislative process is the process of government by which bills are considered and laws are enacted. With the exception of Nebraska's unicameral legislature, the other 49 states each have a legislature consisting of two chambers (bicameral), making the enactment of laws predicated upon the agreement of both chambers of the legislature. North Carolina has a House of Representatives and a Senate that combine as the General Assembly. The nomenclature may differ among the states, yet the functions of the legislative process remain the same.

A sponsor's idea is transformed into a bill draft by a law writer. When satisfactory to the sponsor, the bill is introduced or read the first time. "First reading" happens when the bill number, the name of the sponsor, and the long title of the bill are read on the floor of the house during session ("house" in this context denotes either chamber).

The legislative process is governed by rules. Each chamber adopts by resolution the detailed requirements for filing and acting upon bills, including the scope and bounds of each legislative committee to which bills may be referred for hearing.

Generally, a bill is assigned to a substantive, policy committee based upon the subject matter of the bill.  A bill requiring the expenditure of funds is referred to an appropriations committee. A bill that raises revenue through the imposition of taxes or fees is referred to a finance committee. (Some jurisdictions call these "fiscal" committees.)

A hearing on a bill includes presentation of the bill by the sponsor or a member of the committee, an analysis by legislative staff, and testimony or comments concerning the measure from interested parties. Legislative committee meetings are public meetings for which proper advance notice must be given. The meetings are often well attended when there are bills of general interest or some controversy.

The committee then votes to pass or amend the bill, or to defeat the bill by giving it an unfavorable report. (A bill may die in committee through inaction if the rules allow.) Some bills are re-referred for consideration by another committee. Some bills leave the committee and go directly to the floor for consideration by the body during session.

Next: Second and Third Reading

Monday, October 5, 2009

Supreme Court of the United States of America


 John G. Roberts, Jr.
Nominated by President Bush
Seated as Chief Justice
December 29, 2005

John Paul Stevens
    Nominated by President Ford
   Seated December 19, 1975

Antonin Scalia
Nominated by President Reagan
Seated September 26, 1986

Anthony M. Kennedy
Nominated by President Reagan
Seated February 18, 1988

Clarence Thomas
Nominated by President Bush
Seated Octber 23, 1991

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Nominated by President Clinton
Seated August 10, 1993

Stephen G. Breyer
Nominated by President Clinton
Seated August 3, 1994

Samuel G. Alito, Jr.
Nominated by President Bush
Seated January 31, 2006

Sonia Maria Sotomayor
Nominated by President Obama
Seated August 6, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ideas Become Law

The legislator's idea is part one. The spark for the idea may derive from the member's personal experience, a request from the executive branch or a local government agency, the advocacy of a public interest group, the information provided by a lobbyist, or an e-mail or telephone call from a constituent. The spark might come from a matter in the news or from a member's conversation with a legislator from another jurisdiction.

Next, the member will take the idea to the legislative staff for assistance in turning the idea into a law. The legislator's communication of the "legislative idea" to the bill drafter is the beginning of the legislative drafting process. 

All communications between drafter and sponsor are confidential and privileged. The law writer is charged to understand fully the member's aim and the subject matter involved. This is Law Writer's favorite part of the process. 

The legislator is entrusted under the constitution with making law. That trust is placed by thousands of voters. It is a privilege for a law writer to take on the responsibility of assisting the sponsor to craft the best law to effectuate the member's solemn intent. No brag. Just fact. Law writing is a very unique vocation.

A bill is more than the sum of its parts.  For the record, the basic elements of a bill include:

Bill Number - Each bill will have a number that also includes an identifier of the chamber from which it comes. Of course, if one is in Nebraska, there is only one chamber in its unicameral legislature. The rest of the states are bicameral.

Sponsor(s) - Their names appear on the bill in North Carolina and most other jurisdictions.

Long Title - Depending on the jurisdiction, the long title gives pertinent detail in brief about what the bill does.

Short Title - More like a "nickname" or very brief way to reference the legislation.


Enacting Clause - Very special lead in language at the beginning of a bill that puts the people on notice that "The General Assembly enacts . . ." or some similar phrase. Generally required by the state constitution to make an bill into law in order to declare the source from which the law claims to derive its authority. To put it another way, a bill cannot be enacted unless it contains an enacting clause.

Sections - A bill may add new law, amend existing law, or repeal existing law. Each of these functions will appear in one or more sections of a bill. Each section of a bill bears a numbered or lettered designation and each section must be uniquely designated. Each legislature has its own rules as to how sections are designated. A law writer must follow those rules.

Applicability - A section that defines who or what the law applies to. Sometimes, an applicability clauses resolves constitutional issues or merely prevents undue confusion.


Effective Date - Every bill must have an effective date section. That section itself should take effect on the earliest effective date in the act. Common sense. But when bills get lengthy and are amended numerous times with new and revised sections, it is possible to err in this regard. A law writer must pay attention to such things.