Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

of far more than local or even state-wide interest. For on this spot, a little more than a century and a half ago, Democracy, in convention assembled, presented a stern challenge to Autocracy and made that challenge good. Moreover, the sequence of events which culminated in the New Bern convention of August 25, 1774, and the flight of the royal governor was in no sense limited to local grievances. The port of Boston had been closed on the 4th of June and this oppressive action aroused the people to a realization of the seriousness of the situation and the cry rang in North Carolina and throughout the colonies; "The cause of Boston is the cause of all."

We may fairly say, therefore, that the New Bern meeting symbolized a conflict between fundamentals and that its significance is general. It represented a clash between the ideal of human freedom and selfgovernment which had been taking root in these colonies and the English theory of the sovereignty of the Crown. In a very real sense, it was a prelude of the vaster struggle which was to come.

In a peculiar sense, therefore, we stand today in the presence of history. It is not my purpose, however, to trace the course of events which finally ended in North Carolina's adherence to the cause of complete independence, but only to suggest the distinguished part which this city and section have had in the building of a commonwealth and a nation. This is for most of you familiar facts and requires no repetition. I should like, rather, here in this almost visible and tangible presence of the past, to take thought briefly of the present and future. And what finer tribute can we pay the past than to scrutinize it closely with a view to glean from it a lesson for the future?

The ideals of a people revealed in their affections and loyalties are a sure index of their character. The men who assembled here on August 25, 1774, in

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