An economic interpretation of the ratification of the Federal Constitution in North Carolina




Pool, William C.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title





The thesis of the so-called economic interpretation of the Federal Constitution is the result of Charles A. Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, published first in 1913. This well known work contains the origin of the doctrine that the Constitution was written and launched by a group of wealthy property owners seeking economic advantages against men of little or no property; that representation of small farmers and debtors was excluded from the Federal Convention and as far as possible from the state conventions which ratified the Constitution; and that substantially all of the opposition to ratification came from the debtors and small property owners. Some historians, not easily deceived, believe that the makers of our fundamental law were motivated by something higher than selfish economic interests. This study presents an application of the principles of economic interpretation to the personnel of the North Carolina ratifying conventions of 1788 and 1789. After a discussion of the particularism inherent in the people of the state, short economic sketches of Federalists and Anti-Federalists show the property interests of each delegate attending the state conventions. Some of these sketches are incomplete because of the absence of essential information; all are partially incomplete because in many cases only the property owned in the county sending the individual to the convention is listed. An analysis of the opposing parties shows that those favoring and those opposing ratification in North Carolina owned substantially the same amounts of the same kinds of property