Lost for centuries,
North Carolina's copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights has been recovered and is coming to UNC Asheville.
North Carolina Copy of the Bill of Rights on View at UNC Asheville November 8-10;
Liberty and Freedom Festival Set for November 9
The Bill of Rights affects the lives of every American in profound ways each day, but many have never seen the actual document. Those in Western North Carolina will have that
opportunity when North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, which is currently on a seven-city tour, stops at UNC Asheville's Ramsey Library November 8-10 for public
viewing. UNC Asheville is the only stop in Western North Carolina and the only university selected for the brief, historic tour.
The fragile parchment document will be on display a limited number of hours each day to prevent light damage. Free public viewings will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov.
8; 3-7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9; and 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday, Nov. 10.
A host of special events have been planned while the Bill of Rights is on campus. On Friday, Nov. 9, a lively 1700s period festival will lead up to a keynote talk by North
Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Willis P. Whichard. The "Liberty and Freedom Festival" will be held on UNC Asheville's Quad from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9. The event
will feature period music, dramatic readings, craft demonstrations, reenactments and educational displays from a range of organizations, including Vance Birthplace,
Smith-McDowell House Museum, Stevenson Rare Coins & Jewelry, and the Center for Diversity Education. The Festival will also include a special focus on the conflict between the
Bill of Rights and slavery, including dramatic readings by students from UNC Asheville's Drama Department and the Reid Center for Performing Arts, as well as music by the St.
John A. Baptist Church.
North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights is one of 14 copies of the proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution prepared by three federal clerks in 1789. A copy was
drafted for the governor of each of the existing 13 states to peruse as the adoption of the 12 amendments to the Constitution was debated; the other copy was for the federal
government. After the ratification of the first 10 amendments in 1791, North Carolina retained custody of its copy of the document.
It is believed that the historic document was taken from the North Carolina State Capitol in 1865 during the Union occupation of Raleigh in the final days of the Civil War. It
was recovered in an undercover operation in 2003; dealers were trying to sell the document to a museum in Philadelphia. The Bill of Rights came home to North Carolina in 2005
after 140 years.
"There is history in every corner of North Carolina, and this tour is part of 'History Happens Here,' Cultural Resources' departmental theme for 2007," said Lisbeth C. Evans,
secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. "We would like to thank our partners in Asheville for helping us bring the Bill of Rights there."
In addition to the Bill of Rights exhibit, a number of speakers and panels will take place on campus. The public is invited to attend these free events.
-- UNC Asheville students will lead a panel discussion on "Freedom of Speech in the Internet Age" at 12:15 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 8, in UNC Asheville's Humanities Lecture Hall.
Mass Communication Chair Alan Hantz and University Associate Librarian Bryan Sinclair will moderate the discussion.
-- A panel of community experts representing a range of religious perspectives will discuss "Freedom of Religion in the 21st Century" at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 8, in UNC
Asheville's Humanities Lecture Hall. Rodger Payne, UNC Asheville Associate Professor of Religious Studies, will serve as moderator.
-- The North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, located on the UNC Asheville campus, will host a panel presentation on "Is the Bill of Rights Endangered?" at 11:45 a.m.
Friday, Nov. 9, in the Chestnut Ridge Room, Reuter Center. Three panelists will speak. Retired history professor Mary Lasher will discuss "The Bill of Rights as the Epitome of American Liberalism." Tom Sanders, retired professor of religion and political science, will address "Understanding the Religious Clauses." Noted retired journalist and professor Cleve Mathews will examine "National Security Versus Individual Liberty."
-- North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Willis P. Whichard will give a keynote address on "The Right to a Jury Trial and Due Process" at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 9, at UNC Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium. Whichard, a compelling speaker, began his career as a law clerk to Justice William H. Bobbitt of the North Carolina Supreme Court and was a practicing attorney with the Durham law firm of Powe, Porter, Alphin and Whichard from 1966-80. In 1980, he was appointed, and later elected, as a judge of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1986 and continues to serve in that capacity. Justice Whichard also served on the North Carolina House of Representatives and the North Carolina Senate. He is the only person in the history of the state who has served in both houses of the legislature and on both of the state's appellate courts. Whichard holds a master of laws degree and a doctor of juridical sciences from the University of Virginia.
For more information, resources for teachers and a
complete schedule of events, click on www.unca.edu/bill-of-rights/ or call UNC Asheville's Public Information Office at 828/251-6526.
For information about school tours, contact Lindsay Hearn at 828/337-8951
UNC Asheville • One University Heights, Asheville, North Carolina 28804 • 828-251-6600 •