Gazette of the United States and the NC Ratification of the US Constitution

Source: Gazette of the United States Collection, 1790, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #873

Gazette of the United States Collection

Gazette of the United States Collection

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo


This particular issue of The Gazette of the United States from January 1790 is of special interest to North Carolinians. Page 314 of The Gazette (shown above, right hand page) includes a letter from President Washington announcing that a constitutional convention in the State of North Carolina had ratified the United States Constitution in November 1789. It also includes the full text of the resolution itself and a letter from Samuel Johnston, the President of the convention, conveying resolution. North Carolina was the 12th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution.

The Gazette is also of historical interest. It was first issued on April 15, 1789 to support President George Washington and the policies and candidates of the emerging Federalist Party. Originally published in New York, by its editor John Fenno, it moved to Philadelphia in 1790 when United States Government made that city its new temporary capital. A bi-weekly, it was sold throughout the country wherever the nation’s mail carriers could carry it.

Clearly partisan, The Gazette’s writers — often anonymous or pseudonymous–supported Federalist positions, politicians, or policies and criticized opponents of the government. It included many pieces containing personal attacks on Federalist opponents. Among the paper’s writers was Alexander Hamilton, who appeared under various noms de plume.

The Gazette was especially important in promoting the development of political parties and politics in the new nation. Its success also led to the rise of a competitor, the National Gazette, which was founded at the urging of anti-Federalist leaders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in order to promote their own party. The anti-Federalist Party later evolved into today’s Democratic Party.

Gazette of the United States Collection

Gazette of the United States Collection

A facsimile of The Gazette will appear in a special exhibit of rare archival materials relating to the Constitution drawn from the Special Collections of Joyner Library. The exhibit will be on display in Mendenhall Student Center during the week of 14-20 September 2008. The exhibit will focus on freedom of speech and will appear as part of East Carolina University’s recognition of Constitution Day 2008.

Source: Gazette of the United States, Issue No. 30 (13 January 1790), Gazette of the United States Collection #873.1.os Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library.

You may access the finding aid to the Gazette of the United States Collection at

Click on the image to see an enlarged version.