Spaight, Richard Dobbs

Spaight, Richard Dobbs ( 1758-1802) Signer of the Constitution: Born in New Berne, North Carolina, on March 25, 1758; Richard Dobbs Spaight lost his parents when he was eight years old. He was sent abroad for his education, and graduated from the University of Glasgow, in Scotland. Upon his return to North America in 1778, he became an aide-de-camp to Gen. Richard Caswell, and was present at the Battle of Camden. In 1781, Spaight was elected to the North Carolina legislature, and was re-elected twice. In 1783, he became a member of Congress, and served on the committee to create a plan for a temporary government for the western territories. Spaight was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was active in the proceedings and signed the Constitution when it was passed. Although he later became a Jeffersonian Republican, he supported the ratification of the Constitution. Nevertheless, his state of North Carolina was the only one that refused to ratify the Constitution. Spaight invited George Washington himself to North Carolina, to help him in his efforts to get the Constitution passed. Finally, on November 21, 1789, North Carolina ratified the document. Spaight retired from public life for four years, due to ill health. In 1792, he returned, and was elected to the state legislature, which immediately elected him governor of the state. This made him the first native-born governor of North Carolina. Spaight was also a Presidential elector in 1793 and 1797, and a member of Congress from 1798 to 1801. In 1801, he also served in the North Carolina Senate. Spaight died on September 6, 1802; due to a wound he received in a duel with John Stanly, his successor in the US Congress.