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Ratification of the 16th Amendment in N.C.

Clip from French Broad Hustler, February 16, 111

French Broad Hustler, Feb. 16, 1911


Lest you need a reminder, it’s tax day. And this year marks the 101st anniversary of ratification of the Constitutional amendment giving the federal government the power to tax your income. With Delaware’s ratification on February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution.

North Carolina was the 20th state to ratify the Constitutional change. And the amendment’s passage through the North Carolina legislature in early 1911 was mostly uneventful.

Clip from Wilmington Morning Star, Jan. 25, 1911

Wilmington Morning Star, Jan. 25, 1911

Senator Barnes introduced a resolution supporting ratification of the amendment in the state Senate on January 6, 1911. The resolution emerged from committee unchanged on January 17 and came before the full Senate for a vote on January 24. After passing 42-1 in the Senate, the bill was sent to the state House for consideration.

Clip from Wilmington Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1911

Wilmington Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1911

Although the Wilmington Dispatch reported that the bill passed the state House by a 98-4 vote on February 8, the number of ayes was, in fact, only 88. Unfortunately, neither the House Journal nor contemporary news accounts provide further details about Representative Dillard from Cherokee and his failure to appear for the vote.

Clip from Raleigh Times, February 10, 1911

Raleigh Times, Feb. 10, 1911

With the bill’s enrollment by the House clerk on February 11, the 16th amendment was officially ratified in North Carolina.

Admittedly, there are some who question whether the 16th Amendment was legally ratified in North Carolina and elsewhere. But thus far those arguments haven’t stopped the I.R.S. from demanding its due on April 15.