Dec. 22, 1776.  Henry Abbot submitted a resolution to North Carolina allowing all ministers to perform marriages.  Under colonial rule only the established church was authorized to perform the marriage ceremony, and this privilege was extended to dissenting sects only after ties with the mother country had been severed.   Abbot’s resolution provided that ministers of all denominations might perform the marriage rite. Although passed in a slightly amended form, this resolution was the forerunner of a state law approved by the legislature some fifteen months later. In 1776, Abbot and four other men were chosen to represent Pasquotank County in the provincial congress that met at Halifax and endorsed American independence.  He is generally recognized as author of the nineteenth article of the state constitution, which made formal acknowledgement that “all men have natural and inalienable rights to worship almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience.” Variously described as an “elegant gentleman” and “popular idol,” Abbot came to exercise an influence hardly equaled by ministers from his area before or since. Henry Abbot is mentioned in several of the reference books in the Reading Room.

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