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N.C. Copy Of Bill Of Rights Coming Back To State

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State Attorney General Roy Cooper assembled a team of attorneys who worked closely with Gov. Mike Easley's office and the U.S. Attorney's office in Raleigh to recover the document.

"Our goal was to reclaim a piece of North Carolina's history. This document is a sign of our freedom, not just a collector's item," he said. "We now look forward to seeing our copy of the Bill of Rights returned to its rightful owners, the people of North Carolina."

The U.S. Bill of Rights was signed in 1789 by the original 13 colonies, including North Carolina. At that time, President George Washington provided each state with an original handwritten copy of the document. North Carolina's copy was sent to Raleigh where it was on display for several years.

Toward the close of the Civil War, state officials removed the Bill of Rights and other important documents from Raleigh to protect them. When the war ended, the documents were returned to the state capitol, which was then occupied by U.S. General William Sherman's army. A federal soldier allegedly took North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights sometime during the occupation.

Based on information provided by Cooper and Easley, federal officials in Raleigh and Philadelphia were able to locate the document and retrieve it during an undercover operation on March 18.

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights is expected to arrive at the federal courthouse in Raleigh by early next week. The document will then be shown to the public for the first time since 1865.

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