Burke, Thomas

Burke, Thomas (1747-1783) Governor of North Carolina: Burke began his political career as a delegate to the North Carolina Provincial Congress. He advocated popular sovereignty, separation of church and state, separation of powers, and annual elections, and his efforts to have these issues addressed in the state constitution of 1776 were successful. Representing North Carolina at the Continental Congress, Burke was a strong critic of the Congress' secrecy proceedings and the infringement of civilian rights by military authorities. He was largely responsible for what would become the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed to the states all powers not explicitly given to Congress. Burke was called "the Disturber" because of his antics, and was one of only two delegates to be censured by a vote of Congress. In 1781, he was elected governor of North Carolina; three months later, he and his council were captured in a Tory raid. After spending time in prison and being paroled, Burke returned to official duties. As governor, he convinced the Continental Army to change their policies so that civilian supplies would be protected from unwarranted seizure.