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Gloria est consentieng laus bonorum, incorrupta vox bene judicantium de excel- 
lente virtute. — Cic. Tuscul. m. c. 2. 

Hie simiolus persuaserat nonnuUia invidis meis. — Cic. Fam. epist. 2. 







Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1834, 

by Charles Bowen, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 




Tremont House, February 1, 1834. 
My Dear McNeill, 

I dedicate to you this volume, written in the defence of 
the State of North Carolina, a portion of the Union, to us 
consecrated by the most endearing recollections of birth 
and childhood. She is the mother country of your sires 
as well as of yourself, and thus doubly deserves that devot- 
ed affection, which it is your boast so long to have cher- 
ished for her. In thus dedicating the work, I own, I am 
anxious publicly to acknowledge my heavy obligations to 
you, for a long, sincere, and social friendship, and to con- 
gratulate my countrymen, that they are represented in the 
polite society of Boston, by a gentleman, distinguished, not 
only for his unwavering and honorable deportment in every 
crisis, but for the highest professional attainments, and for 
the space which he fills in the affectionate regard of so 
many of the most eminent gentlemen of the eastern me- 
tropolis of our country. 

I shall embrace the present occasion to offer a few 
remarks on the history of North Carolina, which could not 
find an appropriate page in the body of the work, and 
which would perhaps be considered as of rather too perso- 
nal a nature, for a prefatory address to the reader. To you 


as a friend and fellow-citizen, they may be properly address- 
ed, and thus ])ublished to the people of the State. 

Who, even in North Carolina, recurs to the characters of 
our illustrious dead ? Of those wlio stood forth for their 
country in the darkest hour of the war, and who fought 
with a courage worthy of the glory of their cause ? Of 
Harvey, Johnston, Harnett, Hooper, Jones, and Iredell, in 
the cabinet ; of Howe, Lillington, Ashe, Caswell, Moore, and 
Rutherford, in the field ? — men whose zeal but increased 
with the thickness of the dangers that clouded the destiny 
of the New World. Statesmen and festival orators, alike 
with the school-boy declaimer, are mute as to their valor, 
virtue, or fame. The character of Mr. Jefferson is a more 
fruitful source of panegyric than that of Harnett, Hooper, 
or Harvey, and the reputation of a zealous idolater a more 
enviable prize than that of a defender of the State. I do 
bewail this indifference to the superior claims of our own 
sires ; for it is by appealing to their sacrifices and hardships 
that public spirit is best kept alive, and a laudable pride to 
elevate the character of our government is best sustained. 

Extinguish this feeling of veneration for the character 
of our ancestors, and you vitally assail the honor of the 
State, corrupt and degrade the people, and by degrees 
inure them to the control of a foreign demagogue. In the 
winter of 1775 and 1776, when the armies and fleets of 
Lord Dunmore infested the streets and harbour of Norfolk, 
General Howe of North Carolina marched to its relief, and 
repelled the invader. The soldiers of the State contributed 
to the defence of Charleston against the armament of Sir 
Peter Parker, in June 1776 ; and yet the descendants of 
those heroes must appeal to the history of the adjacent 
States, for bright examples of American valor. Is there 
nothing in the victories achieved by Howe, Lillington, and 
Caswell, or in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Indepen- 


dence, the zeal of Hooper in the same cause, and the reso- 
lution of the Congress of North Carolina in April 1776, to 
arouse the enthusiasm of the people of the State ? It is a 
recollection of these honorable events in our history, that 
warms the bosom of the patriot soldier in the midst of 
great public distress, and that, even when the liberties of 
the people are overwhelmed, will inspire him with a hope 
of renown, in the regeneration of his country. The spirit 
of Leonidas, after a slumber of ages, has marched trium- 
phantly through Greece, and, sweeping, in its resistless 
progress, the strongest bulwarks of Turkish despotism, has 
established the foundations of a Greek Empire. Upon 
what more durable basis does the government of England 
stand than this feeling of national greatness? Proud of 
the origin of his nation, of the victories that blaze on the 
page of his country's history, of the extent of her empire, 
and of the antiquity and splendor of her government, a 
Briton clings to his country with filial affection, and woes 
even death itself, to elevate and sustain her honor. Ex- 
tinguish this spirit in the British nation, and old England, 
proud as she is, with her centuries of glory, her noble 
peerage, her splendid judiciary, the Gibraltar of her con- 
stitutional liberty, and all her time-worn institutions, glides 
from her lofty throne, and like an Alpine avalanche, that 
buries every thing in its tremendous fall, melts away into 
the stream, and hurries downward to the ocean of time. 

It is because I believe that Mr. Jefferson contributed to 
smother this public spirit in North Carolina, that I have 
held up his name as deserving the execration of every 
native citizen of the State. Mark the history of his in- 
fluence among us. In 1801, the period of his boasted 
victory, what was the condition of our State 1 Who were 
her great men 1 — who her political leaders ? Governor 
Johnston, General Davie, James Iredell, Alfred Moore, 


Archibald Henderson, were among the signs of our political 
zodiac, whose lustre was obscured by the ascent of this 
most " malign influence." The virtue and ability of the 
State, which had opposed the elevation of Mr. Jefferson, 
were overlooked and thrust aside, to make way, let history 
say for whom. From the moment of his triumph in the 
elections of the State, the energies and resources of the 
people were forgotten ; the talents of our country, as well 
as its physical improvement, neglected ; and the aid of every 
voice invoked, to swell the funeral cry of the characters of 
our own forefathers. 

It is said that " the brilliant thunderbolt is the child of 
the storm," and that political convulsions fling out the 
genius of a country, fined from the heat of the strife. But 
you will search the history of the State in vain for any such 
exhibitions from the crowded ranks of the Jeffersonian 
cohort. Not an instance can be found ; and the fact is too 
notorious in North Carolina to need any appeal to individuals 
or circumstances. The influence of Mr. Jefferson and his 
party, disguise it as you will, was a paralysis upon the very 
vitals of the State. It cramped the nerves, stupefied the 
brain, obscured the vision, and almost arrested the pulsation 
of the heart. The brute part of our nature alone was left 
unhurt and unscathed by the ravages of this most degrad- 
ing leprosy. It was as if the angel of death had spread 
his wings on the blast, and withered even the green sod 
that decked the graves of our heroic fathers. 

It is for the purpose of bringing to light " the proud 
historic deeds " of our ancestors, that I have written this 
book. I appeal from the living to the dead, to justify the 
eulogy which it pronounces upon the character of the State. 
I have hoped too that a recollection of their virtues might 
inspire us with a zeal to transmit to another generation 
the escutcheon of the State, bright as it was when it came 


from the hands of the heroes of Seventy-six. I invoke the 
cooperation of the people of the State, in the regenera- 
tion of our native country ; not only in the exposition of its 
history, but in the improvement of its moral, intellectual, 
and physical condition. 

In the accomplishment of such a duty, whilst I know, 
my dear Sir^ I have your best wishes as a friend, and your 
warmest thanks as a native North-Carolinian, I must still 
lament the absence of that professional skill, by the home 
employment of which, our physical condition might be so 
much improved. Wishing you, however, whether in North 
Carolina or Massachusetts, that success in all your under- 
takings, to which your merits so justly entitle you, 
I have the honor to subscribe myself 

your affectionate friend, 


Page 112, line 15, for law read lace 

" 129, " 18, " Spurill " Spruill 

« 220, " 1, " AND " OF 

" 249, " 3, " 11th of March " 26th of February* 

" 325, " 24, " crevix (in afeio copies) " cervix 

* The battle of Moore's Creek was fought on the 27th of February, 1776, and 
the letter of Mr. Ashe, alluded to on page 249, was dated on the 11th of March j 
thus the error in the text. 




A History of the Administration of Josiah 
Martin, the Last of the Royal Governors, 
AND THE Downfall of the Royal Government 
of North Carolina. • .... 17 


The Character of Governor Tryon . . .17 


The Administration of Governor Martin . 66 

The Same 120 

The Same 151 

The Same 156 

The Same 172 



The New Whig Government . . , . 193 

The Same 217 


The Same 229 


The Same 239 

The Same 251 

The Same 265 

The Constitution of North Carolina . . 272 

part II. 

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, 
ON the 20th of May, 1775 .... 294 


The Character of William Hooper . . . 309 


The Military Organization of the State in 
1775 AND 1776 . . . ... . 333 

The Battle of Moore's Creek . . . 341 


On the 20th of May, 1775, the people of the county of 
Mecklenburg in North Carolina, in convention assembled, 
declared themselves free and independent. They in the 
most solemn and unanimous form abjured all allegiance 
to the British king, and instituted a system of government 
independent of the authority of the Royal Governor. 
These remarkable proceedings are not recorded by any 
of our early historians, and have lived only by memory 
and tradition among the people of North Carolina. I own, 
that it is surprising so important an event should have 
escaped the vigilance of so many writers. The people of 
North Carolina too were content that the matter should 
sleep nearly half a century, and even then, that it should 
be produced on the perishable pages of a newspaper. 
On the oOlh of April, 1819, the worthy editor of the 
" Raleigh Register" introduced the subject to the notice 
of his readers, acknowledging in an editorial article, that 
it was not generally known to the world, but declaring 
that he had it from most unquestionable authority, and 
that he published it that it might go down to posterity. 
This article was extensively copied in the papers of the 
Union, and a copy of the " Essex Register " of Salem, 
Massachusetts, being sent by the late John Adams to Mr. 


Jefferson, provoked the following letter, which, as 1 am 
about to make it the subject of a critical examination, I 
shall here insert at length. 


« Monticello, July 9, 1819. 
" Dear Sir, 

'• I am in debt to you for your letters of May the 21st, 
" 27th, and June the 22d. The first, delivered me by 
" Mr. Greenwood, gave me the gratification of his ac- 
" quaintance ; and a gratification it always is, to be made 
'' acquainted with gendemen of candor, worth, and infor- 
'^ mation, as 1 found Mr. Greenwood to be. That on the 
" subject of Mr. Samuel Adams Wells, shall not be 
" forgotten in time and place, when it can be used to his 
" advantage. 

" But what has attracted my peculiar notice, is the 
" paper from Mecklenburg county, of North Carolina, 
" published in the ' Essex Register,' which you were so 
'* kind as to enclose in your last, of June the 22d. And 
" you seem to think it genuine. I believe it spurious. 
*' I deem it to be a very unjustifiable quiz, like that of the 
" volcano, so minutely related to us as having broken out 
" in North Carolina, some half dozen years ago, in that 
" part of the country, and perhaps in that very county of 
" Mecklenburg, for I do not remember its precise locality. 
" If this paper be really taken from the ' Raleigh Register,' 
" as quoted, 1 wonder it should have escaped Ritchie, 
" who culls what Is good from every paper, as the bee 
" from every flower ; and the ' National Intelligencer,' too, 
" which is edited by a North-Carolinian ; and that the 


" fire should blaze out all at once in Essex, one thousand 
" miles from where the spark is said to have fallen. But 
" if really taken from the ' Raleigh Register,' who is the 
" narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it as 
" fictitious as the paper itself? It appeals, too, to an origi- 
" nal book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander, who is 
*' dead, to* a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes, and 
" Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, 
" and another sent to Doctor Williamson, now probably 
" dead, whose memory did not recollect, in the history he 
" has written of North Carolina, this gigantic step of its 
" county of Mecklenburg. Horry, too, is silent in his 
" history of Marion, whose scene of action was the coun- 
" try bordering on Mecklenburg. Ramsay, Marshall, 
" Jones, Gerardin, Wirt, historians of the adjacent States 
" all silent. When Mr. Henry's resolutions, far short of 
" independence, flew like lightning through every paper, 
" and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming de- 
" claration of the same date, of the independence of Meck- 
" lenburg county, of North Carolina, absolving it from the 
" British allegiance, and abjuring all political connexion 
'« with that nation, although sent to Congress, too, is never 
" heard of. It is not known even a twelvemonth after, 
" when a similar proposition is first made in that body. 
'' Armed with this bold example, would not you have ad- 
" dressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder, on their 
" tardy fears ? Would not every advocate of indepen- 
" dence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county, in 
" North Carolina, in the ears of the doubting Dickinson 
" and others, who hung so heavily on us ? Yet the ex- 
" ample of independent Mecklenburg county, in North 
^^ Carolina, was never once quoted. The paper speaks, 


" too, of the continued exertions of their delegation (Cas- 
" well, Hooper, Hughes,) 'in the cause of liberty and 
" independence.' Now you remember as well as 1 do, 
" that we had not a greater tory in Congress than Hooper ; 
" that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sonle- 
" times feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy ; 
'' that Caswell, indeed, was a good whig, and kept these 
^' gentlemen to the notch, while he was present ; but that 
*' he left us soon, and their line of conduct became dien 
" uncertain until Penn came, who fixed Hughes, and the 
" vote of the State. I must not be understood as suggest- 
*' ing any doubtfulness in the State of North Carolina. 
*' No State was more fixed or forward. Nor do I affirm, 
" positively, that this paper is a fabrication : because the 
" proof of a negative can only be presumptive. But I 
" shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of its 
"authenticity shall be produced. And if the name of 
" McKnilt be real, and not a part of the fabrication. It 
" needs a vindication by the production of such proof. 
" For the present, I must be an unbeliever in the apocry- 
" phal gospel. 

" I am glad to learn that Mr. Ticknor has safely re- 
" turned to his friends ; but should have been much more 
" pleased had he accepted the Professorship in our Uni- 
'' verslty, which we should have offered him in form. 
" Mr. Bowditch, too, refuses us ; so fascinating is the 
" vinculum of the dulce natale solum. Our wish is to pro- 
" cure natives, where they can be found, like these gen- 
" tlemen, of the first order of acquirement in their re- 
" spective lines ; but preferring foreigners of the first 
" order to natives of the second, we shall certainly have 
" to go, for several of our Professors, to countries more 
" advanced in science than we are. 


" I set out within three or four days for my other home, 
" the distance of which, and its cross mails, are great 
" impediments to epistolary communications. I shall 
" remain there about two months ; and there, here, and 
** every where, I am and shall always be, affectionately 
*' and respectfully yours. 

" Th : Jefferson." 

It will be observed that Mr. Jefferson doubts not only 
the truth of the Mecklenburg Declaration, but the sincerity 
of the publication in the " Essex Register," purporting 
to be an extract from the Raleigh paper. He thinks it a 
most unjustifiable quiz, and compares it to the volcano 
which once broke out in the papers of North Caroli- 
na. He thinks it absolutely false, because it escaped 
the dim observation of his friend Mr. Ritchie, whose 
curiosity in the history of North Carolina was never 
before heard of or even suspected. His only interest in 
the State is to be found on the subscription-list of the 
" Enquirer," a paper which is but seldom adorned with any 
thing relating to North Carolina, except the report of 
political meetings, in which Virginia and her sons are 
lauded. If the ''Raleigh Register" had published an 
article in favor of any of the various principles of the Vir- 
ginia school of politics, it would have been found on the 
front column of the next " Enquirer," with some word of 
hurra for the old North State. But every thing apper- 
taining to the dignity of the good old North State is care- 
fully kept out of sight, and every political movement 
contrary to the decree of the Richmond Junto, is hinted 
at as Federalism, Monarchy, or Treason. For my own 
part, I am willing, thus publicly, to lament the dominant 


influence of the Vir2;Inia Republican party over the state of 
North Carolina. I do look upon it as the most fatal stroke 
ever aimed at the dignity and honor of my own country, 
and I would willingly lay the first stone of a Chinese wall 
to divide for ever the physical and intellectual resources of 
the two states. 

Mr. Jefferson in his letter admits, that, if this Mecklen- 
burg declaration of independence is true, it is entitled to 
far greater applause than the celebrated resolutions of Mr. 
Henry, •' which flew like lightning through every paper, 
and kindled both sides of the Atlantic." " Would not 
" every advocate of independence," he exclaims, " have 
" sung the glories of Mecklenburg county, in the ears of 
" the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily 
" on us ! " I rejoice, that he gave this public and most ex- 
plicit testimony, as to its importance, and shall claim for 
the heroes of the 20th of May, 1775, the high rank which 
they deserve on the page of American history. 

But the most astonishing part of this letter is its gross 
abuse of the chnracter of William Hooper, one of the 
Signers of the National Declaration of Independence from 
North Carolina. I cannot account for it in any way. 
I have corresponded with e\ery living contemporary of 
Mr. Hooper, and invited a true opinion as to his charac- 
ter, and in every instance have received in the most un- 
qualified terms the most favorable notices of his political 
standing. 1 have myself questioned every old man and old 
woman from Cape Hatteras to the Blue Ridge, and have 
never heard a single word which would support the shame- 
ful calumny of*' rank toryism." 

During the session of the General Assembly of North 
Carolina, in 1830 and 1S31, this letter of Mr. Jefferson 


attracted the notice of that body, and the Governor was 
aiuliorized to publish a pamphlet in defence of the State. 
This paper appeared during the year 1831, and contained 
numerous depositions of living men, as to the truth of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration. Personal testimony, however, 
is always weak, as the memory of man is fallible ; and 
although a citizen of North Carolina, acquainted with the 
high character of the deponents, may be entirely satisfied 
with such testimony, yet a distant historian will demand 
some contemporary record, as the best evidence in the 
case. The State of North Carolina, then, and Thomas 
Jefferson are at issue as to the truth of the asseverations 
contained in this letter. I shall go into the investigation 
of the merits of this controversy with no other view than 
the defence of the State by the ascertainment and exhibi- 
tion of truth, and shall feel myself at liberty to animad- 
vert with the most perfect freedom where animadversion 
is necessary. Disposed as I am to yield all due applause 
to Mr. Jefferson for whatever services he may have ren- 
dered to his country, I shall nevertheless studiously avoid 
any of that idolatrous homage to his name, without which 
I am aware my orthodoxy will he disputed. 

If, therefore, in the course of my research, I shall find 
deliberate error in his opinion, I shall not hesitate to cry 
aloud and spare not, — for the matters touched on in his 
letter are grave and important, and upon the truth of them 
the honor of the State is at stake, 1 am perfectly pre- 
pared for the consequences of this course, and anticipate, 
without the slightest apprehension, all those epithets which 
it is usual to apply to every writer who assails the charac- 
ter of the dead. I esteem the reputation of Mr. Hooper, 
however, as sacred as the most slavish worshipper of Mr. 


Jefferson can esteem that of his master, and am not willing 
that North Carolina should submit to insult from any 
quarter, whether consecrated by the solemnities of the 
tomb or the idolatry of the people. I yield no faith what- 
ever to the contents of the four volumes of his writings. 
Private and political scandal, truth, religion, infideli- 
ty, federalism, republicanism, and Jacobinism, are all 
conglomerated there, — as if the Sage of IMonticello had 
devoted the whole evening of his life to the collection and 
endorsement of principles of every kind, from the purest 
tenet of religion to the most disgusting absurdity of the 
basest and most abandoned profligacy. And yet, dispute 
one word of the four volumes of this political Koran, or 
doubt, for a moment, the immaculate purity of the charac- 
ter of its author, and you have not only all the rabble of 
the celestial empire, but all the great Images of the 
Prophet, who have gone or are going into |X)wer, on the 
strength of his name, roaring out Aristocracy, Federal- 
ism, Nullification, or any other unpopular word, suited 
to sustain them in their places. It may be confidently 
asserted, that the whole range of history does not exhibit 
an instance of baser subserviency, not only of many, as 
individuals, but of the nation at large, — than the over- 
powering influence of the mere name of Jefferson. Such 
is its amazing pow'er, that no party of the present day 
aspires to popular favor through any other channel, and 
National Republican, as well as Jackson, Bucktail, and 
Anti-bucktail, all piously claim for their priesthood the 
purest legitimacy of descent. Tlie people have placed 
him upon the throne of public opinion, and the statue of 
Washington is burnt, broken, and scattered into fragments. 
It is lime to have done with this delusion. The lives of 


the eminent and patriotic, whose biographies have not 
been Written, should be studied and examined with an 
especial view to correct the errors, conspicuous from one 
end to the other of " the writings of Jefferson." If the 
pen of their calumniator is to perform this task, and his 
works go down to posterity as truth, the patriots of our 
revolution will be ranked by posterity, not as American 
statesmen, but as traitors to their country. The names of 
Washington, Hamilton, Richard Henry Lee, Marshall, 
Story, Henry Lee, Bayard, and a host of others, com- 
prising the talents civil and military of the whole Union, 
are the companions of William Hooper in the almost 
universal calumny of his pen. 

This letter, then, assails the character of North Carolina, 
by grossly abusing the reputation and fame of one of her 
most distinguished and beloved sons, and by doubting in a 
sneering and contemptuous manner, one of the most honor- 
able events in her history. The disclaimer of "any doubt- 
fulness in the State of North Carolina," instead of soften- 
ing the asperity of the charges, imparts a deeper malignity 
and stamps its charitableness with duplicity. If William 
Hooper was a tory, and North Carolina commissioned 
him to sign, on her behalf, the national Declaration of 
Independence, the State and the Delegate were alike 
sinful. If the staunch whigs, Caswell and Penn, permitted 
their associate to play the double part of a tory in Con- 
gress and a whig at home, they, too, must share the load of 
iniquity, and be condemned, notwithstanding the approba- 
tion of Mr. Jefferson. The indiscriminate publication of 
Mr. Jefferson's writings has been deprecated by many of 
his friends, and even his most devoted servants are cautious 
in subscribing to so voluminous a creed. In private 


moments devoted to the interchange of confidential opin- 
ions, few politicians have ventured to support the propriety 
of their publication, or the truth of their contents. On 
two occasions already the veracity of their author has been 
successfully questioned. The friend * of Bayard, and the 
descendant of General Lee, have each controverted the 
truth of his statements, and while the Journals of the 
Senate of the United States will serve as an imperishable 
monument of the innocence of the one, a volume dis- 
tinguished for its ingenuity and severity will support the 
abused reputation of the other. Ambitious of a similar 
distinction, and possessing ample materials for such a task, 
I shall endeavour, in this volume, to vindicate the charac- 
ter of my native State from the sly insinuations and malig- 
nant aspersion of his "philosophic pen." The labor is 
simple and easy, — the reward, the gratification of my 
own feelings in contributing an humble mite to uphold the 
dignity of North Carolina and the fame of many of her 
v/orthiest sons. In the performance of the duty thus 
assumed, prudence would induce me to lament the posi- 
tion of the parties. Throughout one of the most violent 
party wars, that ever agitated our country, North Carolina 
firmly supported those political principles, the success of 
which lifted Mr. Jefferson above the heads of his asso- 
ciates, and made his posthumous slanders respectable. 
By his superior dexterity as a party leader, he contrived 
to command the servitude of many of my fellow citizens, 

* In the spring of 1830, Mr. Clayton, of Delaware, called upon Mr. 
Livingston and General Smith, to say whether the charge of Mr. 
Jefferson against Bayard was true, they having been cited by their 
great master, as authority. Both gentlemen stoutly denied any 
knowledge of the circumstance. 


who were independent of every other power but the influ- 
ence of his name, which gave them popularity and prefer- 
ment. I may lament the wide difference of opinion which 
exists between such of my fellow citizens and myself, but 
I owe no respect to the idol whom they worshipped, nor 
do I reverence his decrees. 

My volume will be divided into three parts. The first 
will comprise a compendious history of the Revolution in 
North Carolina to the period of the national Declaration of 
Independence. The second will be found to contain the 
most indisputable evidence of the truth of the Mecklenburg 
Declaration, as well as of the authenticity of the resolves 
now denominated the Mecklenburg Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. The third and last chapter will be devoted to 
the defence of the character of William Hooper. He is 
denounced by Mr. Jefferson as the rankest tory in the 
Congress of Seventy-six. I shall contradict this naked 
assertion by a short sketch of his political character, and 
illustrate his patriotism by an exhibition of many of his 
private letters, written during the term of his service in the 
continental Congress. 

The reader who shall follow me through my undertaking 
will acknowledge the inutility of Mr. Jefferson's disclaimer, 
that there was no doubtfulness in North Carolina. The 
history of the State is unknown. The great events of her 
annals are buried amidst the musty papers of her ancient 
families, and are not celebrated by the " historians of the 
adjacent States," because they were ignorant or careless of 
their existence. The object of many of the writers on 
American history, like that of Gerardin and Wirt, was to 
exalt some particular character, by assuming for their 
heroes the laurels which should have been awarded to the 


merit of their contemporaries. Who could have expected 
the biographer of Patrick Henry, and the disciple of Mr. 
Jefferson, while composing a work with a view of establish- 
ing the Virginian origin of our national independence, to 
have introduced his readers to such an event as that of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration, or the resolution of the provincial 
Congress of North Carolina, adopted on the 12th of April, 
177G, instructing the delegates of the State in the conti- 
nental Congress to declare " Independency." The know- 
ledge of these facts would have rendered the work of Mr. 
Wirt ridiculous, and that of Gerardin what it is, — a silly 
and contemptible libel upon the character of history. 
The letter of Mr. Jefferson reposes especial confidence in 
the circumstance, that no mention of the Mecklenburg 
declaration is made by Ramsay, Marshall, Jones, Gerardin, 
or Wirt, — "historians of the adjacent States." Who is 
or was Gerardin .f^ — "A man of letters," undoubtedly, 
as he wrote the History of Virginia, before he had lived in 
the country long enough to learn the fallibility of Mr. 
Jefferson's testimony, and who gathered all he did write 
from the oracle of Monticello. A French emigrant who 
traversed the State of Virginia, as a pedagogue, and 
who wrote his history for the low purpose of flattering the 
vanity, and apologizing for the cowardice, of one of her 
most distinguished sons. 

What confidence is to be placed in the statements of 
such a man f Are historical facts involved in the annals 
of another people to be doubted, because they are not 
noticed in the productions of an author, who depended 
upon another even for the plan of his operations, and who 
was grossly ignorant even of the people whose history he 
had the impudence to write } Gerardin may have been 


good authority on the language or ^^ frivolous amusements " 
of France, but I shall presume to question his pages on 
American history, whenever they are contradicted by any 
other authority. Ignorant as he was of the early settle- 
ment and traditions of the country, he was unfit for the 
task he assumed, in the execution of which he lost the 
respectable and independent character of an instructor, to 
become the hireling scribbler of Mr. Jefferson. His whole 
work is but the echo of his patron, and was no doubt com- 
posed to cover the conspicuous sins of Governor Jefferson. 
The object of Mr. Wirt, who derived his materials from 
Mr. Jefferson, was to concentrate in Virginia, through the 
instrumentality of his subject and his patron, the glory of 
conceiving and establishing the independence of the coun- 
try. Both of these historians of the adjacent state were 
indebted to Mr. Jefferson for manuscript materials, and 
issued their volumes under the sanction of his name. 
Gerardin's work is especially recommended as containing 
a faithful history of his administration as governor of Vir- 
ginia, and the subsequent publication of his " Wriungs " 
inconteslably establishes a most intimate agency even in the 
composition of the " Life of Patrick Henry." "^ 

The letter of Mr. Jefferson suggests against the Meck- 
lenburg Declaration, that the memory of Dr. Williamson 
did not recollect, in the history he had written of North 
Carolina, this gigantic step of its county of Mecklenburg. 
Observing the tenor of this remark, I do not hesitate to say, 
that the pages of Williamson w^ere never perused by the 
Sage of Monticello, for any other purpose than the ascer- 
tainment of the fact which he has stated. But if he had ever, 

* See Writings of Jefferson, Vol. I. p. 95. 



at any period of his life, perused, even in the most negli- 
gent manner, the pages of that audior, I must charge him 
with the grossest hypocrisy. The work of Williamson is 
superior only to that of Gerardin, and absolutely inferior 
to every other production on American history. The 
Doctor never intended to write the history of North Caro- 
lina, from the earliest periods to the administration of Mr. 
Jefferson, or any other President, but left it at the sup- 
pression of the Regulation, in 1771. The work is finished 
off with a dissertation on the fevers which prevailed in 
the State, during the residence of the author ; and a mere 
notice of the administration of Governor Martin, the last 
of the Royal governors, with an allusion in general terms 
to the causes which drove him out of the state, — is the 
only sketch of the revolution to be found in the two vol- 
umes of Williamson. Would any reader of history consult 
such a book to prove or condemn the truth of an event 
which took place four years after the date of its conclu- 
sion f The Mecklenburg Declaration was made on the 
20th of May, 1775, and Williamson, concluding the de- 
tails of his history at a period four years earlier, if he 
recollected, did not think it prudent to anticipate it, in a 
narrative, the composition of which he intended to bring 
down to the year 1790. Ill health fortunately prevented 
the continuation of a work, which reflected no lustre either 
on the author or the subject. 

The circumstance of Ramsay and Marshall composing 
laborious treatises on the history of the Revolution, and 
not recording this " gigantic step of the county of Meck- 
lenburg," is no evidence that the step was never taken, 
but only that the fact was not recorded in any of the his- 
tories of the day. I am perfectly convinced that neither 


of these distinguished writers was ever satisfied of the 
truth of the fact; but in North Carolina, we all know that 
Williamson was in the possession of a copy of the pro- 
ceedings of the people of Mecklenburg, for many years 
before he died. Had he continued his work, the Meck- 
lenburg Declaration would undoubtedly have occupied its 
proper place in the annals of the state, and have been as 
well known as any other event recorded by his pen. Nor 
is the truth of the Mecklenburg Declaration to be ques- 
tioned on the ground of the silence of contemporary authors. 
Many of the proudest events of our history are but the 
visions of pride or prejudice, if this principle is to be 
adopted. Upon it each and every event of the revolutionary 
history of North Carolina must be condemned as apocry- 
phal. The native historians of the United States, whenever 
they have touched upon the history of that state, have either 
drawn from the records of the adjacent states, or the pages 
of Tarleton's "Campaigns," which enumeration affords 
a fair estimate of their materials. If any fact of American 
history is true, it is, that on the 1 2th of April, 1776, the Con- 
gress of North Carolina " empowered their delegates to de- 
clare independency," and yet Horry, in his life of Marion, is 
silent, Ramsay, Marshall, Jones, Gerardin, and Wirt, histo- 
rians of the adjacent states, all are likewise silent. Nor did 
even the memory of Doctor Williamson in the history, he 
wrote of North Carolina, recollect this gigantic step of the 
state. The reasons, upon which Mr. Jefferson doubts the 
Mecklenburg Declaration, are shallow, and the language, 
with which he chooses to express his suspicions, are indic- 
ative of a jealous and malignant spirit. 

A national declaration of independence was first recom- 
mended by the Provincial Congress of North Carolina, 


and yet the state pride or ignorance of the historians of 
he adjacent states has attribntcd this high honor to 
Virginia. Prudence should have induced Mr. Wirt, be- 
fore he had assumed for his hero and his patron nil the 
merit of inducing a national declaration, to examine 
other sources of information than the manuscript furnished 
by Mr. Jefferson. It is the duty, and the most sacred 
duty, of the historian to preserve the integrity of history. 
His sins, though they may be concealed for the present 
by the influence of great names, will be exposed by the revo- 
lution of time. The papers in the State department of North 
Carolina would have taught the panegyrist of Virginia 
the weakness of her claims to the honor of conceiving the 
independence of the country, and have afforded him an op- 
portunity of exhibiting an instance of the truth and can- 
dor of history. In the archives of the state and the desks of 
ancient families are now buried the story of the rise and pro- 
gress of the state of North Carolina. Ignorance and 
wickedness may misrepresent with impunity the character 
of her history, if efforts are not made to break away the 
darkness which surrounds it ; and such are the induce- 
ments to this publication. 




In the course of the First Part of this volume, I shall in- 
vite the attention of the reader to many events, which are 
not to be found in the works of any of the " historians 
of the adjacent states," but which depend for their truth 
upon the more substantial evidence of contemporary author- 
ity. I shall be obliged frequently to refer to private papers, 
which I have been permitted to examine by the courtesy 
of friends, and hope that my effort to vindicate our com- 
mon country will be a sufficient apology for the free and 
copious extracts, which I shall take the liberty to introduce. 

From the 3rd of April, 1765, to the 1st of July, 1771, 
North Carolina was governed by William Tryon. Dur- 
ing the whole term of his administration the public mind 
was successively agitated by the passage of the Stamp 
Act and the ravages of a civil war, known in the annals of 
the state under the name of the Regulation. In the 
course of that extraordinary rebellion, the public ear was 


accustomed to the sound of war, and the military genius of 
the people encouraged and exercised. It prepared the 
young and ambitious for more important events, and was 
the school, in which many of those of whom 1 shall write, 
acquired the elements of a military education. Whilst 
public opinion was thus forming, Josiah i\Jartin arrived in 
New Berne, and on the llih of August, 1771, assumed 
the government of the province. It is from this period, 
that I shall commence a history of the Revolution in 
North Carolina, which I shall bring down to the 4th of 
July, 1776. The rise of the Revolution, the most instruc- 
tive portion of our history, will be sketched, and the pro- 
gress of the war detailed to a day illustrious as the birth- 
day of our national independence. 

The administration of Governor Tryon is an important 
period in the history of the state ; and his private charac- 
ter is so much identified v/ith many of the remarkable 
events of that day, that I shall pause for a few moments 
to canvass his merits as a civil and military officer. I 
shall subject him to a most rigid scrutiny, nor shall even 
the lovely and accomplished females of his family, his lady 
and her sister. Miss Esther Wake, escape that vigilant ob- 
servation, which a faithful historian on all such occasions 
will always exercise. The proverbial influence of the 
fair sex, in matters of state, was well sustained by these two 
noble ladies; and the enthusiasticgallantry of a warm-heart- 
ed people estimated the character of their Governor, by 
the grace, beauty, and accomplishment, that adorned the 
domestic circle of his palace. 

For the first two years of Tryon's administration, his 
head-quarters were on the Cape Fear, and during this 
time too the people of the province were engaged in a 


violent opposition to the Stamp Act. It is in moments of 
peril, that the real character of a governor is best exhib- 
ited, and I shall select this as one of ihe two periods of his 
government, the discussion of which will best illustrate 
his merits as a civil and military officer. It was on the 
10th of March, 1764,* that Parliament resolved to raise a 
revenue in the colonies, and during the same year Tryon 
was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of North Carolina. 
It seemed as if the Bedford ministry had appointed him 
the Governor of the province to second, with the energy 
of a military officer, the dangerous project of imposing 
and collecting a system of colonial taxes. In these prim- 
itive resolutions, the propriety and mere abstract right 
of charging stamps were avowed in a distinct, substantive 
resolve, and were not incorporated into the act, which sub- 
sequently passed both Houses of Parliament, and on the 
5th of the succeeding April received the assent of the 
King. The passage of this act aroused the suspicions of 
the colonies, and we find the popular House of the Assem- 
bly of North Carolina, on the 31st of October, 1764, some 
months before Tryon's assumption of the government, en- 
gaged in a quarrel with Governor Dobbs on its injustice 
and unconstitutionality. In their address of that date they 
say, " We observe our commerce circumscribed in its most 
beneficial branches, diverted from its natural channel, 
and burthened with new taxes and impositions laid on us 
without our privity or consent, and against what we es- 
teem our inherent right and exclusive privilege of impos- 
ing our own taxes." 

* Force's National Calendar, p. 13. 


To which Governor Dobbs replied ; " As to the 
other paragraphs of your address, as they have no 
reference to or are consistent with what I had recom- 
mended to you for your consideration, I shall return 
you no answer, but must only observe, that I know of no 
heavy tax attending the exports of this province, and 
therefore your complaint and excuse for not securing 
your navigation is without foundation." * 

In these disputes Tryon did not feel bound to take an 
active part ; but the death of Governor Dobbs, on the 28th 
of March, 1765, left him at the head of the government, 
and no alternative but the support of the policy of the 
ministry. Independent of this quarrel on the subject 
of the legislation of Parliament, he inherited others of a 
still more serious nature from his predecessor. Ever since 
the great Enfield riot, w^hich took place in the year 1759, 
the peace of the province had been disturbed by the 
ravages of mo65, and Tryon might well lament the difficul- 
ties of his situation in the general storm, which was gather- 
ing around him. The imbecility of Dobbs had encourag- 
ed the factious and discontented ; and when his successor 
endeavoured to sustain the law against their disorders, he 
found them ready to resist with arms the very authority 
of the government. The oppressive taxes growing out of 
the French war, and the knavery of the officers of the law, 
were the subjects of their complaints, and out of this state 
of things grew the Regulation. 

Lieutenant-Governor Tryon having been inaugurated 
Commander-in-chief of the province on the 3rd of April, 
1765, met his first Assembly one month after the com- 

* Journal of the Assembly, 1764. 


menceaient of his power. The public mind was much 
disturbed by rumors and reports from the North, that the 
Stamp Act had been passed by Parliament. This intel- 
ligence reached Wilmington shortly after the meeting of 
the Assembly ; and such was the violence exhibited by the 
Members of the popular House, that Governor Tryon sud- 
denly prorogued the legislative body, on the iSth of the 
same month, in which it had assembled. The popular 
House had but just replied to the opening speech of the 
Governor, and adopted the usual preliminary steps of le- 
gislation. Such was the excitement produced by the in- 
telligence, that the Governor apprehended an oveit act of 
treason ; and, to arrest the disease in its incipient stage, he 
prorogued the Assembly. That Governor Tryon was 
much alarmed is most obvious from the fact, that he was 
afraid to meet another Assembly during the existence of 
the Stamp law. He was famed as an officer of undaunt- 
ed courage, a gentleman of rank and honor, and may have 
recognised, in the violent zeal of the members of the popu- 
lar House, an admonition not to be slighted, because it was 
the impulse of freedom. The Speaker of the popular 
House, John Ashe, pledged himself that he would resist 
the iniquitous law, and informed the Governor, that the 
people would support him in the holy cause. But for the 
prorogation of this Assembly, the attitude of the popular 
party represented by the popular House, would not have 
been less treasonable in the eyes of royalty, than was the 
Mecklenburg Convention. 

The attitude, which the popular House would have 
taken, had the Governor permitted it to organize itself on 
the 30th of November, the day to which it was prorogued, 
would not have been less exceptionable. The elements 


af revolution inherent in every community had been agita- 
ted, and were in motion, under the banner of chivalry and 
liberty. The Wliig party had strengthened by the death of 
Governor Dohbs. Many of his coadjutors had been- for 
years wearied with the insincere characters they were 
obliged to sustain to uphold an officer, to whom they were 
indebted for patronage and personal kindness. Colonel 
Waddell, who had hitherto belonged to the government par- 
ty, was now zealous in the cause of the people, and even 
the relatives of the late Governor abandoned the princi- 
ples of their patron and embraced the orthodox faith of 
the day. It is difficult at this period to say to what ex- 
tent the denunciations of the whig party, which had grown 
up under the heaviness of the French war, and the do- 
mestic oppressions of the Courts and land agents, were car- 
ried. The royal party upbraided their conduct as treason, 
and contended that such language as prevailed was a vio- 
lation of the oath of allegiance, a point of honor upon 
which, in every age, tyrants and slaves are tenacious. 
The people of the counties of Orange, Anson, Mecklen- 
burg, and Granville, who had loudly complained against 
previous oppressions, now demanded of their fellow-citi- 
zens an acknowledgment of the truth of their predictions. 
Ti)ey loudly called for immediate action; and, if that sec- 
tion of the state could have presented a single advocate of 
the Stamp Act, more respectable than a profligate and 
skulking attorney, or a menial slave of power, there would 
have been an overt act of war. 

At the instance of the House of Representatives of 
Massachusetts, a General Congress of the Provinces con- 
vened in New York in the month of October. New- 
Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Georgia 


were not represented in that body. North Carolina had 
no opportunity of electing delegates. The rash proro- 
gation of the Assembly, and the refusal of the Governor 
to convene any other session, were the obvious causes of 
her not appearing on that occasion. The proposition of- 
Massachusetts was to appoint committees from the popular 
Houses of each provincial legislative body, and a delegate 
coming with credentials directly from the people would 
not probably have been acknowledged. In November, 
176G, in the first Assembly which met after the prorogation, 
the popular House regretted the long chasm in legislative 
action, because the province had not been able to act in 
concert with the sister colonies. This long chasm in 
legislation, however, was beneficial to the people in a pe- 
cuniary point of view. The Assembly had been prorogued 
before any of the usual tax-bills were proposed, and the 
Governor wisely determined to play the part of an econo- 
mist in the rnidst of so much trouble. The Courts and 
officers, too, were honest and gentle througli fear, and not 
an agent could be found to do the duty of his office. 

In the course of the summer, great riots occurred in the 
county of JVlecklenburg in consequence of an effi^rt by " an 
agent of an agent " of a Mr. Selwyn, who had by some 
legerdemain acquired sufficient title to certain lands in that 
county to appoint an agent. This is one of the very few 
disturbances which occurred in die province during the 
years 1765 and 1766, which had no connexion with 
the Stamp Act. It is not possible to distinguish the different 
and distinct causes operating to excite the public mind 
during this period. The old Whig party was more violent 
under additional oppression, and the converts to their 
cause soon embraced the opinions and joined in the pro- 


ceedings, which they once affected to despise as treason- 
able. An amalgamation of all parties was brought about 
by the passage of that fortunate bill. The people of 
North Carolina were never before so unanimous. The 
people of the United States were not so unanimous on the 
question of independence, as they were on the propriety of 
resisting the Stamp Act, nor are we ever likely again to 
exhibit in our history, the grand spectacle of an entirely 
united people. There was not even a " douhiing Dick- 
inson " to be found, whose doubtfulness could be suggest- 
ed with any shade of truth by the meanest authority of that 
day. All joined in giving a solemn assurance to the moth- 
er country, that the colonies would not be forcibly tax- 
ed, an assurance which was nobly, though not unanimous- 
ly, enforced, and which achieved the freedom of America. 
During the year 1765 meetings were held in various sec- 
tions of the province to consult for the public good. In 
New Berne, Richard Cogdell, and on the Cape Fear, 
John Ashe, John Walker, and Colonel Hugh Waddell 
were the principal leaders. This last gentleman first 
discovered the approach of the Stamp ship, and to him 
we are indebted for a vigorous opposition to her approach- 
es. He was an officer of great reputation during the 
French war, and commanded a regiment of Southern 
soldiers at the defeat of General Braddock. During the 
life of Governor Dobbs he was a zealous supporter of the 
measures of his government, and had thus become some- 
what unpopular among the Whigs of that day. On the 
death of his old friend, however, he deserted the govern- 
ment party and became one of the most active opponents 
of the Stamp Act and other measures, opposition to 
which was the test of sound principles. On gaining in- 


formation of the approach of the vStamp ship. Colonel 
Waddell commenced collecting armed men, and despatch- 
ing messengers to disseminate the intelligence. In a few 
days Colonel John Ashe, whose Carolina feeling was pro- 
verbial, had embodied a company of the Militia of New 
Hanover, and held himself ready for battle. The Procla- 
mation of Governor Tyron on the 6th of January, announc- 
ed the arrival of the Stamp ship and instructed all persons 
authorized to distribute stamps, to make application to 
the commander of the ship. 

The officer of the ship had not been an anxious appli- 
cant for the privilege of holding the stamps. Before the 
last word of the Governor's Proclamation was echoed 
back, by tlie few nameless tools that waited around the 
mushroom table of his patronage, the companies of 
Colonels Ashe and Waddell were watching the movements 
of the ship from the town of Brunswick. The timid 
officer of the suspicious craft prudently submitted to the 
terms of his besiegers, and promised to observe a holyday 
of several days, to determine on a subsequent course. 
The two popular leaders then started off for Wilmington, 
which was the head- quarters of the Governor. A Mr. 
James Houston, who was the intended Stamp-master, was 
an inmate of the Governor's house. Colonel Ashe on 
his arrival gathered together a large concourse of people, 
and in a tumultuous manner proceeded to the Governor's 
residence in quest of the Stamp-master. He was sent 
for to come to the door, when the Governor refused to 
allow the claims of such a body to an audience with 
Houston, and adhered to his resolution, until a threat to 
burn the house was nearly executed. The official dignity 
of Governor Tryon shrunk into submission before the in- 


tr^pidity of Colonel Ashe. His blustering exhortations, 
and pompous threats of the vengeance of the King, were 
without power or effect among the people, when under 
the command of an officer distinguished for his defence of 
their rights in every crisis. The fiery impetuosity of the 
Colonel, aided by the enthusiasm of the whole people, 
soon brought the Stamp-master to the test of loyalty. 
The favorite of the government was led out of the em- 
braces of the subdued Governor, and conducted to the 
market, where in the presence of the people he swore a 
solemn oath never to perform the duties of his office. 

Such are the details of an event highly honorable to the 
spirit of the people of North Carolina. But for the vig- 
ilance of Colonel Waddell, the Stamp ship might have 
landed a few cases of its odious freight, before the people 
could have collected for resistance. A few of the stamps 
might have been distributed and for the sake of a loyal 
name, been used too, by some worthless lacquey of the 
Governor of a province. But the patriotism of Waddell 
gave notice of their arrival ; and ere the Governor's Proc- 
lamation announced the event, the two champions of the 
people were ready in the field. It is with feelings of pride 
and pleasure, that I recount the deeds of so worthy a son 
of North Carolina as Colonel Ashe. His name is one of 
the oldest and proudest in the annals of the state, and is 
still illustrious by the beauty and worth that adorn it. 
Love of the people was not then what it is now, the con- 
stant song of unprincipled demagogues. It was a virtue 
which but kw possessed, and still fewer openly avowed. 
The terror of the Governor's displeasure extinguished the 
dimmest spark in the bosom of a Councillor, while the more 
dreaded frowns of Majesty itself were threatened on every 


popular recusant. All of these pompous denunciations 
were laid in store for Colonel Ashe by the mercenary- 
party of the Government. Amidst the enthusiastic love 
of his countrymen, however, they did not even quicken the 
natural sensitiveness of his mind. The banks of the 
Cape Fear have been prolific in great names. One of 
the companions of Colonel Ashe deserves to share with 
him every tribute of reverence, which posterity may pay. 
Maurice Moore was early distinguished by his zeal in the 
cause of the people. He was, however, more of a student 
than a soldier, and had already acquired at the bar of the 
province, the reputation of an eloquent advocate and an 
honest attorney. Of Colonels Waddeil and Ashe and Mr. 
Moore there can be no question but that Governor Tryon 
had great and serious apprehension. Colonel Ashe was 
irresistible among the people, and was a host within him- 
self. Colonel Waddeil delighted in war, for it was his pro- 
fession ; and he commanded the sympathies of the people 
of Brunswick. He could march them to battle against 
the Stamp Act ; he might do so against the Governor. 
Maurice Moore was a man of weight and consideration in 
the community in which he lived, as well as at the Bar. 
He would indeed have been an ornament to any society ; 
and although he lived at a period when personal courage 
and influence outshone the lustre of a great mind, still he 
grew into the affections of the people, and was one of 
their most influential leaders. These three names are still 
conspicuous in North Carolina for exalted worth, and still 
retain that confidence and affection of the people, which 
formerly distinguished their ancestors. 

Notwithstanding the repealed provocations of these 
three citizens, offered as it were, in defiance and in derision 


of the authority of the Governor, this threatened re- 
sentment expired with the repeal of the Stamp Act. To 
such men Tryon could condescend to explain the motives 
of his conduct, and to implore their forbearance as the 
only means of preserving peace and order. The flatter- 
ing compliment of a request to aid him in the trying 
duties of his station was lavished, and vainly lavished, on 
each ; nor could they be persuaded to accept even the 
friendship of his Excellency, when it might induce an ob- 
ligation of support. Such temptations could not fascinate 
the minds of such men from the exercise of their most 
sacred right, and the performance of their most sacred 
duty. They despised the officer, who could hope to 
seduce them by corruption, veiled under the offices of 
friendship ; and insulted with less reluctance the authority, 
to which they had proved, by example, they were physical- 
ly superior. The power of the government without the 
indispensable nourishment of the usual aid bills, had 
dwindled into subordination to the active influence of the 
popular leaders, and the pride of the haughty Tryon was 
limited to the preservation of the empty pageant of official 
dignity. Finding himself vanquished on all sides, and the 
government, which he filled, on the eve of dissolution, he 
adopted the desperate resolution of reducing the power of 
Colonel Ashe, by mixing familiarly with the people in the 
hope that his condescension would turn their minds, and 
enable him to supplant his adversary in their confidence 
and love. 

The efforts of the Governor personally to conciliate the 
people, were not more successful than would have been 
the employment of a regiment of soldiers. The art of 
pleasing the people is the same faculty that immortalized 
the Gracchi of Rome, and the restless ambition of Gover- 


nor Tryon was not content with a less considerable char- 
acter for example in bis new vocation. Feasts and routs 
were prepared for the people, to illustrate bis liberality 
and condescension ; but on all such occasions he impru- 
dently or ignorantly neglected to lay aside the unpopular 
accompaniments of his office, so strongly indicative of 
arrogance and pride. He was an easy victim in the hands 
of Colonel Ashe in such a contest. The Colonel himself, 
being an officer of the militia, was not without the disad- 
vantage of official insignia. Possessing an elegant and 
noble figure, well fitted to exhibit to effect the gorgeous 
uniform of his rank, his friends and companions boasted 
that he outshone the Governor himself. In the month of 
February of the year sixty-six, a period when this ridicu- 
lous rivalry was at its height, a large muster of the militia 
of New Hanover was held in Wilmington. The Gover- 
nor had prepared a plentiful repast for the people, and, 
according to the accounts of that day, had barbecued a 
bull, and placed it on the table as one dish. The supe- 
rior influence of Colonel Ashe over any odier individual 
of that section of the state is well exhibited in the disposi- 
tion, which the people under his influence made of the 
sumptuous repast. The appearance of the Governor all 
will admit, must have been more interesting to the mass of 
the people with the parade that encircled his person. 
When the feast was announced as ready, the people rush- 
ed in a body to the table, and in a tumultuous manner 
upset the barrels of liquors which had been provided, and 
seizing the bull, they hurled the barbecued monster into 
the river. The mortification of the Governor was too 
intense to await the slow cure of time, and he retired to 
his house dejected and discomfited. The whole day was 
3 * 


one continued scene of riot and tumult. Tiyon, amidst 
this confusion and strife, was prudently lounging in hrs 
parlour, while his parasites and minions were reciting, or 
rather clamoring in interrupted accents, the recollected 
portions of the ''^ Riot Act,^'' How contemptible must 
have appeared at this titne the pompous airs which his 
Excellency always assumed. Never was the contempt of 
a people for an individual adorned with the attributes of 
power more conspicuously exhibited, nor so degrading a 
punishment prescribed for the insolence of authority. The 
supremacy of Colonel Ashe could no longer be question- 
ed, and although William Tryon was the King's governor, 
the people more willingly acknowledged the authority, as 
well as the merit, of another. 

Some time during the fall of the year 1765, a duel was 
fought on the banks of the Cape Fear, between a captain 
and his lieutenant, in which the former fell. He was a rela- 
tive of Lady Tryon's, and the Governor exerted all his influ- 
ence to ensure the conviction of the survivor. The cause of 
the duel was remotely connected with the exciting topics of 
the day, and the sympathy of the people was aroused in fa- 
vor of the lieutenant whom Tryon had thrown into prison. 
He was tried, convicted, and condemned ; but the mercy 
of Chief Justice Berry postponed the period for his execu- 
tion to a distant day. By the connivance and assistance 
of the people he made his escape, fled to England, was 
pardoned, and restored to the bosom of his family. The 
disappointment of Tryon in the gratification of his revenge 
sought relief in suspicions of Judge Berry, whom he ac- 
cused of an agency in the escape of the lieutenant. The 
insinuations of the Governor, although they deeply and 
incurably wounded the feelings of the amiable Judge, 


were not believed ; for the executive could not conceal, 
under a zeal for the prosecution of an offender, the dis- 
honorable feelings which prompted his hatred of the 
presiding officer of the courr. The honesty of Judge 
Berry was, however, lifted above his reach. He shortly 
after the trial was summoned from Edenton circuit to 
attend the Council board. The blustering and super- 
cilious manner of Try on had not been more repulsive 
to the people than to the Chief Justice ; nor was the 
latter, by any selfish relaxation of the Governor's usual stiff- 
ness, duped into an obedience to his wishes. Such was the 
arrangement of the powers of the provincial government, 
that, although the Chief Justice was independent of the 
will of the Executive, yet the character of the former was 
at the mercy of the latter, who by complaints and charges 
preferred in a sly and secret manner, could reduce to dis- 
grace the most unexceptionable judge. Such were the 
apprehensions of Judge Berry, whose popularity was 
already an object of suspicion in England. The decided 
stand he took with the popular party in the administration 
of Governor Dobbs had been managed by his enemies at 
court to disparage his character. He knew that Tryon 
had an opportunity, by connecting him with the distur- 
bances which had occurred in the Province, to subject 
him to a disgraceful censure from the King, and to effect 
his recall. The notorious duplicity of the Governor in 
framing a complaint, he well knew, would not hesitate to 
attribute to his influence all the opposition of the people, 
nor to disguise the real cause of the confidence and re- 
spect he personally and officially enjoyed. Writhing under 
the agony of these melancholy anticipations, his amiable 
but sensitive mind shrunk into a fit of despair, in the mad- 
ness of which he terminated his existence. 


Such was the lamented end of a life devoted to the 
study of the law and to the cuhivalion of a pure moral 
character. Comhining with the reputation of an upright 
judge that of an amiable, hospitable, and generous citizen, 
he enjoyed that reverence and love which his excellence 
so signally deserved. His superior merit had been sent 
to a wrong mart. Tn the province of North Carolina the 
mild exertions of his power, as Chief Justice, but excited 
the malice of the Governor, by rendering more conspicuous 
the inconsistency of his own acts; nor would envy permit 
him to enjoy without reproach that devotion of the people, 
which was but the natural consequence of his virtuous and 
upright conduct. His death was deeply deplored by the 
people of the province, who reasonably expected as his 
successor some minion of Tryon's, ambitious only of his 
master's favor, and ready to forget both the dignity of 
law and the rights of man. It is said of Tryon, that 
already tired of the superior popularity of Judge Berry, 
he now received the intelligence of his melancholy fate 
with secret pleasure and an ostentatious indifference. On 
such occasions the feelings exhibited will best illustrate 
the real character of a man. His courtiers may have 
complimented his indifference as firmness or stoical phi- 
losophy. I shall not condescend to analyse the darkness 
of his motives, or to investigate the causes which might 
extenuate the enormity of his conduct. The vanity of 
Tryon should ere this have been humbled by defeat and 
shame. The rapid progress of successful opposition to 
the stamp law throughout the province should have tamed 
the turbulence of his spirit, and have softened his heart to 
the complaints of the people. He well knew that the 
great cause of their murmurs was his constant prorogation 


or dissolution of the Assembly, and that one session would 
test the strength of the people and the weakness of the 
royal party. The sedition at Wihnington drew much of 
its violence from this cause ; and on that day Colonel Ashe, 
irritated by the conduct of the Governor, suggested to 
him ^' that he was afraid to convene the Assembly." Act- 
ing under the fear or excitement of this remark, Tryon 
issued a proclamation on the 26th of February, proro- 
guing the Assembly, which was not to have convened until 
the 22d of April, to the last of October. On the 13th of 
June the Governor received official intelligence of the 
act of the preceding March, repealing the Stamp Act, and 
on the succeeding 25th issued a proclamation in the name 
of the King. The proclamation embraced two distinct 
positions, both alike calculated to captivate the enthusiasm 
of the people. It prohibited, and censured as illegal and 
disgraceful, the practice which had prevailed of charging 
excessive fees; and in the second place, announced the 
repeal of the Stamp Act. Such an opportunity was joy- 
fully embraced by Tryon to conciliate a people, of whose 
violence he had witnessed sufficient to learn the danger 
of their opposidon or resentment. 

On the next day after the appearance of the proclama- 
tion, the authorities of the Borough of Wilmington address- 
ed Governor Tryon with congratulations on the repeal of 
the Stamp Act, and lamented the many misrepresentations 
of their conduct which had reached the ear of his Excel- 
lency. The Governor could not comprehend the mean- 
ing of this latter allusion, and replied to them, that the only 
exceptionable conduct of which they had been guilty, had 
come directly under his own personal observation. The 
mayor of the borough, assisted by many of the most re- 


spectable citizens, complained in a letter they addressed to 
him of the injustice of his insinuation, and declared that 
the commotions which had existed, arose from " a convic- 
tion, that moderation ceased to be a virtue, when the 
liberty of the British subject was in danger." This cor- 
respondence which was terminated to the satisfaction of 
the Governor, was, to speak with candor, more seditious 
than the commotions which had occurred, and which had 
undoubtedly come under the personal observation of 
Tryon. The address, in the first instance, expressed 
great affection for the effort which Parliament had made 
to preserve the liberty of the people by relieving them 
from oppression which they could not bear, and the com- 
mentary to be found in the second letter, " on the virtue 
of moderations'^ was not entirely consistent with the pre- 
scribed loyalty of one of the people. 

The other portion of our history, by the discussion of 
which I propose to illustrate the character of Tryon, is 
the history of the Regulation, — a maiden subject for the 
pen of controversy, — and one upon which I shall be 
found to differ from all the historians and pamphleteers of 
the day. 

In writing the history of that period of time involved in 
commotion on the passage of the Stamp Act, I have almost 
buried that of the Regulation under its incumbent and 
more general importance. I shall now invite the attention 
and consideration of the reader to a series of historical 
papers which will be found to be extracts from the rare 
and curious volume of Herman Husband. Such, indeed, 
I conceive to be the most impartial mode of introducing 
the reader to a knowledge of that rebellion, clouded as it 
has been by the heavy pages of Williamson and Martin, 


and the more ignorant disquisitions of untutored and igno- 
rant scribblers. These papers are the more valuable 
because they were published in the midst of the strife, 
before the fatal batde of Allemance, and in the face of the 
individuals whose crimes and misdeeds are exposed. Of 
their author, Herman Husband, I must say a few words 
before I commence the task of transcribing his exposition 
of the causes of the Regulation. He was undoubtedly a 
man of a turbulent and seditious character, but he lived in 
a country where the exercise of those qualities were not 
only excusable, but frequently indispensable, as a means of 
redress for outrage and wrong. Possessed, too, as he 
undoubtedly was, of the craft and cunning of a Jesuit, as 
well as a quick and ready perception of the state of the 
community in which he lived, he induced the discontented 
and oppressed to unite in a general and systematic opposi- 
tion to the operations of the provincial government. 

A single incident will serve to illustrate the character of 
this singular individual. The violence of his enemies on 
one occasion succeeded in imprisoning him in the town of 
Hillsborough, and the conditions of his release were, that 
he should never give his opinion of the laws, "nor frequent 
assembling himself among the people, nor show any jeal- 
ousies of the officers taking extraordinary fees, and other 
similar promises." The immortal truth of Hooker, that 
" whoso goeth about to persuade the people they are not 
as well governed as they might be, will surely find atten- 
tive listeners," was not more applicable to Husband than 
to others of that day, who labored to dethrone the sove- 
reign, to whom they had sworn allegiance. The promises 
extorted as the condition of his release, indicate alike the 
nature of his genius and the degree of tyranny he was 


endeavouring to demolish. In viewing the events of that 
day, I shall not scruple to describe the character of Hus- 
band, as superior to that of the miserable pettifogger whose 
knavery suggested the conditions of his liberty. He 
wanted the advantages of education which had been v^ainly 
lavished on his adversary, if one of the objects of educa- 
tion is to refine and purify the mind ; nor had he an op- 
portunity of neglecting to acquire those accomplishments 
which are offered in the ranks of a polished society. The 
character of Husband I admit to have been that of a dem- 
agogue, not however more base or servile, than many still 
patronized by the suffrages of the people of my native 

The pages of Husband's book disclose the first effort in 
Orange county to organize as a party the disaffected 
portion of the people. Such an attempt was indispensa- 
ble to preserve the party which had, before the passage of 
the Stamp Act, opposed the exactions of the officers of the 
government, the ranks of which had been crowded by the 
unanimous opposition of the people to that and other 
measures, and which was now reduced to its original 
resources by the repeal of that law. In the month of 
August, 1766, and at an inferior court of the county of 
Orange, a paper addressed to the Representatives and 
Magistrates of the county was presented and read. This 
paper, I am of opinion, is the first written complaint 
against those extortions, which formed so important an ele- 
ment in the disturbances of that day, and which covered 
the Courts and the Bar with reproach and shame. It is 
extracted from the 9th page of Husband's book. 

" Whereas that great good may come of this great 
designed evil, the Stamp Law, while the sons of Lib- 


erty withstand the Lords of Parliament in behalf of true 
Liberty ; let not officers under them carry on unjust 
oppression in our Province, in order thereto, as there are 
many evils of that nature complained of in this county 
of Orange, in private amongst the inhabitants. There- 
fore, let us remove them, or if there is no cause, let us 
remove the jealousies out of our minds. Honest rulers 
in power will be glad to see us examine this matter 
freely. And certainly there are more honest men 
among us than rogues, yet rogues are harboured among 
us sometimes almost publicly. Every honest man is 
willing to give part of his substance to support rulers 
and laws to save the other part from rogues, and it is 
his duty as well as right to see and examine whether 
such rulers abuse such trust. Otherwise that part so 
given may do more hurt than good. Even if we were 
all rogues, in that case we could not subsist ; but would 
be obliged to frame laws to make ourselves honest. 
And the same reason holds good against the reason of a 
Mason club. Thus though it (meaning justice) must be 
desired by all men, or the greatest number of men ; yet, 
when grievances of such public nature are not redress- 
ed, the reason is, every body's business is nobody's. 
Therefore the following proposal is offered to the pub- 
lic, to wit; Let each neighbourhood throughout the 
county meet together and appoint one or more men to 
attend a general meeting, on the Monday before next 
November court, at a suitable place, where there is no 
liquor (at Maddock's Mills if no objection), at which 
meeting let it be judiciously inquired into, whether the 
Freemen of this county labor under any abuses of power 
or not, and let the same be notified in writing, if any \% 


found, and the matter freely conversed upon, and pro- 
per measures used for amendment. This method will 
certainly cause the wicked men in power to tremble, and 
there is no damage can attend such a meeting, nor noth- 
ing hinder it but a cowardly, dastardly spirit, which if it 
does at this time while Liberty prevails, we must mutter 
and grumble under any abuses of power, until such a 
noble spirit prevails in our posterity : for this is a maxim, 
that while men are men, though you should see all those 
Sons of Liberty (who have just now redeemed us from 
tyranny) sit in offices and vested in power, they would 
soon corrupt again and oppress, if they were not called 
upon to give an account of their stewardship." 

The sentiments and principles of this address may not 
be despised even in this age of the American republic. 
To give an account of their stewardship is considered as 
the primal duty of every servant of the people returning 
from the labors of legislation. But I would suggest 
that the sentiments and principles of the address support 
the position I have assumed, that the Regulation, although 
overthrown by the batde of Allemance, was nevertheless 
connected with tlie Revolution at that early day. 

Historians commence the narrative of the Revolution 
with the opposition to the Stamp Act, and point to the 
spirit of that day as the same that immortalized the heights 
of Bunker's Hill, and the Plains of Guilford. I may, with 
equal propriety, date the origin of the Revolution in North 
Carolina from the birth of that spirit of opposition, which, ex- 
isting anterior to the Stamp Act, was strengthened and forti- 
fied by its tyranny, and which first tore away the magic veil 
that covered the monstrous deformity of British allegiance. 
To agitate the question of resistance to the oppression of 


government, to induce the people to reflect on the policy 
of such a step, to accustom them to the ground of rebellion, 
and to lead them, step by step, to the dark council of the 
agitators and leaders, is frequently the most heroic and per- 
ilous adventure in the history of a revolution. Such was 
the effect of the Stamp Act in Massachusetts and the other 
states. The odious principles of that measure provoked 
the people to the contemplation of more important and 
efficient means of resistance than were inherent in their 
Provincial government and in a later period of history, the 
battle of Lexington but struck out the spark that blazed 
from the battle-field to Georgia. To have commenced 
the war is one of the worthiest laurels achieved during 
its progress, scarcely inferior to that w^orn with the 
assent of a whole people, by the immortal hero whose 
genius consummated the glory of that strugejle. 

The imputations against the Regulation, which prevail 
in North Carolina, are, that it was nothing more than a 
compact of turbulent and seditious men, united upon no 
definite principle, but acting only from the impulse of a 
factious spirit. The concluding sentence of the address 
refutes and contradicts this prejudiced and too common 
opinion. Without a cause of action, and without concert, 
when in their first declaration they point to oppressions, 
which had notoriously existed for years, and propose a 
plan of cooperation ; in the same instrument they applaud 
the opposition to the Stamp Act, and dignify the principal 
movers of that opposition with the honorable title of '= Sons 
of Liberty." Does this support the character which 
Williamson and Martin have bestowed on the Regulators, 
or the still more rancorous abuse which pride and io-no- 
rance have lavished on that undefended party ? One in- 


ference is plainly cicducible from the address. If the 
Regulation was, as has been represented, a profligate 
and seditious junto, without merit or virtue, the party op- 
posed to the Stamp Act in North Carolina, which willing- 
ly united with the Regulators, and even joined them in 
the mobs and routs of that day, was alike profligate and 
seditious. The only difference, which ingenuity can de- 
tect, is, that the Regulators were contending for a thor- 
ough reformation of the government, in all its branches, 
and the opponents of the Stamp Act directed their efforts 
entirely against its operation. 

The object of the proposed meeting at IMaddock's Mill 
was sufficiently described in the address, and was approv- 
ed at the time by the leading men of the Governor's party* 
There was one individual, however, Edmund Fanning^ 
a representative from Orange, whose antipathy to an in- 
vestigation of ihe conduct of the officers of the court wais 
founded on a conviction of his own misdeeds and crimes. 
This singular man, so indifferent to the voice of reason or 
honor, as to become conspicuous on that account alone, 
denounced the proposed meeting as an insurrection. At 
a meeting of the neighbourhood of Deep River, the repre- 
sentatives, vestry-men, and other officers were requested 
to attend the meeting at Maddock's Mill, and to give 
such information as they could, '' so far as they valued 
" the good will of every honest freeholder, and the execu- 
" ting public offices pleasant and delightsome." The 
meeting of the delegates of the people assembled at Mad- 
dock's Mill on the 10th of October, 1766, and, while 
they were awaiting the arrival of the representatives, James 
Watson, the colleague of Fanning, arrived, and brought the 
denunciation of that prudent officer. The meeting, how- 


ever, proceeded to die business of the day, and after a 
free discussion of the distressed state of the county of 
Orange, adopted the following paper, which was approv- 
ed and signed by Watson. 

" It was the judgment of the said meeting, that by 
reason of the extent of the county, no one man in it in a 
general way was known to above one tenth man of the 
inhabitants, for which reason such a meeting for a pub- 
lic and free conference, yearly, and as often as the case 
may require, was absolutely necessary, in order to reap 
the benefit designed us in that part of our constitution 
of choosing representatives, and knowing for what 
uses our money is called for. We also conceive such a 
representative would find himself at an infinite loss to 
answer the design of his constituents, if deprived of con- 
sulting their minds in matters of weight and moment. 

" And whereas, at the said meeting, none of them ap- 
peared, (though we think properly acquainted with our ap- 
pointment and request), yet, as the thing is somewhat new 
in this country (though practised in older governments,) 
they might not have duly considered the reasonableness 
of our requests. We therefore conclude that if they 
hereafter are inclinable to answer it, that we will attend 
them at some other time and place, on their giving us 
proper notice. It is also our judgm.ent, that on further 
mature deliberation, the inhabitants of the county will 
more generally see the necessity of such a conference, 
and the number increase in favor of it to be continued 
yearly. A copy of this was given to Mr. Watson, on his 
approbation of it, and he promised to present each of our 
representatives with proper transcripts, which we doubt 
not the least he complied with. But however," continues 


the simple narrative of Husband, " instead of complying 
will) our so reasonable proposals, Colonel Fanning, at 
the following court or at a general muster, read a long 
piece of writing in public and among our Justices in re- 
pugnance to our request, vaunting himself greatly in 
his performance, telling them he had served us with 
copies thereof, and signified it would silence us. But 
as to wliat it contained, 1 cannot inform the public, as 
we, nor any of us, that ever I could find, ever saw it." 

Such seem to have been the efforts of the Regulators 
to break down the domestic tyranny, which had been 
generated by the corrupt government of the provincial 
Governors. Starting from the heavy requisitions of Gov- 
ernor Dobbs, and the avarice of the attorneys and 
agents of the later years of his administration, the Regu- 
lation had matured thus far in the fall of the year 
1766. The advantages of a concert were soon ex- 
perienced in the greater facility, which such a body 
possessed of indicting the officers, and other extortion- 
ers, and in the expenses attending such prosecutions 
being liberally paid by a general subscription. At the 
meeting at Maddock's Mill, the sum of fifty pounds was 
subscribed for such a purpose ; and although no particular 
officer was specified as the object of prosecution, yet the 
circumstance justly awakened the suspicions of Fanning. 
Living, as he did, in the constant and acknowledged com- 
mission of crime, his guilty and jealous mind was eager to 
examine the bearing of every penal statute, and every 
meditated prosecution, under an apprehension that it 
might have been agitated for his own sins. 

At last I have to notice the session of an Assembly, a 
portion of the government which the fear and policy of 


Tryon had nearly extinguished. For more than eighteen 
months the Province had been without an Assembly ; and 
this stroke of policy, so obviously the result of apprehen- 
sion, embittered and aggravated the previous jealousies of 
the people. The members met in New Berne on the 3d 
of November, and the session was commenced by a quarrel 
with the Governor on account of the long chasm in the 
legislation of the Province which his fears had produced. 
The courage of Tryon seems to have slumbered during 
this controversy. The reproaches of the popular House 
were bitter and open, and the insinuations disrespectful 
and insulting. Tlie Governor was rebuked for having en- 
couraged the application of the abusive terms of "rebels" 
and "traitors "to the people of the Province, a charge, 
which he warmly pronounced without foundation. He de- 
clared himself a perfect stranger to the insinuations, which 
the answer of the House contained, and avowed a willing- 
ness to forget every transaction, which ingenuity could tor- 
ture into an insult. The charge of cowardice against Tryon, 
which is supported by various events in the history of his 
administration, may be qualified in this case, by one or two 
powerful considerations. The sedition at Wilmington had 
taught him the popular lesson of conciliation, as well as the 
reality of popular power. He found himself now surround- 
ed by many of the same men vested with the dignity and 
power of representatives, and still burning with resent- 
ment against him as the author of those calumnies with 
which they had been assailed. The prudence of Tryon 
plainly saw the danger of provoking or irritating the 
opposition of such men, and the necessity of healing the 
wounds which he had inflicted. The other consideration 
was undoubtedly a great inducement to forbearance, and 


indeed, to such a man asTryon, of liumiliatlon. He had 
fallen in love with the idea of erecting a splendid palace, 
to accomplish which, he wooed the members, with all the 
submission of a devoted lover. He lost his dignity in the 
efforts which he thus frequently made to accomplish his 
darling scheme, and may have forgotten his honor in the 
madness of his zeal and enthusiasm. 

It was in the various political manoeuvres, necessary to 
procure an appropriation of funds for the erection of this pa- 
lace, that the genius of Lady Tyron, and her lovely sister, 
rose superior to the official consequence of the Governor. 
The sum of five thousand pounds was readily voted by the 
Assembly of 1766 ; but when it subsequently appeared, 
that this sum was only sufficient for the mere beginning of 
the edifice, and that ten thousand more were necessary to 
complete it, the liberality of the legislature was exhausted. 
After a great deal of management, however, the second 
appropriaUon bill was passed, and its success has been 
justly attributed more to the brilliant society of the two 
ladies than to the policy of the Governor. To have taxed 
a Province, exhausted by the scourge of war and anar- 
chy, with a burthen of fifteen thousand pounds, exhibits 
a greater degree of indifference to the distresses of the 
people, than can be reconciled with patrioUsm or human- 
ity. The dinners of his Excellency m.ust have been 
princely indeed, and the society of the ladies, — the only 
sovereign apology, — extremely delightful, to have wrung 
from the parsimony of the Assembly so heavy an appro- 
priafion. I shall anficipate one event in the annals of the 
state, to illustrate the universal esteem and admiration, in 
which these two ladies were held. The Assembly of 1770 
created a new county in the centre of the state, and 


adorned it with the name of Wake, in compliment to the 
beauty of Miss Esther. At a still latter period of 
our history, when the Royal government had been 
annihilated, the Assembly carefully and justly substituted 
the names of distinguished Americans, for those of Tryon, 
Dobbs, and others, which had designated several of the 
counties of the state. While the motion to change the 
name of Tryon county was under consideration, a propo- 
sition was made by some over-zealous patriot, to expunge 
the name of Wake. The title of Tryon was expunged, 
but the ungallant proposition to obliterate the recollection 
of a beautiful woman was rejected by acclamation. The 
city of Raleigh, the capital of the state, as if to crown the 
majesty of beauty, was, at a still latter period, loca- 
ted in the county of Wake, an appropriate name for 
a city, built on a territory consecrated to the genius of 
beauty and virtue. 

In this preliminary view of the character of Governor 
Tryon, I have not space for a regular, detailed history of 
his administration. I m.ust leave the palace, and its fair in- 
mates, and invite the attention of the reader to the battle of 
Allemance, a victory which extinguished the rebellion of 
the Regulators. 

In the year 1771, after the adjournment of the Assem- 
bly, it was perceptible to all, that the calamity of a civil 
war was inevitable. In the month of March the Governor 
commenced the organization of an army, and by the ad- 
vice of the Council, was determined to lead it in person 
to the territory of the rebels. In the mean time a plan of 
peace and reconciliation had been adopted by the contend- 
ing parties in the county of Orange, which might have sav- 
ed the Province from the ravages of war, but for the simul- 
taneous hostile movement of the Governor in the town 


of New Berne. A court of Oyer and Terminer was held 
in that place, under the late act of the Assembly, and bills 
of indictment were found against a large number of the 
Regulators, for destroying the house of Fanning on the 
previous 25ih of September. The court adopted an as- 
sociation paper, which was signed by the Governor, and 
other distinguished officers, pledging themselves to support 
the government in restoring peace, and enforcing a due 
execution of the laws. This was viewed by the people of 
Orange, without regard to party, as a veto on the plan of 
pacification, and the parties now reverted to their for- 
mer opinions and deeds. During the latter part of April, 
Governor Tryon having collected an army of three hun- 
dred men, and appointed different posts of rendezvous on 
his way, marched from New Berne, accompanied by several 
members of the council, and other influential characters. 

On arriving on the banks of the river Enoe, he found 
himself at the head of a formidable and efficient force, 
under the command of the militia officers of the sev- 
eral counties. A detachment from the county of New 
Hanover, under the command of Colonel John Ashe, 
another from Onslow under Colonel Richard Caswell, 
another from the county of Carteret, under Colonel Craig, 
another from Johnston, under Colonel William Thompson, 
another from Beaufort, under Colonel Needham Bryan, and 
one from Wake, under Colonel John Hinton, had joined his 
standard, before he reached the encampment on Enoe. 
The infantry of the arn)y with which he started from 
New Berne, was commanded by Colonel Joseph Leech, 
the artillery by Captain Moore, and a company of rang- 
ers by Captain Neale. The Camp was only a few miles 
from Hilisboro', and before the artny had progressed any 
farther on its march, a prodigious reinforcement, under the 


management of Edmund Fanning, a notable attorney of the 
town, arrived. Tradition informs us, that this singular re- 
inforcement was composed of clerks, constables, coro- 
ners, broken down sheriffs, and other such materials, and 
this statement is supported by the fact, that two of {he prin- 
cipal objects of the Governor were, to protect the election 
of a member for Orange in the place of Husband, and to 
assist the sheriff in levying the taxes, aflairs in which the 
agency of Fanning might be indispensable. 

Colonel Waddell, with a small detachment, had been in 
that section of the state for some time, and, having espous- 
ed, with much zeal, the cause of the government, was an 
object of great hatred to the Regulators. They contriv- 
ed to entangle him in a skirmish, and with a superior 
force to surround his small army. The Colonel himself 
with a few followers, escaped to Salisbury, and from thence 
an express was received by Tryon, while on the banks of 
the Enoe, containing an account of his discomfiiure. 
He stated, that there existed a constant intercourse be- 
tween the detachment and the Regulators, and that, in 
such a situation, flight was his only opportunity of escape. 
Before the encampment was struck, the Governor received 
intelligence, that the enemy was on the march to meet 
him ; and, apprehensive that his passage of Haw River 
might be obstructed, he moved on in haste to the scene of 
action. A volunteer company of light-horse, under the 
command of Captain Bullock, was the only addition to 
his army he received, and with his whole force he cross- 
ed Haw River on the 13th of May. On the evening of 
the following day, he pitched his camp on the banks of the 
Allemance, a small stream, distinguished in history by the 
extraordinary nature of the approaching conflict. 


I have conducted the King's forces, near the field of 
battle, and have now to return to the Regulators, describe 
the industry of their leaders, and the concentration of their 
forces. In my future details on this subject, I shall dis- 
tinguish the army of Tryon by the name of the "King's 
Forces," an appellation more familiar to the people of 
North Carolina, and one which was claimed as an honorable 
title by the officers of that army, until none were so poor 
as to do homage to the King. The counties of Orange, 
Anson, Granville, Guilford, and the adjacent western sec- 
tion of the state contributed to the army of the Regulators. 
The restless genius of Husband pervaded the whole party. 
He encouraged the timid to the field, with the hope of ex- 
torting by fear from Tryon a redress of their complaints, 
and inflamed the more courageous with the expectalioa 
of plunder or renown. He ransacked every house, and 
warned every man to arms, to repel the invader of their 
rights, and their plantations. The people flocked to his 
standard in numbers, and swelled his ranks to an unwieldy 
and unmanageable crowd. Many came unarmed and join- 
ed the ranks under an expectation, that there would be no 
bloodshed, but that so large a force would bring the Gover- 
nor to the terms they might propose. Such indeed w^as the 
prevailing sentiment among the Regulators, and had been 
urged by Husband, as an inducement to join his standard. 
With all the duplicity of a demagogue, he varied his argu- 
ments, to suit the temper and situation of each individual 
whom he solicited. To all he might urge the wrongs and 
extortions they had suffered, but not to all could he urge 
war. His army thus constituted, may be computed at 
two thousand men, not more than half of which number 
could have been armed even with the semblance of a 


deadly weapon. Once within his ranks terror was exert- 
ed to retain them, and to force them to the field. If each 
soldier of that army had gone to the banks of the AUe- 
mance with the feelings, and the passions of their leader, 
and with the charged musket on his shoulder, the King's 
forces might have been celebrated for a dexterous retreat, 
and not a clumsy and unsoldierlike victory. But few 
went to that batde with the motives of Husband. Re- 
venge was the nutriment of his valor ; and with a mind 
phrenzied by the disgrace of an expulsion from the As- 
sembly, and the loathsome confinement of a dungeon, he 
hurried to the battle, with all the fury and madness of de- 
spair. With five hundred men thus animated and well 
armed, " the great wolf of JVorth Carolina " might have 
been conspicuous only, in the annals of the state, as the 
last of the Royal Governors. 

The Regulators, without the advantage of discipline or 
the use of decent arms or military stores, must have present- 
ed the appearance of one of the militia musters of the coun- 
ty of Orange, at the present day. Should the experiment 
of raising an army of two thousand men out of that and the 
adjacent counties be made at this time, it would require 
twelve months and a large expenditure of funds, to give 
it the imposing appearance of a well regulated and disci- 
plined army. History may relate the miracle that was 
WTOught in those days, by the collection of an army of 
two thousand well arnied soldiers in the short space of two 
or three months ; but the curiosity of criticism may ven- 
ture to contrast the possibility of such a thing in the pres- 
ent more enlightened and prosperous age. At a short 
notice a mob of four or five thousand may be collected, 
and this vast crou'd may con)prise a hundred well armed 
men, deprived of the power to act, by the irregulariues of 


their comrades ; but a hundred skilful police officers will 
disperse them with less bloodshed than the army of a 
royal governor. Laurels acquired in such an action might 
adorn the brows of a pack of constables headed by a pet- 
tifogger, but disgrace the magnificence of a military expe- 
dition headed by the chief magistrate of a government. 

The forces of the Regulators, under the command of 
Husband, and Captains Hunter and Butler, advanced 
towards the AUemance and encamped within a few miles 
of the station occupied by Tryon. The fact that a large 
number joined the standard with no suspicion of a battle is 
obvious from the proposition which was submitted to the 
Governor, on the 15th of May, the day before the battle, 
to return to their homes, if he would redress their griev- 
ances. This pacific plan was by no means agreeable 
either to Husband or Tryon, both of whom were intent on 
battle. It was on the J'5th that Colonel Ashe and Cap- 
tain John Walker w^ere, vAhile on a scouting party, appre- 
hended by the Regulators, " tugged up to trees and 
severely flogged." * The apprehension for the safety of 
these two officers, and the uncivil, not to say rude conduct 
of the enemy, created great alarm in the Governor's 
camp ; and much difficulty was found in detaining Colonel 
Edmund Fanning, Esq., who had once experienced a 
similar incivility. The whipping of these two officers w^as 
one of the expedients of Husband to destroy entirely all 
hopes of an amicable adjustment, as well as to gratify his 
inimical feelings towards Colonel Ashe, with whom he 
had a rencontre some time before in Hillsboro'. 

On the night of the loth the camp of Tryon was rigidly 
guarded, and the whole adjacent country filled with small 
detachments as sentry guards. The cavalry kept their 
' * Martin, Vol. 11. p. 278. 


horses saddled throughout the night and every other pre- 
caution against surprise was adopted ; but the slumbers of 
Colonel Fanning were interrupted by apprehensions and 
dreams of the punishment of Colonel Ashe. At daybreak 
on the 1 6th of May, the King's forces were on their marchs 
having left their camp standing, under a strong guard com- 
manded by Colonel Bryan of Johnston. The two armies 
approached about mid-day and halted within half a mile 
of each other. The King's forces were drawn up in two 
lines a hundred yards apart, with the artillery in the 
centre. Colonel Leech, with the detachments of Craven 
and Beaufort, commanded the right wing of the front line, 
and Colonel Thompson with those of Carteret and Orange 
the left. The detachment of New Hanover and three 
companies from Dobbs, under the command of Colonel 
Caswell, formed the right wing of the second line ; and 
Colonel Craig with the troops from Onslow and Johnston 
completed the main body of the King's forces. Colonel 
Hinton with the company from Wake and a troop of light- 
horse from Duplin reinforced the rear guard, and the ran- 
gers covered the flanks on both sides. 

The Governor's person was guarded by the cavalry of 
Captain Bullock, and Colonel Caswell was instructed, 
in case of an attack on the left wing, to form an angle 
from his lines and cover the left flank. The Regulators 
were not thus skilfully arranged, nor had they the materials 
for such an arrangement. A large proportion were un- 
armed, and those who bore arms were unprepared for more 
than one discharge of musquetry. I discredit the compu- 
lation of Williamson, who says, they were about three 
thousand, and deny the possibility of arming so numerous 
an army at that early day. Taking even my statement 
as the more correct, that their whole force was two thou- 


sand, the same impossibility of procuring arms and ammu- 
nition in a country literally destitute of the conveniences of 
life for such an army, presents itself. There could not 
have been more than one thousand men under arms, and 
the dexterity of these was incommoded by the unwieldy 
and idle crowd around them. The Governor replied to 
the demand (which had been made the day before) to 
redress their grievances, by a positive assurance that noth- 
ing but unconditional submission would be acknowledged 
as terms of peace, and allowed them one hour to weigh 
the important and momentous crisis. Husband listened 
with impatience to his proposal and bade the messenger 
return and tell the Governor that he defied him to battle. 
This violent language did not meet the unanimous accord- 
ance of the army, and a second reading of the proposition 
was called for by those who were not disposed or prepared 
for battle. The paper was again read, and at its conclu- 
sion. Husband again bade the messenger return and carry 
his defiance to the ears of his master. The two armies ap- 
proached within a hundred yards of each other, when two 
of Tryon's men, a civil and military officer, advanced 
towards the Regulators, and read in a loud voice a procla- 
mation or riot act, commanding them to disperse in one 
hour. Unfortunately the Governor's proclamations had 
been issued on so many occasions to no purpose, and had 
so often denounced their leaders, that they now refused to 
hear it, and shouted, " Battle, battle," as a more congenial 
sound than a vain and pompous harangue. The Regula- 
tors had determined to put Colonel Ashe and Captain 
Walker in front of their lines, unless Tryon would ex- 
change for them seven prisoners he had taken. While 
the parley was going on for that purpose, the impatience of 
the armies was so great, that the leaders made a simulta- 


neous movement, and led on to battle. The two armies 
marched with the most profound silence, and, such was the 
indisposin'on of either side to fight, that the ranks passed 
each other and were then compelled by a short retreat to 
regain their respective places. At the distance of twenty- 
five yards apart the contending parties stood and occupied 
the solemn hour before battle with a verbal quarrel, each 
party uttering the most violent imprecations and bandying 
the most abusive epithets.* The Regulators shook their 
clenched hands at the Governor and Mr. Fanning, and 
w^alked up to the artillery with open bosoms, defying them 
to fire. The King's forces occupied the road, and the 
Regulators the w^oods; and, each party making an effort to 
obtain a contiguous and more advantageous position, a 
bloodless meeting took place. Colonel Ashe and Captain 
Walker were demanded by an adjutant, who reported that 
the Governor would wait no longer, but should instantly 
fire on them if they did not submit. They were now face 
to face, each man engaged in a loud and clamorous quar- 
rel with the nearest enemy, on the grievances of the peo- 
ple and the virtues of Fanning. It was in vain that the 
Governor roared out the word of command, directing his 
men to fire, each loyal soldier was too busily engaged 
either in an argument or a fist fight, to heed the haughty 
and dictatorial decree. 

History records the circumstance, that it was only by a 
simple but violent speech of Tryon (" Fire, fire on them or 
on me ")f that the King's forces could be induced to obey. 
On the discharge of the first gun the batde became gen- 
eral ; and, each man fighting without regard to order or 

* Martin, Vol. 11. p. 281. t Id. p. 282. 


command, a tumult ensued which may well bo compared 
with the mobs of Manchester or Bristol. Such was the 
disorder of the action, that the artillery was idle for the 
first hour during which time the conflict was equal and 
well sustained. When the artillery, however, was brought 
to bear, the contest ceased on both sides as if by magic ; 
and the Regulators (who were without even a swivel), as 
they recovered from their panic, fled in dismay and con- 
fusion ; and were pursued in a similar state of disorder by 
the King's forces. " The loss of the Governor was nine 
killed and sixty-one wounded ; that of the rebels twenty 
killed and a number wounded." ^ The reader may be 
curious to know the fate of Mr. Fanning in this perilous 
engagement. The moment before the battle commenced, 
on catching a glimpse of Colonel Ashe and Captain Wal- 
ker, a recollection of the peculiar manner in which those 
gentlemen, as well as himself, had been treated, so shock' 
ed the natural sensitiveness of his mind, that he was ob- 
liged to make a precipitate retreat to the camp. 

On the evening of the day, and after the overthrow of 
the Regulators was ascertained to be complete, the wicked 
and blood-thirsty genius of Tryon, mortified at the small 
number of slain, directed the execution of James Few, a 
religious maniac, whom he had taken prisoner. Such an 
inhuman and unsoldierlike act of barbarity, is without a 
parallel in the history of our country, and exhibits, in a 
manner not to be mistaken, his utter destitution of every 
principle of virtue or courage. The battle was over and 
the base laurel which such a victory gained, was stained, 
foul as it was, by this most unfeeling and fiendish act, from 
which an American savage would turn with disgust, a can- 

* Such is the computation of Martin. 


nibal revolt witli horror. And, as if to crown the cruelty 
and loathsomeness of this act, the low tyrant penetrated 
into the private history of his victim, and visited upon the 
parents and relatives (by the destruction of their estates) 
the misfortunes, and not the crimes, of the brother and the 
child. This single act, if the whole previous tenor of 
Tryon's Irfe had been covered with the mande of virtue 
and generosity, would have sullied for ever its purity, and 
justified the unqualified execration of history. It would 
have tarnished the character of Caligula, and have adorn- 
ed the brutal massacres of General Nat Turner. 

Thus terminated the batUe of Allemance, one of the 
most singular struggles in the annals of the state, but 
which has been magnified, by the pride and ignorance of 
Tryon's party, into a bloody and violent contest and an 
honorable and glorious victory. Its only importance in his- 
tory is, that it prostrated the Regulators, who now eagerly 
took the various oaths of allegiance, which the political 
pedantry of Tryon suggested. The country was not de- 
populated by the number of slain, nor did even the subse- 
quent executions of the Governor produce a thinness of 
the population or a stagnation of industry and enterprise. 
It simply annihilated the Regulation, without bloodshed or 
honor, and thus its consequences are told. 

Tryon at the head of his army marched through the 
country with a civil and military officer in front, who read 
a proclamation to every unfortunate traveller, granting par- 
don to all excepting a few of the most conspicuous leaders. 
A reward of land and money w^as offered for Husband, 
dead or alive, and a special Court of Oyer and Terminer 
was ordered, for the trial of the twelve prisoners taken in 
the batde. They were convicted of high treason and sen- 
tenced to death. The execution of six of them was 


respited, and the Governor himself condescended to per- 
form the unpleasant and menial duly of preparing for the 
execution of the others. After the gratification which such 
a spectacle doubtless afforded him, he left the army, and 
returned to New Berne, whence he sailed for New York, 
to the government of which province he had been re- 
cently appointed. 

I have written this view of the character of Governor 
Tryon, to elucidate the subsequent history of the adminis- 
tration of Josiah Martin, and the downfall of the royal 
government. To the latter subject, indeed, it is a proper 
incident ; for during his administration the political signs of 
the times were strongly indicative of the downfall of the 
government. The following document giving a general 
history of his administration is from the pen of Maurice 
Moore, one of the judges of the Superior Court during 
the government of Tryon. He has been already men- 
tioned in these pages in the discussion of the Stamp Act. 
He was appointed to the office of judge by Tryon, and yet 
the severity of the document indicates the most decided 
political hostility. I willinglj^ subscribe to the correctness 
of his view of the character of Governor Tryon ; although 
T cannot see why Lady Tryon should not have been enti- 
tled Her Excellency, as tradition ascribes to her much of 
the success of many of his political manoeuvres. Maurice 
Moore was a Regulator ; and, as he gave as a judge much 
support to the Governor, I suppose he did so on the score 
of admiration for " Her " and not His Excellency. 
The document had an extensive circulation during the 
years 1771, 1772, and 1773, and was copied generally 
by the Whig papers of the country. It was some years 
since republished in the Appendix to the first volume of 
Martin's " History of North Carolina." 


" To his Exccllenc]) William Tnjon, Esquire. 

" 1 am too well acquainted with your character to suppose you 
can bear to be told of your faults with temper. You are too much 
of the soldier, and too little of the philosopher, for reprehension. 
With this opinion of your Excellency, I have more reason to believe 
that this letter will be more serviceable to the province of New 
York, than useful or entertaining to its governor. The beginning 
of your administration in this province was marked with oppression 
and distress to its inhabitants. These, Sir, I do not place to your 
account; they are derived from higher authority than yours. You 
were, however, a dull, yet willing instrument, in the hands of the 
British Ministry, to promote the means of both. You called together 
some of the principal inhabitants of your neighbourhood, and in a 
strange, inverted, self-affecting speech, told them that you had left 
your native country, friends, and connexions, and taken upon your- 
self the government of North Carolina with no other view than to 
serve it. In the next breath, Sir, you advised them to submit to 
the Stamp Act, and become slaves. How could you reconcile such 
baneful advice with such friendly professions ? But, Sir, self contra- 
dictions with you have not been confined to words only ; they have 
been equally extended to actions. On other occasions you have 
played the governor with an air of greater dignity and importance 
than any of your predecessors ; on this, your Excellency was meanly 
content to solicit the currency of stamped paper in private companies. 
But, alas ! ministerial approbation is the first wish of your heart ; it 
is the best security you have for your office. Engaged as you were 
in this disgraceful negotiation, the more important duties of the 
governor were forgotten, or wilfully neglected. In murmuring, dis- 
content, and public confusion, you left the colony committed to your 
care, for near eighteen months together, without calling an assem- 
bly. The Stamp Act repealed, you called one ; and a fatal one it 
was ! under every influence your character afforded you, at this 
Assembly, was laid the foundation of all the mischief which has since 
befallen this unhappy province. A grant was made to the crown of 
five thousand pounds, to erect a house for the residence of a gover- 
nor ; and you. Sir, were solely intrusted with the management of it. 
The infant and impoverished state of this country could not afford 
to make such a grant, and it was your duty to have been acquainted 
with the circumstances of the colony you governed. This trust 


proved equally fatal to the interest of the province and to your Ex- 
cellency's honor. You made use of it, Sir, to gratify your vanity, 
at the expense of both. It at once afforded you an opportunity of 
leaving an elegant monujnent of your taste in building behind you, 
and giving the ministry an instance of your great influence and 
address in your new government. You, therefore, regardless of 
every moral, as well as legal obligation, changed the plan of a prov- 
ince-house for that of a palace, worthy the residence of a prince of 
the blood, and augmented the expense to fifteen thousand pounds. 
Here, Sir, you betrayed your trust, disgracefully to the governor, 
and dishonorably to the man. This liberal and ingenious stroke in 
politics may, for all I know, have promoted you to the government 
of New York. Promotions may have been the reward of such sort 
of merit. Be this as it may, you reduced the next Assembly you 
met to the unjust alternative of granting ten thousand pounds more, 
or sinking the five thousand they had already granted. They chose 
the former. It was most pleasing to the governor, but directly con- 
trary to the sense of their constituents. This public imposition upon 
a people, who, from poverty, were hardly able to pay the necessary 
expenses of government, occasioned general discontent, which your 
Excellency, with wonderful address, improved into a civil war, 

*' In a colony without money, and among a people, almost despei> 
ate with distress, public profusion should have been carefully avoid- 
fed ; bat unfortunately for the country, you were bred a soldier, and 
have a natural, as well as acquired fondness for military parade. 
You were intrusted to run a Cherokee boundary about ninety miles 
in length ; this little service at once afforded you an opportunity of 
exercising your military talents, and making a splendid exhibition 
of yourself to the Indians. To a gentleman of your Excellency's 
turn of mind, this was no unpleasing prospect ; you marched to per- 
form it, in a time of profound peace, at the head of a company of 
militia, in all the pomp of war, and returned with the honorable title, 
conferred on you by the Cherokees, of Great Wolf of JVorth Caro- 
lina. This line of marked trees, and your Excellency's prophetic 
title, cost the province a greater sum than two pence a head, on all 
the taxable persons in it for one year, would pay. 

" Your next expedition. Sir, was a more important one. Four or 
five hundred ignorant people, who called themselves Regulators, 
took it into their head to quarrel with their representative, a gentle- 
man honored with your Excellency's esteem. They foolishly charg- 



ed him with every distress they felt; and, in revenge, shot two or 
three musket balls through his house. They at the same time 
rescued a horse which had been seized for the public tax. These 
crimes were punishable in the courts of law, and at that time the 
criminals were amenable to legal process. Your Excellency and 
your confidential friends, it seems, were of a different opinion. All 
your duty could possibly require of you on this occasion, if it requir- 
ed any thing at all, was to direct a prosecution against the offenders. 
You should have carefully avoided becoming a party in the dispute. 
But, Sir, your genius could not lie still ; you enlisted yourself a vol- 
unteer in this service, and entered into a negotiation with the Regu- 
lators, which at once disgraced you and encouraged them. They 
despised the governor who had degraded his own character by tak- 
ing part in a private quarrel, and insulted the man whom they con- 
sidered as personally their enemy. The terms of accommodation 
your Excellency had offered them were treated with contempt. 
What they were, I never knew ; they could not have related to pub- 
lic offences ; these belong to another jurisdiction. All hopes of 
settling the mighty contest by treaty ceasing, you prepared to de- 
cide it by means more agreeable to your martial disposition, an ap- 
peal to the sword. You took the field in September, 1768, at the 
head of ten or twelve hundred men, and published an oral mani- 
festo, the substance of which was, that you had taken up arms to 
protect a superior court of justice from insult. Permit me here to 
ask you. Sir, why you were apprehensive for the court .'' Was the 
court apprehensive for itself? Did the judges, or the attorney- 
general, address your Excellency for protection ? So far from it, Sir, 
if these gentlemen are to be believed, they never entertained the 
least suspicion of any insult, unless it was that, which they after- 
wards experienced from the undue influence you offered to extend 
to them, and the military display of drums, colors, and guards, with 
which they were surrounded and disturbed. How fully has your 
conduct, on a like occasion since, testified, that you acted in this 
instance from passion, and not from principle ! In September, 1770, 
the Regulators forcibly obstructed the proceedings of Hillsborough 
Superior Court, obliged the officers to leave it, and blotted out the 
records. A little before the next term, when their contempt of 
courts was sufficiently proved, you wrote an insolent letter to the 
judges, and attorney-general, commanding them to attend to it. 
Why did you not protect the court at this time ? You will blush at 


the answer, Sir. The conduct of the Regulators, at the preceding 
term, made it more than probable that those gentlemen would be 
insulted at this, and you were not unwilling to sacrifice them to 
increase the guilt of your enemies. 

" Your Excellency said, that you had armed, to protect a court. 
Had you said to revenge the insult you and your friends had receiv- 
ed it would have been more generally credited in this country. The 
men, for the trial of whom the court was thus extravagantly pro- 
tected, of their own accord, squeezed through a crowd of soldiers, 
and surrendered themselves, as if they were bound to do so by 
their recognizance. 

" Some of these people were convicted, fined, and imprisoned ; 
which put an end to a piece of knight-errantry, equally aggravating 
to the populace and burthensome to the country. On this occasion, 
Sir, you were alike successful in the diffusion of a military spirit 
through the colony and in the warlike exhibition you set before the 
public ; you at once disposed the vulgar to hostilities, and proved the 
legality of arming, in cases of dispute, by example. Thus warranted 
by precedent and tempered by sympathy, popular discontent soon 
became resentment and opposition ; revenge superseded justice, and 
force the laws of the country ; courts of law were treated with con- 
tempt, and government itself set at defiance. For upwards of two 
months was the frontier part of the country left in a state of perfect 
anarchy. Your Excellency then thought fit to consult the represen- 
tatives of the people, who presented you a bill which you passed 
into a law. The design of this act was to punish past riots in a new 
jurisdiction, to create new offences and to secure the collection of 
the public tax; which, ever since the province had been saddled 
with a palace, the Regulators had refused to pay. The jurisdiction 
for holding pleas of all capital offences was, by a former law, con- 
fined to the particular district in which they were committed. This 
act did not change that jurisdiction ; yet your Excellency, in the 
fulness of your power, established a new one for the trial of such 
crimes in a diflferent district. Whether you did this through ignor- 
ance or design can only be determined in your own breast ; it was 
equally violative of a sacred right, every British subject is entitled 
to, of being tried by his neighbours, and a positive law of the prov- 
ince you yourself had ratified. In this foreign jurisdiction, bills of 
indictment were preferred, and found, as well for felonies as riots 
against a number of Regulators ; they refused to surrender them- 


selves within the time limited by the riot act, and your Excellency 
opened your third campaign. These indictments charged the crimes 
to have been committed in Orange county, in a distinct district from 
that in which the court was held. The superior court law prohibits 
prosecution for capital offences in any other district, than that in 
which they were committed. What distinctions the gentlemen of 
the long robe might make on such an occasion I do not know, but it 
appears to me those indictments might as well have been found in 
your Excellency's kitchen ; and give me leave to tell you, Sir, that 
a man is not bound to answer to a charge that a court has no author- 
ity to make, nor doth the law punish a neglect to perform that, 
which it does not command. The riot act declared those only out- 
lawed who refused to answer to indictments legally found. Those 
who had been capitally charged were illegally indicted, and could 
not be outlaws ; yet your Excellency proceeded against them as 
such. I mean to expose your blunders, not to defend their con- 
duct ; that was as insolent and daring as the desperate state your 
administration had reduced them to could possibly occasion. 1 am 
willing to give you full credit for every service you have rendered 
this country. Your active and gallant behaviour, in extinguishing 
the flame you yourself had kindled, does you great honor. For 
once your military talents were useful to the province ; you bravely 
met in the field, and vanquished, an host of scoundrels, whom you 
had made intrepid by abuse. It seems difficult to determine. Sir, 
whether your Excellency is more to be admired for your skill in 
creating the cause, or your bravery in suppressing the effect. This 
single action would have blotted out for ever half the evils of your 
administration ; but alas, Sir I the conduct of the general after his 
victory, was more disgraceful to the hero who obtained it, than that 
of the man before it had been to the governor. Why did you stain 
BO great an action with the blood of a prisoner who was in a state of 
insanity ? The execution of James Few was inhuman ; that miser- 
able wretch has entitled to life till nature, or the laws of his country, 
deprived him of it. The battle of the Allemance was over; the sol- 
dier was crowned with success, and the peace of the province restor- 
ed. There was no necessity for the infamous example of an arbi- 
trary execution, without judge or jury. I can freely forgive you, 
Sir, for killing Robert Thompson, at the beginning of the battle ; he 
was your prisoner, and was making his escape to fight against you. 
The laws of self-preservation sanctified the action, and justly entitle 
your Excellency to an act of indemnity. 



" The sacrifice of Few, under its criminal circumstances, could 
neither atone for his crime nor abate your rage ; this task was 
reserved for his unhappy parents. Your vengeance, Sir, in this 
instance, it seems, moved in a retrograde direction to that proposed 
in the second commandment against idolaters ; you visited the sins 
of the child upon the father, and, for want of the third and fourth 
generation to extend it to, collaterally divided it between brothers 
and sisters. The heavy affliction, with which the untimely death of 
a son had burthened his parents, was sufficient to have cooled the 
resentment of any man, whose heart was susceptible of the feelings 
of humanity ; yours, I am afraid, is not a heart of that kind. If it is, 
why did you add to the distresses of that family .'' Why refuse the 
petition of the town of Hillsborough in favor of them, and unrelent- 
ingly destroy, as far as you could, the means of their future exist- 
ence ? It was cruel, Sir, and unworthy a soldier. 

" Your conduct to others afler your success, whether it respected 
person or property, was as lawless as it was unnecessarily expensive 
to the colony. When your Excellency had exemplified the power of 
government in the death of a hundred Regulators, the survivors, to 
a man, became proselytes to government; they readily swallowed 
your new-coined oath, to be obedient to the laws of the province, 
and to pay the public taxes. It is a pity, Sir, that, in devising this 
oath, you had not attended to the morals of those people. You might 
easily have restrained every criminal inclination, and have made 
them good men, as well as good subjects. The battle of the Alle- 
mance had equally disposed them to moral and to political conver- 
sion ; there was no necessity, Sir, when the people were reduced to 
obedience, to ravage the country, or to insult individuals. 

" Had your Excellency nothing else in view than to enforce a sub- 
mission to the laws of the country, you might safely have disbanded 
the army within ten days after your victory ; in that time the chiefs 
of the Regulators were run away, and their deluded followers had 
returned to their homes. Such a measure would have saved the 
province twenty thousand pounds at least. But, Sir, you had farther 
employment for the army ; you were, by an extraordinary bustle in 
administering oaths, and disarming the country, to give a serious 
appearance of rebellion to the outrage of a mob ; you were to aggra- 
vate the importance of your own services by changing a general 
dislike of your administration into disaffection to his Majesty's per- 
son and government, and the riotous conduct that dislike had occa- 


sioned into premeditated rebellion. This scheme, Sir, is really an 
ingenious one ; if it succeeds, you may possibly be rewarded for 
your services with the honor of knighthood. 

" From the 16th of May to the 16th of June, you were busied in 
securing the allegiance of rioters, and levying contributions of beef 
and flour. You occasionally amused yourself with burning a few 
houses, treading down corn, insulting the suspected, and holding 
courts-martial. These courts took cognizance of civil as well as 
military offences, and even extended their jurisdiction to ill-breeding 
and want of good manners. One Johnston, who was a reputed 
Regulator, but whose greatest crime, 1 believe, was writing an impu- 
dent letter to your lady, was sentenced, in one of these military 
courts, to receive five hundred lashes, and received two hundred and 
fifty of them accordingly. But, Sir, however exceptionable your 
conduct may have been on this occasion, it bears little proportion to 
that which you adopted on the trial of the prisoners you had taken. 
These miserable wretches were to be tried for a crime made capital 
by a temporary act of Assembly, of twelve months' duration. That 
act had, in great tenderness to his Majesty's subjects, converted 
riots into treasons. A rigorous and punctual execution of it was as 
unjust, as it was politically unnecessary. The terror of the exam- 
ples now proposed to be made under it was to expire, with the law, 
in less than nine months after. The sufferings of these people could 
therefore amount to little more than mere punishment to themselves. 
Their offences were derived from public and from private imposi- 
tions ; and they were the followers, not the leaders, in the crimes 
they had committed. Never were criminals more justly entitled to 
every lenity the law could afford them ; but. Sir, no consideration 
could abate your zeal in a cause you had transferred from yourself 
to your sovereign. You shamefully exerted every influence of your 
character against the lives of these people. As soon as you were 
told that an indulgence of one day had been granted by the court to 
two men to send for witnesses, who actually established their inno- 
cence, and saved their lives, you sent an aid-de-camp to the judges 
and attorney-general, to acquaint them that you were dissatified with 
the inactivity of their conduct, and threatened to represent them 
unfavorably in England, if they did not proceed with more spirit and 
despatch. Had the court submitted to influence, all testimony on 
the part of the prisoners would have been excluded ; they must 
have been condemned, to a man. You said that your solicitude for 


the condemnation of these people arose from your desire of mani- 
festing the lenity of government in their pardon. How have your 
actions contradicted your words ! Out of twelve that were condemn- 
ed, the lives of six only were spared. Do you know, Sir, that your 
lenity on this occasion was less than that of the bloody Jeffries in 
1685 ? He condemned five hundred persons, but saved the lives of 
two hundred and seventy. 

" In the execution of the six devoted offenders, your Excellency 
was as short of General Kirk in form, as you were of judge Jeffries 
in lenity. That general honored the execution he had the charge of 
with play of pipes, sound of trumpets, and beat of drums ; you 
were content with the silent display of colors only. The disgrace- 
ful part you acted in this ceremony, of pointing out the spot for 
erecting the gallows, and clearing the field around for drawing up 
the army in form, has left a ridiculous idea of your character behind 
you, which bears a strong resemblance to that of a busy undertaker 
at a funeral. This scene closed your Excellency's administration in 
this country, to the great joy of every man in it, a few of your own 
contemptible tools only excepted. 

" Were I personally your Excellency's enemy, I would follow yon 
into the shade of life, and show you equally the object of pity and 
contempt to the wise and serious, and of jest and ridicule to the 
ludicrous and sarcastic. Truly pitiable. Sir, is the pale and trembling 
impatience of your temper. No character, however distinguished 
for wisdom and virtue, can sanctify the least degree of contradiction 
to your political opinions. On such occasions. Sir, in a rage, you 
renounce the character of a gentleman, and precipitately mark the 
most exalted merit with every disgrace the haughty insolence of a 
governor can inflict upon it. To this unhappy temper. Sir, may be 
ascribed most of the absurdities of your administration in this coun- 
try. It deprived you of every assistance men of spirit and abilities 
could have given you, and left you, with all your passions and inex- 
perience about you, to blunder through the duties of your office, 
supported and approved by the most profound ignorance and abject 

" Your pride has as often exposed you to ridicule, as the rude 
petulance of your disposition has to contempt. Your solicitude 
about the title of Her Excellency for Mrs. Tryon, and the arrogant 
reception you gave to a respectable company at an entertainment of 
your own making, seated with your lady by your side on elbow- 


chairs, in the middle of the ball-room, bespeak a littleness of mind, 
which, believe me, Sir, when blended with the dignity and impor- 
tance of your office, renders you truly ridiculous. 

" High stations have often proved fatal to those who have been 
promoted to them ; yours, Sir, has proved so to you. Had you been 
contented to pass through life in a subordinate military character; 
with the private virtues you have, you might have lived serviceable 
to your country, and reputable to yourself; but. Sir, when, with 
every disqualifying circumstance, you took upon you the govern- 
ment of a province, though you gratified your ambition, you made a 
sacrifice of yourself. 

" Yours, &c. 


Note to Chapter First. 

The most indispensable duty of a writer of history is to give au- 
thority for what he states ; but I have been compelled in the first 
chapter to omit it. The pages of Martin would sustain all I have 
written ; but then he gives no particular reference to any authority 
whatever, except a general enumeration at the close of each chap- 
ter. I examined Martin's " History of the Revolution," during the 
last summer, with the Council Journal before me, and found him 
generally accurate. Indeed, he actually copied in his text the very 
language of all the manuscript he consulted ; and yet he is some- 
times in error, as in the case of the death of Judge Berry, whom he 
represents as living during the Wilmington sedition in the month of 
February, whereas he committed suicide on the first of January, 
1766. The remote cause of his death was a duel, but not the one 
stated by Martin. The proceedings of the Assembly of 17C5 have 
been taken out of the office of the Secretary of State by some Gothic 
plunderer ; and, as the most rigid scrutiny should be instituted for 
their recovery, I can only say, that Judge Martin seems to have 
once examined them, and that that circumstance will serve to note 
a period when they did exist. 

I have a letter from Colonel John Ashe to John Harvey, dated 
the 3d of August, 1765, in which the excitement of that period is 
noticed and a mention made of the sudden prorogation of the 




JosiAH Martin had attained to the rank of Major in 
the British army, when he was appointed Governor of 
North Carolina. The Royal government, besides the ex- 
ecutive officer and the Assembly, comprised a Council, 
the members of which were recommended by the Gov- 
ernor, and appointed by the King. It may be proper 
at this time, to enumerate the members of that body, dur- 
ing the administration of Martin. They constituted the 
Upper House of the Legislature, and were dignified with 
the title of " The Honorable The Council. " The Presi- 
dent of the Council was the one first named in the King's 
instructions, and was, in the absence of a Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor, the second officer of the government. The great 
error in the constitution of the Council, was its depend- 
ence on the executive, by virtue of his recommendatory 
power in the appointment of its members. Intended as a 
check on the other departments of the government, it thus 
became but the tool of the Governor, and soon lost the 
confidence of the people. I have attentively examined 
the Council Journal of Tryon and Martin, and have observ- 
ed but few instances of difference of opinion, between the 
Governor and Council. The Council always advised as 
they supposed the Governor desired, and acted even in 


their legislative capacity, as the merest servants of his 

The Council. 
James Hasell, Sir Nathaniel Duckinfield, Bart. 

Lewis Henry De Rossett, John Sannpson, 
Alexander McCulloh, William Dry, 
Samuel Cornell, Martin Howard, 

Marmaduke Jones, Samuel Strudwick, 

John Rutherford, Thomas McGuire. 

By their advice, the Governor convened, prorogued, 
and dissolved the Assembly, and, while they were 
in a legislative capacity, he exercised alone the pre- 
rogative of a veto. And yet even an act of the pop- 
ular House, that was fortunate enough to pass the or- 
deal of a subservient Council, and escape the supercilious 
veto of the Governor, was after all liable to the Royal dis- 
sent. The voice of the people was indeed effectually 
smothered in the intricate arrangement of such a govern- 
ment. But the physical power was at last in their body. 
The abstract right of rebellion, resistance, or nullification, 
may be denied them, but their will is in the end the 
source of force and of power. 

In the course of this chapter, I shall discuss the various 
quarrels between the Governor, and the popular House, 
which distracted his administration to the last ; and I deem it 
necessary here to remark, that I have examined the manu- 
script volumes of the proceedings of the Assembly, in the 
office of the Secretary of State. I am so much indebted to 
those massive volumes, as well as to the Council Journal, * 
that I here in the beginning acknowledge the obligation. 

* There is no way of citing these books, there being no figures to 
the pages. I have quoted by dates in the text, which will serve the 
purpose of reference. 


This, together with other incidental matter, will bring 
the history of Martin's administration down to the 1st of 
April, 1774. 

The battle of AUemance was fought on the 1 6th of May ; 
and although this victory suppressed the rebellion of the 
Regulation, yet it did not destroy the existence of that party, 
which will still occasionally appear as one element, in the 
general dissatisfaction of the people. Their leaders after 
their defeat, had fled beyond the reach of the vengeance 
of Tryon, and the people had returned to their homes, 
and the peaceable cultivation of their farms. The re- 
spectability of their numbers, as well as the violent strife of 
the late contest, had impressed the government with some 
degree of respect for their complaints. The first official 
duty of Governor Martin was to notice the Regulators, 
and to denounce in a proclamation the frauds and extor- 
tions of the officers of the Province. The conduct of his 
Excellency was mild and conciliatory, and even this lauda- 
ble humanity alienated the affections of many of the 
most eminent adherents of his predecessor. The vio- 
lence of the Regulation had engendered irreconcilable 
difficulties among the ranks of the people, and generated 
a spirit of persecution, more injurious than even the rav- 
ages of the rival armies. The proclamation of the Gover- 
nor extinguished this licentious spirit, and extended an as- 
surance of the protection of the law to all who should be 
oppressed by the extortions of its officers. 

The meagre page of Williamson imputes the vulgar feel- 
ings of envy and jealousy to Governor IMartin, as the mo- 
tives of his clemency, and accuses him of censuring the 
administration of Governor Tryon, as a means of securing 
the loyalty of the Regulators * The popularity or 

Williamson's North Carolina, Vol. II., p. 163. 


power of Tryon was well illustrated by the magnifi- 
cence of his palace, the devotion of the popular House 
of the Assembly, and the submissive obedience of the 
people in the eastern section of the State. For more than 
five years, he was supported by the coordinate branches 
of the government in a career of extravagance and ex- 
tortion, which would, even at the present day, provoke the 
resistance of the people, and the wisdom and humanity, 
and not the vulgar ambition, of Governor Martin was ex- 
hibited in a condemnation of his course. A story was in- 
dustriously circulated among the Regulators, that their 
complaints and suff*erings had reached the Throne, and 
that Tryon had been removed from the enjoyment of the 
luxury of his splendid palace, as a mark of royal censure ; 
and this fiction, confirmed by the conduct of Martin, pro- 
duced a singular revolution of parties throughout the Prov- 
ince. From the most inveterate hatred and opposition, 
the Regulators were converted to an enthusiastic support 
of the Provincial government, and, " with all the zeal, 
which new and fiery converts feel," embraced the standard 
of the King. 

Such were the propitious omens that distinguished the 
entrance of Governor MarUn on the duties of his office. 
On the 19th of November, the Assembly in its second 
session, met, for the first time, the newly appointed Gover- 
nor, and reciprocated the congratulations and compliments, 
which adorned his first official speech.^ Richard Caswell, 
who had been elected speaker of the popular House at 
its former session, was again at his post, and in that situa- 

* Journal of the 2nd session of the Assembly of 1770 and 1771 ' 
in the office of the Secretary of State at Raleigh. 


ation was as much an object of public attention, as the chief 
magistrate himself. One of the generals of Governor 
Tryon, in the war of tlie Regulation, he had been distin- 
guished by the personal friendship and confidence of his su- 
perior, and enjoyed all the advantages and distinctions in- 
cident to such an honor. In the same body was John Ashe, 
who was likewise one of the generals ofTryon, and whose 
wounds* in the battle of Allemance, though not so fatal,were 
more numerous, than those of any of the heroes of that day. 
He had played a conspicuous part in the opposition to the 
Stamp Act, and was the leader of the people against Gover- 
nor Tryon in the celebrated Wilmington sedition, on the oc- 
casion of the arrival of the Stamp ship in January, 1766. 
Hugh Waddell, too, was a member of the popular House 
of this Assembly, and was a coadjutor^ of John Ashe 
in the Wilmington sedition, as well as in the Regulation. 
He was the most distinguished soldier of the Province, 
and had acquired great reputation as a skilful and brave 
commander in the great French war. Cornelius Harnett, 
" the Samuel Adams of North Carolina," represented the 
town of Wilmington, Samuel Johnston the county of Chow- 
an, Willie Jones the town of Halifax, Joseph Hewes the 
town of Edenton, Abner Nash the county of Halifax, and 
John Harvey the county of Perquimons.f These, too, 
with die exception of the latter gentleman, had strictly 
adhered to the party of Tryon during the Regulation, and 
publicly lamented his removal to New York, as a calamity 
to the Province, over which he had so long presided. 
Such being the character of the popular House, a pru- 

* Martin's History of North Carolina, Vol. II. pp. 210, 211. 
t Journal of the Assembly of 1770 and 1771, 2nd session. 


dent politician would observe the danger of any other 
course, than an unqualified approval of the administration 
of Tryon ; and the speech of Governor Martin accordingly 
alluded to " the lustre of his predecessor's character," and 
solicited " the generous and loyal support which had been 
yielded to that gentleman." The Regulators, however, 
were not' without a representation, even in this session of 
the Assembly. Herman Husband, their chief and general, 
had been elected a member at the last election, and serv- 
ed a part of the session ; but on his defeat at Allemance, 
he had fled beyond the limits of the Province, and was at 
this time the subject of a Proclamation of outlawry. 
Thomas Person, however, was still a member of the 
House from Granville. In the sagacity and intrepidity of 
this extraordinary man, the principles of liberty, and not 
the principles of a party, found a fearless and efficient 
advocate. He was the champion of the whig principles 
of North Carolina, from the passage of the Stamp Act to 
the terminaton of the Revolution, and adhered to the cause 
of the people in every emergency. He was a leading 
Regulator; and, although overcome* by the defeat of his 
party at Allemance, and personally insulted by the minions 
and understrappers of Tryon, he still maintained the consis- 
tency and dignity of his character, more by his own ener- 
gy and the love of the people, than by the favor or mer- 
cy of his opponents. Associated with him as a member 
of the House, was Maurice Moore, one of the Judges of 
the Superior Court of the Province, a citizen, who was 
remarkable for his love of learning and liberty, and who 
was known to have sympathized with the Regulators. 

* I do not mean to say that he was at the battle of Allemance. 


In the great riot at Hillsborough, in September, 1770, when 
Martin Howard was driven from the Bench, and Ed- 
mund Fanning personally chastised, the rioters respected 
the character of Judge Moore, and this is not the only- 
evidence of his sympathy with the party of Thomas Per- 
son. Husband, in his History of the Regulation, publishes 
a letter from Judge Moore to Fanning, in which he de- 
nies the charge that he had encouraged the rebellion, al- 
though the author had prefaced the letter with a decla- 
ration, that he had encouraged it, and that the Tryon 
party were endeavouring to frighten him out of his pur- 
pose. The number of members of the House favorable 
to the Regulation was too few to constitute a regular party, 
and the prudence of the two leaders was exercised in 
preserving those that remained from the persecution of 
their enemies. In the course of these observations, I 
have intentionally omitted the names of two of the most 
decided Whigs of the House, men whose chivalry will be 
celebrated in another portion of this volume, and whose 
patriotism was then, as afterwards in 1775, prover- 
bial. Thomas Polk and Abraham Alexander repre- 
sented the county of Mecklenburg, in the popular house of 
this Assembly. The first conceived the independence of 
his country, and first avowed the propriety of dissolving 
the political bonds, which connected us with the mother 
country, of abjuring all political connexion with a nation 
that had wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties, 
and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of Americans at 
Lexington. The other citizen and patriot presided over 
the deliberations of the Convention, which, on the 20th 
of May, 1775, proclaimed these opinions as the sense 
of the people of Mecklenburg. Such names could not be 


enumerated in a computation of the strength of the Whig 
party in any other State, although even these are not no- 
ticed by any of " the historians of the adjacent Slates." 

I now propose to submit a (ew observations, on the 
proceedings of the popular House of the Assembly, whereof 
those, whom I have mentioned, were leading members. 
The veil of oblivion, in accordance with the recommenda- 
tion of Governor Martin, was drawn over the past unhappy 
troubles, and all the animosities and distinctions, which 
they created. The indomitable spirit of Thomas Person 
would, however, occasionally exhibit itself, whenever the 
interest or character of the Regulators was in danger. 
Maurice Moore, whom I have mentioned as Judge, as 
well as a member of the House, petitioned for leave of 
absence to attend his court at Wilmington, when Thomas 
Person objected to it, and with a few of his personal friends 
succeeded in detaining his old coadjutor as a member of the 
House. Person seemed to have been under an apprehen- 
sion, that a loss of the presence and influence of Judge 
Moore would leave him in the hands of his eneniies, 
and enable them to visit on his head some of the worn- 
out denunciations of Governor Tryon. The House re- 
solved, however, to record the names of those who voted 
against the leave of absence to Judge Moore ; and it stands 
recorded on the Journal of the second session of tlie popu- 
lar House of the Assembly of 1770 and 1771, that Thomas 
Person, Griffith Rutherford, William Moore, Thomas Neill, 
James Picket, Robert Lanier, and Isaac Brooks were the 
nays on that simple question. On the 28th of November, 
Judge Moore introduced a bill in favor of the Regulators, 
which proposed a general pardon of all who had been 
concerned in said rebellion, and to prevent vexatious suits 


and prosecutions ; and die favorable reception of the bill 
by the House may be considered the final termination of 
that protracted controversy. 

There was one question mooted during this session of 
the Assembly, the discussion of which fortunately separated 
Richard Caswell, Thomas Person, and the popular House, 
as a distinct party from the Governor and his friends. 
The people of the Province had, for many years, suffered 
tlie most intolerable oppression on account of the entire 
absence of a sound circulating medium ; and this public 
grievance, together with the oppressions of the officers of 
the government, was the subject of the complaints of the 
Regulators. A statement of the public funds being exhib- 
ited by Mr. Burgwin, it appeared that the public officers 
had collected a larger amount for the redemption of the bills 
issued by the Assemblies of 1748 and 1754, than even 
their nominal value, and that there was still a balance in 
favor of the people of more than four thousand pounds. 
With this statement before them, the popular House pass- 
ed a bill discontinuing the poll tax, and the duty on liquors, 
which had been laid to raise a fund for the assumption of 
the ^^ paper ^"^ issued, and directed, in the same bill, the 
immediate redemption of the '•'"paj^er^'' which was still in 

The fact that so large an amount of money had been 
collected under the pretence of redeeming the '■^ paper " is- 
sued, seemed to have been for the first time disclosed. 
The bill to discontinue these illegal taxes was introduced 
by Samuel Johnston of Edenton, and was immediately 
and unanimously passed. The Council, too, (not how- 
ever without a division) passed the bill ; but when the 
House presented it for the assent of the Governor, he re- 


jected it. This seeming inattention to the distresses of the 
people was noticed by the House in the more official form 
of a resolution, declaring, that the aforesaid taxes and du- 
ties had served the purposes for which they were imposed, 
and ought to be discontinued. The Governor dissolved the 
Assembly on the 23d of December, the day on which the 
resolution of the House had been adopted, and, on the 
29th of January succeeding, issued a proclamation, in the 
peroration of which he charged the officers to disobey the 
instructions of the popular House, and to execute the acts 
of 1748 and 1754, until they should be repealed formally 
and according to law. The party distinctions, drawn by the 
agitation of this question, lasted during the continuance 
of the government, and, under the guidance of Johnston, 
Caswell, Person, and their coadjutors, soon acquired 
strength and boldness sufficient to assail the existence of 
the Royal government. 

(1772.) The year 1772 was spent by Governor 
Martin in visiting the different sections of the Province ; 
and, if these gubernatorial tours had been prompted by a 
better motive than a love of pomp and the gratification 
of a vulgar pride, the ignorance, which he subsequently 
displayed of the spirit of the people over whom he was 
placed, might have been less conspicuous. The year roll- 
ed over without a meeting of the Assembly ; and the only 
political event, which occurred in the Province, was the 
election of members to the popular House. Such was 
the triumph of the Whig party, that in many of the counties 
there was no opposition to the election of the old leaders, 
nor could the Governor be said to possess a party, power- 
ful enough to affect either an election before the people, or 
the passage of a bill before the Assembly. Fully aware 


of the gloomy prospect before liiiii, — the friends of Tryon 
incensed at his abundant censure of the policy of that offi- 
cer's administration, and Thomas Person and Maurice 
Moore, the two idolaters of liberty, too pure to be gained, 
either by his flatteries or his bribes, — Martin, with the ad- 
vice of the Council, avoided the violence of the storm by an 
extension of the period for the meeting of the Assembly. 
The writs of election were returnable on the 1 1th of May, 
and, only a few days before the time for its meeting, the 
Assembly was prorogued to the 1 0th of December. 

In the mean time, his Excellency had executed a com- 
mission of the King by the appointment of commissioners 
to run the southward boundary line of the Province, which 
measure had been expressly forbidden by the popular 
House, and a committee, consisting of Cornelius Harnett, 
Robert Howe, and Maurice Moore, appointed to prepare an 
address to his Majesty on the ruinous consequences of such 
a step. The reply of Martin to the refusal of the House to 
make the appropriation necessary for the execution of the 
commission, expressed a deep regret, lest the King should 
be displeased that his royal and solemn determination 
should be disregarded, and promised to lay faithfully be- 
fore his Royal Majesty the representations of the House. 
This latter clause, especially as his own influence at court 
which was represented, in the message of refusal, as being 
beyond all calculation, was earnestly invoked, was construed 
by the House as a promise not to proceed to the execu- 
tion of the commission, until their representations received 
the consideration of the Throne. This course, so well calcu- 
lated to harass the already excited feelings of the leading 
men of every party, was viewed by the friends of Gover- 
nor Tryon, as an insidious effort of Martin to disparage 


the reputation of their old general. The boundary line 
proposed to be run was the conception of Lord Charles 
Montague, * who, in 1768, proposed it to Tryon, as 
the permanent boundary of the two Carolinas. Tryon 
not only condemned it as ruinous to his own Province, but 
wrote to the Secretary of State, setting forth his objec- 
tions at ' large. In the year 1770, however. Lord Mon- 
tague contrived to obtain the commission, which Gover- 
nor Martin was so eager to execute, and which Governor 
Tryon had so frequently, and indeed so justly, condemn- 
ed, as a calamity to the Province. It was a gross de- 
ception of the House to assure them that their representa- 
tions should reach the Throne, and an unauthorized stretch 
of power to proceed to execute such a commission, before 
those representations had received the King's disallowance. 
The Province was condemned unheard, not only by the 
ministers at home, but by its own chief magistrate. Thus 
the prospects of the Governor grew darker and darker, as 
the period for the meeting of the Assembly approached. 
Starting, as it were, from the unbroken phalanx, which 
seemed already arrayed, he again shrunk from the contest, 
and prorogued the Assembly to the 6th of January, 1773. 
(1773.) The new Assembly did not, however, convene 
in New Berne until the 25th of January, and the popular 
House illustrated its political character by the election of 
John Harvey, one of the most distinguished Whigs of the 
Province, to the office of Speaker. I can but admire the 
quaint, and yet dignified manner, in which the popular 
House was at that period organized. The first step after 
the qualification of the members (which was always done 

* Council Journal of Tryon, in 1768. 


in the presence of two of the Council, appointed on that 
duty by the Governor,) was to depute two of the members 
to wait on his Excellency, and inform him, that they had 
qualified, and awaited his commands. The next step was 
a verbal message from the Governor, by his private Secre- 
tary, requiring their immediate attendance in the palace. 
The whole body then proceeded to the palace, and en- 
joyed a most fashionable call of a few moments, after 
which the Governor would direct them to return, and 
make choice of a Speaker. The next step was, " Mr. 
Richard Caswell proposed and set up John Harvey, Es- 
quire, who was unanimously chosen Speaker, and placed 
in the chair accordingly." Two members again visited the 
palace, and desired to know when they should wait on his 
Excellency, to present their Speaker, and always received 
in reply, that he would send a message when he would 
receive them. 

In a few moments (as in the present case with Mr. Big- 
gleston), the private Secretary arrived, requiring their im- 
mediate attendance in the palace. The House then pro- 
ceeded as directed, and formally presented their Speaker, 
" whom His Excellency was pleased to approve." " Then 
Mr. Speaker requested His Excellency to confirm the 
rights and privileges of the House, that no mistake or 
error of his might be imputed to the House ; to which 
His Excellency was pleased to answer, he would support 
the House in all their just rights and privileges, and then 
made a speech to his Majesty's Council and the House." 
On the return of the members, the Speaker informed them 
that His Excellency had made a speech to the Council 
and the House, a copy of which, to prevent mistakes, he 
had procured, and begged leave to lay before them. The 


speech was then read, and a committee appointed to prepare 
an address in answer, and then, and then only, the House 
proceeded to the despatch of public business. How com- 
pletely have, not only the principles, but the empty and inno- 
cent forms of the British Government shrunk before the 
renovating spirit of our great revolution ! Ever changing 
as it is,-the lapse of a century may leave for the curiosity of 
the antiquarian, the habits and opinions of those whose old 
age is associated with the recollections of our childhood. 
The most heroic deeds, the consequence of which would be 
felt for ages in any other clime, are acted only to be forgot- 
ten, and like the fashions of legislation, or of dress, yield 
to the new and startling things that flash around us. 

To the new Assembly, the organization of which I have 
thus detailed, many of those whose names I have enume- 
rated as leading members of the House in 1771, were 
returned. Thomas Polk and Abraham Alexander were 
not members of this Assembly, the first having been em- 
ployed in the service of the Governor, and the latter not 
having solicited the suffrages of the people. The county of 
Mecklenburg was, in this Assembly, represented by Martin 
Phifer and John Davidson ; and at this period, too, Wil- 
liam Hooper made his appearance as a member from the 
rotten borough of Campbelton. The character of this 
eminent patriot seemed to have been well appreciated, 
even at this early day. He was, in conjunction with Cas- 
well and Howe of Brunswick, appointed on a committee to 
prepare the answer of the House to the speech of the Gov- 
ernor, and was the chairman of the committee on the Court 
system, the most important station, next to the Speak- 
er's chair, to which a member could be called. On the 
28th of January he introduced a bill for the relief of in- 


solvent debtors, in which he proposed to qualify the law 
for the imprisonment of iheir persons. During the whole 
session he was considered one of the leading members, 
and esteemed as a valuable acquisition to the Whig party in 
the House. 

The great power entrusted to the Royal Governors by 
the authority of the King, and the exercise of which so fre- 
quently trammelled the legislation of the popular House, was 
a source of incessant and angry contention. The right of 
an absolute veto on the acts of the Assembly was a power 
sufficiently vexatious, and, combined with that of pro- 
roguing or dissolving at pleasure the whole Assembly, 
made him virtually the sovereign of the Province. In 
this Assembly, as in all others for the previous twenty 
years, opposition to such a right was the test of " loyalty to 
the 'people " ; and by various means the leading Whigs of 
the State had, during that time, striven to fortify the Assem- 
bly and the courts against the encroachment of this para- 
lytic power. A bill was introduced by Robert Howe of 
Brunswick, aimed at this prerogative of the Governor, and 
which proposed to establish triennial Assemblies, and to 
regulate elections. The proposition of course stood no 
chance of becoming a law, whilst the Governor retained 
the right of a veto, although such was the ardent and 
unanimous desire of the people of the Province. But, if the 
too frequent exercise of these high powers restrained the 
action of the popular House, the Governor not unfrequently 
found the refusal of the assent of that body, in cases where 
it was indispensable, such as appropriations, a source of 
great mortification, and sometimes of official degradation. 
On the 17th of February, " a claim upon the public, for 
one hundred and seventy-two pounds, ten shillings, being 


presented to the House in behalf of Thomas Polk, for 
services, said to be done this colony, as surveyor, in run- 
ning the dividing line between North and South Carolina, 
the House, having taken the same into consideration, 
Resolved, That, as the last Assembly so fully expressed 
the sense they had of the injury that would accrue to this 
colony, -should the line then proposed to be run be carried 
into execution, and as this House are actuated by the 
same sentiments, they cannot by any means consider any 
persons employed in that service, as the servants of this 
community, and consequently cannot think them entided to 
any allowance from this colony for lending aid to execute 
a measure so detrimental to its interest." * This extract 
will explain, not only the inflexibility of the House, but the 
cunning of the Governor. In execuUng the commission 
he had appointed a man, distinguished for his great popu- 
larity, both in the House and among the people, and hoped, 
by thrusting his claims forward, to obtain an acknowledg- 
ment of the claims of the other commissioners, through the 
influence of the name of Thomas Polk. The House, how- 
ever, sustained the ground taken by their predecessors ; nor 
did even Mr. Polk escape without the reprimand contained 
in the last clause of the extract. At a later period of the ses- 
sion, the Governor, by a message, insisted on the allowance 
of the claims of the commissioners, and promised his in- 
fluence at court, which he had been persuaded was immense, 
to procure an abandonment of the boundaries established 
in the commission. The House, however, still maintained 
its purpose, and the Governor was left to his own resources 
to compensate (if he did compensate) the board of corn- 

Journal of the Assembly of 1773, February 17th. 


raissioners. In this he learnt a s;ihitary lesson, that the voice 
of those over whom he presided must he respected, and 
that arhitrary power must, with its own means, support its 
own high-handed acts. 

On the 27th of February, Governor Martin introduced 
to the notice of the House the pecuniary losses of the ce- 
lebrated Edmund Fanning, a n;une remarkable in the 
annals of the State, for all the vices that degrade the most 
abandoned and profligate minion. To his wicked abuse 
of the responsible office of Recorder of Deeds for the coun- 
ty of Orange, a station which he held during the whole 
period of the administration of Governor Tryon, the war 
of the Regulation was more than to any other cause indebt- 
ed for its origin. By the success of his vicious designs, 
nearly all the estates of Orange were loaded with doubts 
as to their titles, with exorbitant fees for recording the 
new and unnecessary deeds, and high taxes to support a 
government which protected his wickedness. Amidst the 
ravages of the Regulation, as might have been expected, 
neitlier his person nor his property was respected ; and, 
after the battle of Allemance, he conmienced suits against 
divers persons " for the great injuries done his property 
during that unhappy rebellion." Governor Martin, whose 
clemency towards the Regulators I have already remarked, 
fearing (to use his own language) lest those suits might have 
a tendency to keep alive the dissension, did recommend 
it to that gentleman to withdraw his prosecutions, and to 
expect reparation from the equity of the legislaure. Such, 
however, was the odium of his name, that Mr. Fanning's 
claim was peremptorily refused, and the Governor informed 
that it it was inconsistent with the dignity of the House to 
give such importance to Mr. Fanning's private losses, as 


to make ihem the subject of public deliberation. His 
name, I am of opinion, is not again associated with the 
events of our history, save in the confiscation act of 1777. 
In the course of this session, the vexed question of a 
Court law was agitated, and a bill, framed upon liberal 
principles, adopted by the popular House. No subject in 
the whole political history of North Carolina was ever the 
source of more contention, than the Court system under 
the Royal Governors. For more than twenty years be- 
fore the Revolution, the popular House and the Governors 
were divided on the details of a bill to establish Courts of 
Law. The courts, when established, were limited to the 
existence of a few years, at the expiration of which time 
the violence of the strife again commenced. The con- 
troversy harassed the declining years of Governor Dobbs 
in 1762, was again renewed in 1768, and was, now 
for the last time, the source of contention between the 
people and the Royal Governor. The essence of this 
controversy was the independence of the Associate Judges, 
and the right of attaching the property of non-residents, 
which was claimed by the House as an indispensable pow- 
er. The latter subject was at this time, however, the 
most prominent in the dispute, and continued to be so dur- 
ing the existence of the royal government. In the latter 
part of this period, the Province was without courts, and 
the people depended on tribunals of Oyer and Terminer, 
and an Inferior Court palsied by the restrictions of the Go- 
vernor and Council, for the peace of the community, and 
the adjudication of their causes. Wearied with this slate 
of anarchy and confusion, they gladly embraced the cause 
of the Revolution, and carried into its support and defence 
much of the enthusiasm and zeal, which they acquired in 
the violent contentions on the Court-law controversy. 


There was, however, one bill framed in the House, by 
a committee under instructions, which, after some little dis- 
pute between the House and the Council, was passed by 
the assent of the Governor. It contained a clause sus- 
pending, its effect until the King's pleasure was known, 
and, as it was disallowed by his Majesty, deserves only to 
be mentioned, as a means of illustrating the position of the 
parties in the famous attachment controversy. The in- 
structions of the House, upon which the bill was framed, 
exhibit a disposition to abridge the power of the officers 
of the court not responsible to the people, and to increase 
the jurisdiction of those who were more dependent on 
their will. In the contest, the House endeavoured to im- 
pair the influence of the executive, by taking from the 
Superior Court the mass of petty business, which crowded 
its docket, and to give to the Inferior Courts, not only 
that species of business, but exclusive jurisdisiion in all 
administration and testamentary matters. The Judges of 
the Superior Court, being the Chief Justice, appointed by 
the Crown, and two Associates, appointed virtually by the 
Governor, were more liable to be the favorites of His Ex- 
cellency, and his faithful Council, than the Judges of the 
Inferior tribunals, who were, of necessity, directly from 
the people. The hill contemplated three distinct tribunals, 
the Superior and County Courts, and the jurisdiction of an 
Esquire out of court to the value of five pounds. It vest- 
ed the appointment of the clerks of the Superior Courts, a 
power which had been exercised by the clerk of the Crown, 
in the Chief Justice, and prohibited the clerks of the pleas 
from selling the clerkship of the Inferior Courts. The 
Council sought to insert divers amendments, when the bill 
was before them, and, among them, one softening the rigor 


of the attachment process, which, in North Carolina, 
as in the other Provinces, prevailed in all its severity. 
It was the only one of the amendments, which met the ap- 
probation of the House, and its success, no doubt, embold- 
ened the Council to undertake, subsequently, its absolute 
overthrow. The bill with its suspending clause became a 
law, ancf enacted that with reference to *' attachments, 
where the defendants resided in Europe, proceedings 
should be stayed before plea, one year." 

Martin Howard, the Chief Justice, assisted by Maurice 
Moore and Richard Henderson, Associate Justices, presid- 
ed on tlie Bench of the Superior Court, which was to ex- 
pire by limitation at the close of the present session of the 
Assembly ; and the House, foreseeing the disastrous state 
of things, which the entire absence of all courts would cre- 
ate, passed separate bills to renew and continue the acts 
of 176S, which established the existing tribunals. The 
Council, however, sought this, the first opportunity, to urge 
the entire abandonment of the attachment process, and, 
borrowing the very language of the King's instructions in 
the phraseology of their amendment, proposed an excep- 
tion of" the estates of such persons as had never resided 
in the Province, from the process of attachment, other- 
wise than according to the laws and statutes of England, 
and that every clause and section in the before recited 
act, contrary thereto, should thenceforth be repealed." 
This is the point upon which the angry dispute arose, and 
upon which the proposed measure failed. 

In the various messages which passed between the Coun- 
cil and the House, on this amendment, the former body 
declared, that its only object was to preserve the equality 
of the laws of the colony and the mother country, and that 


therefore their amendment was so framed as to give to citi- 
zens of the Province the benefit of attachments, as they 
existed in England, and that what that right was, the courts 
of law could decide. In responding to this argument, the 
House declared that the right of attachment existed in 
England only as a franchise or privilege, and belonged 
only to a few of the oldest towns, and of course could not 
by any analogy be applied to the Province by the courts of 
law. They pronounced it a right, the existence of which 
was essential to the security of the property and the com- 
mercial prosperity of the Province, and one which they 
could not surrender. The right would, indeed, seem to 
have been indispensable to the security of all contracts 
with non-residenls, who, from the absence of their persons, 
left no other security than their property in the Province, 
upon the faith of which they had obtained credit. It was 
on the 2d of March, that the House addressed an ar- 
gumentative message to the Council, contending with great 
ability for the right of attachment, and concluding with 
the following temperate and dignified appeal ; " The 
House bears the fullest testimony to the necessity of 
courts of law, and the disadvantages, which must arise 
from a failure of the due distinction of justice on the cri- 
minal and civil side, are too obvious to be mentioned. 
They doubt not but your House equally feel for the honor 
and interest of this Province, and, conscious of the bene- 
fits, that have been derived to us from the right we 
have hitherto had of attaching the effects of foreigners, 
that you will not part with a provision, founded on the 
principles of mutual, reciprocal justice, the privation of 
which must necessarily destroy that confidence and cre- 
dit to foreigners and our neighbour colonists, upon which 


the trade and prosperity of this Province essentially de- 
pend." — Journal of the House, 1773. 

The Council rejected the Superior Court bill, and af- 
ter an unavailing attempt to insert their amendment in the 
Inferior Court act, concluded to pass the latter, as the only 
means of preserving the peace of the Province. Governor 
Martin, on the instructions of the King, refused his as- 
sent even to that, and thus destroyed the last hope of sus- 
taining the administration of the law. On the 6ih of 
March, the House came to the unanimous resolution, that 
the right of attaching the effects of foreigners had proved 
highly beneficial to the people of the Province, and that 
they could not relinquish it without abandoning the inter- 
est of their constituents, and the peace and happiness of 
the colony. A variety of causes occurred, during the first 
days of March, to harass the mind of the Governor, and, 
combined with the above resolution, provoked, on the 
day of its passage, the prorogation of the Assembly. 
The distresses of Mr. Fanning, and the exciting topic of 
the Southern boundary, had been again introduced by His 
Excellency ; and the positive refusal of the House to ap- 
prove of either inflicted (to use his own language) "those 
painful sensations, that must sting every honest mind, for 
he saw himself the purchaser of a benefit to the public 
at the price of doing an essential although an undesign- 
ed v^^rong." 

The instructions, which the House, on the day of its pro- 
rogation, gave their committee of correspondence, to serve 
also as instructions to Henry Eustace McCulloh, the agent 
of the Province, resident in London, were principally found- 
ed on the attachment and Southern boundary controversy. 


Mr. McCulloh was instructed to lay before the Throne 
the principles upon which the House had acted in these 
two cases, and to endeavour to procure the Royal assent 
to the act with the suspending clause. The Speaker 
with the House waited on His Excellency at the palace, 
at six o'clock, on the 6th of March, and, after presenting 
a large number of bills, for his assent, the whole Assembly 
was prorogued for three days. Accordingly on the 9lh, 
the Council being in session, the following events took 
place, which I shall extract from the Council Journal of 
that date. 

*< His Excellency acquainted the Council, that, having on Saturday 
prorogued the Assembly to this present Tuesday in order to give 
them a fair opportunity to reconsider the state of the colony and to 
proceed to the despatch of public business, he was this morning 
informed by their clerk that there were not members enough in 
town to make a House. His Excellency communicated to the 
board the Royal instructions which constitute fifteen a Quorum, 
and advised with them whether he should send a message to the 
Speaker to acquaint the House therewith, and that he was ready 
to proceed to business with that number ; to this they unanimously 
agreed, and the following message was sent, — viz. 
" ' Mr. Speaker of the House of Assembly, 

" ' Having received information this morning by the clerk of the 
Assembly, that there were not members in town sufficient to make a 
House, I am to inform you that, by His Majesty's Royal instruc- 
tions to me, fifteen members of the House of Assembly make a 
Quorum, and that I am ready to proceed upon the public business 
with such Quorum.' 

" To which message his Excellency, receiving an immediate an- 
swer, was pleased to communicate the same to the Council, viz. 

" ' In answer to your Excellency's message I am to inform you, 
that it is the opinion of the members of the Assembly now in town, 
that it is not consistent with the duty they owe their constituents 


to proceed to make a House, unless there be a majority of the 
Representatives of the people to constitute the same. 

" ' I am, &c. 

<« * To his Excellency, S^c. JOHN HARVEY. 

"'.Vezo Berne, 9th March, 1773.' 

" His Excellency then proposed to send another message to the 
Speaker to know if he had any expectation of more members ar- 
riving this day, which being approved by the Council was thus 

" * Mr. Speaker of the House of Assembly, 

"* I desire to know whether you have or have not expectation or 
assurance that more members of the House of Assembly than are 
now in town will appear this day to carry on the public business 
of the country. JO. MARTIN.' 

" Soon after his Excellency imparted to the Council the Speaker's 
answer to the above message, viz. 
" ' Sir, 

" ' I am to inform you that I have not the least expectation of the 
arrival of any members, and most of those who are now in Town 
are preparing to return home. 

" ' I am, &c. 

«' ' To his Excellency, i,~c. JOHN HARVEY, Speaker: 

" The Council then came to the resolution, that, as the House 
had deserted their duty and flagrantly insulted the dignity and author- 
ity of government after the invitation of the Governor to return to 
their business, His Excellency had no alternative left but to dis- 
solve the Assembly, v/hich was accordingly done, and a new one 
called on the succeeding 1st of May." 

The dissolution of the Assembly left the Province with- 
out any other form of government than an irresponsible 
executive and his faithful Council. They endeavoured to 
supply the place of the courts of justice by commissioners 
of Oyer and Terminer, and even this step contributed to 
strengthen the opposition to the Governor. It was viewed 
as an effort on his part to show the people, that the courts 
could be continued and the whole administration of the gov- 
ernment sustained without the aid of their Representatives. 


Throughout the whole controversy the Council had acted 
on the authority of the King's instructions, which the Gov- 
ernor had laid before them, and which contained a posi- 
tive prohibition as to attachments on the property of non- 
residents. I shall here introduce those instructions, and 
although I may justify the conduct of his Excellency, as 
founded on the orders of his master, yet I cannot acquit 
the Council of the charge of submissively following the will 
of the Governor in a cause, so vitally affecting the interest 
and happiness of the people of the province. 

") " Additional instructions to our trusty and well be- 
" George R. > loved Josiah Martin, Esq., our Captain General and 

^ Governor in Chief in and over our Province of North 
Carolina in America. Given at our Court at St. James', the fourth 
day of February, 1772, in the twelfth of our reign. 

"Whereas, laws have been passed in some of our colonies and 
plantations in America, by which the lands, tenements, goods, chat- 
tels, rights, and credits of persons, who have never resided within 
the colonies where such laws have been passed, have been made 
liable to be attached for the recovery of debts, in a manner different 
from that allowed by the law of England in like cases ; and whereas 
it hath been represented unto us that such laws may have the con- 
sequence to prejudice and obstruct the commerce between this king- 
dom and our said colonies, and to affect public credit. It is there- 
fore our will and pleasure that you do not on any pretence whatever 
give your assent to, or pass any bill or bills in our province under 
your government, by which the lands, tenements, goods, chattels, 
rights, and credits of persons who have never resided within our 
said Province shall be made liable to be attached by the recovery of 
debts due from such persons otherwise than is allowed by law in 
cases of a like nature within our kingdom of Great Britain, until 
you shall first have transmitted to us, by one of our principal secre- 
taries of state, the drafts of each bill or bills, and shall have received 
our royal pleasure thereupon, unless you take care in the passing of 
such bill or bills, that a clause or clauses be inserted therein sus- 
pending and deferring the execution thereof, until our royal will and 
pleasure shall be known thereupon. G. R." — Memoir of Josiah 
Quincy, Jun.y p. 118. 


The volume from which I have drawn the above state- 
paper contains several pages on North Carolina, written 
during the year 1773, and as I am anxious in the defence 
of the State to cite the highest authority in her favor, I 
embrace the opportunity to extract so much of the journal 
of the distinguished subject of that Memoir as relates to 
my native state. It will be found to be a flattering com- 
pliment to many of her most distinguished sons, and will 
be read with pleasure by many of their descendants, as 
the worthiest testimony to the patriotism and virtue of their 

" Lodged the last night in Brunswick, N. C, at the house of 
William Hill, Esq., a most sensible, polite gentleman, and though a 
crown officer, a man replete with sentiments of general liberty, and 
warmly attached to the cause of American freedom. 

" March '^Tth (1773.) Breakfasted with Colonel Dry, the collec- 
tor of the customs, and one of the Council, who furnished me with 
the following instructions given Governor Martin, and, as Col. Dry 
told me Governor Martin said, to all the colony governors likewise." 
{Then foil oics the paper just cited.) 

« March 27th. Colonel Dry is a friend to the Regulators, and 
seemingly warm against the measures of British and Continental 
administrations. He gave me an entire different account of things 
from what I had heard from others. I am now left to form my own 
opinion, and am preparing for a water tour to Fort Johnston. 
Yesterday was a most delightful day. — Fort Johnston is a delight- 
ful situation. 

" March 2Sth. I go to church this day at Brunswick, — hear W. 
Hill read prayers, — dine with Colonel Dry, — proceed to-morrow 
to Wilmington, and dine with Dr. Cobham with a select party. 
Colonel Dry's mansion is justly called the house of universal hos- 
pitality . 

" March 29th. Dine at Dr. Thomas Cobham's, in company with 
Harnett, Hooper, Burgwin, Dr. Tucker, &c., in Wilmington; lodg- 
ed also at Dr. Cobham's, who has treated me with great politeness, 
though an utter stranger, and one to whom I had no letters. Spent 
the evenino- with the best company of the place. 


<' March 30th. Dined with about twenty at Mr. William Hooper's, 
— find him apparently in the Whig interest, — has taken their side 
in the House, — is caressed by the Whigs, and is now passing his 
election through the influence of that party. Spent the night at 
Mr. Harnett's, — the Samuel Adams of North Carolina (except in 
point of fortune). Robert Howe, Esq., Harnett and myself made 
the social triumvirate of the evening. The plan of continental cor- 
respondence highly relished, much wished for, and resolved upon as 
proper to be pursued. 

" April 1st. Set out from Mr. Harnett's for Newbern. 

" April 2d. Reached Newbern about eleven o'clock, A. M. Wait- 
ed upon Judge Howard and spent about an hour with him. Did not 
present the rest of my letters, because of the fine weather for trav- 
elling, and no court of any kind sitting or even in being in the 
province. Judge Howard waited upon me in the evening with 
recommendatory letters to Colonel Palmer of Bath, and Colonel 
Richard Buncombe of Tyrrell county. 

" April 4th. Reached Bath in the evening, did not deliver my 
letters, but proceeded next morning to Mr. Wingfield's parish, where 
I spent the Sabbath. 

" April 5th. Breakfasted with Colonel Buncombe,* who waited 
upon me to Edenton Sound, and gave me letters to his friends there. 
Spent this and the next day in crossing Albemarle Sound and in 
dining and conversing in company with the most celebrated lawyers 
of Edenton. From them I learned that Dr. Samuel Cooper of Boston 
was generally (they said universally) esteemed the author of ' Leoni- 
das,' who, together with ' Mucius Scaevola,' was burnt inefiigy under 
the gallows by the common hangman. There being no courts of any 
kind in this province, and no laws in force by which any could be 
held, I found little inclination or incitement to stay long in Edenton, 
though a pleasant town. Accordingly, a guide offering his directions 
about evening, I left the place and proceeded just into the bounds 
of Virginia, where I lodged the night. The soils and climates of the 
Carolinas differ, but not so much as their inhabitants. The number 

* I have heard an anecdote in North Carolina highly illustrative of 
the hospitality of Colonel Buncombe, which I shall take the liberty 
to record. On the arch of the outer gate of his mansion was in- 
scribed the following distich : 

" Welcome all 
To Buncombe Hall." 


of negroes and slaves is much less in North than in South Carolina. 
Their staple commodity is not so valuable, not being in so great 
demand as the rice, indigo, &c,, of the South Hence labor becomes 
more necessary, and he who has an interest of his own to serve is a 
laborer in the field. Husbandmen and agriculture increase in num- 
ber and improvement. Industry is up in the woods at tar, pitch, 
and turpentine ; in the fields, ploughing, planting, clearing, or 
fencing the .land. Herds and flocks become more numerous. You 
see husbandmen, yeomen, and white laborers scattered through the 
country, instead of herds of negroes and slaves. Healthful counte- 
nances and numerous families become more common, as you advance 
north. Property is much more equally diffused in one province than 
in the other, and this may account for some, if not for all the differ- 
ences of character in the inhabitants. However, in one respect 1 
find a pretty near resemblance between the two colonies ; I mean the 
state of religion. It is certainly high time to repeal the laws rela- 
tive to religion, and the observation of the Sabbath, or to see them 
better executed. Avowed impunity to all offenders is one sign at 
least, that the laws want amendment or abrogation. Alike as the 
Carolinas are in this respect, they certainly vary much as to their 
general sentiments, opinions, and judgments. The staple commodi- 
ties of North Carolina are all kinds of naval stores, Indian corn, 
hemp, flaxseed, some tobacco, which they generally send into Vir- 
ginia, &c. The culture of wheat and rice is making quick pro- 
gress, as a spirit of agriculture is rising fast. The favorite liquors 
of the Carolinas are Claret and Port wines, in preference to Madeira 
or Lisbon. The commerce of North Carolina is much diffused 
through the several parts of the province. They in some respects 
may be said to have no metropolis, though Newberne is called the 
capital, as there is the seat of government It is made a question 
which carries on the most trade, whether Edenton, Newberne, Wil- 
mington, or Brunswick. It seems to be one of the two first. There 
is very little intercourse between the northern and southern prov- 
inces of Carolina. The present state of North Carolina is really 
curious ; there are but five provincial laws in force through the col- 
ony, and no courts at all in being. No one can recover a debt, 
except before a single magistrate, where the sums are within his 
jurisdiction, and offenders escape with impunity. The people are 
in great consternation about the matter; what will be the conse- 
quence is problematical." — Memoir of Josiah putney, Jun. pp. 117- 


The object of die (listin,2;uisliecl tourist seems to have 
been the iiscertainrncnt of the views of the leading charac- 
ters of the South on the project of a continental union. 
The high praise which he awards to many of our eminent 
citizens, and particularly the compliment to Mr. Harnett, I 
could not but record in the pages of a volume dedicated to 
the service and defence of the State. I cannot but regret 
that he should have passed so rapidly through New Berne, 
a city which was then, as it is now, distinguished for the 
patriotism and hospitality of its inhabitants. 

In the course of die summer of diis year a large colony 
of Scotch ejnigrants arrived in Wilmington, and proceeded 
up the Cape Fear River to Cross Creek, the present town 
of Fayettevilie. That section of North Carolina from its 
earliest settlement to the present time has been in the pos- 
session of a Scotch population, presenUng within itself all 
the varieties of wealth, comfortableness, and absolute pov- 
erty. They preserve the " clannish " spirit of their nation, 
and move in concert, in political affairs, more than any 
portion of the population of the Slate. I have frequently 
heard, even in North Carolina, imputations against the 
patriotism of these people during the great struggle for 
freedom, towards which my narradve is approaching ; and 
although I am aware of the great degree of truth which 
belongs to such accusations, I cannot subscribe to the 
voice of indiscriminate denunciation. It was during the 
month of November, 1747, that a considerable colony of 
the adherents of the Pretender arrived in the Stale, and 
formed a settlement on the banks of the Cape Fear, as far 
up as Cross Creek. Many of these colonists were among 
the most faithful Whigs, and served in every capacity dur- 
ing the war. The colony which arrived during the sum- 


mer of this year were attracted to the settlement of Cross 
Creek by no other motive than the company of their coun- 
trymen. The exiled adherents of the Pretender had no 
new-born zeal in the cause of the House of Hanover, and 
the little respect for British sovereignty which they retain- 
ed was buried by the multitude of sympathies and local 
attachments which so long a residence had inspired. The 
purity of their American character was sullied, and their 
principles affected, by the admission of this new colony so 
recently from the mother country, and the Whigs were con- 
demned on account of the large number of Tories found in 
their society. Nor was each and every one of the new 
colonists of the royal party. Many of them were soldiers, 
and a few of them officers in the state army, the organi- 
zation of which I shall detail in the course of this part of 
my volume. 

There were now three questions of absorbing interest to 
the people of North Carolina which were unconnected 
with the general causes of dissatisfaction prevailing in all the 
Colonies, and which incensed them more against the pro- 
vincial government than against that of the mother country. 
The court controversy, the repeal of the acts of 1748 and 
1754, laying a poll tax and a duly on liquors, and die South- 
ern boundary question, were still the leading matters of 
public deliberation. The very recollection of this last 
inflamed the people against the Governor, and the most 
prudent men of the Province saw with indignation the 
immense loss sustained by the adoption of the boun- 
dary line run by the commissioners. In the new Assembly 
which convened during this year, and which was prorogued 
after a session of only seventeen days, the court system 
occupied nearly the whole period of public discussion. 


The project of a continenial correspondence was sanc- 
tioned, and a committee elected, but the ah important 
question was, the salvation of the people from the jaws of 
foreign speculators, by guarding and preserving inviolably 
the right of attachment. The Assembly convened in New 
Berne on the 4th of Dacember, and " Mr. John Camp- 
bell of Bertie proposed and set up Colonel John Harvey 
who was unanimously chosen Speaker, and placed in 
the chair accordingly." The speech of Governor Mar- 
tin was devoted exclusively to the court system. He 
candidly disclosed the only principles upon which he 
could assent to the court law, and declared that the limi- 
tation of the original jurisdiction of the Superior Courts, 
and the extension of that of the Inferior Courts of justice, 
designed by the act of the last Assembly, were deemed 
totally inadmissible. He introduced to the notice of the 
House the propriety of making the necessary appropriation 
to defray the charges incident to the Courts of Oyer and 
Terminer, and especially to make provision for the judges, 
suitable to their eminent services. Maurice Moore and 
Richard Caswell had been appointed by his Excellency to 
preside as Associates to Chief Justice Howard, and I need 
not suggest the obvious policy of their appointment. He 
knew full well the unpopularity of Martin Howard ; and, 
apprehending the failure of an appropriation bill on that 
account, he sought to achieve the success of his plans 
through the influence of the names of Moore and Caswell. 
In the answer of the House, however, not only were the 
appropriations refused, but by the unanimous vote of the 
House, of which both Moore and Caswell were members, 
the right of the Governor to issue commissions of Oyer and 
Terminer and general gaol delivery, without the aid of 


the Assembly, was peremptorily denied. In the same pa- 
per His Excellency was informed that the mode of issuing 
attachments which he had recommended, was such as they 
could not adopt, and would not, if adopted, prove an ade- 
qua e remedy for the mischiefs intended to be obviated. 
Such were the respective positions of the popular 
House and the Governor on the 9th of December. 
We perceive at once the absolute impossibility of estab- 
lishing courts of law, and the almost inevitable destruc- 
tion of the then existing government. Even without the 
cooperation or sympathy of the other Colonies on other 
points of more general (but not of deeper) interest, that 
government must have fallen. If it had not been anni- 
hilated by force, it would have withered away for the want 
of the nourishment of courts of law. 

On the 6th of December, the Speaker acquainted the 
House that he had received sundry letters and resolutions 
from the Provinces of Massachusetts Bay, Virginia, Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and the counties on the Delaware, 
proposing to establish in each Province a committee of 
correspondence. The prudence and experience of Mr. 
Harvey, induced him to keep the reception of these docu- 
ments concealed from the members of the House gen- 
erally, as well as from the people at large. In the Spring 
of 1765, while the popular House was agitating the Stamp 
Act, and on the eve of electing delegates to the New York 
Congress, Governor Tryon prorogued the Assembly, and 
thus prevented the action of the Representatives of the 
people. For nearly two years he refrained from the con- 
vocation of an Assembly, and, although no one apprehend- 
ed so high-handed a step from Governor Martin, yet he 
might by a prorogation or dissolution have in this case 


arrested immediate action. On the 8th, however, the 
committee appointed to consider the documents laid be- 
fore the House submitted a report, giving a full and hearty 
response to the patriotic resolutions before them, pledging 
their united efforts and most strenuous endeavours to 
preserve the just rights and liberties of the American 
Colonies which appeared of late to have been so systemat- 
ically invaded." 

John Harvey, Edward Vail, 

Robert Howe, John Ashe, 

Cornelius Harnett, Joseph Hewes, 

William Hooper, Samuel Johnston, 

Richard Caswell, 
were appointed a committee of correspondence; and to 
those who are at all acquainted with the history of the 
State, 1 need not say that the cause of American liberty 
was entrusted to able and patriotic hands. This committee 
was instructed •' to obtain the earliest and most authentic 
intelligence of all such acts and resolutions of the British 
Parliament, or the proceedings of the administration, as 
might relate to or affect the British Colonies in America, 
and to keep up and maintain a correspondence and com- 
munication with our sister Colonies respecting these im- 
portant considerations, and the result of such of their pro- 
ceedings from time to time to lay before this House." 
They were further instructed immediately to inform them- 
selves, particularly, of the principles and authority on which 
was constituted a court of enquiry said to have been lately 
held in Rhode Island, with powers to transmit persons 
accused of offences committed in America to places be- 
yond the seas to be tried. This latter circumstance, which 
they were so especially instructed to investigate, deserves 


lo be more particularly mentioned. In the month of June, 
1772, the sloop of war Gaspee, which had for some time 
cruised in and about the waters of Rhode Island, was 
attacked and destroyed by the people of that Province, 
headed by John Brown. Commissioners had been ap- 
pointed by the Crown, vested with powers to transmit such 
persons as might be accused of an agency in this battle, to 
be tried before the authorities of the mother country. It 
was the principles of this commission, which the committee 
were so especially charged to investigate, and which had 
produced much alarm, not only in North Carolina, but in 
all the sister Colonies. 

These instructions, however, were somewhat of a party 
movement in the political affairs of the Province. Mar- 
tin Howard, the Chief Justice and one of the Councillors, 
was appointed to his office in North Carolina, because he 
could not hold one which he had filled in Rhode Island. On 
the 27th of August, 1 765, during the excitement which pre- 
vailed throughout the country on the Stamp Act, the house 
of this notable man was destroyed, and his person much 
abused by die patriotic inhabitants of Newport, in which 
place he had been, as in North Carolina, long remarka- 
ble for his corrupt and wicked designs. He fled from the 
storms of Rhode Island, and sought " peace and quiet " 
in the arms of the Ministry, and, on the suicide of the la- 
mented Chief Justice Berry, was appointed to fill his place 
on the Judicial Bench of the Province. His profliga- 
cy was, however, brought to a wrong mart; during the 
five years he received a salary as Chief Justice from the 
hands of the Assembly, his character and sometimes " his 
person " (as during the Reguladon) was the subject of unri- 
valled abuse. So profound was the hatred of the members 


of the popular House towards this eminent vagrant, that in 
framing the instructions, they thus censured a board of com- 
missioners, which Howard was known to have approved, 
and indeed to have recommended in some instances in 
North Carolina. 

Amidst the general contention for the honor of having 
struck the first blow against British tyranny, the modest 
pretensions of the State of Rhode Island have been over- 
looked, and the destruction of the armed sloop forgotten, 
amidst the clang of the arms of Lexington, and the more 
clamorous war of words, which raged in Virginia. The 
deed itself sliould not be forgotten, nor should the n^me of 
John Brown, the leader of the people on that occasion, be 
passed over in silence, by the historians of the Revolution. 
The great events of the history of Rhode Island, like those 
of the history of North Carolina, have been buried by the 
ignorance of ^'the historians of the adjacent States." 

Notwithstanding the dispute between the House and 
the Governor, which I have detailed, the Council and that 
body, at a later period of the session, exchanged messages 
of great length and no little ability. In the course of the 
argument, the Council arraigned the House for supporting^ 
with so much zeal, a mode of proceeding by attachment, 
unknown both to the common and statute law of the mother 
country, forgetting that, at a previous session, they had sug- 
gested a mode of proceeding by attachment according to 
the laws and usages of England. The House replied to 
this argument in a message of great length, dated the 20th 
of Decen)ber, in the following language. 

" We observe with surprise, that a doctrine maintained by a for- 
mer House of Assembly is now adopted by you, and that you dis- 
close it as your opinion, that attachments are not known to the 
common or statute law of England. What then did government 


tender to this people in lieu of their former mode, when it proffer- 
ed to the last Assembly, a mode of attachment agreeable to the 
laws of England. This House, upon all occasions, will avow 
the necessity of attachments in the manner as lately enjoyed, in 
point of expedience as well as of right." 

The opposition to the government exhibited itself in the 
popular House by a unanimous vote, that the acts of 1748 
and 1754, laying a poll tax and a duty on liquors, ought to 
be discontinued, and a committee with Robert Howe at the 
head was appointed to bring in a bill to that effect. On oc- 
casions like this, the assent of the Governor being indispen- 
sable to the repeal of the law, his will became important, 
and respectable even in the eyes of John Harvey. But on 
other occasions, and such a one I am now about to detail, 
the sanction of the House was indispensable to sustain the 
acts of His Excellency. While on his tour of observation 
in 1772, the elegant civilities of the good people of Tar- 
borough, so pleasing to the vanity of his mind, induced 
him to grant a charter to that town, vesting its inhabitants 
with the privilege of sending a member to the Assembly. 
The House refused to admit Henry Ervvin (the member 
who appeared according to the election held under a writ 
from the clerk of the Crown), and asserted that the char- 
ter was void in that particular, as being against a statute of 
the Province. These numerous causes combining to harass 
the peace and prosperity of the Governor's administration, 
he, on the 21st, suddenly prorogued the Assembly to the 1st 
of March. As soon as the House received his message 
requiring their presence at the palace, apprehending either 
a dissolution or a prorogation, they appointed a committee, 
of which John Harvey was the head, to prepare an ad- 
dress to the King, beseeching him to withdraw his Royal 
instructions to the Governor, so far as attachments were 


concerned, and it was unanimously resolved to address 
Governor Try on, and implore, 

" That he would be pleased to convey the same [the address to the 
King] to our most gracious Sovereign, support our earnest solicita- 
tions with his interest and influence, and that he would accept of 
this important trust as a testimony of the great affection this colo- 
ny bore hirn, and the entire confidence they reposed in him." 

Thus low had Governor Martin sunk in the estimation of 
the public. His predecessor and wonted rival, although the 
Governor of a distant Province, was solicited to aid and 
support the fallen fortunes of the people over whom he had 
presided for nearly two years. If he envied Tryon, as say 
many of his contemporaries, the proceedings of the House 
were mortifying indeed, and the palace had lost its splen- 
dor and its glory, when its inmate had become the mere 
shadow or puppet of a government. 

The resolutions of Virginia suggesting the appointment 
of committees of correspondence, were adopted on the 12th 
of March, 1773, and the project was essentially an improve- 
ment on the internal committees of Massachusetts. In the 
95th page of the first volume of the Writings of Mr. Jeffer- 
son, the respective claims of Virginia and Massachusetts to 
the honor of proposing these national committees, are dis- 
cussed in a letter to Mr. Samuel Adams Wells, and the dis- 
pute is compromised by the admission of Mr. Jefferson, that 
Massachusetts preceded Virginia in the institution of her in- 
ternal committees, which were appointed by the people of 
each town of the Province, but that Virginia was foremost 
in the suggestion of the institution of provincial committees. 
This claim may be just, but the pen of Mr Jefferson has 
exaggerated its importance. 

1 have no claims to advance on the part of North Caro- 
lina to the honor in dispute, and have perhaps no business 


in discussing the differences of other states in this volume; 
but I cannot refrain from a kw remarks on the claims of 
Virginia to originality in her scheme of a continental cor- 
respondence. The Congress of Albany which assembled in 
June, 1754, was undoubtedly the original idea of a continen- 
tal union, and may be fairly considered the remote cause 
of our present union. If the private character of many of 
its members may be considered as a test of its political 
creed, it is fortunate, that its deliberations were attended 
with no permanent results. Dr. Franklin adorned that 
body, but Martin Howard and Thomas Hutchinson, the 
most inveterate enemies of American freedom, were its 
principal leaders. The Congress which assembled in New 
York in 1765, to discuss the Stamp Act, was essentially 
the child of Massachusetts, and its conception a much bold- 
er and more perilous stroke in the cause of the Revolution, 
than the appointment of a committee of conespondence. 
It sprang from the heart of the Whig party, and, adorned 
as it was by the patriotism and talent of the Provinces 
represented, it was unfortunate that its deliberations were 
not continued by annual sessions. In the year i76S, during 
the month of November, while the Assembly of North Caro- 
lina was in session, the Speaker laid before the House a 
communication from the House of Representatives of Mas- 
sachusetts, of date tlie 11th of February preceding, on the 
subject of several acts of Parliament, imposing duties and 
taxes on the Colonies. This communication is remarkable 
for the temperate and modest manner, in which the en- 
croachments of Parliament are recited and dismssed, and 
forms a singular contrast with a similar state-paper, which 
was received by the same officer on the 2nd of November, 
1769, from tlie House of Burgesses of Virginia, of date the 
9th of the preceding month of May. 


The Speaker of the Assembly of North Carolina was 
undoubtedly indebted to the House of Representatives of 
Massachusetts, for the communication from Virginia, al- 
though the document itself would not support such an in- 
ference. In this case at least, Virginia was the imitator 
of Massachusetts, and yet her message to North Carolina, 
which was received one year after that of Massachusetts, 
made no allusion to it as its authority. The paper Irom 
Massachusetts modestly disclaims any " ambition of taking 
the lead, or of dictating to the other assemblies;" the 
one from Virginia " hoped that they had expressed them- 
selves on the occasion with a firmness that became free- 
men ; and that ihey had made known their proceedings 
on this subject with a view that the representatives of 
the people of North Carolina, being acquainted with 
them, might go hand in hand in opposition to measures, 
which had an immediate tendency to enslave them." 
We had received that intelligence twelve months before. 
The transition from such legislation to the institution of 
Provincial committees of correspondence, seems to be 
but a natural result; and, when it is remembered that 
every Assembly appointed committees to correspond with 
their agents in London, the proposition loses all claims to 
originality or even to novelty. The Speaker of the As- 
sembly of North Carolina transmitted to many Provincial 
Assemblies messages on these subjects, assuring them of 
the hearty cooperation of the people of the Province. 

(1774.) In detailing the events of the year 1774, I shall 
resume the discussion of the Attachment controversy, which 
now agitated for the last time the Provincial Asseirjbly of 
North Carolina. The legislative body, which had been 
prorogued to the 1st of March, organized on the 2nd of 


that month, and commenced the controversy in their an- 
swer to the official speech of the Governor. I must applaud 
the prudence and liberality which distinguished the speech of 
His Excellency, He lamented the disastrous slate of the 
colony, and the utter impossibility of his reconciling the at- 
tachment clause with the Royal instructions. He hoped that 
the members had consulted their constituents, during the 
recess, and explained to them the repugnant nature of his 
instructions. Urging the abandonment of the " attach- 
ment process " upon such grounds, he concluded his speech 
with a solemn assurance of his readiness to cooperate with 
the Assembly, in any legal effort to relieve the people from 
impending anarchy and revolution. Messrs. Hooper, 
Samuel Johnston, Caswell, Howe of Brunswick, Harnett, 
Edwards of New Berne, Allen, Jones, Hewes, and Ashe, 
were the committee to prepare the answer of the House ; 
and on the 5th of March, Mr. Harnett reported an ad- 
dress founded on instructions from a committee of the 
whole House. I now quote the language of the ad- 

" We came to the last session of this Assembly, fully possessed of 
the sentiments of our constituents ; we have, however, appealed to 
them again, consulted them, stated to them candidly the point for 
which we contended ; we have also informed them, how far his Ma- 
jesty is disposed to indulge our wishes. These facts we have re- 
presented to them fairly, disdaining any equivocation or reserve 
that might leave them ignorant of the conduct we had pursued, or 
the real motives that influenced us. And we have the heartfelt 
satisfaction to inform your Excellency, that they have expressed 
their warmest approbation of our past proceedings, and have given 
us positive instructions to persist in our endeavours to obtain the 
process of Foreign Attachment upon the most liberal and ample foot- 

In this decided language did the House reject the con- 
ciliatory speech of Governor Martin. In his speech at the 


period of the prorogation of the Assembly, he had exhorted 
thein to return to their constituents, and consult with them on 
the state of the Province; and thus the House reported the 
result of their consultations. On the presentment of the ad- 
dress by the Speaker, the Governor delivered a long speech 
in reply, in which he seemed to feel sensitively the trium- 
phant tone of the House. 

" You have told me with, perhaps, just exultation," (he commenced,) 
** that your constituents have approved your past conduct, and in- 
structed you to persist in your endeavours to obtain the process of 
foreign attachment ; but if that means, Gentlemen, that the present 
distressed state of this c )lony is to be continued, because 1 have it 
not in my power to comply exactly with your wishes relative to a 
certain mode of proceeding against absconding debtors, that, as far 
as I have been able to learn, has been in some very material points 
peculiar to this Province, and is at this day held by many to have 
been unguarded and too open and applicable to fraudulent and op- 
pressive purposes, I can no more enter into the policy of such a 
plan of conduct, that is in my opinion without example, than I can 
help dreading the people will soon feel they make infinitely too 
dear a sacrifice in relinquishing all legal security of their most 
valuable rights and privileges." (9th March.) 

Bills to establish Superior and Inferior Courts of law 
were framed by the Committee appointed for that purpose, 
and readily passed their regular readings in that body. 
When the Superior Court bill, however, which contained a 
full acknowledgment of the attachment process, came to 
its third reading before the Council, that body proposed 
*' as a temporary relief to the Province," that the process of 
attachment, and the repeal of the Fee bill of 1748, should 
be presented in bills distinct from those establishing courts 
of law. The House refused, by large majorities, on both 
the items of the amendment of the Council, to assume such 
a principle ; and now the fact was notorious, that, without 
the process of attachment, no bill to establish courts of law 


could pass. Each party now perceived the vanity of all 
hopes of a reconciliation on tliis disputed point ; and, as the 
Council [lad heretofore acted on the Royal instructions with 
a view of shielding the Governor, we perceive that body, 
on the 14th of March, abandoning that ground, and leav- 
ing His Excellency to support as well as to obey the or- 
ders of his sovereign. On that day, the Council, in a mild 
and dignified message, recommended the Superior Court 
bill, as a fit subject for reconsideration, and expressed a 
sincere hope, that something might be done to save the 
existence of the law. In accep.ting this friendly recom- 
mendation, the House proposed an immaterial alteration 
in the attachment clause of the original bill, requiring 

" Due proof upon oath, before the attachment should issue, that 
the debtor had absconded with an intention of avoiding the pay- 
ment of the claims, so far as his intentions may be judged from 
the following circumstances, which shall be considered the due 
proofs hereby required." 

These circumstances were, 

" That the defendant resided out of the Province or never was 
in it, and that he fails or neglects to discharge his debts, contracts, 
or agreements, or when he has removed himself out of his county 
privately, or absconds, or conceals himself from the ordinary process 
of law, as the plaintiff suspects, to avoid the payment of the debt." 

The process of attachment would seem to be sufficient- 
ly guarded by the rigor of this clause ; and yet, so cautious 
and perhaps overbearing was the House in this dispute, 
that the following sections of the proposed bill were adopt- 
ed by that body. 

" And also in any other circumstances that may occur, and can be 
deemed, by the magistrate granting the attachment, the due proof 
hereby required. Provided, also, that no attachment shall be grant- 
ed, except when the cause of action (by the most liberal construc- 
tion in favor of the plaintiff, inhabitant of the Province) can be 


construed to arise within the colony ; and, before the defendant shall 
be suffered to plead, he or his attorney shall give bail to a new suit 
or action, if the plaintitf judges it necessary." (Tuesday, 15th 

The House, by these amendments yielded nothing save 
the explanations of the latter clause, which were too in- 
definite in their phraseology to admit a construction more 
favorable to foreign creditors. The Council had endeav- 
oured to strike out a clause limiting the original jurisdic- 
tion of the Superior Court, which the House declared 
a valuable and indispensable limitation, and positively re- 
fused to concur in such an amendment. 

With all its faults, however, the Council passed the bill, 
and, on the 17th of March, it was finally passed by both 
Houses of the Assembly. On the 19th of March, the 
popular House, before waiting on His Excellency to pre- 
sent the Superior Court bill, — " Resolved, that the 
House and the Council had pursued every measure in 
their power to relieve the Colony from the distressed situa- 
tion to which it had been reduced for want of Court laws." 

The Governor, however, rejected the bill, and, com- 
plaining of the unhappy predicament in which he was placed, 
urged the Royal instructions as his only justification. At 
the distance of more than half a century, and with an 
abundance of abhorrence for the character of Josiah Mar- 
tin,! can commiserate the situation of the man, as well as 
lament the distresses of the people over whom he pre- 
sided. For more than a year they had been without 
even the semblance of a judicial tribunal to check the 
growing progress of crime, or to sustain the obligation of 
private contracts. The violence of this Attachment con- 
troversy had not only prostrated the courts, but vexed the 


public mind with the degrading idea that the Ministry 
sought to insult the Province, by taking from it a 
right enjoyed by her sister colonies. Disobedience 
to his instructions, would have been sufficient cause 
of displeasure to the King or Ministry, and would 
have effected the removal of Martin. In those days, when 
loyalty tt) the King was a virtue, his conduct would 
have found a ready excuse in the positive language of the 
Royal instructions, which would have been reverenced 
as the supreme law of the land. It is due to Martin to 
say, that the instructions were repugnant to his own opinion, 
and that his sense of duty to his sovereign was stronger 
than his love of the people. 

The bill to establish Inferior Courts of Pleas, and Quar- 
ter Sessions, after many unavailing messages between the 
Council and the House, was, together with the one to estab- 
lish courts of Oyer and Terminer, enacted by the assent of 
the Governor. On the first of these two measures, the 
attachment question was agitated, and, with its enactment, 

In giving his assent to these bills, the Governor deliver- 
ed a long speech, in which he bewailed the impossibility 
of erecting a higher tribunal than the Inferior Court ; and 
he embraced the opportunity, " as he spake to the country 
through the popular House," to explain the reasons of his 
uniform conduct on the Superior Court bill. I do not pre- 
tend to understand the secret motives of Governor Martin, 
but I may venture to suggest a few circumstances which 
may explain the mildness of his official speeches, during 
this and the preceding session. I have observed him, on 
two occasions, employing in his service two of the principal 
leaders of the opposition, and have suggested the motive of 


thus conferring his rewards, to have been a desire to gain 
their influence and friendship. The amiable tone of his 
speeches may have been the result of fear or of policy. 
He may have vainly hoped to distract the ranks of 
the Whigs by conciliation, and, like Tryon, by a system of 
courtesies and private civilities within the recesses of the pa- 
lace, to have won the affections of a majority of the mem- 
bers. The progress of this history will, however, exhibit 
the futility of his designs, and the lapse of a few months, 
the overthrow of his government. 

The Assembly was, on the 25th of March, prorogued to 
the 25th of May, and in a few days afterwards wa^ dissolved 
by proclamation. The dissolution may be ascribed to the 
angry feelings excited in the mind of the Governor by sev- 
eral acts of the popular House a few days before its pro- 
rogation. The House appointed a committee to address 
the Throne, praying that the instructions to the Governor 
might be withdrawn, and appointed Alexander Ehnsly and 
Thomas Barker agents to attend to the execution of their 
resolves. The appointment of these two gentlemen as 
agents for the House, in so important a crisis, appears to 
have been a censure on the integrity of a Mr. Henry Eus- 
tace McCulloh, who had for some years filled the sta- 
tion of agent for the Province. He attributed the origin of 
the instructions to Lords Hillsboro' and Hertfort, both 
members of the Privy Council, and friends of the Dobbs 
family, the founder of which, Arthur Dobbs, had succeeded 
Governor Gabriel Johnston as Governor of North Car- 
olina. An attachment was depending in our courts 
during the administration of Tryon against the Dobbs 
estate ; and by the influence of the two noble friends of 
that family the instructions were framed to meet that 


particular case. This is the explanation of Mr. McCul- 
loh, as will be seen by a letter of Alexander Elmsly, 
which I shall presently introduce. There is not much de- 
pendence to be placed in the statements of Mr. McCulloh, 
as his integrity on this as well as on other occasions 
was questioned. He submitted to the degradation of a 
bribe while a member of the Council, and received a thou- 
sand acres of land for his vote in favor of the Tuscarora 
grant of lands to William Williams and Thomas Pugh and 
Robert Jones. The real motive of Governor Martin in 
dissolving the Assembly, however, is better displayed in the 
Proclauiation whicli he issued for that purpose, of date the 
30th of March. The resolution of the House, declaring 
the repeal of the acts of 1748 and 1754, is alleged in the 
Council Journal as the real cause ; and, as this is the last 
tin)e those acts were before the Assembly, I shall extract 
the Proclamation, as well to illustrate the excited feelings 
of the Governor, as to conclude the subject. 

" By His Excellency Jo, Martin, &c., &c. 


" Whereas the Assembly of this Province having, by their 
resolves of the 24th of this instant March, assumed to 
themselves a power unconstitutional, repugnant to the 
laws, and derogatory to the honor and good faith of 
the Province, by attempting to abrogate an act of the 
General Assembly upon which the public credit essentially 
depends, it becomes necessary for His Majesty's service to 
dissolve the said Assembly of this Province. I do therefore, 
with the advice and consent of His Majesty's Council, and 
by virtue of the powers and authorities in me vested by His 


Majesty, dissolve ihe said Assembly, and it is hereby dis- 
solved accordingly. 

" Given under my hand, &:c. 

" Jo. Martin. 
" Dated 30th of March, 1774. 

" God save the King." 

In concluding this chapter, and with it the discussion of 
the court law and attachment controversy, I submit the 
following letter from Alexander Elmsly, which will be 
found to be an admirable commentary on the iiistory of 
that most important and harassing dispute. 

" London, 17th May, 1774. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I have your several favors covering your order on Bridgen &- 
Waller, and ordering a suit of law for a friend of Mrs. Johnston's. 
With respect to the first, all the purpose it has answered is, a new 
order to Mrs. Strudwick to pay you that money. This manoeuvre 
you can easily see through ; it is not so easily reconciled, however, 
to the principles which these gentlemen make profession of, and fot 
want of which your neighbour C. Pollock has in my hearing been 
so often the subject of their abuse. The fact is, they acknowledge 
the receipt of the money, and are ready to account for it; but Strud- 
wick is largely in their debt, and they think this a good opportunity 
to reduce the amount. If this expedient miscarries, you must write 
to them to pay peremptorily, and I doubt not the money will be fofth- 
coming, as the Scots say. By this ship the lace is sent to Mrs. 
Aitcheson's care, who will contrive it to you instead of £7 75.; 
however, Mr. Palmer, Mrs Do., and my Rib, after consultation, are 
of opinion unanimously that Miss Cathcart has a right to wear a suit 
of lace worth at least one half a guinea a yard, and so the whole to- 
gether, i. e. the lace and something else, the name of which I have 
forgot, costs you £10 Is. ; £9 to Bridgen & Waller, lace merchants, 
for the materials, and £1 Is. to a milliner for putting them together. 

" 1 think your Assembly to blame and your Governor also, and am 
sure r m not mistaken ; these are my reasons ; Governor Dobbs in his 


last will gave a legacy of £2000 to his wife, and, infer alios, appointed 
his sons, Conway and Richard, executors. Conway I verily believe 
received moneys belonging to the testator, both here and in Ireland. 
Richard I sincerely believe never received a shilling here, there, or 
anywhere else ; but having, as well as the other, effects in your Prov- 
ince, an attachment was issued against them at the suit of Mr. Nash, 
and, before defence could be made, the plaintiffs had judgment j the 
defendant soon after, however, procured an injunction, which your 
Court of Chancery thought proper to make perpetual. From this 
decree Mr. Nash appealed, and last Thursday the decree was 
reversed by the Privy Council, because of your attachment law, 
which they said they could not get over, although Sir Jonathan 
Welmot, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, thought it so hard 
a case upon young Dobbs, that he gave it as his opinion, no act of 
Assembly ought to have the force of a law till revised and ratified in 

" My next reason is within your own recollection. P. Larkin of 
London became bankrupt, having effects in North Carolina ; Alder- 
man Rossiter and a Mr. Pritchard of this place attached, as did a 
Captain Richardson of your Province, but who was of Jamaica at 
the time of bankruptcy, although an inhabitant of England when 
the debt was contracted ; the attachments of the two Englishmen 
were defeated, the American had his money, and this expressly 
agreeable to the determinations of the judges here. 

" My other reason affects myself When Bogle & Scot stopt pay- 
ment, their creditors were called together to fix upon a plan for liqui- 
dating their affairs. The single question was, whether the commission 
of bankrupt should be sued out against them, or whether trustees 
should be named, to take the management of their affairs into their 
hands. Every creditor present, except myself, was for appointing 
trustees, because by that means the expense of a commission would 
be avoided in the first place, the disgrace of it in the next ; and in 
the third place, which was of more importance, many of their credi- 
tors were possessed with bills and bonds with security, and were 
also creditors on open account, and, in case of a commission taking 
place, would have a right to receive of the security, and afterwards 
divide against the bankrupt's estate, as if nothing had been received 
on the bonds and bills, till they should have received their whole 
debt ; by which means their simple contract debts without security 
would be in fact covered by the security on the specialty debts. This 
reason had determined all the creditors present not to sue out a 


commission of bankrupt ; but six weeks having elapsed from the 
time of their stopping payment, and it appearing that the greatest 
part of their effects were abroad in America, and consequently sub-- 
ject to your attachment laws, which would take place of an assign- 
ment to trustees, and which we had no other way of avoiding but 
by taking out a commission, we were obliged to come to a calcula- 
tion, whether the open account creditors world lose more by letting 
such as were creditors both by bonds with security, and open ac- 
count also, have their full debts paid, or by running the risk of such 
creditors as were not present having, during the six weeks, ordered 
attachments in America; and upon finding that all the Scotch and 
many considerable English creditors had not attended the meeting, 
although advertised, and suspecting the reason of it, upon my pro- 
posal it was unanimously agreed to make bankrupts of Bogle &. Scot, 
although by that means sundry creditors are certain of having their 
full dividend, who otherwise would not have received above 17 or 
18s. in the pound ; but as their debts were not near so considerable 
as those of the absent creditors, whom we supposed absent because 
they had taken steps to secure their debts otherwise, of two evils we 
chose the least. 

" With respect to attachments in England, I am able perfectly to 
inform you of the nature of them, having, since my arrival in Lon- 
don, defended no less than seven of them, not as an attorney, but as 
the agent of a gentleman in Scotland, pro hac vice. 1st. It is only 
In the city (not one half) of London, in Bristol, and I believe York, 
or some other old town, that attachments lie by custom. I know not 
the custom of the two last places ; but in London the practice is, that 
no attachment takes place except where the cause of action arises 
within the city ; that if affidavit of the debt is not made by the plain- 
tiff upon suing out the attachment, it may be set aside on entering 
common bail in the office ; and in no case can the garnishee be com- 
pelled to answer, unless he voluntarily, to oblige the plaintiff as his 
friend, comes into court and discloses the amount of the effects in 
his hands ; but if the plaintiff can prove that, at the time of laying 
the attachment, the garnishee was either indebted to the defendant 
or had effects of his in his possession, he is admitted to do it, and 
such proof is as good as the garnishee's confession. 

"These are the principles of the attachments in London, you 
may depend on it, and it was upon them that the last instruction to 
your Governor was founded ; of this I am certain, because old Mr. 
McCulloh in the absence of his son called upon me as soon as he 


received his despatches respecting this matter, and reqiiested my 
advice on the subject. 1 readily took a slip of paper and drew up a 
sketch of an instruction which he showed to Mr. Jackson, counsel to 
the Board of Trade, and which he afterwards told was perfectly ap- 
proved of; and we never doubted that it would be sent out to the 
Governor, in statu quo, nor knew I any thing to the contrary, till I 
read your Journals, and found that Jackson, as I suppose, of his own 
head, had added that the plaintiff should swear that the defendant's 
absconding was in order to avoid payment of his debt. This he now 
confesses and justifies upon the rule of the Court of Chancery in 
England, which has adopted that form in certain proceedings against 
absentees; but he says, as I do, that it was sufficient for your Gov- 
ernor to have attended to the substance of his instruction, in which 
case he ought to have dispensed with these words, for which the 
Board would have been obliged to him. 

As to the Assembly, I ihink them wrong in contending for an at- 
tachment law in the same extent as before. What we want here is 
principally that we and you should be on a footing, that if one of our 
merchants fails, his English and American creditors should receive 
the same dividend; whereas, as things stood under the late law, the 
American creditor, who could find effects in that country, had his 
whole debt, when the English creditor often got little or nothing. 
We also want that even an European creditor should not have power 
to attach in America, because by this means, unless the debtor is 
made bankrupt, it often happens that the creditors who are mer- 
chants, and have correspondents abroad, have greatly the advantage 
of other people ; and it was to avoid this inconvenience that the ex- 
pedient of obliging the plaintiff to swear that the cause of action 
arose in the province was thought of. 

" H. McCulloh tells me that there is a new instruction gone out 
or made out. From what he mentions, it differs only from the last in 
admitting an attachment where the cause of action may happen to 
arise in Virginia or South Carolina, and striking out the clause that 
obliged the plaintiff to swear that the defendant had absconded in 
order to avoid payment of his debt. If this is the case, I think it a 
foolish affair, and that it may be of some more service to Virginia, 
than before, and that is all the difference ; for as to the other cir- 
cumstance it is nothing, had your Governor rightly understood 
the matter, being mere form only, and which he surely ought to 
have dispensed with. . 


" Before I finish the business, give me leave to mention to yoa, 
that it was my idea when I came to Carolina, tiiat there was nothing 
in your laws to warrant an attachment against the estate of a person 
who had not some time or other been resident amongst you ; an 
original attachment certainly could not lie against him, because he 
neither conceals, absconds, nor absents himself, which the form of 
your attachment makes a sine qud non. An attachment on mesne 
process, I think, ought not to affect such a debtor, because your sher- 
iffs are on all returns to set forth the truth of the case, which is here 
that the defendant is no inhabitant, in which case no attachment can 
issue. What inclined me to think in this manner was the practice in 
Virginia, where the laws were the same with yours in respect to 
attachments, but where there is a particular act of Assembly respect- 
ing persons never resident in the colony, which, if I have not forgot, 
puts all creditors on a footing. This law you have not, nor any 
thing like it, the construction you put on the court acts supplying 
the place of it. I am told, your agent wrote out, that your Gov- 
ernor would receive an authority to consent to an enlargement to 
the jurisdiction of the county courts. I know not what foundation 
he had for writing so, because it was easy to see at the office what 
instruction had gone out ; and I am well assured, that, had it not been 
for your being in possession of a larger jurisdiction for some years 
past, the county courts would have been put on the same footing 
as in England. I believe the truth is, no inquiry was ever made by 
the young gentleman after his return to England, trusting to the 
exertions of his father in his absence, who had labored this point 
with Mr. Jackson, and not having in express terms a denial, took it, 
I believe, for granted, that he would recommend the matter to the 
Board, and advised his son accordingly. This inclined him to hazard 
the flattering letter wrote to the committee, and which I am told was 
one reason, amongst others, for suffering his act of Assembly to ex- 
pire. Betwixt you and me, the old man is the best agent of the two. 
As this office is now vacant, and it is impossible that your Province 
in its infant, unsettled state can be without an agent in England, 
I would have you seriously think of your old friend here. The grand 
difficulty will lie with the Council ; but if ways and means could be 
fallen upon to interest the Governor, I have no doubt a majority of 
that board might be easily secured to vote as he might direct them. 
The grand objection that lay in our way formerly is now no more, 
(the opposition from the southern men ; ) as the seat of government 
is out of the question, it is become indifferent to them whether the 


agents are from the south or the north. If you think this business 
practicable, perhaps it may contribute somewhat to the carrying it 
into execution should Mr. Barker write to the Chief Justice Cornell, 
and some other principal or popular characters, which shall be done 
if on reconnoitring the ground you think well of it. American af- 
fairs have engrossed all the serious part of the attention of Parliament 
this session ; the result of which is, that four acts of Parliament 
have passed respecting that part of the world, I had almost said of 
the British dominions. By the first the harbour of Boston is shut up 
till a compensation is made to their India Company for their tea, 
and till the inhabitants discover an inclination to submit to the 
revenue laws, after which the King, by and with the advice of the 
Privy Council, is empowered to suspend the effect of the act. 

" This law we imagine will save the Bostonians the trouble of 
entering into new agreements against importing goods, as being out 
of their power while the act continues in force. But we are not 
certain that it will be followed by the same effect in the other prin- 
cipal ports, they being left open, though not less criminal, except in 
point of overt acts, than Boston. But I suppose the administration 
thought the whole too much to encounter at one time. 

" The next act is for taking away the charter of the Massachu- 
setts Bay ; hereafter the Council are to be appointed by the King, as 
in the southern Provinces, and in certain cases the Governor is to 
act without their consent and concurrence. The town meetings, 
except for the purpose of elections, are declared unlawful, and some 
other new regulations established. 

" The third act enables the governors in case of an indictment 
preferred against any officer of the Crown, either civil or military, 
for any thing by him done in the execution of his office, to suspend 
the proceedings against him in America, and to send him home for 
trial in England. This law, I am told, the officers of the army in- 
sisted on for fear of being prosecuted by the civil power, either as 
principals or accessories to the death of any person killed in the 
field of battle, in case things should come to that extremity. 

" The fourth and last law respects quartering the soldiery. I have 
not seen it, but suppose it is calculated to obviate in future the 
construction put upon the old one, by the people of Boston, in their 
town meetings, viz. that Castle William, situated three miles out of 
town, should be taken to be barracks in the town, and of course ex- 
cluded the pretensions of the army to quarters in the town, even 
thougli the purpose of sending soldiers should be merely on account 


of the commotions and disturbances in the town. Lord Chatham 
has never appeared in liit. phicc in the House of Lords during this 
winter. Cambden and Rockingham, assisted by the Uuke of Rich- 
mond and some others out of phice, form the present opposition, and 
of course voted against these measures. 'I'he Duke of Richmond, 
in particular, I am told, spoke against them with great acrimony, 
wishing that the Americans might rebel openly ; but they were 
always outvoted five to one in the lower House. Lord North is 
as absolute as ever Pitt was, and most people think as deservedly; 
even Barre voted against the Americans on the Boston Port Bill, and 
made a long speech on the occasion ; as did Lord George Sackville 
on all of them ; and yet these are two of our staunchest patriots, in 
other words, strongest opponents of the ministry. With respect to 
the sentiments of the public in general, they are not favorable to the 
Americans ; most people think it unreasonable, that they should 
be taxed without their consent ; but they think it also dangerous 
to allow the sovereign to have more parliaments than one, at 
least independent of that one, and think as I always did, and said, 
that the king of England, as king, can have no subjects that are not 
under the control of the Parliament of Great Britain ; but then, on 
the other hand, nineteen in twenty of all the sensible people in the 
kingdom think, and think very seriously, that, as the inhabitants of 
the colonies are no longer an assemblage of needy vagrants, but are 
become a numerous body, respectable for their importance in the 
state, and bidding fiair in a little time to equal in point of numbers 
those of the mother country, which decline in proportion as they 
increase, the ministry ought either to waive all pretensions to 
taxing them, or to admit a reasonable number of the Representatives 
for the Americans. Were the people on your side of the water to 
put matters on this issue, they would find many more friends in 
England ; but, as things stand at present, when this is urged for you, 
the ready answer is, that you declare you will not be represented, 
ad quod non potest responderi. 

" Saxby, the Receiver of South Carolina, has resigned, and Irwine, 
who gave him some trouble about your ofiice, is appointed in his 
room. James Murray, would you think it.? has accepted of Iiwine's 
place in the customs of Boston ; it is that of an inspector, worth very 
little to a young man, and still less to an old one, who has filled the 
most respectable place in a Province. I fancy the old man is in 
necessity, else he would not have encountered so much drudgery at 
his time of dav. I saw Col. Lawrence lately ; he talks of returning 


soon, but says he shall first pay me two or three hundred pounds for 

" Having now, my dear friend, pretty fully gratified your curi- 
osity respecting every thing that may either concern yourself or 
the public, you will give me leave to add a few lines concerning 

" When I left my power of attachment with you, I told you that 
Andrew Millar and I had agreed, that all money you or he might 
receive of mine should lie in his hands for three years, he paying me 
interest at the rate of five per cent, for two years and a half only. 
I had a letter from him lately, in which he appears perfectly to recol- 
lect thisj but seems to have forgot that the money was to be remitted 
at the Virginia exchange, making an allowance of twenty-tive per 
cent, to bring the product into Virginia money ; he charges thirty- 
three and a half. When you see him I shall be obliged to you to 
put him in mind of this matter. I do not want the money, but the 
sooner his mistake is pointed out to him, the more probable it is that 
he will recollect himself and correct it; perhaps if it is hinted to 
him, that as he was to have the money six months for nothing, and 
was afterwards to pay but five per cent, instead of six, it is to be 
supposed some equivalent or other must have been stipulated in 
return, he may call to mind our agreement; but I would not have 
any bickering about the business. 

" The other thing respecting myself is only a repetition of part 
of one of my late letters. Mr. McCulloh has often been talking to 
me of buying the 1000 acres of land he got for his vote in Coun- 
cil from Pugh &- Williams. I have never listened to him ; but if 
I thought it good land, and that 2000 or 3000 acres more could be 
had contiguous to it at an easy rate, I believe I should be tempted to 
treat with him. Will you then inform yourself what sort of land 
his is, and at what price the above addition may be made to it, and 
advise me accordingly. I have now three boys to provide for; one 
of them shall take one of your girls off your hands, if she cannot 
dispose of herself better. 1 am with compliments, for self and com- 
pany, to all your family, 

"Dear sir, your affectionate, 


" The King of France died last week of the small-pox, aged 64." 




The situation of the Province, after the dissolution of 
the Assembly, was but little superior to an acknowledged 
state of anarchy. It was a vain attempt to supply the 
place of the Superior Court by tlie establishment of courts 
of Oyer and Terminer. Witliout those tribunals the ser- 
vices of Chief Justice Howard were unemployed, and this 
desirable result was achieved by the dexterity of Maurice 
Moore.* While the courts of Oyer and Terniiner and 
General Gaol Delivery were holding in Wilmington, he 
excepted to the commissions of the judges upon reasons 
which he sustained. He first alleged, that the province 
law which created the court, gave to the chief justice the 
power of oyer and terminer and general goal delivery, but 
that the clause which empowered the associates to act in his 
absence gave them only the powers of judges of oyer and 
terminer, and therefore that the commissions exceeded 
the Governor's powers. His second exception was, that 
the commission was to try for the " district of Wilming- 
ton,^^ when no such district had been made by the law. 
Mr. Moore succeeded in suppressing the court, by the 
voice of the associates who took an advisari and adjourned 

* A letter from William Hooper to Judge Iredell, August 5, 1774. 


This was during the month of June, 1774, after which 
period I find no notices of the courts of Oyer and 
Terminer, or of the judicial dignity of Howard. Such 
was the untimely, and yet merited fate, of the only hope of 
the Royal judges of North Carolina. 1 say the merited 
fate, hecause the chief justice was notoriously destitute, 
not only of the common virtues of humanity, but of all 
sympathy whatever with the community in which he lived. 
He openly confessed himself inimical to the people, and 
his letters show a degree of malignity,* unworthy of a 
judge or of a private citizen. 

These distracting questions, which I have discussed so 
much in detail, operated to draw into the Whig party, with 
singular unanimity, the profession of the law ; a class of 
mankind, who are, as a general rule, usually in favor of 
" the powers that be." The court-law controversy was the 
most prominent cause of dissatisfaction to the people at 
large, and transcended in its immediate appeal to their 
personal comforts and rights, the abstract question of Brit- 
ish allegiance. To the people of Boston the latter subject 
was the more interesting, as they suffered from the aggres- 
sions of the mother country ; but to the people of North 
Carolina, whose fellow-citizens were never butchered, and 
whose ports were never closed by a military force, these 
important usurpations were thrown into the shade by the 
greater danger of domestic trouble. The opposition to 
the ministry in North Carolina was embittered, not by 
personal sufferings, but by a deep sympathy with the peo- 
ple of Massachusetts, who were complimented in all the 
public meetings throughout the Province, and who were 

* A letter of his to Judge Iredell, of date May 20, 1773, is before me. 


assured of their readiness to aid them, in any general 
scheme of protection or resistance. 

I have said, tliat one happy effect of the destruction of 
the courts, was the adoption of the Whig cause by the pro- 
fessors of the law. I must illustrate this by an appeal to 
circumstances and individuals. Isaac Edwards, a lawyer 
of New Berne, and who had formerly been private secre- 
tary to Governor Tryon, in a letter to Judge Williams of 
Granville, dated on the 20th of July, 1773, uses the fol- 
lowing Whig language. 

" What are you all doing in these times ? I suppose you, who have 
money enough, are amusing yourself by the improvements of your 
plantations, to which you have now leisure to attend ; but what do 
other people, whose barns are less plenteously stored and coffers not. 
so sufficiently replenished, do ? If I may judge of them by myself, 
the prospect before them is not the most flattering, nor is the plenti- 
ful harvest, which must at some time come, I fear so near at hand 
as we wish it. The mother country has not of late discovered any 
great desire to promote the wish of her children, much less to miti- 
gate or relax the mandates of her sovereign and supreme power ; and, 
if I judge aright, her children in this our dear country have too sa- 
cred a regard to what they esteem their undoubted birthright, tamely 
to surrender it to the command of any tribunal under heaven. "What 
is to become of us requires deeper penetration than mine to discover ; 
but I am apprehensive it will be some time before matters are accom- 
modated to our wishes ; terms of peace on the one hand being expect- 
ed, if not exacted, or perhaps I may reverse it, and say exacted if not 
expected, which on constitutional principles cannot, I apprehend, be 
relinquished. As yet nothing is known certainly about it. We have 
nothing scarcely stirring among us, every thing is still, and I am 
happy to find that in our neighbourhood the distresses of the times 
are as little felt as can possibly be expected, in any place under a 
suspension of judicial proceedings." 

(April, 1774.) My narrative is approaching that inter- 
esting period of our history, when the people moved in a 


body towards the organization of the Continental Congress. 
In most of the Provinces the people were driven to this 
step by the continued and insolent aggressions of the Brit- 
ish ministry and parliament ; but in North Carolina a 
combination of causes, independent of that general princi- 
ple/' operated to produce dissatisfaction towards the au- 
thority of the mother country. The elements of that 
combination I have exhibited, in the violence of the court- 
law controversy, the party bickerings on the repeal of the 
acts of 1748 and 1754, and other legislative disputes. In 
as short a space as possible, I now propose to examine 
the origin and the progress of the first Provincial Congress 
of North Carolina. The people had been, for ten years, 
protesting and complaining against the unconstitutional 
legislation of the mother country, and their protests and 
complaints had been couched in the submissive and obed- 
ient language of faithful subjects. The age for such 
things had passed away ; and now the fire that had been 
so long smothered, by the recollection of a common origin 
and kindred ties and sympathies, burst forth, and spread 
in one unextinguishable flame, over the whole country, 
from Maine to Georgia. The war of words was over, and 
that of life and death had come. 

There were five characters of that day, whose extraor- 
dinary services in the cause of the first Provincial Con- 
gress deserve to be particularly noticed. John Harvey, 
William Hooper, Willie Jones, Samuel Johnston, and 
James Iredell, were the principal pioneers in that great 
and perilous undertaking. If I may judge from their 
letters, they were, as early as the 1st of April, 1774, con- 
templating the organization of a Provincial Congress or 
Assembly, directly from the people, and independent of 


the authority of the Governor. Tlie proposition to organ- 
ize a Continental by the immediate agency of a Provincial 
Congress, was first made to our committee of correspond- 
ence by the committee of Massachusetts, about the 1st of 
June ; and, nearly two months anterior to that date, I find 
the following letter from Samuel Johnston to William 

« My Dear Sir, 

" Colonel Harvey and myself lodged last night with Colo- 
nel Buncombe, and as we sat up very late the conversation turned 
on continental and provincial affairs. Colonel Harvey said during 
the night, that Mr. Biggleston told him, the governor did not intend 
to convene another Assembly until he saw some chance of a better 
one than the last ; and that he told the secretary, that then the peo- 
ple would convene one themselves. He was in a very violent mood, 
and declared he was for assembling a convention independent of the 
governor, and urged upon us to cooperate with him. He says, he 
will lead the way, and will issue handbills under his own name, and 
that the committee of correspondence ought to go to work at once. 
As for my own part, I do not know what better can be done. With- 
out courts to sustain the property and to exercise the talents of the 
country, and the people alarmed and dissatisfied, we must do some- 
thing to save ourselves. Colonel Harvey said, he had mentioned 
the matter only to Willie Jones of Halifax, whom we had met the 
day before, and that he thought well of it, and promised to exert 
himself in its favor. I beg your friendly counsel and advice on the 
subject, and hope you will speak of it to Mr. Harnett and Colonel 
Ashe, or any other such men. Colonel Harvey left us this morning, 
and I shall follow him in the course of a few days as far as Edenton, 
where if there is any thing important stirring, you shall hear from 
me again. My best respects to your family, and believe me 
" Your obedient servant, 

" Samuel Johnstow. 

" April 5, 1774." 

I have never been able to find any letter from Mr. 
Hooper to Mr. Johnston, purporting to be an answer to 


the one above, although I shall in the third part of this 
volume introduce one of far superior merit, which he wrote 
to James Iredell on the 26th of April, 1774. In this letter 
he openly avows the propriety, as well as the probability, 
of our independence. I look upon this letter as not infe- 
rior to any event in the history of the country ; and, in the 
boldness and originality of its views, T say that it is a doc- 
ument without a rival at the period of its date. It lakes 
precedence of the Mecklenburg Declaration, as that does 
of the national declaration of independence. It distinctly 
says, *' With you I anticipate the important share which 
" the colonies must soon have in regulating the political 
" balance. They are striding fast to independence, and 
" will ere long build an empire on the ruins of Britain, 
" will adopt its constitution purged of its impurities, and, 
" from an experience of its defects, will guard against 
" those evils which have wasted its vigor and brought it to 
" an untimely end." 

It will be seen, too, from the above extract, that James 
Iredell was not an indifferent spectator of the great strug- 
gle, then pending before the people, and that he had even 
anticipated Mr. Hooper in the patriotic reflections of this 
letter. Though but a mere youth at this period of our 
history, I find him one of the most ardent supporters of 
the Whig cause, and engaged in an extensive correspond- 
ence on the injuries of his country. He used his pen with 
great industry, and with still greater ability. I have 
many of his papers now before me, and observe, through- 
out all of them, the same zeal and devotion to the great 
American cause. In his correspondence with Mr. Hoop- 
er during the year 1774, the wrongs of the colonies are 
discussed at large, and in the letters of neither do I dis- 


cover even the hope of a reconciliation expressed. The 
sufferings of the people of Boston are always alluded to 
by IMr. Hooper ; and, in one of his letters* to his friend 
Jredell, he says, " The people of Cape Fear have sent a 
vessel loaded with provisions for the support of Boston. 
The subscription in a few days amounted to £800, and 
in all other respects they discover a very proper resent- 
ment for the injuries done to that people." 

These observations and letters will illustrate the state of 
the public mind, during the spring and summer of the 
year 1774. The people were well prepared for immedi- 
ate action, and when the project of a Provincial and Conti- 
nental Congress was published abroad, they embraced it 
with enthusiasm and zeal. About the 1st of July, handbills 
inviting the people to elect delegates to a convention to be 
held in New Berne, on the 25th of August, were generally 
circulated throughout the Province, and the objects of the 
said convention w^ere staled to be, to express the sentiments 
of the people " on acts lately passed by the Parliament of 
Great Britain, and to appoint delegates to represent the 
Province in a Continental Congress." The handbills ad- 
vised the people to invest the deputies, whom they might 
send to New Berne, " with powers obligatory on the 
future conduct of the inhabitants." 

By the 1st of August a large majority of the counties 
had held elections, and vested the high powers recom- 
mended, in their long-tried and faithful leaders. Governor 
Martin pretended to doubt the success of the plan, until 
he perceived its overwhelming popularity ; and it was not 
until the 12th of August that he condescended to take 

* August 5, 1774. 


official cognizance of such proceedings. On that day 
his Excellency addressed the honorable members of the 
Council as follows : 

" Gentlemen of His Majesty's Council, 

" I have heard with the greatest concern, and have read in public 
newspapers and handbills, of invitations to the people in the seve- 
ral counties and towns of this Province, to meet together to express 
their sentiments on acts lately passed by the Parliament of Great 
Britain ; and to appoint deputies to attend on their behalf, with 
powers obligatory on the future conduct of the inhabitants of this 
Province, at a meeting that I understand is to be held here on the 
25<A instant. I also find, that meetings of the freeholders and in- 
habitants have accordingly been already held in some places, at 
which resolves have been entered into, derogatory to the dignity of 
his Majesty and his Parliament, and tending to excite clamor and 
discontent among the King's subjects in this Province." 

Under these circumstances, he considered it his indis- 
pensable duty to advise with them as to the measures most 
proper to be taken to discourage these assemblies, so in- 
consistent with the peace and good order of the govern- 
ment. To this appeal, the Council replied, that they would 
maturely weigh the matters of his speech, until the next 
day, when they would deliver their advice. On the next 
day, in accordance with the advice of the Council, the 
Governor issued a proclamation, in which he condemned 
the assemblies and elections of the people, as highly illegal, 
and warned all officers of the King, both civil and military, 
to do all to the utmost of their pov/er to prevent such illegal 
meetings, and more particularly the meeting of certain 
Deputies on the 25th instant. This step however was of 
no avail. The Council Journal of this year (from which I 
am now drawing my matter) states, that on the 25th of 
August, the Governor signified to the Council, that that 



was the day appointed for the meeting of certain Deputies 
from the several counties and towns of the Province, and 
that many of them had actually arrived. He then desired 
to know if they could advise any further measures than those 
he had taken, and " they were unanimously of opinion, that 
no other steps could properly be taken at this conjuncture." 
Neither the Proclamation, nor the less official menaces 
of Governor Martin, could prevent the assembling of the 
deputies. On the 25th of August, 1774, they punctually 
met in New Berne, and elected Colonel John Harvey 
Moderator, and Andrew Knox Clerk of their body. The 
Congress being thus in session, the curiosity of the reader 
is aroused to learn the names and characters of those, who 
thus led the way, in the first effort to organize a delibera- 
tive Assembly independent of the authority of the existing 
government. They were the pioneers in our glorious 
Revolution, and the organization of this Congress was their 
first overt act. I shall introduce them to the reader by a 
record of their names, and a (ew observations on the 
characters of some of the most distinguished. 




C Samuel Spencer 
\ William Thomas 


Roger Ormond 
Thomas Respiss 


] William Salter 

I Walter Sibron j 


: William Person ' 
!; Green Hill ! 


Robert Howe 


John Campbell 





f James Cook, 
j Lemuel Hatch, 

Joseph Leech 

(^Richard Cogdell 
^ VVm Thompson 
\ Solomon Perkins 
C Nathan Joyce 
\ Samuel Jarvis 
f Samuel Johnston 
I Thomas Oldham 
-{ Thomas Benbury 
I Thomas Jones 
(^Thomas Hunter 



Chatham Cou. 











JY. Hanover, 

JV. Hampton, 



F. Campbell 
T. Rutherford 
ntij, not represented. 
( Richard Caswell 
J Will. McKennie 
] George Miller 
(^ Simon Bright 
r Thomas Gray 
J Thomas Hicks 
j James Kenan 
(^William Dickson 

C Thomas Person 
I Memucan Hunt 

^ Rothias Latham 
([ Samuel Smith 

C Nicholas Long 
\ Willie Jones 
C Needham Bryan 
\ Benj. Williams 
Benjamin Patten 
E. Smith wick 
C John Ashe 
\ William Hooper 
Allen Jones 
Thomas Hart 
William Gray 


f John Harvey 
I Benjamin Harvey 
Perquimons, <( Thomas Harvey 
I Andrew Knox 
[j. Whidbee, Jun. 
f Joseph Jones 
Pasquotank, <{ Edward Everigin 
(^Joseph Reading 
I John Simpson 
( Edward Salter 
f William Kenon 
■^ Moses Winslow 
l^ Samuel Young 
David Jenkins 
Robert Alexander 
( Joseph Spurill 
( Jeremiah Eraser 
Abner Nash 
Isaac Edwards 
Joseph Hewes 
Francis Clayton 
William Brown 
John Geddy 





JVeio Berne, 




Halifax Toicn, 



Brunsicick Toion, 


The Moderator, John Harvey, whose name occurs so 
often and so honorably in the history of North Carolina, 
was a native of the Albermarle Shore, and a citizen of the 
county of Perquimons. Endowed by nature with a vigor- 
ous mind, and having embraced the most liberal oppor- 
tunities for its cultivation, he added the ornaments of 
education to those more indispensable and hereditary 
qualifications of a polished gentleman, which eminently dis- 
tinguished his character. After having for many years 
served as a member of the Assembly from Perquimons, 
he was, in 1766, elected Speaker of the popular House, 

* My notices of the Provincial Congress are from the MSS. in 
the State Department of North Carolina. 


a station which he filled, with but one interruption, to the 
close of the Royal government. The great influence ex- 
ercised by Samuel Swann, who had filled the Speaker's 
chair for nearly twenty years, had given that station a 
dignity scarcely inferior to that of the executive, and much 
superior to that of a councillor. The Speaker of the 
popular House, after the days of Mr. Swann, was looked 
upon as the leader of the Whig party, and the hereditary de- 
fender of the rights of the people. John Ashe, the hero of the 
Wilmington sedition, succeeded Swann in 1762, and John 
Harvey succeeded him in 1766. Throughout the turbu- 
lent period of the years 1767, 1768, and 1769, he pre- 
sided over the deliberations of the House, and received 
the unanimous thanks of that body at the close of each 
session. The powerful influence of Tryon had paralyzed 
the Whig party, and made his hereditary office a sinecure ; 
and in the Assembly of 1770, Harvey was succeeded by 
Richard Caswell, a gentleman more acceptable to Tryon, 
as a personal and political friend. In the Assembly of 
1773, however, he was again elected Speaker at the 
instance of Caswell, and here he found the office one of 
dignity and importance. The House, from this period to 
the flight of Governor IVIartin (and the consequent disso- 
lution of the Royal government), was, strictly speaking, ar- 
rayed as a party against the government; and, during the 
whole of this time, Mr. Harvey was the acknowledged lead- 
er of the opposition. He conducted the Whigs through the 
great controversy on the court law, and the attachment 
clause, and the various other disputes with the Executive 
and Council. I have stated that he was chosen Modera- 
tor of the first Independent Provincial Congress, a station 
which he filled with great honor to himself, and advantage 
to the cause of his country, until his death. He was re- 


markable for great decision of character and firmness in 
his political principles, and demeaned himself towards his 
opponents, and more particularly the Governor, with a 
haughty reserve, which showed the bitterness of his oppo- 
sition. Harvey's Neck, a point of land on Albemarle 
Sound, at the mouth of the Perquimons River, was the 
seat of this remarkable and illustrious family, which, for 
many years before the Revolution, was celebrated for its 
dignity, antiquity, and weahh. The changes of half a 
century have left nothing but a few venerable and respect- 
ed tombs, to attest the magnificent hospitality and grandeur 
of the House of Harvey. 

Of William Hooper, one of the Deputies from New 
Hanover, I propose not now to speak. I shall dedicate 
to his character the concluding chapter of my work, and 
shall then, too, notice the characters of his colleagues, 
John Penn of Granville and Joseph Hewes of Edenton, 
who were members of the Provincial as well as the Con- 
tinental Congress. 

Richard Caswell of Dobbs was one of the leading men 
of the Congress, both as an efficient business-man, and as a 
strenuous supporter of the principles which they convened 
to uphold. The character of none of the patriots of 1776 is 
so well known, as that of Caswell. The various servi- 
ces of his active life cannot be even recounted in a work 
like this. I must content myself with a notice of a few 
of the prominent events of his career, and leave the 
pleasure of a more copious detail to the industry and zeal 
of some future biographer. 

I find him in 1765 an acfive opponent of the Stamp 
Act, and eagerly disposed to take the field in opposition 
to the measures of the government. In a few succeed- 
ing years, however, he attached himself to the party of 


Tiyon, and opposed, with all his power the movements of 
the Regulators. This singular position, of opposition to 
the government in 17G5 and of warm attachment to it in 
1768 and 17G9, is not more unaccountable or con- 
tradictory, than the movements of the leading politicians 
of the day. 

After the excitement of the Stamp Act had subsided, 
the failure of Tryon to supersede the popular leaders in 
the affections of the people, taught him a lesson of prudence. 
Finding it impossible to win the peoi)ie, he determined to 
win their leaders; and, for this purpose, he condescended 
to employ the lucrative offices of his government, as well 
as the elegant hospitality of his palace. In the midst of 
such civilities as the latter, adorned by the presence of his 
lovely and accomplished lady, he fascinated the mind of 
the ambitious Caswell, and won him over to his confidence 
and support. In 1770, he is observed in the Speaker's 
chair of the House, a distinction which he acquired much 
to the satisfaction of Tryon, who considered it as an evi- 
dence of the strength of his party. 

In the battle of Allemance, he was one of the most effi- 
cient generals of the Governor's army, and commanded 
the right wing of the second line in that famous engage- 
ment. When, however, Tryon had ceased to govern the 
Colony, and his place was filled by another, Caswell re- 
turned to the support of the rights of the people, and in a 
few years became one of the leading Whigs of the Province. 
He was, during the session of this, the first Provincial 
Congress, appointed, in conjunction with Messrs. Hooper, 
and Hewes, to represent North Carolina in the Continen- 
tal Congress, a situation which he held until the 8th of 
September, 1775, when he was chosen one of the 
Treasurers of the Province. Still continuing a member 





of the Provincial Congress, he was elected its President, 
at a period when the present constitution of the State was 
adopted ; and, by an ordinance of the same Convention, he 
was elected the first Governor of the state of North Caroli- 
na. He carried the State through the stormy period of his 
administration with signal success, and, after the expiration 
of that official service, he was actively engaged in the 
conduct of the war. The voice of an enemy is good au- 
thority in his favor, and the pages of Tarleton's Campaigns, 
written by that energetic enemy of American freedom, 
will attest both his industry and his courage. In 1785 
he was again elected Governor of the State, an office 
for which, by the superior energy of his character, he 
seemed admirably fitted. Having filled that station 
during the regular constitutional period of his election, he 
was shortly afterwards returned to the State Senate, and 
was struck dead with an apoplexy, while officiating as its 
Speaker. To no single individual is North Carolina more 
indebted than to Governor Richard Caswell. He con- 
tributed to her service not only his prayers and other 
exercises of his mind, but personal influence and bodily 
labor. He not only commanded armies and planned 
batdes, but fought with his own hand ; and it is for this con- 
stant devotion and sacrifice, that his character is cherished 
as sacred by the people of North Carolina. A history of 
his life would be a history of the revolution and of the 
constitution, and presents one of the fairest subjects for an 
historical memoir in the annals of the State. 

Samuel Johnston, one of the depuUes from Chowan, 
was eminently distinguished for the amiable virtues of pri- 
vate life, as well as his zeal in the cause of American 
freedom. He had been for many years one of the leading 


Wliigs of the Province, and of the popular House of the 
Assembly, and now headed the delegation fronn the patri- 
otic county of Chowan. After the death of John Harvey, 
he succeeded him in the trying and hazardous duties of 
Moderator of the Provincial Congress, and manfully ful- 
filled all the obligations which descended to him from his 
predecessor. He was a gentleman of rank and education, 
and his private papers exhibit an extensive and learned 
correspondence, on the various rights of the Colonies, and 
the equally various aggressions of the Ministry, In his 
correspondence with Alexander Elmsly, in J 773, 1774, 
and 1775, he appears to great advantage, not only as 
a statesman and lawyer, but as an American patriot, and 
one who had carefully weighed the chances of the then 
approaching contest. Like nearly all the men of educa- 
tion and rank at that day, he found much to dislike in the 
present Constitution of the State ; and in the spring of 
1776, while that instrument was the subject of con- 
sultation, he urged his objections boldly, and, in one or two 
instances, with success. In the old draft of the Constitu- 
tion which was before the Committee of the Consiress 
of April, 1776, there was a clause " empowering the 
inhabitants to elect the Justices of the County Court." 
The influence of Samuel Johnston, was arrayed against 
this project, and it was struck out of the original draft. 
It is well known that a draft of the Constitution was not 
presented to the consideration of the Congress of the 
spring of 1776, on account of a division in the Com- 
mittee, and that this instrument does not appear the sub- 
ject of a debate or discussion until the Convention of 1776, 
by which body it was adopted. But even before its 
adoption, or before it was reported to the House from the 


select Committee, the clause on the popular election * of 
the Judges of the County Court was reinstated. Samuel 
Johnston, although not a member of the Convention, was 
in Halifax ; and, by the exercise of his influence, he agaia 
succeeded in subduing what he considered the evil 
spirit of democracy. His views on the subject of the 
Constitution were, that the departure from the principles 
of the British government was too great, and that the un- 
bridled will of the people was as dangerous a machine of 
tyranny, as an irresponsible Monarch. Nor was he alone 
in this opinion. Nearly all the intelligence to be found in 
the Convention of 1776 was of this persuasion; and such 
was the violence of the contest on this great principle, that 
there was, even at that early day, a violent and dom- 
inant democratic party, arrayed against the advocates 
of a splendid government. 

This dominant democratic party, however, did not in- 
sult the rights or the dignity of courts of justice. Their 
intemperate zeal was checked by the prudence and con- 
trolling services of Caswell, who was essentially their 
leader, and to whose forbearance we owe much of the 
respectability of our present constitution. I am not aware 
that Samuel Johnston ever surrendered the political prin- 
ciples of his early life. The weakness of the State Gov- 
ernments was the principal inducement for the present Con- 
stitution of the United States, and, when that instrument 
was presented for the approbation of the States, the aris- 
tocratic party revived all its strength in its support. In 
this cause, viz. the support of the Constitution of the Uni- 
ted States, Mr. Johnston took a most active and influ-' 

Letter of Johnston to Iredell. 


ential part, and contribuied, more than any other citizen of 
the State, to procure its adoption. He was President of 
both the Conventions, uiiich assembled to discuss its mer- 
its, and even while he filled this responsible station, he 
was the Governor of the State. In the close of the year 
1789, when the Constitution was adopted, he was elected 
the first Senator to Conoress from North Carolina, a sta- 
tion in which he nobly sustained the great reputation he 
had acquired in the former service of his country. Hav- 
ing filled nearly every office of distinction, within the gift 
of the people, he died in 1816, blessed with the affections 
of his fellow citizens, and with the remembrance of a well- 
spent life. 

General Thomas Person, was a Deputy from the coun- 
ty of Granville, to the first Provincial Congress. 1 la- 
ment the want of lime and space to expatiate on the life 
of this extraordinary man. There is no name in our his- 
tory more remarkable for its continued opposition to the 
oppressions of the Royal government, and the undeviating 
support of the privileges of the people. He was oppos- 
ed to the Stamp Act, was a violent Regulator, and, al- 
though his estate was ravaged"^ and his dwelling plundered 
by the emissaries of Tryon, he subdued his feelings so 
far as to forgive their robberies, when he had subsequent- 
ly the power to punish them. He was a genuine Whig, 
— not only opposed to the encroachments of the Bri- 
tish Parliament, but to the high-handed extortion and 
corruption of the administration of Governor Tryon. He 
was elected one of the members of the Provincial Coun- 

*The desk which the emissaries of Tryon broke open, while 
ravaginjr his estate, is still in the Person family, and bears still the 
mark of the hatchet that was used. 


cil when that body was first instituted, after the flight of 
Governor Martin; and at a subsequent period of our histo- 
ry, was complimented by the erection of the County of 
Person. In his declining years he displayed a munificent 
spirit in the endowment of our University, with funds for 
the erection of a College Chapel, a structure which still 
bears the- name of Person Hall, and which sufficiently at- 
tests his laudable zeal in the cause of education. 

There were four members of this first Provincial Con- 
gress, all bearing the same name, and all distinguislied for 
their patriotism and zeal in the cause of their country. 
Willie Jones, of Halifax, Thomas Jones, of Chowan, Allen 
Jones, of North Hampton, and Joseph Jones, of Pasquotank, 
deserve to be noticed as a numerous but able representation 
of that celebrated Whig family. The early and continu- 
ed support which they yielded to the rights of the people, as 
well as the remarkable coincidence of their names, have 
distinguished them as a patriotic band ; and I am not 
aware that the whole history of tlie State presents a sin- 
gle example, to impeach the Whig character of that ex- 
tensive name. As the Revolution advanced, the accession 
of the name to its cause continues, until the adoption of 
the State Constitution, when the patience of computation 
is exhausted, by the immense crowd which are presented 
for the applause of posterity. The dissimilar characters 
of the two brothers, Willie and Allen Jones, as well as 
their respective merits, entitle them to a longer notice than 
I have space to give. Observing that they were both em- 
inently distinguished for their patriotism, during the pro- 
gress of the war, 1 approach the position of these two 
men during the contest on the Consfitution of the United 
States. To Willie Jones, that instrument was indebted for 


its signal rejection in the Convention at Hillsborough in 
1788 ; and to Allen Jones it was indebted for a warm and 
most decided support. The first maintained a sullen si- 
lence during the debates of that Convention, and sought 
the private caucusses and meetings of the members, as a 
theatre for his vehement denunciations of the Constitution, 
as the charter of a consolidated government. The latter, 
on every occasion, lauded it as a wise and prudent com- 
promise, intended to rear up a splendid and respectable 
government, on the dishonored fragments of the old Con- 
federacy, and the abridged sovereignty of the States. 
Both were faithful to their earliest principles. In 1776, 
while the State Constitution was discussed in private let- 
ters, and in public harangues, they divided on the same 
principles ; and, while Willie Jones strenuously insisted on 
our present Constitution, as the essence of democracy, his 
brother declared it an unfit system of goverment, and was 
the advocate of a powerful government, representing entire- 
ly the intelligence, virtue, and wealth of the State. The 
superiority of Willie Jones over every other individual of 
the State in 1788, is best illustrated by the rejection of the 
Constitution of the United States, by a majority of one 
hundred in the Convention of that year. He was a schol- 
ar, as well as an efficient business-man, and, in the language 
of one of his contemporaries, " could draw a bill in better 
language, than any other man of his day." He died at 
his seat near Raleigh, and his remains still sleep in the 
garden of his former mansion.* 

Thomas Jones, of Chowan, was a lawyer of some dis- 
tinction in those days, and carried the skill and prudence 

* Now the property of the Hon. Henry Seawell. 


of his profession to the American cause. Between this 
man and Willie Jones rests the honor of having written the 
Constitution of North Carolina. I speak upon the author- 
ity of a deceased friend,* when 1 ascribe the distinction to 
Thomas Jones, although I do not deny the claim of the 
other. They were most undoubtedly the framers of the 
instrument ; and it bears in so many instances the stamp of 
the peculiar services of Willie Jones, that I cannot give 
up the conclusion, which I formed some years since, that 
he had a material agency in its composition, as well as its 

Of Joseph Jones, of Pasquotank, apart from the purity 
of his private character and the undoubted patriotism of 
his whole life, I have not much to say. One thing, how- 
ever, deserves to be mentioned, highly illustrative of his 
public spirit and enterprise. He, together with Benjamin 
Jones, conceived the project of the Dismal Swamp Canal, 
a work v/hich, after a revolution of more than a half a 
century, successfully unites the waters of Virginia and 
North Carolina, and pours into the mart of Norfolk the 
rich products of the Albemarle and Roanoke. In North 
Carolina, he is remembered for his long and perilous ser- 
vice in the cause of her independence, more than for the 
success of his enterprise. In Virginia a debt of gratitude 
is due his memory, for the resuscitation of one of her an- 
cient boroughs, and tlie new spirit of rivalry and enter- 
prise, that broke forth in the jealous rival of the city of 

I must here terminate my sketches of the eminent men 
of that Congress, and proceed to an examination of their 
proceedings. On the 25th of August, 1774, they assem- 

* The late Judge Murphy. 



bled and organized, and, on the 2Gtli, it was resolved, that 
three delegates be appointed to attend the General Con- 
gress at Philadelphia in September. On Saturday the 
27th, they adopted a variety of resolutions on the general 
state of America, and a few only of local interest. They 
commenced by the most solemn vows of loyalty for the 
House of Hanover, and then, in the second Resolve, George 
the Third is formally recognised as the Sovereign of the 
Province, and His Majesty assured of their willingness to 
support his succession, as by law established, against the 
open or private attempts of any person or persons whatev- 
er. After these submissive resolutions, the Congress pro- 
ceeded to avow their rights, m a language which seemed 
to mock the loyalty of the first two, by its violence and 
total inconsistency. They claim the rights of English- 
men, without abridgment, and swear they will sustain them 
to the utmost of their power. They define those rights to 
be, that no subject shall be taxed but by his own consent, 
or that of his legal representative, and denounce in un- 
measured terms every policy that assails this most sacred 
right ; and yet such had been the policy of the sovereign, 
whose authority they had sworn to maintain and defend.* 
In every age and every clime, people, no matter how 
much excited, are slow to embrace the idea of a revolu- 
tion, and are wont prudently to survey the violence of the 
waves, before they plunge into the whirlpool. They hesi- 
tate on the threshold, and even after they have by their 
own acts fairly entered, they deny the charge of rebellion 
or revolution, as a reflection on their honor and patriotism. 
The Congress, proceeding in the exposition of their rights, 
condemned the several acts of Parliament, imposing du- 
ties on the imports of the Colonies, as highly illegal and 

* MS. Journal. 


oppressive, and declared that the exportation of tea to 
Boston was a trick to give effect to those abominable acts, 
and thereby establish a precedent highly dishonorable to 
America. I shall extract at length one of the resolutions. 

'' Resolved, That the inliabitants of Massachusetts Province have 
distinguished themselves in a manly support of the rights of Amer- 
ica in general, and that the cause in which they now suffer is the 
cause of every honest American, who deserves the blessings which 
the Constitution holds forth to them. That the grievances, under 
which the town of Boston labors at present, are the effect of a re- 
sentment, levelled at them, for having stood foremost in an opposition 
to measures, which must eventually have involved all British Amer- 
ica in a state of abject dependence and servitude.'* 

The Boston Port Bill was then censured, as an outrage 
on the liberty of a British subject, and a violation " of the 
chartered rights granted them by their Majesties, King 
William and Queen Mary, and as tending to lessen that sa- 
cred confidence which ought to be placed in the acts of 
Kings." The trial by juries of the vicinage, was pro- 
nounced the only lawful inquest that could pass upon 
the life of a British subject ; and the sending of persons 
beyond the seas to be tried in certain criminal cases, as 
had been proposed in Massachusetts, was said to be fraught 
with the highest injustice, and likely to produce fi-equent 
bloodshed of the inhabitants. 

They declared they would not, after the first day of Jan- 
uary, 1775, import from any quarter of the globe any East 
india Goods or British Manufactures, nor would they pur- 
chase such articles so imported from any persons, except 
such as were then in the country, or might arrive on or be- 
fore the aforesaid 1st of January. They declared that, 
unless American grievances were redressed before the 
Ist of October, 1775, they would not export any tobacco, 


pitch, tnr, turpentine, or any other articles whatever, 
to Great Britain. They resolved not to use, nor suffer to 
be used in their families, any East India Tea, after the 
10th day of September, and declared all persons not com- 
plying with that resolution, enemies to their country. 
Their complaints, it will be seen, are generally borrowed 
from the distresses of Boston, and show the closeness of 
the various sympathies and ties, which, at so early a period, 
united the American people. 

One of the most important resolutions adopted by the 
Congress was, that the people of the Province would 
break off all trade or commerce of any kind, with 
any city or town, or with any individual in such city 
or town, that should refuse, decline, or neglect to 
adopt or carry into execution, such general plan as should 
be agreed to in the Continental Congress. The resolve on 
the propriety of the Continental Congress is as follows. 

"Resolved, That we approve of the proposal of a General Con- 
gress to be held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 20th of Sep- 
tember next, then and there to deliberate upon the present state of 
British America, and to take such measures as they may deem pru- 
dent, to effect the purpose of describing with certainty the rights of 
Americans, repairing the breaches made in those rights, and for 
guarding them for the future, from any such violations done under 
the sanction of public authority. 

" Resolved, That William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and Richard 
Caswell, Esquires, and every of them, be deputies to attend such 
Congress ; and they are hereby invested with such powers as may 
make any act done by them, obligatory in honor upon every inhab- 
itant of the Province, who is not an alien to his country's good and 
an apostate to the liberties of America." 

I invite the attention of the reader to the latter resolve, 
as highly illustrative of the great degree of confidence re- 
posed in the three delegates by the whole Congress. The 
pnlirnited discretion, with which these gentlemen were in- 


vested, will likewise show the eagerness of the people of 
North Carolina to cooperate in the scheme of general 

I here extract two other resolutions, expressive of the 
opinion of the Congress on the policy of the Ministry, 
and which seem to conclude their deliherations on Con- 
tinental affairs. 

" Resolved, That we view the attempts made by the Ministers 
upon the Town of Boston, as a prelude to a general attack upon the 
rights of the other Colonies, and that upon the success of this depends, 
in a great measure, the happiness of America, in its present race 
and in posterity ; and that therefore it becomes our duty to con- 
tribute, in proportion to our abilities, to ease the burthen imposed 
upon that Town, for their virtuous opposition to the Revenue Acts, 
that they may be enabled to persist in a prudent and manly oppo- 
sition to the schemes of Parliament, and render its dangerous de- 
signs abortive. 

" Resolved, That Liberty is the spirit of the British Constitution, 
and that it is the duty, and will be the endeavour of us all, to transmit 
this happy Constitution to our posterity in a state, if possible, bet- 
ter than we found it ; and that to suffer it to undergo a change, which 
may impair that invaluable blessing, would be to disgrace those an- 
cestors, who, at the expense of their blood, purchased those privi- 
leges, which their degenerate posterity are too weak or too wicked 
to maintain inviolate." 

This last spirited resolve, founded on the distresses of 
Boston, reflects the highest honor on the patriotism and 
virtue of our ancestors, and deserves to be cherished as a 
venerable monument of the philadelphian character of 
the old American Colonies. The people of North Caro- 
lina, as has been before mentioned, suffered nothing from 
the aggressions of the Ministry, except a denial of their 
rights, and appealed to the outrages committed on their 
brethren of Boston as the source of their discontent, and 
as a ground of rebellion. 

The Congress, as was usual in all the Provinces, gave 



writien instructions to their delegates ; and, as similar in- 
structions have in several instances been published, to show 
the Whig spirit of those days, I shall present an exact 
transcript of those given to the North Carolina delegation. 

" Resolved, That the follovvinjr be instructions for the deputies, 
appointed to meet in General Congress on the part of this Colony, 
to wit : 

" That they express our sincere attachment to our most gracious 
Sovereign, George the Third, and our determined resolution to sup- 
port his lawful authority in this Province ; at the same time, that 
we cannot depart from a steady adherence to the first law of nature, 
a firm and resolute defence of our persons and properties, against 
all unconstitutional encroachments whatsoever. 

« That they assert our right to all the privileges of British subjects, 
particularly that of paying no taxes or duties but with our own con- 
sent, and that the legislature of the Province have the exclusive 
power of making laws to regulate our internal polity, subject to his 
Majesty's disallowance. 

" That, should the British Parliament continue to exercise the 
powder of laying taxes and duties on the Colonies, and making laws 
to bind them in all cases whatsoever, such laws must be highly un- 
constitutional and oppressive to the inhabitants of British America, 
who have not, and from their local circumstances cannot have, a 
fair and equal representation in the British Parliament; and that 
these disadvantages must be greatly enhanced by the misrepresen- 
tations of designing men, inimical to the Colonies, the influence of 
whose reports cannot be guarded against, by reason of the distance 
of America from them, or, as has been unhappily experienced in the 
case of the town of Boston, where the ears of the administration 
have been shut against every attempt to vindicate a people, who 
claimed only the right of being heard in their own defence. 

" That, therefore, until we obtain an explicit declaration and ac- 
knowledgment of our rights, we agree to stop all imports from Great 
Britain, after the first day of January, 1775, and that we will not ex- 
port any of our commodities to Great Britain after the first day of 
October, 1775. 

" That they concur with the deputies or delegates from the oth- 
er colonies in such regulations, addresses, or remonstrances, as may 
be deemed most probable to restore a lasting harmony, and good un- 
derstanding with Great Britain, a circumstance we most sincerely 


and ardently desire, and that they agree with the majority of them 
in all necessary measures for promoting a redress of such griev- 
ances, as may come under their consideration." 

Such are the instructions of the Congress to the dele- 
gates, and they are marked by the same inconsistency which 
was observed in their first deliberative effort. The King 
was the lawful sovereign, and they were determined to 
support his authority ; but they cannot depart from a steady 
adherence to a principle which they have long loved, viz. 
that of resisting encroachments on their rights against any 
authority whatever. 

The most important local subject which was discussed 
during this Congress, was the non-importation of slaves 
from the coast of Africa. In one of their resolves I ob- 
serve it positively interdicted, — not in a spirit of hostility 
to the commerce of England, or with a view to derive an 
exclusive benefit from such a trade, — but in the unequiv- 
ocal language of the resolve, " That they will not import 
any slave or slaves, nor purchase any slave or slaves im- 
ported or brought into this Province by others, from any 
part of the world, after the first day of November next." 
If I considered such a proposition as a fit one for discus- 
sion in this volume, I should embrace the opportunity to 
suggest a dissentient opinion, to the expediency of this 
step of our forefathers. The wise framers of the Con- 
stitution of the Union did not appreciate such a step as 
an instantaneous termination of the slave-trade, and un- 
derstood too w^ell the rights of the people, and the extent 
of our commerce, to assail so vitally the existence 
of so extensive a trade. The ships of New England 
were profitably employed in such a commerce, and 
the Southern States acknowledge the benefit and favor of 
their agency, in the extent and rate of their purchases. 


The morality of that age had not been attuned, like that 
of the present day, by the exciting harangues and pub- 
Hcations of fanatics and demagogues ; but the right of prop- 
erty was respected, and the stability and peace of the 
community considered, as not an indifferent point in the 
civil duties of a good citizen. The importation of barba- 
rians from the deserts of Africa, to the genial, fruitful, 
and Christian clime of North America, and their gradual 
regeneration, was considered as a requital for many of the 
horrors of slavery, which now figure in the visionary 
schemes of agitators and emancipators. The prejudices 
of birth may be invincible ; but I shall be slow to acknowl- 
edge the consequent purity of all men, who deny the le- 
gal existence of such a relation as master and slave, and 
whose only anticipated delight seems to be, the destruction 
of our property, or the massacre of our people. 

In this Congress the principle of voting by counties and 
towns was adopted, as the most suitable method of decid- 
ing all differences which might arise in their deliberations. 
This singular mode seems to have been adopted on ac- 
count of the irregular numbers of deputies, which, from 
peculiar reasons, each county would sometimes appoint. 
In many of the small counties, four and frequently five or 
six aspiring men were candidates for the suffrages of the 
people ; and, in all such cases, prudence suggested the 
propriety of tying them more closely to the Whig cause, 
by a general election. Even the small boroughs conclud- 
ed to send a more numerous deputation ; nor was this an 
impediment to the despatch of public business, or an ex- 
pensive grievance to the Province, as each county or town 
commanded but one vote, and paid the expenses of its 
own members. The system of voting by counties was 


of great service in preventing long and distracting debates, 
and destroyed the influence of such members as were se- 
cretly indisposed to the general cause. The execution of 
the Resolves of the Congress was entrusted to a County 
Committee, which the deputies of each county and town 
were instructed to have elected ; and here the admirers of 
an absolute democracy may find a noble and worthy exam- 
ple for their respect and admiration. These County Com- 
mittees soon sprang into existence at the recommendation 
of the deputies, and proved the most active instruments 
engaged in the revolution of the country. The number 
five, proposed by the Congress, was not respected in many 
of the counties ; and this disobedience was atoned for, by 
a most rigorous execution of the duties of their office. 
When the freeholders of the county of Bute assembled at 
the old Court House, on Shocco, for the purpose of elect- 
ing the Committee, a variety of propositions were submit- 
ted as to the proper number of persons to compose it ; 
and, amidst the debate, Benjamin Ward, a much respected 
Esquire of the county, suggested that one should be se- 
lected from each Kin, — to use his own homely expres- 
sion. He supported his proposition with success, and 
accordingly one Committee-man was elected from each 
family, which had the desired effect of uniting all the 
relatives to the Whig cause. The rigid scrutiny of these 
County Committees soon detected 'all suspicious persons. 
They extorted oaths of loyalty to the American cause, 
and the signal punishment which they dealt out to all hap- 
less recusants, made the doubtful sincere and zealous, and 
the refractory and decided Tories, silent and indifferent. 
The only two acts of the Congress which remain for me 
to notice, are the resolution making a provision for the 


future existence of the body, and the last act of thanks to 
their able and fearless Moderator. With regard to the 
first, it was agreed that the Moderator, or in case of his 
death, Samuel Johnston, might at any time call them to- 
gether, at such place as he might deem proper, and, 
in case of the death or absence of any deputies, it was 
recommended that others should be elected. I shall ex- 
tract the vote of thanks to Colonel Harvey, as a duty which 
history and posterity alike owe his fame. 

" Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be given 
" to the Honorable John Harvey, Esquire, Moderator, for 
" his faithful exercise of that office, and the service he has 
" thereby rendered this Province and the freedom of 
" America in general." 

The duty which Colonel Harvey had performed, in call- 
ing together this Congress without authority from any quar- 
ter, either the Governor or the people, was a perilous step, 
and one which might have cost him his life or estate, had 
the authority of the Royal government been sufficiently 
strong. He had affixed his name to many of the hand- 
bills and advertisements, which called upon the people to 
elect delegates, and which provoked a Proclamation from 
Governor Martin. He did not shun the dangerous distinc- 
tion of presiding over the first Independent Provincial 
Congress, although it was denounced by the Governor as a 
treasonable assemblage ; and it will be seen, at a subse- 
quent period, that he did not hesitate to issue his proclama- 
tion convening the Congress, on the same day with that of 
the Provincial Assembly. 

After the adjournment of the Provincial Congress, Gov- 
ernor Martin visited New-York, for the benefit of his 
health, and perhaps for the benefit of his government. 


The tumults that raged around him, at New Berne, and 
which threatened to overthrow his power, were, by his own 
confessions, beyond his control ; but the prudent counsel 
and great influence of Governor Tryon, who still govern- 
ed New- York, might restore peace and authority to the 
Governor . of North Carolina. He was desirous, too, of 
being in the vicinity of the Continental Congress, that he 
might observe the conduct of the more contiguous Royal 
governors, and thus regulate his own government. Dur- 
ing his absence the administration of the government de- 
volved upon James Hasell, the President of the Council, 
a gentleman even of less energy and popularity than Gov- 
ernor IMartin. In the course of this temporary govern- 
ment, the only matters worthy of notice, in which Presi- 
dent Hasell acted a part, occurred on the 8th of October, 
in the proceedings of a meeting of the Council. The 
excited state of the public mind forbade the meeting of 
the Assembly, and accordingly it was by advice prorogued 
until the 24th of November. His Honor was pleased to 
communicate to the Board His Majesty's order in coun- 
cil under the Royal sign manual, dated the 1st of June 
preceding, signifying and declaring the Royal disapproba- 
tion and disallowance of several acts of Assembly, and, 
among many others, an Act for the Relief of Insolvent 
Debtors. This act I noticed in my remarks on the first 
Assembly of 1773, as having been introduced by William 
Hooper. It was now repealed by the Royal disallowance, 
but was revived in 1777, by the Assembly of the State, and 
is still referred to in practice, when the debtor refuses to 
take the benefit of a later statute. An act too, which had 
been extorted by the popular House from Governor Mar- 
tin, for the more speedy recovery of all debts and de- 


mands under five pounds, as well as the fee bill, was re- 
jected by the same authority, and these vetos of the King 
were not of a character to conciliate the angry feelings of 
the people. In the mean time, the Continental Congress 
had, on the 5th of September, assembled, and found its 
body filled by delegates from all the Provinces except 
Georgia. The proceedings of this Congress, as applied 
to the history of North Carolina, I shall notice in the Third 
Part of the volume ; in this place I shall only observe the 
nature of the celebrated association, which was there form- 
ed, and which w^as circulated and adopted throughout the 
country. By the sacred ties of virtue, honor, and love of 
country, they bound themselves and their constituents not 
to import, after the first day of December, 1774, from 
Great Britain, or Ireland, any goods whatever, or from any 
other place any goods thus imported. A resolution of 
non-importation, after the 10th of September, 1775, was 
adopted, which should be repealed by the intermediate re- 
peal of the offensive acts of Parliament. Copies of this 
associadon were carried into each Province by the dele- 
gates, and laid before the Provincial Congress for their ap- 
probation. It served to test tholoyalty of many pretended 
Whigs, and to direct the attention and sympathies of the 
people to a scheme of union and united action. 




(1775.) This year is full of important events, and 
during its course, the downfall of the Royal government 
occurred. The political leaders of the day now threw 
aside all disguise, and announced to the people the ap- 
proach of a civil and foreign war, for the preservation of 
the inherent rights of British subjects. It is pleasing to the 
historian to arrive at such a period in his narrative, when 
all hope or even anxiety for a compromise has been ex- 
tinguished, and all artificial and equivocal homage to the 
Throne, disavowed in the gallantry and enthusiasm of an 
injured people. In the revolution of the year 1775, the 
people of North Carolina, enamoured with the idea of inde- 
pendence, overthrew the Royal government, and abjured 
all allegiance to their hereditary sovereign. 

Governor Martin, after having enjoyed an interview with 
Governor Tryon, previous to his departure for England, 
returned to his own government in the month of January. 
On the 10th of February he issued a proclamation against 
the legality of a purchase of territory effected by Rich- 
ard Henderson (formerly one of the Royal Judges), John 
Williams, and others, from the Cherokee Indians. The 
purchase included lands in the present State of Kentucky, 
and was alleged to be in violation of the Royal proclama- 
tion of date the 7th of October, 1763, as well as an act 


of the Provincial Assembly. I have in my possession (by 
the courtesy and kindness of the late Chief Justice) the 
papers and letters of his father during his travels and resi- 
dence in the wilderness. They constitute a mass of rich 
material for the early history of Kentucky, as well as the 
best evidence of the enterprise and sagacity of their au- 

In the provisions of the bill, restricting the trade of the 
Colonies to Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West In- 
dies, which was passed by Parliament in the month of Feb- 
ruary, 1775, North Carolina and New-York were except- 
ed. " The historians of the adjacent States " have ob- 
served this exception with a suspicious curiosity, and 1 
here introduce at length, and without curtailment, the fol- 
lowing letter from Alexander Elmsly to Governor Samuel 
Johnston, which vi'ill be found to explain the true reason of 
the exception. Mr. Elmsly, as I have before stated, was 
one of the agents of the popular House resident in London. 

" London, April 7th, 1775. 
"Dear Sir, 

" Yours by Capt. Scott came to hand in due season, as did the 
money for Mr. Barker, which is at his credit. Your Bill £100, 
order Mr. Ferrear, was this day paid. 

" I am happy to hear of your having a little boy ; he is about ten 
months younger than my little fellow, who came to supply his sis- 
ter's place, as did yours. You must take great care of him, and if 
you can rear him to the age of four or five years, and afterwards 
trust me with him, they shall be brought up together, as if they were 
both of the same stock. You must keep him out of the sun in sum- 
mer, and yet keep him out of doors as much as possible ; there is no 
other way of raising children in your climate. Could you strike 
the months of June, July, and August, out of your calendar, you 
would be immortal ; but as it stands, you are little better than birds 
of passage. 

" Your politics are past my expectations, and out of my reach. 
I thought incorporating you would not only have remedied the dis- 


order, but have given additional vigor to the Constitution; but, ex- 
cepting our friend Mr. Barker, nobody either here or there is of the 
same opinion ; therefore 1 shall suppose for the present, that he and 
I are mistaken, and wait with resignation the event of the measures 
adopted on both sides of the water. 

" On our side they are as follows : — 

"Imo. The House of Commons have voted by resolve, that if you 
will tax yourselves for the purpose of supporting your own estab- 
lishments, and also contribute a certain sum for the general safety, 
the amount of which to be satisfactory to the King and Parliament, 
and to be at their disposal, then the Parliament will desist from lay- 
ing any further taxes for the present. This, they say, is holding out 
to you the olive branch ; I say it is a dirty, disgracing, degrading ex- 
pedient, compared to mine ; but it is so much akin to a similar one 
proposed in the House of Lords by Lord Chatham, and approved of 
by Franklin and the other Americans here, that I must suppose my- 
self again mistaken. 

2do. A bill has received the Royal assent for preventing the four 
New England Colonies from fishing, after the 25th of June next, and 
another has been read three times, in the House of Commons, for 
restraining the trade of all the associated Colonies to Great Britain 
and the British West Indies ; out of this restraint, however, New 
York and North Carolina are excepted ; the former because their 
Assembly did not recognise the new laws, the latter for reasons not 
generally known ; they are, however, one or all of the following ; 
1st. Mr. Barker and myself, instead of the petition you sent us 
(which contained besides strange inaccuracies, indirect reflections on 
the Parliament, or the Ministry at least), drew up a memorial in more 
decent terms, which we left a rough draught of with Mr. Pownal, 
the Secretary, for his inspection, previous to its being presented to 
the Board. This was about the 10th of February ; in two or three 
days we called to know his sentiments on it; he told us he had pe- 
rused it, approved of it, and pressed us much and repeatedly to 
have it lodged as soon as possible, which was done the next day. 
Two or three days after, Lord North moved for the restraining bill in 
the House of Commons, and North Carolina was and still is left out. 
The next reason is, we have as yet received no account of your As- 
sembly, or rather the members of it, having ratified the new laws, 
nor have you been charged with any excesses in the execution of 
them. The last, and perhaps the best reason is. Governor Tryon 
(who returns to New York immediately) is much your friend, and 


I doubt not has exerted himself in your behalf accordingly. Wheth 
eryou will tliank us for this distinction, or not, whether it will no 
be considered as opprobrious instead of honorable, whether Mr. B 
and myself will be censured, or not, as having been in all proba- 
bility instrumental in bringing it about, I do not pretend to say 
But in our defence, or rather in mine, for it was with much reluc 
tance he consented to suppress the petition, you will take notice, 
that when your Memorial was presented, we had no idea that such 
restraining bill was intended ; on the other hand, should this exemp- 
tion be received favorably, give us no credit for it, for, had it not been 
for a tenderness we had for the reputation of your Assembly, as 
having been long members of it, your Petition, exceptionable as it 
is, should have been presented. I do not know whether you ever 
perused it, but my objections to it were, first that a memorial from 
us was as good as it, and next that you generally address the King 
as the people of New England do each other, in the third person ; for 
instance, you say, in more places than one, ' Your Majesty in his 
great goodness, in his great wisdom,' &c. instead of ' your goodness,' 
&c. ; this might have passed from a poor ignorant criminal, begging 
his life, but surely better things would have been expected from 
your Assembly. Besides this objection, there was another. You say 
you have been taught to expect redress from the Throne alone, i. e. 
you expect none from the Ministry or the Parliament. How far you 
are well grounded, I do not know ; but as I well know that none of 
these petitions ever reach the Throne, but through the hands of the 
Ministry, to whom they are left as an ordinary piece of business, 
I thought, and I still think, it would have been preposterous to have 
presented a petition, which, amongst other things, sets forth that the 
petitioner, from past experience, did not doubt of having his petition 
rejected. This objection, however, alone, would not have had much 
weight, at least not enough to have prevented our presenting the 
Petition ; but, on account of both together, it was agreed to suppress 
it, and to substitute a Memorial in its room, and keep the whole a 
secret ; and I am not sure whether Mr. Barker would not be dissat- 
isfied, if he knew that this matter had been communicated even to 
you ; therefore pray say nothing about it. With respect to the suc- 
cess of your Memorial, we can at present form no judgment of it, 
but are told that by next packet the matter will be settled, and if no 
bad news arrives from Carolina in the mean time, we hope it will be 
in part settled to your satisfaction. 


" You ask Mr. Barker to let you know who it was that first moved, 
here, against your Court laws. Neither he nor I know certainly ; but 
when old Mr. McCulloh, as your agent, first received an account 
of your Court Bill miscarrying, on account of an instruction to your 
Governor against attachments, he hinted that Lord Hillsborough, 
then Secretary of State for America, and Lord Hertford, then and 
now Lord Chamberlain, and both Members of the Privy Council, and 
North of Ireland men, and friends and neighbours of your Dobbi's, 
might probably, at their solicitation, have been the means of send- 
ing out the instruction. You know Nash had an attachment depend- 
ing against their estate ; this is only conjecture, but I tliink it prob- 
able ; because, had the measure originated amongst the merchants, 
we certainly should have heard of it long ago ; as you say, however, 
it is not of much consequence now, as the new laws have taken 
place, whether the old ones are restored or not. 

" Old Franklin is gone to Philadelphia, some people say to second 
Lord North's plan of your taxing yourselves; but I know nothing of 
the matter. 

" There is an account received that the transports are sailed from 
Cork, and next week the Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clin- 
ton follow them from hence in a man of war ; some of these troops 
are destined for New York, and two companies with a sloop are to 
be sent to Georgia. 

" Should your Assemblies refuse to adopt Lord North's plan, and 
our Parliament persevere, you will have another new set of laws 
soon established. They say your seaports are to be turned into gar- 
rison towns, and the people of the country left at liberty to form any 
establishment they think proper. Should this regulation take place, 
I hope you will have no occasion to turn soldier. Your Governor, I 
suppose, will take up his residence amongst the musquetoes at Brea- 
cok, and you will be a Congress or Committee man, instead of a 
military man. 1 like neither character, but hope you will never have 
occasion to take upon you the latter especially. 

'' Mrs. Elmsly joins me in compliments and best wishes to you and 

" I am, dear Sir, 

" Your affte. friend and h'ble serv't, 




\ SHALL now sketch the conduct of his Excellency and 
the Council, anterior to the meeting of the Second Provin- 
cial Congress, on the 3d of April. On the 1 1th of Feb- 
ruary John Harvey issued a proclamation, or notice, re- 
questing the people of the counties and towns to elect 
deputies to represent them in a Provincial Congress, on 
Monday, the 3d of April. These papers were industri- 
ously circulated, and the elections were quietly proceed- 
ing in many of the counties and towns, when, on the 1st of 
March, the Governor informed the Council Board, that he 
had ohserved these notices dated " Perquimons County," 
and signed "John Harvey," and, considering such proceed- 
ings highly derogatory to the dignity of the Legislature, 
appointed to meet on the same day, and in every light 
illegal, and inconsistent with good order and government, 
recommended the matter to the consideration of his coun- 
cillors ; when they, conceiving the highest detestation of 
such proceedings, were unanimous in advising his Excel- 
lency to issue a proclamation, forbidding such illegal meet- 
ing, in the following words : 

" North Carolina, ss. 
" By His Excellency Josiah Martin, Esq. &c. 

" Whereas, an advertisement is printed in the public newspapers, 
and also industriously circulated about this Colony in handbills, dat- 


ed Perquimons county, the eleventh day of February, 1775, request- 
ing the counties and towns thereof to elect delegates, to represent 
them in convention at the town of New Berne, on Monday the third 
day of April next, and signed John Harvey, Moderator. And where- 
as the name and authority of such an officer, and such a meeting, 
is unknown to the laws and Constitution, and such an invitation to 
the people may tend to ensnare the unwary and ignorant among His 
Majesty's loyal and faithful subjects in this Province, to partake in 
the guilt of such unlawful proceeding ; and whereas, the Assembly 
of this Province, duly elected, is the only true and lawful represen- 
tation of the people, and is competent to every legal act that rep- 
resentatives of the people can do ; and as an attempt to excite the 
people to choose another body of representatives, to meet at the time 
and place appointed for the meeting of the Assembly, is to betray 
them into a violation of the Constitution, in points wherein they are 
most materially concerned to support it, — a contempt of that branch 
of the Legislature which represents the people, — and highly deroga- 
tory to its power, rights, and privileges ; I have thought proper, by 
and with the advice and consent of His Majesty's Council of this 
Province, to issue this Proclamation, and I do hereby exhort the 
many good people of this Province, who have, to their honor, hitherto 
prudently withstood the insidious attempts of evil-minded and de- 
signing men, that they do on this occasion steadfastly persevere in 
such loyal and dutiful conduct, and continue to resist and treat 
with just indignation all measures so subversive of order and govern- 
ment, and so inconsistent with the allegiance they owe to his Ma- 
jesty, and that they do not subject themselves to the restraints of 
tyrannical and arbitrary Committees, which have already in many in- 
stances proceeded to the extravagance of forcing His Majesty's sub- 
jects, contrary to their consciences, to submit to their unreasonable 
and chimerical resolves, doing thereby the most cruel and unpar- 
alleled violence to their liberties, under the pretence of relieving 
them from imaginary grievances. And I do hereby further exhort 
all His Majesty's subjects in this Province, as they value their dear- 
est rights, under the present happy Constitution, and as they would 
testify their duty and allegiance to the best of Kings, that they for- 
bear to meet to choose persons, to represent them in convention pur- 
suant to the advertisement herein before recited. And I also do 
most earnestly recommend to them to renounce, disclaim, and dis- 
courage all such meetings, cabals, and illegal proceedings, which 
artful and designing men shall attempt to engage them in, and which 


can only tend to introduce disorder and anarchy, to the destruction 
of the real interest and happiness of the people, and to involve this 
Province in confusion, disgrace, and ruin. 

" Given under my hand, «fcc., A. D. 1775, March 1st. 

(Signed) " JO. MARTIN. 

" God save the King." 

This frothy Proclamation was, however, of no avail, 
and the zeal of the Whigs only increased when they per- 
ceived the discomfiture of the angry Governor. The 
Royal government was tottering to its base, and the in- 
temperate language of Governor Martin, as well as the 
firm and decided stand of the Whig leader, was an omin- 
ous sign of its fall. Finding that his violent Proclamation 
could not intimidate the people, and that the delegates 
were in many instances likewise members of the Assem- 
bly, on the 2d of April he convoked the Council, and ac- 
quainted them that he had received his Majesty's com- 
mand to use his utmost endeavours to prevent the appoint- 
ment of delegates to the Continental Congress, and that 
as a Provincial Congress was to assemble in New Berne 
on the next day, for that illegal purpose, he desired to be 
advised as to the measures proper to be taken to prevent 
the organization of that unlawful assembly. The Council 
declared that his Excellency had no other means than to 
issue a Proclamation ; and accordingly another vehement 
document appeared on the morning of the od of April, 
denouncing the proposed Convention, and calling upon the 
members, in the King's name, to desist from the election 
of delegates to the Continental Congress, and to withdraw 
themselves from the aforesaid Convention, on pain of his 
Majesty's high displeasure. The Provincial Congress con- 
vened on the 3d of April, and Colonel John Harvey filled the 
chair of that body. The Congress did nothing more than 


organize on the first day ; and, vesting their Moderator with 
the power of controlling the periods of meeting, they ad- 
journed, and on the next day assumed the shape of a Pro- 
vincial Assembly, and waited on his Excellency for the des- 
patch of public business. I shall first notice the proceed- 
ings of the Congress, which, like the Assembly, continued 
in session' only a few days. The most important business 
presented for their consideration was the proceedings of 
the Continental Congress, and as Messrs. Hooper, Cas- 
well, and Hewes were all present as members of the Con- 
gress, they proceeded, on the 5th of April, to lay before 
their constituents the association entered into at Philadelphia 
on the 20th of October, 1774. Richard Caswell present- 
ed it, signed by the members of the Continental Congress, 
and, after it was read, a resolution was adopted by the 
Congress, approving of the said association, and firmly 
pledging themselves to adhere to its provisions, and to re- 
commend its adoption to their constituents. It was then 
signed by all the deputies of the Convention, except 
Thomas Macknight of Currituck, who was, on a succeed- 
ing day, denounced in the following bitter terms, — 

" Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Convention, that, from 
the disingenuous and equivocal behaviour of Thomas Macknight, it 
is manifest his intentions are inimical to the cause of American lib- 
erty, and we do hold him up as a proper object of contempt to this 
Continent, and recommend that every person break off all connec- 
tion and have no future commercial intercourse or dealing with him. 
Resolved, That the above Resolve be published in the Gazettes of 
this and the neighboring Colonies." 

The conduct of the delegates to the Continental Con- 
gress was not only highly approved; but the Moderator re- 
quested, in a set speech, to return them the thanks of th© 
Convention and the Colony. After this ceremony was over. 


Colonel Harvey, as one of the members froiii Perquimons, 
rose in his seat, and, in another set speech, relnined ihenn 
the thanks of the people of Perquimons, which had been 
voted on the llth day of March, at a meeting of the peo- 
ple of that county. But the best evidence of the entire 
approbation of the Whig party which the delegates to the 
Continental Congress received, was their re-appointment 
with the same discretionary powers. In the warm lan- 
guage of that day, they were most heartily beloved, and, 
in every section of the Province, their names were pro- 
verbial for patriotism and devotion to the Whig principles 
of their countrymen. 

The following general declaration of rights was adopted 
before the adjournment of the Convention. 

*' Resolved, That His Majesty's subjects have an undoubted right at 
any time to meet and petition the Throne for a redress of grievancesy 
and that such right includes a further right of appointing delegates 
for such purpose, and therefore that the Governor's Proclamation is- 
sued to forbid this meeting, and his Proclamation afterwards com- 
manding this meeting to disperse, are illegal, and an infringement 
of our just rights, and therefore ought to be disregarded as wanton 
and arbitrary exertions of power." 

In this Provincial Congress, there appeared several 
counties and towns which were not represented in the 
first, and nearly all of them returned an increased number 
of deputies. From the county of Guilford, which did 
not appear in the first, Alexander Martin, afterwards Gov- 
ernor of the State, appeared ; Parker Quince represented 
the borough of Brunswick ; Cornelius Harnett, Wilming- 
ton ; and John Hinton, one of the commanders in the 
battle of AUemance, Michael Rogers, and Tignal Jones, 
appeared as deputies from the county of Wake. The 
Convention or Congress (for they are terms indifferently 


used in their own proceedings), after having provided for 
a future meeting, adjourned on the 7th of April. The 
Provincial Assembly met on the 4ih of April, and the 
popular House elected John Harvey their Speaker. This 
body consisting, with but few exceptions, of the delegates 
to the Congress, sat for only four days, when it was dis- 
solved by Proclamation. There is something farcical in 
the conduct of these two bodies. The Congress would 
be in session, when Mr. Biggleston, the Governor's Sec- 
retary, would arrive ; and then Mr. Moderator Harvey 
would turn himseif into Mr. Speaker Harvey, and pro- 
ceed to the despatch of public business. The Assembly, 
too, occasionally forgot its duty, and trespassed on the 
business of the Congress. On the 7th of April, I find 
them engaged in passing resolutions in favor of the Con- 
tinental Congress, and complimenting Hooper, Caswell, 
and.Hewes; and they would undoubtedly have continued 
their deliberations on Continental affairs, had not the Gov- 
ernor dissolved them on the next da}'. The court law 
and attachment controversy were now forgotten, and, in 
the elegant language of the play-bills, were " laid aside to 
make room for forthcoming novelties,''^ As this is the last 
Assembly that ever convened under the Royal government, 
I shall lay before my readers the speech of Governor 
Martin, and the answer or address of the popular House. 
They are important papers, and will better illustrate the 
history of the times than any disquisition of mine. 

The last Speech of Josiah Martin, the last Royal 

" Gentlemen of His Majesty's Honorable Council, 

" Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, 
" I have met you in General Assembly, in hopes that, dismissing 
every cause of private dissension from your minds, you will calmly, 
unitedly, and faithfully apply yourselves to the discharofe of the high 


and important office of legislation, in which you bear so great a 
share, according to the Constitution of this country, that calls upon 
you for relief at this time, in a most peculiar and pressing manner. 
" I look, Gentlemen, with the extremest horror and concern to the 
consequences of the violent and unjustifiable proceedings in some 
of His Majesty's Colonies of this Continent, where in many places 
the innocent, unwary, and ignorant part of the people have been 
cruelly betrayed into measures highly inconsistent with tlieir duty 
and allegiance to our most Gracious Sovereign and the State, that 
tends immediately to involve them in the most embarrassing diffi- 
culties and distresses, and which, if pursued, must inevitably pre- 
cipitate these Colonies from their present unparalleled state of pros- 
perity, into a train of miseries most dreadful to contemplate, whence 
ages of time will not redeem them to their now envied felicity. 
You, Gentlemen, are bound by your duty to the King, to the State, 
and to this people, as well as 1 by mine, to obviate the contagion of 
these evil examples in this country, and to defend it if possible from 
the ruin and destruction to which they plainly lead. I see with in- 
finite concern, the unhappy influence they have already had among 
us. The meetings to which the people have been excited, the ap- 
pointment of Committees, the violence these little, unrestrained, and 
arbitrary tribunals have done to the rights of His Majesty's subjects, 
the flagrant and unpardonable insults they have off"ered to the high- 
est authorities of the State, by some of their acts which have been 
made public, and the stop that has been put in some of the counties 
to the regular course of justice, in imitation of the unwarrantable 
measures taken in other Colonies, but too plainly evince their bane- 
ful progress here, and loudly demand the most effectual exertion of 
your restraining and correcting powers. You are now, Gentlemen 
of the Assembly, by your duty to yourselves, and to your constit- 
uents, most peculiarly called upon to oppose a meeting of delegates 
which the people have been invited to choose, and who are appointed 
to assemble at this very time and place, in the face of the Legisla- 
ture. This illegal meeting, pursuant to my duty to the King and 
the Constitution of this country, and from a regard to your digni- 
ty and the just rights of the people, I have counteracted, and 1 shall 
continue to resist it by every means in my power. What can this 
mean, Gentlemen ? — Are you not the only lawful representatives of 
the people in this country, and competent to every legal purpose ? 
Will you then submit to see your constituents misled to violate their 
dearest privileges, by wounding your dignity and setting up repre- 



sentatives derogatory to your just power and authority ? This Gen- 
tlemen, is an insult to you, of so violent a nature, that it appears to 
me to demand your every possible discouragement j for its evident 
tendency is to create a belief in the people that they are capable 
of electing representatives of superior powers to the members of 
your House, which, if it can possibly obtain, must lead to obvious 
consequences, to the destruction of the essence, if not the very be- 
ing of an Assembly in this Province, and finally to the utter disso- 
lution and overthrow of its; established happy Constitution. This, 
Gentlemen, among others I have before mentioned, is one of the 
fatal expedients employed in some of the other Colonies, under the 
influence of factious and wicked men, intent upon promotino- their 
own horrid purposes, at the hazard of their country's ruin. I hope 
they have been adopted here more from a spirit of imitation than 
ill principles, and that you, clearly discerning the mischiefs with 
which they are pregnant, will heartily concur with me in opposing 
dawnings of so dangerous a system. 

" As an object of the greatest consequence to all the Colonies, I 
would recommend it to your first attention to employ your utmost 
care and assiduity, to remove those false impressions by which the 
engines of sedition have labored to effect, but too successfully, a 
most unnatural division between the parent State and these Col- 
onies, which under her protecting, indulgent, fostering care, have 
attained to a degree of prosperity beyond all example. The basest 
arts have been practised upon the innocent people, and they have 
been blindly led to partake in guilt to which their hearts are confes- 
sedly averse ; and thus step by step they will be seduced from their 
duty, and all the bonds of civil society will be destroyed, unless 
timely remedies are applied. This, Gentlemen, is a melancholy 
prospect, that must seriously alarm every good subject, every hu- 
mane, every honest man ; and it will be your duty as guardians of 
the constitutional rights of the people, rigorously to oppose pro- 
ceedings so manifestly subversive of their freedom and happiness. 
Be it your care then, Gentlemen, to undeceive the people, to lead 
them back, from the dangerous precipice to which an ill spirit of fac- 
tion is urging them, to the paths of their duty ; set before them the 
sacred tie of allegiance by which as subjects they are bound to the 
State ; inform them of the reciprocal benefits which their strict ob- 
servance thereof entitles them to, and warn them of the danger to 
which they must expose their lives and properties, and all that they 
hold dear by revolting from it. 


" The frequent occasions you have had in your several capacities 
as members of the legislature, and magistrates, most solemnly to 
swear this allegiance, which is an implied duty upon every subject 
of every State, when it is not professed and declared, must have 
brought it home to your own consideration, and you are therefore 
certainly well qualified to explain the obligatory nature and impor- 
tance of it to the people. They will naturally look up to you for 
a rule of conduct in these wild and distempered times; and I have 
no doubt that, taught by your example, they will immediately re- 
turn to their duty and obedience to the laws, and gladly free them- 
selves from that tyranny which ill-directed zeal and lawless ambi- 
tion, by all the arts of misrepresentation and delusion, are court- 
ing tliem to submit to. I have the high satisfaction to tell you, Gen- 
tlemen, that 1 have already received signal proofs of the loyalty and 
duty of a great number of the good people of this Province, and I 
have the fullest assurance that many more will follow their lauda- 
ble example. These, Gentlemen, are favorable presages upon which 
I congratulate you, and which I persuade myself your prudent con- 
duct will improve to the honor and advantage of your country, 

" The state of the Colonies is at this time the subject of the delib- 
erations of the Grand Council of the Nation, from whose wisdom 
and justice they have every thing to expect consistent with the 
principles of the British Constitution, and the general welfare of 
the empire, while they continue in the duty they owe to it. The 
confessed generous character of Britain, and the magnanimity of 
our most gracious Sovereign, who through the whole course of his 
reign has uniformly made the happiness of his people the object of 
all his views, and the rule of all his actions, ensures it to them. 
On this great arbiter of British rights, it therefore becomes you to 
rely with the fullest confidence, and to deserve, by a dutiful be- 
haviour, its favorable regard. If a precedent could be wanting, as I 
cannot suppose it is, to induce to such a right conduct, one of the 
most respectable of the Colonies affords it to you, and you will see 
without question, how highly improper it will be at such a conjunc- 
ture, to countenance any measures of a contrary nature. If the 
people of this Colony have any representations to make to the su- 
preme powers of the State, you are the only legal and proper chan- 
nel of their application, and through you they may be assured of 
every attention to their dutiful petitions. You, Gentlemen, I dare 
say, esteem too highly the rights of the people committed to 
your guardianship, and know too well the limits of your own 


power, to consign them to any other hands, that must not only be 
disqualified to serve the people, but will infallibly divest you of that 
dignity and consequence which belong to you, as their lawful rep- 

" Let me hope, Gentlemen, that, laying aside all passion and pre- 
judice, you will calmly and with one accord, pursue such a line of 
conduct in these points of general concern to America, as may be 
most likely to heal the unhappy differences now subsisting between 
Great Britain and her Colonies. Consider how great an opportuni- 
ty you now have to serve, — to save your country, to manifest 
your loyalty to the best of Kings, and to demonstrate your attach- 
ment to the British Constitution, — the most free, the most glorious, 
and happiest political system in the whole world. If you consult, 
but for a moment, your own interest and welfare, and the happiness 
of this people, I cannot be disappointed in any hopes that you will 
avail yourselves of the occasion. Be it your glory, Gentlemen, to 
record to latest posterity, that, at a time when the monster sedition 
dared to rear his impious head in America, the people of North Car- 
olina, inspired with a just sense of their duty to their King and 
country, and animated by the example of its Legislature, stood 
among the foremost of His Majesty's subjects to resist his baneful 
snares, and to repel the fell invader of their happiness. Thus, Gen- 
tlemen, you may redeem your sinking country to posterity, — thus 
you will acquire to yourselves immortal honor and renown ; while 
a contrary conduct must inevitably plunge this once happy land in 
horrors beyond all imagination ; whence nothing can recover it but 
the generous hand of Britain, interposed to save you from your own 
destruction. Thus, Gentlemen, I have set before you, upon princi- 
ples of your duty to the Constitution, and the welfare of your coun- 
try, the necessity of discouraging, to the utmost of your power, the 
illegal meetings into which the innocent people have been betrayed, 
and the unlawful establishments and appointments they have been 
led to give their sanction to. I have also stated to you the more 
especial obligation you lie under to prevent that meeting to which 
the people have been invited to send deputies here at this time, 
and I have fully admonished you of the ruinous consequences of a 
different conduct. In addition to these powerful motives, Gentle- 
men, I am authorized to say, that the unwarrantable measure of 
appointing delegates to attend a Congress at Philadelphia, now in 
agitation, will be highly offensive to the King, and this, I cannot 
doubt, will be reason with you of the greatest force, to oppose so dan- 
gerous a step. 


" Your next attention, Gentlemen, is due to the particular state of 
this country, that calls for your strictest regard. 

" The exhausted state of the Public Treasury, — the large demands 
upon it that remain unsatisfied, — the dues of public officers that are 
unpaid, call loudly for your attention to the ill condition of Public 
Credit, and the Finances of this country ; and I trust you will not 
fail to pay that regard which is due to points of so great importance. 
I heartily wish, with regard to matters of finance and mode of tax- 
ation, as well as to the regiilation of the Treasury, to draw your 
attention to the admirable system of New York and Maryland, in 
which last colony public credit is established upon the firmest ba- 
sis ; but the example of every other Colony with regard to the lat- 
ter article, — I am sorry to say it, — is better than has been as yet 
adopted here. 

" You have now. Gentlemen, fair opportunity to restore to this 
Province, by a law for the permanent establishment of Courts, that 
great store of political blessings arising from a due and regular ad- 
ministration of justice, of which I have long lamented to see it de- 
prived. I have received His Majesty's determination upon the pro- 
posed regulations with regard to proceedings by attachments, which 
have been the apparent cause of this misfortune. This I shall com- 
municate to you in the course of your session, and I hope it will 
obviate all the difficulties that have occurred on this subject. When 
the establishment of courts shall come under your consideration^ 
you cannot fail to see the necessity of making provision for the 
judges, and the propriety of that provision being adequate and hon- 
orable and suitable to officers of so high dignity and importance. 
'' Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, — 

«* I cannot doubt that you will see the same necessity for support- 
ing the usual establishment of Fort Johnston, founded upon the 
same principles of public utility, that have induced you to maintain 
it during so long a series of years. 
*' Gentlemen of His Majesty's Honorable Council, 

'' Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, — 

" I am sensible that the advanced season of the year requires your 
attendance on your domestic affiiirs, and I shall therefore be glad to 
find that your unanimity in the conduct of the very important busi- 
ness you are now met upon, affords me opportunity to conclude you 
speedily and happily. On my part, I do assure you, nothing shall be 
WJinting to promote these good epdg. JO. MARTJN, 

" A'eic Berne, 4lh April, 1775." 


" On motion, Resolved, That Mr. Howe, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Johnston 
Mr. Hewes, and Mr. Macknight, be appointed a Committee to pre- 
pare an Address in answer to his Excellency the Governor's Speech 
and report the same to this House for approbation, 6th April." 

On Friday, the 7th of April, the House met according 
to adjournment. Mr. Howe from the above Committee 
reported- the following Address in answer. 

To His Excellency Josiah Martin, Esq., Captain General, «^c. S^c. 

We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the members 
of the Assembly of North Carolina, have taken into consideration 
your Excellency's Speech at the opening of this session. We met 
in General Assembly, with minds superior to private dissension, 
determined calmly, unitedly, and faithfully to discharge the sacred 
trust reposed in us by our constituents. Actuated by sentiments 
like these, it behooves us to declare that the Assembly of this 
Colony have the highest sense of their allegiance to the King of 
Great Britain, to whom alone, as our Constitutional Sovereign, we 
acknowledge allegiance to be due, and to whom we so cheerfully 
and repeatedly have sworn it, that to remind us of the oath was un- 
necessary. This allegiance all past Assemblies have upon every 
occasion amply expressed, and we, the present representatives of the 
people, shall be always ready by our actions with pleasure to tes- 
tify ; sensible, however, that the same Constitution which establish- 
ed that allegiance, and enjoined the oath in consequence of it, 
hath bound Majesty under as solemn obligations to protect subjects 
inviolate in all their just rights and privileges, wisely intending by 
reciprocal dependence to secure the happiness of both. 

We contemplate with a degree of horror the unhappy state of 
America, involved in the most embarrassing difficulties and distress- 
es, by a number of unconstitutional invasions of their just rights and 
privileges, by which the inhabitants of the Continent in general and 
of this Province in particular, have been precipitated into measures, 
extraordinary perhaps in their nature, but warranted by necessity; 
from whence, among many other measures, the appointment of com- 
mittees in the several counties and towns took its birth, to prevent, 
as much as in them lay, the operation of such unconstitutional en- 
croachments ; and the Assembly remains unconvinced of any steps 
taken by those committees, but such as they were compelled to take 
for that salutary purpose. 


It is not to be controverted that His Majesty's subjects have a right 
to petition for redress of grievances, or to remonstrate against them; 
and, as it is only by a meeting of the people that their sense respect- 
ing such petition and remonstrance can be obtained, that the right 
of assembling is as undoubted ; to attempt, therefore, under the mask 
of authority, to prevent or forbid a meeting of the people for such 
purposes, or to interrupt their proceedings when met, would be a 
vain effort unduly to exercise power in direct opposition to the Con- 

Far be it from us then, Sir, even to wish to prevent the operation 
of the Convention now held in New Berne, or to agree with your 
Excellency in bestowing upon them the injurious epithet of an ille- 
gal meeting. They are. Sir, the respectable representatives of the 
people, appointed for a special and important purpose ; to which, 
though our constituents might have thought us adequate, yet, as our 
meeting depended upon the pleasure of the Crown, they would have 
been unwise to have trusted to so precarious a contingence, espe- 
cially as the frequent and unexpected prorogation of the Assembly, 
one of them in particular, as if all respect and attention to the con- 
venience of their representatives had been lost, was proclaimed but 
two or three days before the time which had been appointed for its 
meeting, gave the people not the least reason to expect that their 
Assembly would have been permitted to sit, till it was too late to ap- 
point delegates to attend the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, 
a measure which they joined the rest of America in thinking es- 
sential to its interest. 

The House, Sir, neither know nor believe that any base arts 
have been practised upon the people, in order to lead them from 
their duty ; but we know with certainty that the steps they have 
taken, proceeded from a full conviction that the Parliament of Great 
Britain had, by a variety of unconstitutional proceedings, made those 
steps absolutely necessary. We think it therefore a duty we owe 
the people to assert, that their conduct has not been owing to base 
arts practised upon them by wicked and designing men, and have 
it much to lament that your Excellency should add your sanction to 
such groundless imputations ; as it has a manifest tendency to weaken 
the influence which the united petition of His Majesty's American 
subjects might otherwise have, upon their Sovereign, for the redress 
of those grievances of which they so justly complain. 

We should feel inexpressible concern at the information given us 
by your Excellency, of your being authorized to say that the ap- 


pointment of delegates to attend the Congress at Philadelphia, now 
in agitation, will be highly offensive to the King, had we not re- 
cently been informed from the best authority, that His Ptiajesty has 
been pleased to receive very graciously the united petition of his 
American subjects, addressed to him by the Continental delegates 
lately convened at Philadelphia. We have not, therefore, the least 
reason to suppose that a similar application to the Throne will give 
offence to His Majesty, or prevent his receiving a petition for the 
redress of grievances which his American subjects have a right to 
present, either separately or unitedly. 

«' We shall always receive with pleasure the information of any 
marks of loyalty to the King given to your Excellency by the inhab- 
itants of this Colony, but are greatly concerned lest the manner, in 
which you have thought proper to convey that information, should 
excite a belief, that a great number of the people of this Province 
are disaffected to their Sovereign ; to prevent which it is incumbent 
upon us, in this manner, solemnly to testify to the world, that His 
Majesty has no subjects more faithful than the inhabitants of North 
Carolina, or more ready, at the expense of their lives and fortunes, 
to protect and support his person, crown, and dignity. If, however, 
by the signal proofs your Excellency speaks of, you mean those ad- 
dresses lately published in the North Carolina Gazette, and said to 
be presented to you, the Assembly can receive no pleasure from 
your congratulations thereupon, but what results from the considera- 
tion, that so few have been found in so populous a Province, weak 
enough to be seduced from their duty, and prevailed upon, "% 
the base arts of wicked and designing men,'' to adopt principles so 
contrary to the sense of all America, and so destructive of those 
just rights and privileges it was their duty to maintain. 

" We take this opportunity, Sir, the first that has been given us, to 
express the warm attachment we have to our sister Colonies in gen- 
eral, and the heartfelt compassion we entertain for the deplorable 
state of the town of Boston in particular, and also to declare the 
fixed and determined resolution of this Colony to unite with the 
other Colonies in every effort to retain those just rights and liberties, 
which, as subjects to a British King, we possess, and which it is our 
absolute and indispensable duty to hand down to posterity, unim- 

" The exhausted state of the public funds, of which your Excellency 
complains, we contemplate with great concern; alleviated, however, 
by the reflection that it has not been owing to any misconduct in 


the Assembly. We were withlield from passing any Inferior Court 
law, but upon such terms as our duty rendered it impossible to ac- 
cept, by which means no list of taxables could be taken for the year 
one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, and consequently no 
money collected to defray the charges of government for that year ; 
and as your Excellency did not think proper to meet the Assembly at 
their usual time of meeting in the fall, no act could be passed to de- 
fray the expenses of the year one thousand seven hundred and seven- 
ty-four. The treasury, by these means deprived of two years' col- 
lection of taxes, must consequently be unable to answer the great 
demands upon it, till an act of Assembly can be passed to enable it 
to discharge them. 

"The House, convinced of the necessity of Courts of Justice, 
would willingly adopt any plan for the establishment of them, which 
in their opinion is consistent with the circumstances of this Colony ; 
and for independent Judges of capacity and integrity they would with 
the greatest pleasure very liberally provide. 

" We are sorry, Sir, the impoverished state of the public finances 
will not permit us to provide for the usual establishment of Fort 

" The advanced season of the year, which of all other times made 
it most inconvenient for us to attend to public business, will, your 
Excellency may assure yourself, induce us to forward it with all 
possible expedition. 

" JOHN HARVEY, Speaker. 

" April 7th, 1775." 

*' Resolved, That the House do highly approve of the proceedings of 
the Continental Congress lately held at Philadelphia, and that they 
are determined, as members of the community in general, that they 
will strictly adhere to the said resolutions, and wiir use what in- 
fluence they have, to induce the same observance in every individ- 
ual of this Colony. 

" This House having received information that William Hooper, 
Joseph HeAves, and Richard Caswell, Esquires, were appointed by 
the Convention held at New Berne, as delegates to attend the meet- 
ing of the Continental Congress soon to be held at Philadelphia, 

" Resolved, That the House approve of the choice made by the 
said Convention. 

" Resolved, That the thanks of the House be given to William 
Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and Richard Caswell, Esquires, for the 


faithful and judicious discharge of the important trust reposed in 
them as delegates for this Colony at the late Continental Congress." 

On the 8th of April the Assembly was dissolved by 
Proclamation, and thus ceased for ever all legislative ac- 
tion under the Royal government. 

The two state-papers, which I have extracted so much 
at length, are written with much force, and are far supe- 
rior to the other public documents of that day in force of 
language and decision of principles. I have often read 
the latter of these two with both pride and pleasure, as 
one of the best illustrations of the political creed of the 
patriots of the revolution, and as a document every way 
worthy of the distinguished name by which it is signed. 




(1775.) After the dissolution of the Assembly, Gov- 
ernor Martin found himself surrounded by only a few of 
his most faithful councillors. The power of the Whig 
leaders had reduced his government to this lank and lean 
condition, and, without a military force to sustain it, its 
total and speedy overthrow was inevitable. With his 
Council Journal before me, I can accurately trace the signs 
of a fatal decay, progressing rapidly to the last agony of 
its existence on the 24th of April. On the 11th of that 
month, the Governor advised with the Council as to 
the expediency of issuing writs for the election of a new 
Assembly ; but the councillors proposed to delay it '* until 
the end of June." On the 12th, he laid before the 
Council the proceedings of the Provincial Congress, signed 
by John Harvey, wherein, to use his own language? 
" were certain resolves highly derogatory to the honor and 
dignity of His xMajesty's government, and utterly subver- 
sive of the established constitution." He therefore submit- 
ted to their consideration the propriety of expressing their 
indignation at such unlawful and dangerous proceedings, 
by striking Mr. John Harvey out of the commission of 
peace for the county of Perquimons, to which proposition 
the Council assented. On the 14th, he advised with them 


as to the maintenance of Fort Johnston, and his authority 
to do so was sustained by the voice of the Council. John 
McNair and John Hogg were then appointed Justices of 
the peace for the county of Orange, and the name of 
Isaac Marion was corrected on the commission of the peace 
for the county of Brunswick. 

In the mean time His Excellency had been busily en- 
gaged in endeavouring to fortify his palace and to raise a 
military force among the Cross Creek Highlanders and 
the Regulators, the latter of whom he terrified by a repre- 
sentation that they were still liable to be punished for their 
former rebellion. The people of New Berne watched 
with much uneasiness the range of cannon planted before 
the palace, and the committees of the adjacent counties, by 
intercepting the emissaries of the Governor, gave them 
intelligence of his efforts to raise a military body-guard. 
Governor Martin, on the 16th of March, anticipating the 
present state of affairs, had written to General Gage, at 
Boston, soliciting a supply of ammunition and arms; and 
by the vigilance of the delegation in the Continental Con- 
gress this letter too had been intercepted, and was now 
before the Whig authorities of New Berne. These hos- 
tile preparations on the part of His Excellency provoked, 
on the 24th of April, an open rupture between him and the 
people. Alexander Gaston, Richard Cogdell, and other 
leading Whigs on that day interposed, and, while the Gov- 
ernor and Council were in session in the chamber of the 
palace, forcibly seized and carried off the artillery which 
had been planted for its defence. I shall extract the 
account of the last Council session. 


" At a Council held at New Berne the 24th day of April, 1775, 
Present, his Excellency the Governor, 

"The C James Hascll, "^^^'"^'^^ '^°^^'^''^' ^ Esauires 

Hon. I Samuel Strudwick, Samuel Cornell, 5 ^ 

" Ordered, a new connnission of peace for the county of Pitt, 

wherein the names of John Simpson, Robert Salter, Robert Lanier, 

Daniel Charles Forbes, Saxon Pearce, and Peter Reeves are to be 

omitted." — Council Journal. 

Such were the doings of the Governor and Council, 
when they peiceived iVom the palace windows, the suc- 
cessful incursions of the Whigs. The Council Journal 
thus abruptly stops, and as abruptly terminates the record 
of the Royal government of North Carolina. Governor 
Martin apprehending further violence from the Whig 
leaders, on the evening of the same day, fled from the 
palace, and, accompanied by a few of his more faithful 
councillors, retreated to Fort Johnston on the banks of the 
Cape-Fear. In the course of his retreat, he visited the 
house of Farquard Campbell, a Scotch gentleman of 
Cumberland, who concealed his friendship for the Gov- 
ernor under much apparent zeal in the American cause. 
He was a powerful leader among the Highlanders, and, 
during this visit of the Governor, gave him many assu- 
rances of the loyalty of the Scotch population. 

Governor Martin, however, did not find Fort Johnston 
a much safer posiuon for his head-quarters, than the pal- 
ace at New Berne. He relied upon the general coopera- 
tion of the Scotch and the presence of the sloop-of-war 
Cruiser, to maintain his authority and to awe the Whigs 
into submission. The people of the Cape-Fear, how- 
ever, were not to be intimidated by the compactness of 
his Highland clans, or the guns of his ship of war. They 
watched with vigilance the movements of His Excellency ; 


and, detecting him in schemes of extensive fortifications, 
and in an effort to encourage the slaves to arm against 
their masters, they determined to disarm the fort and to 
secure themselves from the future machinations of the 
flying Governor. Colonel John Ashe stepped forward to 
achieve this hazardous undertaking. He resigned his 
commission of colonel of the militia of New Hanover, 
which he held under the Royal government, and accepted 
the same rank at the election of the people. Thus armed 
with what he considered the proper authority, he collected 
a body of troops, and on the 17th of July marched to- 
wards Fort Johnston. Governor Martin, finding himself 
thus rigorously pursued, removed his military stores, as 
well as the head-quarters of his government, on board the 
ship of war, and gave up the fort to the ravages of his 
enemy. The flight of His Excellency from the palace at 
New Berne, I have ventured to mark as the closing 
scene of the Royal government. The election of John 
Ashe, by the voice of the people, to the rank of colonel of 
the militia, may be fairly designated as the first instance 
of the acceptance of a military commission under the 
authority of the people. That extraordinary man, who 
seemed to seek the most conspicuous and dangerous post 
in the service of his country, now led the way in the 
career of revolution ; and, His Excellency being forced 
from the shores of the Cape-Fear, the high-sounding 
and insolent proclamations are no longer dated, " The Pal- 
ace,^'' but " On board his Majesty's ship of war, Cruiser." 
During the spring of the year 1775, the attention of all 
the Colonies was directed towards Boston, a town which 
seemed to be the object of the devoted vengeance of the 
Ministry. I have illustrated the feelings and sympathies 


of the people of North Carolina, on the distresses of that 
town, by various extracts from the Journal of the Pro- 
vincial Congress. Individual opinions may be adduced to 
justify the resolves of the Congress, and to show the ex- 
tent of the sympathetic cord of union and brotherly love, 
that stretched across the Thirteen Colonies. At several 
detached meetings of the people of IMecklenburg in the 
spring of the year 1775, the universal voice of the people 
seemed to be, " that the cause of Boston was the cause of 
all ; that their destinies were indissolubly connected with 
those of their Eastern fellow-citizens, and that they must 
either submit to all the impositions which an unprincipled, 
and to them an unrepresentative Parliament, might impose, 
or support their brethren, who were doomed to sustain 
the first shock of that power, which, if successful there, 
would ultimately overwhelm all in the common calamity." 
— Raleigh Register, April 30, 1819. 

Out of these feelings and opinions grew the IMecklen- 
burg Declaration of Independence, an event which will be 
noticed here only as one of the deeds of the people of the 
Province during the year 1775. The Convention, which 
assembled in Charlotte on the 19th of May, and which 
declared independence on the succeeding 20th, w^as con- 
voked by Thomas Polk, who afterwards performed the 
duty of a herald in the proclamation of its proceedings. 
The subject of independence was discussed during the 
two days of its session, and was at last unanimously 
declared. The news of the battle of Lexington arrived 
by express during the session of the Convention, and, this 
intelligence inflaming the minds of the people, the univer- 
sal voice v/as for independence. The Declaration was 
embraced in a series of resolves, which were signed by 


Abraham Alexander, Chairman, and John McKnitt Alex- 
ander, Clerk ; and thus were forwarded to Philadelphia 
by Captain James Jack, whose certificate will be exhibited 
in the Second Part of this volume. I shall in the course 
of the present chapter introduce a Proclamation of Gov- 
ernor Martin's, dated on the 8th of August, 1775, in which 
the Mecklenburg Convention is denounced, and this state- 
paper, written and published at the time, incontestably 
establishes the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion of Independence. 

While these scenes were acting in the western seclion 
of the Province, the people of the east were engaged in 
schemes, though not so important, yet equally as violent. 
The committee of Wilmington, in some of their published 
resolves, openly accused the Governor of attempting an 
insurrection among the slaves, and charged him with being 
an enemy to the country and the Province, and forbade 
all persons from any intercourse with the floating head- 
quarters of his government. The charge of attempting a 
slave insurrection may be supported by other circum- 
stances, than those connected with his efforts in the vicinity 
of the ship Cruiser, A slave of Thomas Respiss, of 
Bath, disclosed to his master a well-concerted scheme of 
insurrection, which had been engendered by the wicked 
agency of a Yankee Captain by the name of Johnston,* 
who had visited North Carolina in a traffic for naval 
stores, and who seemed to think it not inconsistent with 
the duties of an honest trader, to reap the benefit of his 
skill either in a bargain or a general massacre. These con- 
curring events induced Governor Martin, who saw the 
evil tendency of such impressions on the strength of his 

* Letter of Mr. Respiss, and Martin's History, Volume. II. p. 353. 


Scotch party, to undertake a defence ; and accordingly, in 
a letter to Lewis Henry De Rossett, dated on the 24th of 
June, he declared he had never entertained such a thought, 
and " that nothing could justify such a measure but the ac- 
tual and designed rebellion of the King's subjects, and the 
failure of all other means to maintain his government." 
The committee of Wilmington on the receipt of this letter 
repeated their denunciation of Martin as an enemy to 
the country, and enjoined it on all the good people to 
regard him as such, and to refrain from all communica- 
tion with him or any of his abettors. The committee of 
New Berne, too, came to similar resolutions, and strictly 
prohibited all persons from removing from Core Sound, 
or any other place where the Governor might be, under 
the heaviest penalties. Such was the vigilance of these 
committees in guarding the interest and prosperity of the 
country, and which, it will be seen, so much excited the 
rage of His Excellency, in the Proclamation which will be 
presently exhibited. 

The flame kindled at the batde of Lexington con- 
tinued to rage through North Carolina, and, one month 
after the Mecklenburg Declaration, appears as the induce- 
ment of the celebrated Cumberland association. These 
associations prevailed throughout the Province during the 
year 1775, and were usually signed by the people of the 
county in which they were instituted. They fully attest 
the patriotism of the people of North Carolina, and will 
be extracted in these pages to support the admission 
of Mr. Jefferson, that " no State was more fixed or 

" The Association, June 20, 1775. 
" The actual commencement of hostilities against the continent 
by the British Troops, in the bloody scene on the 19th of April last, 
near Boston, the increase of arbitrary impositions from a wicked 


and despotic Ministry, and the dread of instigated insurrections in 
the colonies, are causes sufficient to drive an oppressed people to 
the use of arms. We therefore, the subscribers of Cumberland 
county, holding ourselves bound by that most sacred of all obliga- 
tions, the duty of good citizens towards an injured country, and 
thoroughly convinced that, under our distressed circumstances, we 
shall be justified in resisting force by force, do unite ourselves un- 
der every tie of religion and honor, and associate as a band in her 
defence against every foe, hereby solemnly engaging, that, when- 
ever our Continental or Provincial Councils shall decree it necessary, 
we will go forth, and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes, 
to secure her freedom and safety. This obligation to continue in 
full force, until a reconciliation shall take place between Great Brit- 
ain and America, upon constitutional principles, an event we most 
ardently desire ; and we will hold all those persons inimical to the 
liberty of the Colonies, who shall refuse to subscribe to this associa- 
tion ; and we will, in all things, follow the advice of our general 
committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of 
peace, and good order, and the safety of individual and private 
property." * 

This paper is the composition of Robert Rowan, 
whose name is first on a long list of signatures. It is a 
spirited production, and, on the subject of the great 
American principle, inferior only to the Mecklenburg 
Declaration, The people of North Carolina were not 
addicted to an extravagant exercise of the prudence and 
caution of disguised patriotism. They did not stand 
back and await the crisis of the contest. Convinced of 
the justice of their cause, they fully committed them- 
selves in the very beginning of the struggle, and bound 
themselves, whenever their Continental or Provincial 
Councils should decree it necessary, to go forth and sacri- 
fice their lives and fortunes for the freedom of the country. 

• The copy of this Association was found among the papers of 
Rowan, and the same is now in the possession of Major T. I. Robe- 
son of Cumberland County. 


The Continental Congress had assembled in Philadel- 
phia on the 10th of jMay, and it was during the session 
of this Congress, on the 14lh of June, that George 
Washington was elected Commander-in-chief of the for- 
ces of the United Colonies. The important nature of its 
proceedings, as well as the flight of Governor Martin, in- 
duced the political leaders to undertake the organization 
of a form of government; and accordingly, on the 10th 
of July, a general order or letter was issued from Eden- 
ton, die residence of Samuel Johnston, and now the 
head-quarters of the Whig party. The death of John 
Harvey, which took place on the 3d of June (I believe), 
was deeply deplored throughout the colony ; and I find 
it mentioned in many of the private letters of that day, 
in terms of the deepest and most sincere regret. Mr. 
Hewes in a letter to Mr. Johnston, dated on the 8th of July, 
1775, says, " Since my last, by IMr. Underbill, I am fa- 
vored with yours of the 11 th of June. The death of our 
old friend, Colonel Harvey, has given me real uneasiness. 
He will be much missed. 1 wish to God he could have 
been spared, and that the Governor and Judge Howard 
had been called in his stead." The Provincial Congress 
had requested Sam.uel Johnston, in the event of the death 
of Colonel Harvey, to assemble a new convention ; and 
accordingly, the following general request was issued. 

'To the Committee of ' Tryon' County. 

" Edenton, 10th July, 1775. 
" Gentlemen", 

" In pursuance of the trust which devolves on me bj the much 

lamented death of our late worthy Moderator, I am to request the 

favor of you to summon the Freeholders of the county of Tryon, 

to meet at such convenient time and place as you may appoint, to 

choose and elect proper persons to serve as Delegates in a Pro- 


vincial Convention, to be held at Hillsborougli, on the twenti- 
eth day of August next; and as affairs of the last importance to 
this province will be submitted to their deliberation, 1 would re- 
commend that the number of Delegates for each county should not 
be less than five. 

" lam, with great respect, gentlemen, 

your most obedient servant. 


In the progress of the election in Tryon, the views 
and principles of the people of that county were de- 
veloped in the adoption of an Association, which was 
submitted to the inhabitants, as a test of patriotism. It 
was adopted and signed by the county committee, on 
the I4th of August, and ordered to " be signed by each 
and every freeholder of the county of Tryon." Jt was 
discovered during the last year, among the papers of 
General William Graham of Rutherford, and was first 
published in the " North Carolina Spectator " of May the 
1 Ith. I here extract it, as a paper highly illustrative of 
the Whig principles of the day, as well as of the sympa- 
thy of North Carolina with the distresses of the people 
of Boston. 

*'The unprecedented, barbarous, and bloody actions, committed by 
the British Troops on our American brethren, near Boston, on the 
19th of April and 20th of May last, together with the hostile opera- 
tions and treacherous designs now carrying on, by the tools of Min- 
isterial vengeance and despotism, for the subjugating all British 
America, suggest to us the painful necessity of having recourse to 
arms, for the preservation of those rights and liberties, which the 
principles of our Constitution and the laws of God, nature, and na- 
tions have made it our duty to defend. We, therefore, the subscri- 
bers, freeholders and inhabitants of Tryon County, do hereby faith- 
fully unite ourselves under the most sacred ties of religion, honor, 
and love to our country, firmly to resist force by force, in defence of 
our natural freedom and constitutional rights against all invasions ; 



and, at the same time, do solemnly engage to take up arms, and risk 
our lives and fortunes in maintaining the freedom of our country, 
whenever the wisdom and counsel of the Continental Congress, or 
our Provincial Convention, shall declare it necessary ; and this en- 
gagement we will continue in and hold sacred, till a reconciliation 
shall take place between Great Britain and America on constitutional 
principles, which we most ardently desire ; and we do firmly agree 
to hold all such persons inimical to the liberties of America, who 
shall refuse to subscribe to this association. 

" Signed by — 
John Walker, Charles McLcaa. Andrcio JVeel, Thomas Beatty, James 
Coliurn, Frederick HamhrigJit, Andrctc Hampton, Benjamin Har- 
din, George Pearis, William Graham, Robert Kcandey, David Jenk- 
ins, Thomas Espey, Perygren Mackncss, James McAfee, William 
Thomason, Jacob Forny, Davis Whiteside, John Becman, John 
Morris, Joseph Harden, John Robinson, Valentine Mauny, George 
Blacke, James Logan, James Baird, Christan Carpinter, Abel Beat- 
ty, Joab Turner, Jonathan Price, James Miller^ Peter Sedes, William 
Wliiteside, John Dellinger, George Dellinger, Samuel Karhcnder, 
Jacob Mooney, Jr., John Wells, Jacob Castner, Robert Hulclip, James 
Buckhanan, Moses Moore, Joseph Kuykendall, Adam Sims, Richard 
Waffer, Samuel Smith, Joseph Keel, Samuel Lofton." 

I shall now introduce the Proclarncntion of Governor Mar- 
tin, dated on board the Sloop of war Cruiser, which, as 
I have before stated, will be found to sustain the truth of 
the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The 
angry tone of this document, and the many proceedings 
of the Whigs which it details and censures, is the best evi- 
dence of their industry and zeal, and I incorporate it into 
my narrative as a singular record of many of the im- 
portant events of the year 1775. It seems to have been 
more immediately provoked by the circular letter of 
Samuel Johnston, requesting the election of Deputies to 
the Provincial Congress ; and His Excellency embraced 
the occasion to denounce " the evil, pernicious, and trai- 
torous councils of the well known leaders." A copy of 
it was sent by the Governor to the Moderator of the Con- 


gress, which was laid before that body at Hillsboroughj and 
this same copy I found among the papers of Mr. Johnston. 
When it was laid befoie the Congress, it was 

*' Resolved unanimously ; That the said paper is a false, scandalous, 
scurrilous, malicious, and seditious libel; tending to disunite the 
good people of this Province, and to stir up tumults and insurrec- 
tions, dangerous to the peace of His Majesty's government, and 
the safety of the inhabitants, and highly injurious to the character 
of several gentlemen of acknowledged virtue and loyalty, — and 
further, that the said paper be burnt by the common hangman." 

This latter oixler was never executed. The style and 
language of the resolution of the Congress corresponded 
with that of the Proclamation, in the vehemence of its 
censure and denunciation. 

*' Js'orth Carolina ss. 
^' By His Excellency Josiah Martin, Esq., His Majesty's Captain Gene- 
ral, Governor, and Commander-in-chief in and over the said Prov- 


*^ Whereas I have seen a publication in the Cape Fear Mercury, 
which appears to be proceedings of a general meeting of people, 
styling themselves Committees of the district of Wilmington, signed 
' Ricliard Quince, Senior, Chairman,' in which the well known and 
incontestable facts set forth in my Proclamation, bearing date the 
16th day of June last, are most daringly and impudently contra- 
dicted, and the basest and most scandalous falsehoods are asserted, 
evidently calculated to impose upon and mislead the people of this 
Province, and to alienate their affections from His Majesty and his 
governments, and concluding, in the true spirit of licentiousness 
and maligniLy. tiiat characterizes the productions of these seditious 
combinations, with a Resolve declaring me an enemy to the in- 
terests of this Province in particular, and of America in general, 
an impotent and stale device, that the malice and falsehood of these 
unprincipled censors have suggested, and which is their last con- 
temptible artifice, constantly resorted to and employed to calumniate 
and traduce every man in every rank and station of life, who op- 
poses their infamous and traitorous proceedings : 


'' And whereas by the evil, pernicious, and traitorous councils, and 
influence of the well known leaders of these seditious Committees, a 
body of men was assembled in arms at Wilmington, on the IGth or 
17th day of July last, for the purpose, as was professed in a letter 
sent me on the night of the 18th of the same month (signed The 
People), by a certain John Ashe (who presumed insidiously to 
employ the more respectable name of the people, to cover his own 
flagitious designs), of removing the King's artillery from Fort 
Johnston, under pretence of preserving and securing the same for 
the use and service of His Majesty ; and prefacing this declaration 
with sundry complaints of violence and misbehaviour on the part 
of John Collet, Esq., Governor and Captain of the said Fort John- 
ston, many of which it was in my power, and would have been my 
duty to have redressed if they had been represented to me ; which 
letter, signed The People,! thought it proper to answer, and to 
dissuade the deluded multitude from involving themselves in the 
criminal enterprise of removing the King's artillery, which had 
been dismounted by my authority, and not by Captain Collet's, as 
had been pretended in order to deceive tlie people into a violence 
so dangerous and unwarrantable j and I am to lament that my said 
letter in answer to The People produced no other or better eff*ect 
than to prevent the execution of their criminal intention of remov- 
ing the King's artillery, which was all that their letter to me 
avowed ; — and that they proceeded, under the lead of the said John 
Ashe and other evil-minded conspirators against the peace and 
welfare of this Province, to the said Fort Johnston, and wantonly 
in the dead hour of the night set on fire and reduced to ashes the 
houses and buildings within His Majesty's said fort, that had been 
evacuated and disarmed and was entirely defenceless ; — and that 
they returned next day, and completed before my face the destruc- 
tion of the wooden defences of the fort to which the fire of the night 
had not extended, burning the houses and desolating every thing 
in tlie neighbourhood of the place, with a degree of wanton bar- 
barity that would disgrace human nature in the most savage state, 
and was an overt act of high treason against His Majesty, which 
justified my immediate vengeance, restrained by pity for the innocent; 
misguided, and deluded people, whom I considered as the blind in- 
struments of their atrocious leaders ; who, defeated in the still more fla- 
gitious designs they meditated (of which I have the fullest evidence), 
and already involved in guilt of the blackest die themselves, it 
might be presumed, urged on the people to every enormity that 


might make them appear principals in their own treasons instead of 
blind instruments thereof, and by extending the guilt among many, 
screen themselves from the penalties which they had wantonly 
incurred ; — nothing doubting at the same time that cool and sober 
reflection would jusUy turn the resentment and indignation of the 
people against the wicked contrivers and promoters of the violences, 
into which they had been betrayed to the disgrace of their country 
and humanity ; and that they would expiate their own guilt by 
delivering up their leaders to receive the condign punishment that 
the laws inflict on such atrocious offenders ; — but having seen 
with astonishment a publication in the Cape Fear Mercury of the 
26th day of last month, in which a set of people, styling themselves 
a Committee for the town of Wilmington and county of New 
Hanover, have, to obviate the just effects that I expected from the 
return of reason and reflection to the people, most falsely, sedi- 
tiously, and traitorously asserted, ' that Captain Collet was, under 
my auspices, preparing Fort Johnston for the reception of a pre- 
sumed reinforcement, which was to be employed in reducing the 
good people of this Province to a slavish submission to the will of 
a wicked and tyrannic minister, and for this diabolical purpose had 
collected several abandoned profligates, whose crimes had rendered 
them unworthy civil society,' &c., intending, by various false pre- 
tences therein set forth, to justify the enormities into which they 
had plunged the innocent people ; who, I am confident, were for 
the most part strangers to all the ostensible motives to the outrages 
they were hurried on to commit, and which, according to the ac- 
knowledgments of this despicable seditious meeting, had no better 
foundation than resentment to Captain Collet, an individual, 
whose off"ences the law's power, and that which I derive from 
His Majesty, were competent to correct in a legal way ; — and seeing 
that the said Committee, as it is called, have artfully by insidious 
compliments and flattery, and by their contemptible applause of 
the outrages and violences perpetrated in and about Fort Johnston, 
endeavoured to reconcile the minds of the people to treason and 
rebellion, in order to avert from their own heads the just wrath, 
with which a due sense of those crimes would naturally in- 
spire the people against the infamous persons, who had basely 
betrayed them into offences of so dangerous and heinous a nature : 
" And whereas I have also seen a most infamous publication in 
the Cape Fear Mercury, importing to be resolves of a set of people 
styling themselves a Committee for the County of Mecklenburg, 



most traitorously declaring the entire dissolution of the laws, 
government, and constitution of tliis country, and setting up a 
system of rule and regulation repugnant to the laws and sub- 
versive of His Majesty's government ; and another publication 
in the said Cape Fear Mercury of the 14lh of last month, addressed, 
' To the Committees of the several Towns and Counties of North 
Carolina appointed for the purpose of carrying into execution the 
resolves of the Continental Congress,' bearing date at Philadelphia, 
June l!Hh, 1775, and signed William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and 
Richard Caswell ; the preposterous enormity of which cannot be 
adequately described and abhorred. It marks the assembly, from 
whose members it comes, to be the genuine source of those foul 
streams of sedition, which, through the channels of committees 
have overflowed this once happy land, and at this moment threaten 
it with every species of misery, ruin, and destruction. This pub- 
lication begins with a recital of the most unparalleled falsehoods 
that ever disgraced a sheet of paper ; witness the infamous misrep- 
resentation of the affair of Lexington, (which must be also wilful,) 
and the notoriously false position, that Britain cannot support her 
navy without the aid of North Carolina commodities, calculated 
to gull the people into a surrender of all the benefits of commerce, 
to the idle and absurd speculations and decrees of the effectlessly 
omnipotent Congress at Philadelphia. It proceeds, from these 
false and infamous assertions and forgeries, to excite the people of 
North Carolina to usurp the prerogatives of the Crown, by forming 
a militia and appointing officers thereto, and finally, to take up arms 
ao-ainst the King and his government, impudently reprehending the 
people of this Colony for their inactivity in treason and rebellion ; — 
and concluding the most contradictory, insidious, and nonsensical 
jargon of exhortation to the people, affronting to and inconsistent 
with reason and common sense, to exert themselves for the pre- 
servation of Britain, to strengthen the hands of civil government, 
to nreserve the liberty of the Constitution, to look up to the reign- 
incr monarch of Britain as their lawful and rightful sovereign, and 
to dare every difficulty and danger, in support of his person, crown, 
and dignity ; after monstrously, in the same breath, urging the peo- 
ple to the distress and ruin of Britain, to the subversion of all 
civil government, to open rebellion against the King and his 
authority ; and in the most pointed terms prompting them to arms 
and resistance ; thus insidiously attempting to reconcile allegiance 
and revolt, and inviting the people to actual rebellion under the 


mask and guise and profession of duty and respect; a shallow 
concealment of horrid treason, that I have no doubt every honest 
man will explode and treat with its merited contempt and abhor- 
rence ; while no man can wonder at the absurdity of this address, 
as it must invariably attend every like attempt to reconcile things 
in reason and nature inconsistent. The treasonable proceedings 
of an infamous committee at New Berne at the head of a body of 
armed men in seizing and carrying off six pieces of artillery, the 
property of the King, that lay behind the palace at that place ; 
repeated insults and violences offered to His Majesty's subjects by 
these little tyrannical and arbitrary combinations, and among others 
to some of my own servants, who have been stopped, when em- 
ployed on my own business, and forcibly detained and searched ; 
the unremitted assiduity of those engineers of sedition to sow dis- 
content and disaffection, and the base artifices they employ to 
alienate and prejudice the minds of His Majesty's subjects by con- 
fidently and traitorously propagating the most base, scandalous, mon- 
strous falsehoods of the King's religious and political principles, and 
of ill designs of His Majesty's ministers ; daring thus to defame and 
traduce even the sacred character of the best of princes, whose emi- 
nent and distinguished virtues by universal acknowledgment irra- 
diate, with unexampled lustre, his imperial diadem; and whose 
piety and strict and inviolable regard to the happy Constitution 
of his kingdoms in Church and State, and to the welfare and happi- 
ness of all his people, stand confessed and admired throughout the 
world, and confound and reprobate the infamous, traitorous, and 
flagitious falsehood and forgeries, to which faction hath, upon every 
occasion, resorted, to prop and support the most unprincipled and 
unnatural rebellion, that was ever excited in any part of the 
world upon which the light of civilization had once dawned ; — 
the dangerous, unconstitutional, and illegal measure, to which the 
people are invited by an advertisement I have seen, signed ' Samuel 
Johnston,' of electing Delegates to meet in Convention on the 
20thinst.,at Hillsborough, that is subversive of the whole Consti- 
tution of this country, and evidently calculated to seduce and 
alienate His Majesty's faithful and loyal subjects in the interior 
and western counties of this Province ; whose steadfast duty to 
their King and Country hath hitherto resisted all the black 
artifices of falsehood, sedition, and treason, and hath already, on my 
representation, received the King's most gracious approbation and 
acceptance ; which I am authorized and have now the high satisfac- 


tion to sio-nify to His Majesty's subjects throughout this Province 
and particularly to those in the counties of Dobbs, Cumberland, 
Anson, Orange, GuilfofcJ. Chatham, Rowan, and Surry, who have 
given me more especial and public testimonials of ti)eir loyalty, 
fidelity, and duty, and to give them assurance of His Majesty's 
most firm support ; which I am confident will not only confirm the 
good dispositions of this faithful people, and streoglhen them to 
bafile and defeat every effort of sedition and treason, but prompt 
them also to resist their first approaches by wilhsLanding the now 
meditated insidious attempt of the intended provincial Convention 
to steal in upon them the spirit, and erect among them the standard 
of rebellion, under the cloak and pretence of meeting for solemn 
deliberation on the public welfare ; — and I have no doubt that they 
will convince the traitorous contrivers and abetters of this plot, of 
the vainness of their treacherous devices to sow sedition and dis- 
affection in that land of loyalty, by indignantly spurning from them 
the said intended Congress or Provincial Convention, and not suf- 
fering its corrupted breath to pollute the air of their country, now 
the pure region of good faith and incorruptible loyalty, to whose 
virtuous inhabitants, I trust, is yet reserved the glorious achieve- 
ment of crushing unnatural rebellion, of delivering their country 
from lawless power and wide-spreading anarchy ; of restoring and 
preserving in it the free and happy constitution of Britain, with all 
that train of envied rights and blessings, which belong to that great 
and admired system of true and genuine liberty, now most alarm- 
ingly threatened with overthrow, by rebellious, republican, and 
tyrannical factions throughout America. 

" To the end, therefore, that the people of this Province at large 
may be acquainted with the enormities, violences, and disorders 
herein before recited, which manifestly tend to the destruction of 
their peace and welfare, and to the utter subversion of His Majes- 
ty's government, and the laws and constitution of this Country ; 
and that I may faithfully discharge my duty to the King and his 
Majesty's people in this Province (whose welfare and prosperity 
have ever been my constant study), and in order fully to forewarn 
the people of the dangers and calamities to which the men, who 
have set themselves up for leaders in sedition and treason, are court- 
incT them, to support them in their flagitious enormities, or to screen 
themselves from the penalties to which they know they are become 
liable, by extending their crime among numbers of their innocent 
fellow subjects, for whom I have every tender feeling of pity and 


compassion and forgiveness ; I have thought it proper to issue this 
Proclamation, hereby to exhort His Majesty's subjects, the people 
of this Province, as they tender the invaluable rights and privi- 
leges of British subjects, that they seriously reflect upon and con- 
sider the outrages and violences, into which the innocent inhabitants 
of many parts of this Province and in the counties of Duplin, New- 
Hanover, Craven, and Brunswick, in particular, have been betrayed 
by seditioiTs artifices of certain traitorous persons who have pre- 
sumed to take the lead among them ; and to attend to the obvious 
and ruinous consequences of following the wicked and flagitious 
councils of men, who, intent only upon romantic schemes and their 
own mistaken interest and aggrandizement, are cajoling the people, 
by the most false assertions and insinuations of oppression on the 
part of His Majesty and his government, to become instruments to 
their base views of establishing themselves in tyranny over them, 
treacherously aiming, by specious pretences of regard to their 
rights and liberties (that have never been invaded or intended to be 
invaded), to delude the people to work their own destruction, in 
order to gratify for a moment their own lust of power and lawless 
ambition ; that would undoubtedly carry them, if they could pos- 
sibly succeed, to reduce the people, upon whom they now call and 
rely for support in their criminal designs, to the most slavish sub- 
mission to that very arbitrary power, to which they would now 
climb upon the shoulders and by the assistance of the people. 

" Let the people but consider coolly and dispassionately the cause 
in ■which their infamous leaders would engage them, they will see 
it, from the beginning of the discontents in America, founded in 
erroneous principles, and to this day supported by every art of false- 
hood and misrepresentation ; their best colored and most specious 
arguments, fraught with sophistry and illusion, have shrunk back from 
the light of truth, and vanished, confounded of right reason : yet 
still unabashed, the tools of sedition have impudently and unremit- 
tingly imposed falsehood upon falsehood on the innocent people, ex- 
travagantly profaning even the most sacred name of the Almighty 
to promote their flagitious purpose of exciting rebellion, until they 
have shaken the allegiance and duty of great numbers and actually 
involved some of the people in the most horrid crimes against their 
sovereign and the laws and constitution of their country. And I do 
hereby most especially admonish His Majesty's faithful subjects in 
this Colony, that the holding what is called a Provincial convention, 
at Hillsborough, in the heart of this Province, is calculated to extend 


more widely the traitorous and rebellious designs of the enemies of 
His Majesty and his government and the constitution of this Pro- 
vince } and particularly to influence, intimidate, and seduce His 
Majesty's faithful and loyal subjects in that neighbouihood from 
tlieir duty to their King and Country, which they have hitherto 
so faithfully maintained ; for the furtheiance of which purposes, a 
certain Richard Caswell, one of the three persons deputed by a former 
illegal Convention in this Colony to attend a Congress no less illegal 
at Philadelphia, is sent an emissary from that Assembly that bath al- 
ready denounced ruin and destruction to America, to forward and 
superintend this meeting at Hillsborough, and lo inflame it with 
the fatal example of said Philadelphia Congress; apart which he 
has entered upon with the most active zeal, after having often de- 
clared h s principles averse to the cause in which he is engaged, 
thus exhibiting himself to the world a monstrous engine of double 
treason against his own conscience, his King, and country. And 
whereas 1 consider this a most open and daring attempt to stir up 
unnatural rebellion in this Colony against His Majesty and his gov- 
vernment, I do hereby advise, forewarn, and exhort all his Majesty's 
subjects within this Province to forbear making any choice of dele- 
gates to represent (hem in the proposed Convention at Hillsborough, 
as they would avoid the guilt of giving sanction to an illegal as- 
sembly, acting upon principles subversive of the happy Constitution 
of their country, and that they, hij every means in their poiccr, oppose 
that dangerous and unconstitutional assembly, and resist its baneful 
influence. And whereas, in order to encourage the people to pro- 
ceed in the treasons to which they have been blindly influenced 
and misled by the persons, who have set themselves up for leaders 
among them, it has been represented, in order to inflame and ren- 
der the people desperate, that they have offended past forgiveness, 
and that, having no mercy to hope from the King, their better 
chance is to prosecute their treasons to open rebellion and resistance 
of His Majesty and his government; I think it proper, in tenderness 
and pity to the poor, misguided multitude, and to obviate this abomi- 
nable design of engaging them more deeply in transgression, hereby to 
offer, promise, and declare to all, each, and every of them. His Majesty's 
most gracious pardon for all violences done and committed to the date 
hereof, on their return to their duty to the King and obedience to latcful 
government, and renouncing their seditious and treasonable jyroceed' 
ings : and I hereby offer ample rewai'd and recompense to the peoples 
or any of them, who shall yield and deliver up to me the feic principal 


persons icho seduced them to the treasonable outrages herein Icfore 
mentioned, to he dealt icith according to laic. 

" And whereas the people in many places have been seduced to the 
choice and appointment of military officers among themselves, 
which is an usurpation and invasion of his Majesty's just and law- 
ful prerogative, and whereas no person whatever is entitled to hold, 
exercise, or enjoy any commission or authority over the militia of 
this Colony, but such as are commissioned by His flfajesty or his 
Governor of this Province, and whereas a certain John Ashe, 
herein before named, who lately resigned to me his commission of 
colonel in the militia of the County of New Hanover, has presumed 
to influence and conduct a body of armed men of the said county 
and of other adjacent counties to the most daring and treasonable 
outrages, and a certain Robert Howes, alias Howe, hath also pre- 
sumed, without commission from me or any lawful authority, to 
take upon himself the style and title of Colonel, and to advertise 
and summon the militia of the County of Brunswick to meet in 
order to be trained to arms ; I do hereby forewarn the people 
against any and every such election of officers to which they are or 
may be invited, and caution them against any obedience and regard 
to any persons who have been or may be so appointed and chosen^ 
hereby declaring every such election illegal, unconstitutional, and 
null and void to all intents and purposes ; and that the said John 
Ashe and Robert Howes, alias Hoice, before mentioned, and both of 
them, and every other person and persons, icho hath .or have presumed 
to array the militia and to assemble men in arms icithin this Province, 
without any commission or authority, have invaded His Majesty's just 
royal ])rerogative and violated the laics of their country, to which 
they will he ansicer able for the same. 

" And whereas it is out of doubt that a majority of the people of 
this Colony, left to follow the impulses of their own hearts and un- 
derstanding, are loyal and faithful subjects to His Majesty and true 
and firm friends to the constitution and laws of their country; and 
whereas it appears that the assembling a convention at Hillsborough 
tcill bring the affairs of this country to a crisis, which icill make it 
necessary for every man to assert his principles, — / do hereby conjure 
the good people of this Province, as they tender and regard the blessings 
of British subjects, that they do firmly persist and persevere in their 
duty and allegiance to His Majesty, hereby assuring them in the King's 
nam.e and by His Majesty' s authority, of his firm and determined resolu- 
tion to maintain his faithful subjects in the full and free enjoyment of all 


their religious and civil rights, liberties, find privileges, and of His 
Mdjcsfifs utmost encouragement to them in the defence and support 
thereof against all enemies, rebels, and traitors zchatsoevcr. And I do 
hereby strictly require and command all His Majesty's justices of 
the peace, sheriffs, and other officers, and all His Majesty's liege 
subjects to exert themselves in the discovery of all seditions, trea- 
sons, and traitorous conspiracies, and in bringing to justice the princi- 
pals and accomplices therein ; and I do further strictly enjoin them 
to give all and all manner of aid, countenance, assistance, and 
protection to all His Majesty's loyal and faithful people. And all 
persons are hereby required to take notice and govern themselves 

" Given under my hand and the great seal of the said Province, 
on board His Majesty's ship Cruiser, in Cape Fear River, 
this 8th day of August, anno Domini 1775, and in the loth 
year of His Majesty's reign. 

" God save the King. 

(Signed) "JO. MARTIN. 

" By His Excellency's command, 

J. Bt.ggleston, D. Secretary." 

This proclamation is the dying effort of Governor Mar- 
tin, and it is almost as long, and quite as furious, as a certain 
other proclamation of a more recent date. It does am- 
ple justice to the Whig leaders, who are so vehemently 
denounced, and is at the present time valuable only as an 
historical document establishing the truth of the Mecklen- 
burg Declaration of Independence. 



The furious proclamation of Governor Martin was of 
no avail ; and on the 20th of August, 1775, the members 
of the Provincial Congress, in accordance with the sum- 
mons of Samuel Johnston, assembled in Hillsborough. 
On the 2 1st, the members convened in the church, and at 
the nomination of Richard Caswell, Samuel Johnston was 
chosen President, Andrew Knox, Secretary, James Glas- 
gow, Assistant, and Francis Lynaugh and Evan Swann, 
Door-keepers. In those days, there lived in the town of 
Hillsborough, a divine, by the name of George Mecklejohn, 
a high churchman in his religion, and a high Tory in his 
politics. The Congress, for the want of a more suitable 
chaplain, adopted this unwilling minister, and he was ac- 
cordingly introduced by Colonel Francis Nash, and then 
" he opened the Congress by reading prayers." On the 
same day, the conduct of John Coulson, an individual of 
considerable influence in the county of Anson, was dis- 
cussed, and a numerous committee, headed by Samuel 
Spencer, appointed to report upon his offences. On the 
next day, the committee reported through Mr. Harnett 
the following confession. 

<« I, John Coulson, do from the fullest conviction solemnly and 
sincerely declare, that 1 have been pursuing measures destructive 


of the liberties of America in general, and highly injurious to the 
peace of this Colony; and, truly conscious of the heinousness of my 
guilt, do now publicly confess the same, and do solemnly and sin- 
cerely promise, that I will for the future support and defend, to the 
utmost of my power, the constitutional rights and liberties of Amer- 
ica; and, in order to make atonement for my past guilt, that I 
will make use of every effort in my power to reclaim those per- 
sons whom I have seduced from their duty, and also to induce all 
other persons over whom I have influence to aid, support, and de- 
fend the just rights of America. In witness whereof, I have here- 
unto set my hand, this the 22d day of August, 1775. 


I have given this confession in full as a sample of 
many others of a similar character, which are to be found 
in the proceedings of the Provincial Congresses. The 
alternative to confess and submit, or to go to prison, was 
invariably presented to all apprehended Tories ; and this 
penitential confession of Mr. Coulson was not more de- 
grading than many others, which were extorted from the 
guilty timidity of the loyalists. 

One of the most important objects, which the Congress 
seemed to have in view, was the reconciliation of the 
Regulators, and the satisfaction of the Highland clans of 
Cumberland. The lenity of Governor Martin towards 
the former, and his intrigues with the Scotch, were now 
rewarded with the support of these two parties ; and all 
the endeavours of the Whigs to win them from his confi- 
dence and interest were exhausted, and exhausted in 
vain. The Congress by a formal resolution contradicted the 
report that the Regulators were still amenable to punish- 
ment, and declared that they should be protected by 
every means, from any injury to their persons or property. 
A numerous committee was appointed to confer " with 
such of the inhabitants as might entertain any religious or 


political scruples, with respect to associating with the 
common cause of America." But all these efforts were 
unavailing. The Highland clans, whh many honorable 
exceptions however, continued their devotion to the Roy- 
al cause, and many even of the Regulators forgot the 
glory of '' the Sons of Liberty " and the principles of 
their murdered ancestors. The Highlanders contrived to 
keep not only in the Whig party, but even in the Provin- 
cial Congress, many of their coadjutors, who disguised 
their loyalty under excessive zeal in the American cause ; 
and the proceedings of this very Convention v^^ere 
adorned by the genius of Farquard Campbell, a high 
Tory, but a gentleman of wealth, education, and, I have 
heard, of rank. I shall anticipate the career of this man, 
to illustrate the character of a disguised Tory, a common 
hero in the history of every country, and one, which is 
as frequently the- result of prudence as of vice and trea- 

Farquard Campbell was a member of a previous 
Congress, and passed the many ordeals or tests which the 
vigilance of the Whig committee instituted, and before 
which my readers may remember a Mr. Macknight of 
Currituck shrunk, and gave up the American cause. 
When this Congress assembled, however, the fact, that 
Farquard had been visited by Governor Martin on his 
flight from the palace, was well known ; and now we 
observe the jealousy of the Whigs aroused, by the receipt 
of a letter from Mr. Biggleston, the Governor's Secre- 
tary, asking the favor of the Congress, to give safe con- 
duct to His Excellency's coach and horses, to the house 
of Farquard Campbell in Cumberland. On the receipt 
of this letter, the President laid it before the Congress 


and Farquard rose in bis seat and " said lie was amazed 
that Mr. Bigglestone should have made such a pro- 
posal without his privity or consent, and implored the 
House not to permit such a disposition of the coach and 
horses." On this positive disclaimer, a resolution was 
passed acquitting him of the accusations of the Governor 
and his party, and declaring their conviction of his hon- 
esty of purpose, and of his devotion to the American 
cause. The character of Farquard, however, never re- 
covered from this shock, and, although he continued by 
these positive assurances to postpone the day of retribu- 
tion, yet the revolution of a year will disclose his down- 
fall, and with it the fate and character of his country- 
men. He signed the test submitted to the members of 
this Congress, and, on the 12th of April, 1776, voted to 
authorize the delegates in the Continental Congress to 
declare independence. He took every stand in favor of 
the American cause, except a military commission, and 
was generally among the leading members of the Con- 
gress in debates and common committees. Slill Far- 
quard was an object of suspicion, and was strictly and 
jealously watched. I see by the letters of Judge John 
Williams ^ that he was suspected of a secret correspon- 
dence with Governor Martin, during the whole time of 
his service in the Provincial Congress, and that the hope 
of the Whigs, to operate through him on the Highlanders, 
was the principal reason of their toleration. As the Amer- 
ican cause advanced, however, his part became more 
difficult to act ; and after the national Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and the consequent reorganization of the Whig 

* Letter of Judge Williams to William Johnston, January 10th, 


party, his fale was fixed. He was seized by Colonel 
Ebenezer Folsome at his own house, while entertaining a 
party of Highland Royalists, and borne off to Halifax to 
be tried. This took place during the fall of 1776; and 
thus closed the political life of Farquard Campbell. He 
is mentioned in the Confiscation of 1777, for the last time 
in the Revolutionary annals of the State. The charac- 
ter of tliis man lost all its dignity in a vain and heardess 
effort to evade that decision, which he was, as a citizen of 
the State, bound to make with promptness and sincerity. 
Not that the character of a loyalist is so odious, when 
the prejudices of birth operate to make him so ; but the 
circumstance, that he was ashamed of his real opinion, 
is the best evidence of profligacy of principle in private 
as well as public life. 

With all their violence the Whig leaders were yet 
prudent politicians, and during the session of this Congress 
they left no effort untried, to carry along with them the 
unanimous voice of the people. They not only appointed 
spirited and well selected committees, to confer with and 
explain to the people the nature of the controversy with 
the mother country, and to advise and urge them to de- 
fend those rights which they derived from God and the 
Constitution ; but, in their public resolutions and other 
state-papers, they avoided any expressions calculated to 
offend the feelings of the loyalists, and of course to 
render a more perfect union impossible. The Test sub- 
mitted to the members on the 23d of August, and which 
was signed by the whole Congress, could not have re- 
ceived the hearty assent of either a violent Whig or an 
independent Tory ; and accordingly we find the names of 
Thomas Polk, Samuel Johnston, and other Whigs at- 



tached to the same political creed widi diat of Farquard 
Campbell. They professed allegiance to the King, but 
denied his authority to impose taxes, and swore to sup- 
port the Whig authorities of the Continental and Provin- 
cial Congress. The Tory in the sincerity of his heart 
may have responded only to the profession of allegiance, 
and the Whig may have reciprocated the duplicity of 
his conduct, by an exclusive prayer for the great Amer- 
ican cause. The toleration of Farquard Campbell, the 
mild nature of the Test, and every other effort at con- 
ciliation but postponed the crisis. The calamity of a civil 
and intestine war, which had been invoked by the wicked 
genius of the routed Governor, could not be averted, either 
by the expostulations of friendship, or the solemn obliga- 
tions of social, kindred, and national ties. 

On the 24th of August the Congress declared unani- 
mously, that the people of North Carolina would pay 
their due proportion of the expense incurred in training 
a Continental army, and connected both with this and 
its preamble w^as a resolution appointing 

The President Richard Kennon, Dempsy Burgess, 

(Samuel Johnston), Thomas Gray, Robert Salter, 

William Hooper, Henry Irwin, Matthew Locke, 

Joseph Hewes, John Penn, 

Richard Caswell, Alexander Martin, 

Samuel Spencer, Joseph Hancock, 

Thomas Respiss, Matthias Brickie, 

Walter Gibson, John Webb, 

William Gray, William Bryant, 

Robert Howe, Thomas Polk, 

Thomas Eaton, Whitwell Hill, 

James Coor, Samuel Ashe, 

John Easton, Allen Jones, 

James White, Henry Rhodes, 

Thomas Jones, Thomas Burke, 

Joseph Williams, 
Peter Wynn, 
William Kennon, 
Joel Lane, 
William Brown, 
James Davis, 
Archibald Maclaine, 
Maurice Moore, 
James Hepburn, 
Willie Jones, 
Francis Nash, and 
Hugh Montgomery, 

Alexander McAllister, Benjamin Harvey, 


a committee to prepare a plan for the regulation of the 
internal peace, order, and safety of the Province.* 

To this important committee was entrusted the duty 
of proposing a system of government, which would sup- 
ply the want of an executive officer arising from the 
absence of Governor Martin, and of submitting other sub- 
ordinate plans of government ; such as the institution 
of committees of safety, the definition of the powers of 
all committees, the qualification of all electors, the mode 
to be observed in calling Conventions or Congresses, " and 
every other civil power necessary to be formed in order 
to relieve the Province in the present unhappy state, to 
which the administration has reduced it." 

It was the most important committee ever yet ap- 
pointed by popular authority, and achieved one of the 
most difficult and trying ends of the Revolution. It sub- 
stituted a regular government, resting entirely on popular 
authority, for that of the Royal government, and annihi- 
lated every vestige of the power of Josiah Martin. Noth- 
ing but the idle and vain theory of Allegiance to the 
Throne was left, to remind the people of the recent origin 
of their power ; and even this solitary star of the Kingly 
government was dimmed by the bright and rapid ascen- 
sion of the renown of Washington. 

It is difficult to give a succinct account of the com- 
plicated scheme of government, which this committee re- 
commended, and this Congress adopted. The county 
committees, which had been in existence not quite a year, 
had grown too powerful to be quietly abrogated ; and ac- 
cordingly the Congress had to be content with the regu- 

* I quote the dates in the text from the MS. Journal of the 
proceedings of the Congress. 


lation of their numbers, a definition of their powers, and 
the erection of two higher autlioriiies. The violence, 
imprudence, and sometimes the inhumanity of some of 
these county committees, had disgusted many of the Whig 
leaders, who were really disposed to use gender argu- 
ments than tar and feathers, in endeavouring to convert the 
loyalists ; and accordingly we find, in the new scheme of 
government, all their decisions are submitted to the adju- 
dication of two superior departments. The Provincial 
Council was now the Supreme Executive of the govern- 
ment, during the recess of the Congress, and consisted of 
thirteen members, two from each of the six military dis- 
tricts, nominated by the delegates of the district, and 
elected by the Congress, and one elected for the Province 
at large. This body had the authority of issuing military 
commissions, of filling vacancies, and of granting certifi- 
cates, which were ordered to run in the following form. 

" JVorth Carolina, in Provincial Council, day of 1775. 

" This is to certify that was appointed 

in the regiment of foot, 

of the American army of this Province, commanded by Colonel 
this, the day of 1775." 

Immediately subordinate to the Provincial Council, were 
the District Committees of Safety, which consisted of 
thirteen, and these too were nominated by the delegates 
of each district, and elected finally by the Congress. 
Under the immediate control of the Council, this body had 
the power to direct the operations of the militia, and such 
other forces as might be employed for the defence of the 
Province within their jurisdiction, to receive information, 
and censure and punish delinquents, either In the first in- 
stance, or as a superintending power over the town and 
county committees. 


The next order of government was the town and 
county committees, and the only alteration made in their 
arrangements, was the qualification of a freehold for the 
members, and the limitation of their number to twenty-one. 
There were now a Provincial Council of thirteen, six com- 
mittees of safety of thirteen each, thirty-six county com- 
mittees of twenty-one each, three town committees of 
fifteen each, and six borough committees of seven, mak- 
ing an aggregate of nine hundred and thirty-four civil 
officers, vested with power by the authority of the people. 

To the supreme direction and control of the military 
establishment, entrusted by the Congress to the Provin- 
cial Council, was added the wholesome and salutary power 
of a veto on the popular election of officers. This pre- 
rogative was conferred, to frustrate the designs of the 
Highlanders and other Tories, who, in their respective 
counties, had elected officers of a doubtful character ; and 
without some such general power in one of the Whig de- 
partments of the government, the integrity, even of the 
military establishment, might have been sullied. In the 
county of Cumberland, for instance, the officers of inde- 
pendent companies, as well as committee-men, must have 
been, in a general election upon the principle of universal 
suffi'age, elected from the Highland clans ; as the Scotch 
population outnumbered every other class, and voted to- 
gether on all occasions. How common is it in North 
Carolina, where the right of suffi-age is still in one depart- 
ment of the government restricted, to hear it said, that the 
people at large achieved the liberty of the state, and that 
therefore universal suffi-age ought to prevail ! But if the 
proceedings of the Convention or Congress will be admitted 
as evidence, it will be found that the freeholders were not 


only the principal operatives in the Revolution, but that they 
were exceedingly jealous of the integrity of those, who 
had not an interest in the soil. In forming the system of 
government, which I am now discussing, they absolutely 
disfranchised a large class of voters, whose weight had 
been felt in the Royal government, by leaving out the 
word " inhabitants," ^ and using only that of " freehold- 
ers," in the clause regulating elections. The original 
Whig party of North Carolina comprised the wealth, the 
virtue, and the intelligence of the Province ; and from 
this source alone, moved the Revolution. The restriction 
of the right of suffrage materially assisted the Whig party 
of Cumberland, by throwing out of the polls the poor 
and unmanageable herd of Highlanders, who were gene- 
rally guided by some wealthy Tory of their clan ; and the 
prospect of this benefit was undoubtedly one of the princi- 
pal inducements to its rigorous adoption. There was, 
however, one exception to this rule. In the counties of 
Bute, Granville, Wake, Chatham, Orange, Guilford, Row- 
an, Surry, and INIecklenburg, in which the lands of Lord 
Granville were situated, all householders, who had improv- 
ed lands in possession, except such as held lands by lease 
for years, or at will from or under any freeholder, were 
enfranchised and placed on an equality with the freehold- 
ers of other counties. Thus cautious were the founders 
of our civil liberties, in guarding and preserving the dignity 
of the polls. 

As this is the last occasion I shall have in the course of 

* Under the Royal government, a large class of people voted, 
who were not freeholders, under the name of " inhabitants " ; and 
one of the charges against Governor Dobbs, in 17G0, was the exten- 
sion of the right of suffrage. 


this volume, to notice the county committees, I shall here 
describe them somewhat in detail, and endeavour to illus- 
trate Incidentally the scheme of the new government. The 
vehement and ridiculous Proclamation of Governor Mar- 
tin denounced them, as " the genuine sources of sedi- 
tion ; " and if the word " sedition " alluded to the suc- 
cessful resistance of the people to His Excellency's meas- 
ures, the compliment was well bestowed, and well deserv- 
ed. They were appointed in North Carolina, for the first 
time, in October, 1774; and, although the Provincial 
Congress had recommended the number five, I find that 
in many of the counties the advice was not respected, and 
a larger number of the most respectable freeholders were 
elected on the county committee. In Bute, the recom- 
mendation of Benjamin Ward to select one from each 
kin was adopted ; and nearly every gentleman, of any note, 
now living in any of the counties, originally included in 
Old Bute, is a descendant of one of these founders of our 
Revolution, In that county there were no Tories, except- 
ing a few vagrant Scotch merchants or traders ; and even 
the number of suspected Whigs was so small, that, before 
the heat of the contest came on, the people were as nearly 
unanimous as a community can be. 

The freeholders, the only electors in the Province, 
voted for a general ticket of twenty-one ; and the elected 
committee-men assembled on the first day of the County 
Court, and organized by the appointment of a chairman 
and a clerk. The third Tuesday of October was the 
general day of election for members of Congress, commit- 
tee-men, and all other officers ; and, with the adoption of 
this rule, the number of members of Congress from each 
county was limited to five. When the committee pro- 


ceedeil to business, it acted on parliamentary rules, and 
questions of the greatest importance were frequently de- 
bated with ability and decorum. Before these petty par- 
liaments, were brought by force all Tories and suspected 
persons ; and, although Congress had especially forbidden 
the infliction of corporal punishment, the common remedy 
of the whipping-post was esteemed, in many instances, 
justifiable and highly indispensable. They exercised, 
rigidly, a political censorship, and did not hesitate to sub- 
ject to the penance of a dungeon, all persons convicted of 
disrespectful language towards the American cause. Orders 
were issued to ravage the estates of the most violent and 
obnoxious Tories, and appropriate the plunder to the com- 
mon treasury. But against this warfare of the Whigs, the 
loyalists were prepared to wage an equally well regulated 
system of rapine and plunder. The Tories of Cumber- 
land, superior to the Whigs in number, committed depre- 
dations on their estates, and carried off from their fields 
the slaves and catde of the plantations. But they wanted 
the regular organization of their adversaries, and the en- 
thusiasm of an injured but free people, to make the con- 
test equal or doubtful. 

The county committee held four regular sessions dur- 
ing the year ; but from the great facility of collecting 
together, and the general disposition for consultation for 
the general good, during times of danger and distress, 
they were in the habit of meeting at short notices, for the 
transaction of any urgent business. They executed all or- 
ders from the Council and Committee of Safety, attended 
to the observance of the Continental association, and all 
the resolves, orders, and directions of the Provincial and 
Continental Congress. They exercised a judicial author- 


ity, in the arrest of debtors, who were suspected of an in- 
tention to abscond, and denied justice to all, who should 
dare to commence an action at law, without their especial 
permission. These high powers, some of which, such as 
the latter, were actually entrusted to them by the Congress, 
were generally used as means of favor to the Whigs, and of 
distress and punishment to the Loyalists. The advancement 
of the great American cause, and not justice, was the motto 
of the county committees ; and in all their adjudications, 
either on the rights of persons or of property, a refusal to 
repeat and subscribe the test, was the best evidence of 
guilt or wrong. They elected out of their number seven 
members, to act as a committee of secrecy, intelligence, 
and observation, and authorized them to correspond with 
tlie Council, committees of safety, and committees of the 
neighbouring colonies. To this committee they gave the 
power of arresting all Tories and suspected persons, and 
to punish them or send them up to the Council or Com- 
mittee of Safety for further trial. 

The county committee not unfrequently usurped the 
powers of the county court, and subjected the gravity and 
reason of the law to the control of the popular will. 
This conflicting jurisdiction, however, did not " uproot the 
foundations of civil society," as predicted by Governor 
Martin ; for the notable Esquires of the court were gene- 
rally the leading members of the county committees. 
They esteemed it their highest duty to serve the American 
cause, and proclaimed, by their conduct, that they thought 
the subscription to the test a higher and more solemn ob- 
ligation, than the oath of allegiance, or of duty, as an 



The committees, as I have before said, had been in 
existence for nearly a year, before the adoption of the 
system I have here described. The Congress, proceed- 
ing to the election of a Provincial Council, made choice 
of the following members. 

Samuel Johnston, Province at large. 

Cornelius Harnett, ) Wilmington 
Samuel Ashe, j District. 

Thomas Jones, ) Edenton 
Whitmell Hill, \ District. 
Abner Nash, > JVew Berne 

James Coor, ) District. 

Thomas Person, > Hillsboro' 
John Kinchin, 5 District. 

Willie Jones, > Halifax 

Thomas Eaton, J District, 
Samuel Spencer, ^ Salisbury 
Waightstill Avery, 5 District. 

I now propose to say a few words on the characters of the 
individual members of this Council, excepting those whom 
I noticed in my sketches of the first Provincial Congress. 
The characters of Samuel Johnston, Thomas Person, 
Thomas Jones, and Willie Jones were there briefly notic- 
ed ; and, observing this Council as, at this period, the high- 
est and most efficient authority in the Province, the curi- 
osity of the reader may be aroused to know something of 
them, as private as well ns public men. 

Cornelius Harnett, " the Samuel Adams of North Caro- 
lina," was distinguished as a gentleman of great acquire- 
ments as a scholar, as well as a citizen of great weahh and 
usefulness. He heartily espoused the cause of his coun- 
try, in the very commencement of her difficulties, and 
sacrificed, in her cause, his vast fortune and his life. He 
was elected the President of the Council by the voice of 
its members, and in this capacity he served the common 
cause with great fidelity, during the existence of that 
body. The office of President of the Council was the 
most arduous and dangerous post, to which a citizen could 
be called, and, representing the executive officer of gov- 


ernment, was exposed to all the abuse and insolence of 
the proclamations of the British authorities. The great 
energy of his character, however, supported him through 
the difficuhies of his station, and gave him the confidence 
and love of his countrymen. 

Some years previous to the breaking out of the war, 
there existed on the Cape Fear an association, or club of 
gendemen, well disposed towards the American cause ; 
and among its leading members was Harnett, who coope- 
rated with John Ashe, in all his schemes of resistance. 
To this junto we are indebted for many of the most emi- 
nent Whigs of that section of the State, who studied, as it 
were, under their guidance ; and from the high compli- 
ment to Harnett, by Mr, Quincy, we may conclude he 
was considered at its head, during the year 1773. His 
reputation, as a Whig leader, had not been confined to the 
Cape Fear, or even to the Province ; and one of the first 
steps of the British General Clinton, on his arrival in 
North Carolina during the spring of 1776, was by a pub- 
lic proclamation to except him, together with Robert Howe, 
out of the benefit of a general pardon. In the course of 
his service to his country, he fell into the hands of the 
enemy, and died in captivity. 

Samuel Ashe, the other member of the Council for the 
Wilmington district, was an early and efficient Whig, 
and, like his brother, John Ashe, a native North Caroli- 
nian, and a gentleman of high and elegant breeding. It is 
the most pleasing duty I have to perform in the composi- 
tion of this work, to celebrate the characters of such men, 
and to illustrate the dignity of the history of the State, by 
an exhibition of the patriotic services of eminent nadve 
citizens. The two brothers, John and Samuel Ashe, 


are fair subjects for the pen of eulogy, and I shall trespass 
on the patience of the reader by a short notice of their 
family, of their characters, and of the services of Samuel 
Ashe. If called upon to point to her treasures, North 
Carolina may borrow from the same mother two of her 
brightest jewels for such an exhibition, and proudly wake 
up from her slumber, to assume the station and rank, 
which the founders of her liberty originally gave her. 

John Babtista Ashe, the founder of the family in North 
Carolina, was the friend of the Earl of Craven, one of the 
Lords Proprietors of the Province, and on that account 
perhaps visited the shores of the new world. He is ob- 
served as distinguished in the political history of the Prov- 
ince about the year 1727 ; and his name is sometimes 
found attached to the old statutes under the proprietary 
government. I am not able to date the exact period of 
his arrival in North Carolina ; but the banks of the Cape 
Fear have been distinguished, for more than a hundred 
years, as the residence of the family. He was one of 
the leading men of his day, and remarkable for the supe- 
rior accomplishments of a liberal education. 

His two sons, John and Samuel Ashe, inherited the 
high and distinguishing qualities of their father, and 
came into life at a period when the passions of their coun- 
trymen were aroused in the ardent pursuit of liberty and 
national independence. In the midst of political convul- 
sions, individuals distinguished for energy and decision of 
character, for patriotism and private worth, and for hered- 
itary respectability of character, rise up naturally superior 
to the mass around them. A virtuous people will gather 
around them, and seek the counsels of their better judg- 
ment, and confer upon them the honors of power, as the 


surest means of public safety. The recollection of the tal- 
ents and virtues of the father inspires a deeper veneration 
and contributes to nerve the mind of the hero, as well as to 
animate the bosom of the people. I have noted the election 
of John Ashe as Speaker of the popular House in 1764 
and 1765, and have celebrated his conduct during the ex" 
citement of the Stamp Act. The proclamation of Governor 
Martin is the best evidence of the vehemence of his zeal, 
in the earliest period of the war ; and the sacking or burn- 
ing of Fort Johnston, a military movement but a few 
months subsequent to the battle of Lexington, fully attests 
his personal intrepidity. When I survey the various and 
trying services he rendered the cause of his country, at 
the darkest period of its political existence, the many 
deeds of valor which he himself accomplished, and the 
heavy responsibilities which he assumed, I cannot refrain 
from pronouncing him the most chivalrous hero of our 
revolution. Quick and sensitive in his feelings, and ar- 
dently attached to the cause and the hope of national 
freedom, while others stood watching the probable issue 
of the contest, he struck the blow or applied the match, 
and with himself carried his countrymen, on the stormy 
field of intestine and foreign war. In the course of the 
war, he was betrayed into the hands of the enemy by his 
confidential servant ; and, after a long and rigid confine- 
ment, was seized with the small-pox, and then discharged 
on parole. With a constitution, shattered by hardship and 
disease, he returned to his family, and died shortly after- 
wards, at the house of Colonel John Sampson of Samp- 
son county. 

The character of Samuel Ashe differed from that of 
his brother, more in the absence of a violent enthusiasm 


than in any other quality. He is not found so often in 
the heat and management of the battle, as in the council 
chamber, and excelled his brother, in the public estima- 
tion, as a politician. Though not so much of a warrior, 
yet he was the better statesman ; and, in the various civil 
stations which he filled during his life, he acquired the 
high reputation which he left behind him. At this early 
period of our history, we find him elected one of the 
Provincial Council, the highest civil authority in the Prov- 
ince ; and in the succeeding spring, when that body was 
dissolved and a Provincial Council of Safety instituted, he 
was again elected to a seat in the highest branch of the 
new government. He was not, however, entirely without 
distinction in the military operations of the State. In the 
apprehension of Tories, one of the most hazardous spe- 
cies of warfare, he acquired great reputation as a bold 
and vigilant Whig ; and I find by the journal of the Coun- 
cil of Safety, that he contrived by menaces and persua- 
sions to convert many of the Loyalists of Bladen to the 
Whig interest. In this, however, the character of the 
politician may have done more than that of the warrior. 
The glory of a statesman is to achieve his end by the 
gentle means of counsel and conciliation, and to leave to 
the General the service and honor of his country, when 
these noble means shall have failed. Samuel Ashe, how- 
ever, gave to the military service of the State two of her 
bravest and most efficient officers, in the persons of his 
two sons, Colonels John Babtista and Samuel Ashe. The 
former, the elder of the two, entered the army as Cap- 
tain in Colonel Alexander Lillington's regiment, on the 
17th of April, 1776, and continued in actual service 
throughout the war. He commanded a division of North 


Carolina troops, at the battle of Eutaw Springs, and at this 
period of his service I find him enjoying the rank of 
Lieutenant-Colonel. The younger son, the present Colonel 
Samuel Ashe of Cape Fear, entered the army at the age 
of seventeen, as a Lieutenant in the spring of the year 
1779. In April, 1780, he joined the army at Charleston, 
and was made a prisoner on the capture of that city in the 
month of May of that year. He was subjected to a 
long and painful captivity of nearly fifteen months, and 
was then shipped with his companions to old Jamestown 
in Virginia, where they were exchanged and ordered to 
join General Lafayette. He remained but a short time 
with him before he was attached to the army of General 
Greene, in which he continued until the termination of the 
war. 1 have not esteemed these few remarks inapplicable 
to the character of Samual Ashe, the member of the 
Council. To have contributed two such sons to the sup- 
port of his country, and to have been himself one of the 
first movers of the war of Independence, is the lot of 
but few of the heroes in that struggle. In the course 
of his eventful life, Samuel Ashe filled the highest office 
of the State under the present Constitution, and died in 
the full enjoyment of the confidence and love of the 
people, whom he had so long and so faithfully served.* 

* The Ashe family contributed more to the success of the Revo- 
lution than any other in the State. Colonel John Ashe's second 
son, Captain Samuel Ashe, served two campaigns in the Northern 
States, with the rank of Captain in the Light Horse ; and, although 
he resigned this commission, yet he continued to serve in the mili- 
tia expeditions of the State during the war. So that there were 
five officers of that family, all actively engaged in the war. General 
John Ashe, and his son Captain Samuel Ashe, Governor Samuel 
Ashe, and his sons, Colonels John Babtista and Samuel Ashe. If I 


Whitmell Hill, one of the members of the Council for 
the Edenton District, was an accomplished and well-bred 
gentleman, as well as an early and ardent supporter of 
the American cause. On the dissolution of the Council 
he still retained his popularity, and was elected one of the 
Council of Safety. After the organization of the govern- 
ment under the present Constitution, he was elected a 
member of the Senate, and, in 1778, was chosen one of 
the members of the Continental Congress, a station which 
he filled with great honor to himself for the space of three 
years. Tradition is my only authority in the description 
of his character; — high-minded and honest as a public 
servant, amiable and affectionate in his domestic relations, 
a hospitable gentleman, and an uncompromising and zeal- 
ous Whig. An extensive posterity at this time supports 
the honor and credit of his name. 

Abner Nash, of the New Berne District, was likewise 
one of the old stock of gentlemen, as well as a zealous 
Whig. He resided on the Pembroke estate in the vicinity 
of New Berne, and was celebrated for the elegance and 
frankness of his hospitality. He was elected first Speak- 
er of the Senate under the Constitution, and, after the 
expiration of Caswell's term, Governor of the State. 
In 1781, however, he was defeated in a contest for that 
office by Thomas Burke, one of the most energetic and 
vigilant men of that day. The cause of Burke's oppo- 
sition was the disordered state of the public finances, 
which, he alleged, grew out of the carelessness of the exe- 
cutive. The character of Abner Nash, however, was not 

could go at length into a detailed history of the war, these names 
would again occur often and honorably towards its close j but my 
narrative will only reach the 4th of July, 1776. 


tarnished by the defeat. He may have lost the reputa- 
tion of a skilful financier ; but the purity of his political 
character was never suspected. In 1782, immediately 
after his defeat, he was elected a member of Congress, 
by the Assembly of the State, and in this capacity he 
served his country faithfully and honorably for four years. 
Associated with him as a member of the Council was 
James Coor, a bold and efficient Whig, who served the 
State with great fidelity, in every situation in which he 
was placed. 

Thomas Eaton of the Halifax District was a gentleman 
of large fortune and extensive popularity, and, as such, 
carried into the Council much weight and consideration. 
In the course of the war he rose to the rank of a gene- 
ral of the militia, and experienced much service in its 
conduct, both as a civil and military officer. A numerous 
and respectable posterity is not the least benefit a patriot 
can bestow on his country ; and for this, the memory of 
General Eaton deserves to be cherished, as a faithful 
public servant. 

John Kinchen, who was the associate of Thomas Per- 
son for the Hillsborough District, was a genuine Whig, and 
one who shrunk from no duty, however perilous, to which 
he was called. He was one of those bold spirits, who 
volunteered to perform the most hazardous deeds, and 
who contributed the actual service of his body to the good 
of the state. 

Waightstill Avery and Samuel Spencer, of the Salis- 
bury District, were two of the earliest and most decided 
Whigs of the State. They were both lawyers and men 
of an ardent temperament of mind. The former was a 
signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, 
and will be noUced in the second part of this volume ; the 



latter was distinguished afterwards as a Judge, and as one 
of the ablest opponents of the adoption of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. 

I have exhausted the patience of the reader, by the 
tediousness of my details of the principles of the Whig 
government. The Congress, which I left in session, to 
discuss the new Whig government, must still be neglected, 
to make room for at least the names of the members of 
the District Committees of Safety. 

Wilmington District. 

Frederick Jones. William Gray. Alexander McAllister. 

Sampson Mosely. Henry Rhodes. 

Archibald Madeline. Thomas Routledge. 
Richard Quince. 

Thomas Davis. 

Luke Sumner. 
William Gray. 
John Johnston. 
Thomas Benbury. 
Gideon Lamb. 

William Taylor. 
Joseph Taylor. 
Samuel Smith. 
John Atkinson. 
John Buttler. 

Alexander Gaston. 
Richard Cogdell. 
John Easton. 
Major Groom. 
Roger Ormond. 

Griffith Rutherford. 
John Brevard. 

James Kenan. 

Edenton District. 

Joseph Jones. 
Miles Harvey. 
Laurence Baker. 
Kennith McKenzie. 

George Mylne. 
John Smith. 
Benjamin Stone. 

Stevens Lee. 
Charles Blount. 
Isaac Gregory. 
Day Ridley. 

Hillsborough District. 
William Johnston. Ambrose Ramsay, 
John Hinton. Mial Scurloch. 

Joel Lane. John Thompson. 

Michael Rogers. John Lark. 

JVew Berne District. 
Edward Salter. Benjamin Williams. 

George Burrow. 
William Thompson. 
William Tisdale. 

Salisbury District. 
John Crawford. 

Richard Ellis. 
William Brown. 
James Glasgow. 

James Auld. 

Hezekiah Alexander. Benjamin Patten. 


William Hill. Charles Galloway. Robert Ewert. 

John Hamilton. William Dent. Maxwell Chambers. 

Halifax District. 

Allen Jones. William Eaton. William Haywood. 

Rev. Henry Patillo. Drury Lee. Duncan Lamon. 

James Leslie. John Norwood. William Bellamy. 

John Bradford. James Mills. John Webb. 
David Sumner. 

A mere record of their names is the only tribute, which 
time and space will permit me to pay to the memory of 
the members of the Committees of Safety. They have 
left but few records behind them, to attest their industry or 
zeal, as a body ; but the proceedings of the Council, which 
I shall presently notice, will sufficiently illustrate the na- 
ture of their proceedings. I observe among them the 
ancestors of many of our worthiest and most distinguished 
citizens. The names of Richard Cogdell and Alexan- 
der Gaston, * of New Berne, are still cherished by their 
descendants, and their reputation is siill sustained by two of 
the most learned and eloquent Jurists f of the State. The 

* Alexander Gaston was shot by a party of Tories, in the year 
1781, as he was leaving in a boat one of the wharves of New Berne. 
The circumstances of his death were most distressing, being killed, 
as it were, in the very presence of his family. He was a good and 
brave man, and died in the defence of that cause, of which his son 
is still an ardent and eloquent supporter. Richard Cogdell too was 
shot at by the Tories, or British soldiers, while standing in his door, 
and the same door, pierced by the ball of the musket, is still swinging 
on its hinges, in the house of Wright Stanly, Esquire, of New Berne. 

The reader will also observe the name of John Buttler on the list 
of the Hillsborough Committee. He was one of the outlawed Regu- 
lators, and adhering to the principles of his party, had now become 
an outlawed IFhig. He was one of the Captains of Husband, at the 
Battle of Allemance, and his example alone is a sufficient vindication 
of the integrity of the Regulation. 

t William Gaston and George E. Badger, Esquires. 


late John Stanly, so celebrated for his great dexterity as an 
advocate at the bar, and as a debater in Congress, and in 
the legislature of the State, was the grandson of Richard 
Cogdell. Mr. Stanly was indeed a most extraordinary 
nian ; — the generous and hospitable friend, the brave, en- 
thusiastic, and eloquent defender of North Carolina, the 
high-minded, honest, and independent politician ; 

— , " the best of the good ; — 

So simple in heart, so sublime in the rest, 
With all that Demosthenes wanted, endued^ 
His victor or rival in all he possessed," 




In resuming the discussion of the proceedings of the 
Provincial Congress, 1 shall invite the attention of the 
reader to the military organization of the Province, which 
was one of the most important duties performed by that 
body, and the strictness of which is no indifferent testi- 
mony to the character of the people of North Carolina. 
When this convention adjourned, every military officer 
was appointed, and a thorough discipline instituted, and 
ordered, for the goveriiment and direction of the array. 
This was in September, 1775. Truly " no State was 
more fixed or forward." 

On the 1 st of September, the Congress took into con- 
sideration the arrangement of the military troops ordered 
in the Province, as part of, and on the same establish- 
ment with, the Continental army, and the appointment of 
officers to command the said troops. They divided the 
army thus proposed to be raised into two regiments, con- 
sisting of five hundred men, and ordered that four hundred 
of the first regiment should be stationed in the District of 
Wilmington, and that the remaining one hundred of the first, 
and the whole of the second regiment, should be equally 
distributed, to the Districts of New Berne, Salisbury, and 

* Journal of the Congress, printed, p. 17. MS. date September 5. 



Proceeding to tlie elecllon of ofHcers, they chose 
following gentlemen. 

Officers of the First Regiment. 
James Moore, Colonel. Thomas Clark, Major. 

Francis Nash, Lt.-Colonel. William Williams, Adjutant. 


William Picket. 
Robert Rowan. 
John Walker. 


William Davis. 
Thomas Allen. 
Alfred Moore. 
Caleb Grainger. 

Henry Dickson. 
George Davidson. 
William Green. 

John Lillington. 
Joshua Bowman. 
Laurence Thompson. 
Thomas Hogg. 

Neill McAllister. 
Maurice Moore, Jr. 
John Taylor. 
Howell Tatum. 

William Berryhill. 
Hector McNeill. 
Absalom Tatum. 

James Childs. 
Henry Niell. 
Berryman Turner. 

Hezekiah Rice. 
William Brandon. 
William Hill. 

George Graham. 
Robert Rolston. 
Henry Pope. 

Officers of the Second Regiment. 

Robert Howe, Colonel. John Patten, Major. 

Alexander Martin, Lt.-Colonel. Dr. John White, 1st Capt. ^ Adj. 

James Blount. 
Hardy Murphrey. 
Simon Bright. 

John Grainger. 
Clement Hall. 
William Fenner. 
Benjamin Williams. 

Henry Vipon. 

John Armstrong. 
Henry Irvin Toole. 
Michael Payne. 


Robert Smith. 
Edward Vail, Jr. 
John Williams. 

Whitmell Pugh. 

Charles Crawford. 
Nathan Keais, 
John Walker. 

John Herritage. 
Joseph Tate. 
James Gee. 

John Oliver. 


Philip Low. William Gardner. Benjamin Cleveland. 

James Cook. William Caswell. Joseph Clinch. 

John Woodhouse. 

Dr. Isaac Guion, Chirurgeon to the First Regiment. 
Dr. William Partun, Chirurgeon to the Second. 

But independent of these two regiments, which consti- 
tuted but a small portion of the military force of the Prov- 
ince, the Congress ordered the enlistment of six battalions 
of minute-men (one for each of the Districts), each battal- 
ion to consist of two companies of fifty men, and the field- 
officers to be recommended by the members from the 
several districts, and to be finally appointed by the Con- 
gress. The minute-men, when enlisted, were authorized 
to elect their Captains, Lieutenants, and Ensigns, and these 
officers, when elected, appointed their respective noncom- 
missioned officers. When these battalions were thus reg- 
ularly organized, they were reviewed by the County 
Committee, and, if approved by that sovereign power, 
certificates were granted to the Captains, and the date of 
these certificates determined the priority and rank of the 
Captains of the respective battalions. The details of the 
plan for the government of these companies would weary 
the patience of the reader, and, with a simple statement of 
the pay of the officers and soldiers, I shall record the names 
of the field-officers, elected by the Congress. A Colonel's 
pay was I4s, 3c?., per day, a Lieutenant Colonel's, ils. 
5d.f a Major's, 95. 6d., a Captain's, 5*. Sd,, a Lieuten- 
ant's, 35. 9d., an Ensign's, 2^. \0d., a Sergeant's, 2s. 2d., 
a Corporal's, a Drummer's, or a Fifer's, 2s. j a Private's, 
Is. lOd., and the Commissary was allowed 8c?. per day 
for victualling each and every man.* 

* Journal of the Congress, printed, p. 25. MS. date September 7. 


Field-Officers and Minute-men. 

Edward Vail, Co? >^^^^,^^ 

n^ K N r^'i!/ C District. 

Caleb Nash, Major. 

Thomas Wade, Col. 

Adley Osborne, Lt.-Col. 

Joseph Harden, J/fljor. 

Richard Caswell, Col. 

William Bryan, Lt.-Col. 

James Gorham, Jl/ajor. 

Nicholas Long CoZ ^ ^„y,y^^ 
Henry Irwm,L«..CoL S ^ -^^^^ 
Jethro Sumner, Major. 3 
James Thackson, Col. C Hillsho- 
John Williams, Lt.-Col. < rough 
James Moore, Major. ^ District. 
Alex. Lillington, Col. ^ Wilming- 
Robert Ellis, Z,«.-Cw/. > ton 
Samuel Swann, Major. ) District.. 

Besides these battalions of minute-inen, the Congress 
proceeded to institute a regular organization of the 
militia by the election of field-officers for each of the 
counties, and by the issuing of commissions to the officers 
elected. To the County Committees was entrusted the 
appointment of all subordinate officers, and this latter 
class were to be commissioned by the Provincial Council. 
The militia was organized upon the same act of Assembly, 
upon which it was based during the existence of the Royal 
government, and the Committees of Safety were em- 
powered to order them out upon any sudden emergency, 
when the Council should not be in session. The field- 
officers of the militia were appointed on the 9th of Sep- 
tember. A simple enumeration of names is a tedious 
task for the historian as well as the reader ; but these mi- 
litia officers were active and energetic in the prosecution 
of the war, and deserve a more extended notice, than the 
objects of this volume will permit. I shall, in an Appendix, 
present a general view of the military organization of the 
forces of the State, which will be found to contain a full 
and accurate list of the names of the several officers of 
the militia. 

We now have three distinct and somewhat indepen- 
dent departments in the army of North Carolina. The 
two regiments organized on the Continental establishment 


commanded by Colonels Howe and Moore, the six battal- 
ions of minute-men, and the forces of the militia. The 
troops of the two Continental regiments were denomi- 
nated the Regulars, and their officers ranked above those 
of the minute-men, as those of the minute-men did above 
those of the militia. But a Colonel of the minute-men 
ranked above a Lieutenant-Colonel of the regulars, as did 
a Colonel of the militia above a Lieutenant-Colonel in 
the minute service. The minute-men were enlisted for 
six months ; and a confinement for twenty-four hours, and 
a fine of fourteen days' pay, was prescribed by the Con- 
gress, as the highest punishment to which they could be 
subjected. The decisions of all courts-martial were lia- 
ble to be reversed by the Council, to which body the con- 
victed might appeal ; and this feature in the military poli- 
cy of the Province was, perhaps, its greatest weakness. 
The greatest security for the good discipline of an army 
is the arbitrary rule of war, that there is no appeal from 
the decree of the Commander-in-chief. 

In the two continental regiments there were sixty-seven 
commissioned officers, one hundred and ninety-eight in 
the minute service, and twelve hundred and twenty- four 
in the militia, making an aggregate of fourteen hundred 
and eighty-nine military officers, commissioned by the 
authority of the Provincial Congress, at this early period 
of the struggle. But few of these commissions were re- 
signed, and the many appointments, that were now made, 
doubtless strengthened the integrity of the Whig party, 
by binding more closely to their interest the relatives and 
friends of the officers. At this time, too. Governor Mar- 
tin, who still hovered on the shores of the Cape Fear, in 
his floating palace, was busily engaged in endeavouring to 


encourage the lukewarm Whigs, to adopt the Roya. 
cause ; and one of his many expedients was, to enclose to 
such as he might suspect, military commissions and such 
other honors, as were calculated to effect his purpose. 
I have seen one of these vagrant commissions, issued by 
Martin, of date the 14th of December, 1775, to a gentle- 
man who, in the latter part of this war, was said to have 
been a staunch Whig. But the possession of them was 
always looked upon as the premonitory symptom of tergi- 
versation and treason. 

Among other important objects of consideration, which 
came before this Congress, that of the public funds de- 
serves to be attentively examined. Richard Caswell was 
chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, and in 
his reports assumed the principle, that the people repre- 
sented in the Congress constituted the State, and not the 
Whig party. In previous Congresses, the assessment of 
taxes on the people generally, was not resorted to as a 
means of public credit, nor did those bodies pretend to a 
representation of any other class, than those friendly to 
the American cause. While Governor Martin continued 
in the palace, surrounded by his Council, the shadow of a 
government was before the people ; and ihe humble right 
to assemble, to petition and remonstrate, was the essential 
principle of the first Provincial Congress. After his ex- 
pulsion from the head-quarters of his government, the dis- 
persion of his councillors, and the total annihilation of his 
authority, the Whig party began to feel its strength and 
importance, and now to usurp or assume the power of 
controling and directing the State. 

On the 29th of August, Mr. Caswell submitted a re- 
port on the state of the public funds, embracing two points, 


which will serve to exhibit the resources, which were in- 
herited from the Royal government. The first was, that 
there was a large amount of public money in the hands 
of sundry sheriffs, which had been collected under the 
existence of the late government, and the payment of 
which he recommended should be immediately enforced. 
The other point was, that considerable sums had been 
collected by the officers of the late government, under 
the famous acts of 1748 and 1754, laying certain duties 
for the redemption of the old bills ; and these he recom- 
mended should be returned to the persons from whom 
they were collected, or else allowed in any subsequent 
payment of taxes. The popular House of the Assembly 
had repealed the abovementioned acts, as far as they 
could, by their own votes, in two several sessions ; and 
this report of Caswell's, by ordering the return of the 
taxes collected under their operation, virtually assumed 
the principle that the Congress was the legitimate des- 
cendant of that department of the Royal government. 

On the 7ih of September, the chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means reported, that it was expedient 
to issue, on the faith of the Province, a sum not exceed- 
ing §125,000, in bills of credit, and with the report sub- 
mitted the form of these bills, which was as follows : 

" North Carolina Currency. 

" No. 178. Three Dollars. 
" This bill entitles the bearer to receive three Spanish milled 
dollars, or the value thereof in gold and silver, according to a reso- 
lution of the Provincial Congress, held at Hillsborough, August 21st, 

1 have in my possession the bill above described. It is 
adorned in the margin with a Masonic Emblem, and 
signed by Richard Caswell, Samuel Johnston, Andrew 


Knox, and Richard Cogdell, who were authorized to su- 
perintend the stamping of the plate, and to sign them and 
deliver them over to the two Treasurers of the State. 
For the redemption of the bills thus issued, a poll-tax 
of two shillings was laid, to commence from the year 1777, 
and to continue nine years ; and whosoever refused to 
receive these public bills of credit, thus secured, was de- 
nounced by a resolution of the Congress as an enemy to 
his country. Death was prescribed as the penalty for 
counterfeiting ; but the wisdom of the House forbade the 
Committees of Safety, before whom the accused was 
first to be tried, the infliction of the punishment, and 
instructed them in the event of his conviction before them, 
to remand him to prison, " until a convenient power should 
be established for hearing and determining the matter, 
agreeably to the constitutional mode heretofore used in all 
capital cases." 

The salutary rule of exacting bond, with good and 
sufficient secuiiiy (in the sum of £10,000), was ap- 
plied in this case ; and the four gendemen appointed to 
superintend the emission of the bills accordingly entered 
into proper bonds, and took a most solemn oath (pre- 
scribed by the Congress) faithfully to execute the high 
and honorable duty entrusted to them. On the 8th of 
September, Samuel Johnston was elected treasurer for the 
Northern, and Richard Caswell for the Southern District ; 
and these two gentlemen again entered into bonds of 
£50,000 each, proclamation money, to the Provincial 
Council, for the faithful performance of the duties of their 
offices. On the election of Mr. Caswell as treasurer, 
he resigned his seat in the Continental Congress, and was 
succeeded by John Penn, one of the members from the 


county of Granville. Mr. Penn was, as even Mr. Jeffer- 
son admits, a staunch Whig. He was also a man of ster- 
ling integrity as a private citizen, and well deserved the 
honor which was now conferred upon him. The delega- 
tion from North Carolina in the Continental Congress, as 
now organized, continued the same, until the period of the 
National Declaration of Independence. 

On the 4th of September, the Congress resolved itself 
into a committee of the whole, the Rev. Mr. Patillo in 
the chair, to take into consideration a paper, purporting 
to be a confederation of the United Colonies, and, after 
much debate, determined to instruct their delegates not 
to consent to any plan of confederation, and that the then 
association ought to be further relied on, as a means of ad- 
justing the difficulties with the parent State. There were 
many objections to a change of the principles of the union 
of the colonies, which had been adopted by the associa- 
tion, for any other system, although it might be even a 
more perfect union. The stability of the Whig party in 
North Carolina depended, in a great measure, on the cir- 
cumstance that the paper called the "Association," had 
been extensively circulated among the people, and, like the 
Cumberland or Tryon Association, signed by them mdivid- 
ually. In the counties more or less affected with Troyism, 
this had proved a most salutary practice, and had contri- 
buted to forestall the machinations and intrigues of Gov- 
ernor Martin and his party. The public mind was settled 
on the principles of the identical Association, and the 
wisdom of the Congress prudently determined there to 
let it rest. 

On the 2d of September, the ceremony of returning the 
thanks of the Convention to the delegates in the Continen- 


tal Congress, for their patriotic and faithful discharge of 
the important trust reposed in them, was performed by the 
President ; and 1 here record the two addresses, on the 
occasion, not only as elegant compositions of the kind, but 
as the highest evidence of the patriotism of the delegates. 
The President rose in his seat and addressed them 
as follows : 

" Gentlemen, 

'' The honorable and patriotic conduct you have pursued in the 
discharge of the high and important trust, unanimously committed 
to you, with the most unlimited confidence, by the late convention 
of this Province, has justified and done honor to their choice, and 
now calls forth the grateful thanks, of your fellow citizens, which 
thanks, in order that the most honorable testimony of your conduct 
may be transmitted to posterity, the Congress have commanded me 
to deliver in this place. 

'' I do accordingly with the greatest pleasure return you the thanks 
of this Congress in behalf of their constituents, for the manly, spir- 
ited, and patriotic discharge of your duty, as delegates representing; 
this Province in the grand Continental Congress at Philadelphia." 

To which the delegates returned the following answer : 

'' We, the Delegates of this Province, to whom our fellow citizens 
thought fit to consign, with the most unlimited confidence, the great 
and important charge of representing them in the late Continental 
Congress, beg leave to express our most sincere thanks for the honor- 
able testimony, which through you they have thought fit to ren- 
der, of our services in that capacity. With hearts warmed with a 
zealous love of liberty and desirous of a reconciliation with the 
parent state, upon terms just and constitutional, we flattered our- 
selves that the integrity of our motives would plead an excuse for 
our want of abilities, and that in the candor and charity of our 
constituents, our well-meant, however feeble, endeavours would 
find their apology. Our expectations are more than answered ; and 
this public approbation of our conduct, the greatest reward a sub- 
ject can receive or a people bestow, will stimulate us, whether in 
private or public life our lot shall be cast, to imitate the virtues of 
our patriotic fellow citizens, and to be distinguished by our useful- 
ness in society, as we have this day been by the hoiio]:s with which 


they have marked our former endeavours. While our hearts over- 
flow with gratitude to this respectable Assembly, we cannot omit to 
offer our best acknowledgments to you, honored Sir, for the polite 
manner in which you have been pleased to convey to us the sense 
of this House, and to congratulate them, that their councils are con- 
ducted under the auspices of a character so justly esteemed, and 
which adds dignity to the seat in which it presides." 

Immediately after the delivery of these speeches, which, 
the reader will observe, was before the resignation of 
Caswell, Messrs. Hooper, Caswell, and Hewes were re- 
elected delegates, and invested with the same powers, 
which were conferred on them at their first appointment. 

It was during the session of this Congress, on the 8th of 
September, that the " Address to the Inhabitants of the 
British Empire," a paper of much celebrity in its day, was 
unanimously adopted and published as the declaration of 
the people of the Province. It was the composition of 
William Hooper, who reported it as the chairman of a 
committee, consisting of Maurice Moore, Robert Howe, 
Richard Caswell, and Joseph Hewes. After reciting the 
rights of the Colonies, and disclaiming all idea or desire 
of independence, or a total separation from the mother 
country, the paper proceeds as follows ; 

*• We again declare, and we invoke that Almighty Being who 
searches the recesses of the human heart, and knows our most secret 
intentions, that it is our most earnest wish and prayer to be restored 
with the other United Colonies, to the state in which we and they were 
placed before the year 1763, disposed to glance over any regulations 
which Britain had made previous to this, and which seem to be inju- 
rious and oppressive to these Colonies, hoping that, at some future 
day, she will benignly interpose and remove from us every cause of 
complaint. Whenever we have departed from the forms of the Con- 
stitution, our own safety and self-preservation have dictated the 
expedient ; and if, in any instance, we have assumed powers which 
the laws invest in the sovereign or his representatives, it has only 
been in defence of our persons, properties, and those rights, which 


God and the Constitution have made unalienably ours. As soon as 
the causes of our fears and apprehensions are removed, with joy will 
we return these powers to their regular channels, and such institu- 
tions, formed from mere necessity, shall end with that necessity 
which created them." 

This address was extensively circulated throughout the 
Province, and, containing many expressions of devotion to 
the House of Hanover, was not without effect on the un- 
decided portion of the people. It penetrated every hut 
of the Highlanders, and was read by the leading Whigs, 
to their doubting and more timid neighbours, as containing 
nothing to which a loyal and honest British subject could 
object. All these state-papers were composed under the 
supervision of committees, and the import of each word 
carefully weighed, before it was laid before the Congress. 
In this, a proper degree of respect for the opinions and 
rights of the loyalists is strictly maintained, and, at the same 
time, the parts which I have extracted distinctly disclose 
the only means of adjusting the controversy, viz. the res- 
toration of the United Colonies " to the state in which 
they were placed before the year 1763." 

On Sunday, the 10th of September, the Congress pro- 
ceeded to take into consideration the encouragement of 
manufactures, and resolved to bestow bounties on the 
manufacture of gunpowder, saltpetre, and all other "en- 
ablements unto the military establishment." Cotton and 
woolen cards, pins, iron, steel, paper, and a variety of 
other articles were encouraged ; and, after the perform- 
ance of the duty of returning thanks to the President for 
his able and impartial discharge of the duties of his sta- 
tion, the Congress adjourned. 




The Continental Congress assembled on the 13th of 
September, and in this body the Province of Georgia ap- 
peared, and thus completed the list of the Thirteen United 
Colonies. The affairs of North Carolina were frequently 
before the Congress, and her exception out of the operation 
of the act of Parliament, restraining the trade of the col- 
onies, was first acted on, and her people implored to for- 
bear from the advantages which were thus offered. I have 
already explained the true reason of that exception, by the 
introduction of a letter of Alexander Elmsly, the agent 
of the popular House of the Assembly at London. In 
North Carolina, the benefits of the act were of course un- 
avoidable. It was an act of oppression, out of which she 
was excepted, and the process of '' forbearing to avafl 
themselves of its advantages," was an extremity, to wliich 
neither patriotism nor prudence should have induced her 
people to go. The path of duty was, to embrace both 
that and every other opportunity, to grow in prosperity 
and strength, that she might be the better prepared for 
the struggle, which she plainly saw so rapidly approach- 
ing. It was spurned as a bribe, and she exercised it as 
a right. 

The Continental Congress, however, as if to honor 
North Carolina by similar privileges, directed her to ex- 


port to the Island of Bermuda, sixteen thousand bushels of 
corn, and four hundred and sixty-eight bushels of peas 
and beans. In connexion with Maryland and Virginia, 
she was likewise permitted to export her produce to any 
part of the world, except Great Britain and her domin- 
ions, and to import salt ; and these previleges too she 
accepted, and exercised, not as a bribe, but as a right. 
The emissions of bills of credit, by the Congress, to the 
amount of three millions of dollars, was the most sub- 
stantial favor rendered to North Carolina ; and the support 
which that amount afforded to the American cause, was 
better culculated to attach the sympathies of the people 
to the Continental Congress, than the superfluous con- 
ferring of indisputable and undoubted privileges. 

The two regiments, commanded by Colonels Howe and 
Moore, were received by the Congress on the Continental 
establishment, and ordered to the defence of North Caro- 
lina and the adjacent States. The efforts of the Congress 
to advance the Whig interest of North Carolina were 
exerted with great advantage, by the employment of two 
Presbyterian ministers of Philadelphia, to visit their less 
faithful brethren in the South, and to endeavour to per- 
suade them to abandon the cause of the Royal government. 
Some time previous to this, the ministers of that denomi- 
nation in Philadelphia, who belonged to the Whig party, 
appealed to the patriotism of their brethren in North 
Carolina, by the publication of a letter of advice and ex- 
postulation ; and failing in that means of conversion, they 
now determined, under the sanction of the Continental 
Congress, to visit them in person. The Presbyterians of 
North Carolina, who were loyalists, were generally of the 
Highland clans ; and many of the staunchest Whigs^ in the 


western part of the State, were pious adherents of that 
extensive and respectable denomination. 

I shall now proceed to notice the proceedings of the 
Provincial Council, and shall, in as short a space as pos- 
sible, conduct the reader to the period of its existence. 
In the course of my details, I shall wander several 
months in. the year 1776 ; but shall return to record 
some of the events, which took place towards the close of 
the year 1775. 

The Provincial Council held its first session on the 
18th day of October, 1775, in the Court-House of the 
county of Johnston. Cornelius Harnett, Esquire, of Wil- 
mington, was elected President, and James Green, Jun., 
appointed clerk. The principal business before them 
was entirely of a warlike nature. The vigilant County 
Committees seem to have aroused the whole population 
of the Province, and to have infused into the minds of 
the young and the aged, the desire of war. The jour- 
nal of this, unlike that of the Royal Council, presents a 
series of petitions and demands not for land warrants 
or pecuniary claims, but for ammunition, fire-arms, 
swords, and other warlike implements. Appointments 
of paymasters and appropriations for military service had 
become more the fashion of the day, than the appoint- 
ment of trustees and appropriations for land surveys. 
It is difficult to estimate the military spirit of that day. 
The numerous applications for military commissions which 
were every day laid before the Council, and the constant 
appeals to their encouragement and patronage, by volun- 
teer bands of Whigs under the command of some ardent 
spirit, soon gave the Council the opportunity to exercise 
their authority in the usual objects of government, as well 


as in the organization of a military force. It was essen- 
tially the supreme authority of the Province, and was 
advancing daily in the acquisition of strength, until its 
dissolution by the Provincial Congress of the succeeding 

The power and authority of this executive of the new 
government, — neither correctly defined, nor accurately 
understood, — executed whatever in its opinion was of ser- 
vice to the common cause, and approved of the apprehen- 
sion and confinement of Tories, as one of the most useful 
occupations of the guardians of the people. They acted as 
supervisors of the political principles of the province, and 
chastised the obstinate or persuaded the timid into a support 
of the American cause. It is impossible, in a work like 
this, to record even an analysis of the copious proceed- 
ings of the Council, or to give a more accurate definition 
of their powers, than is conveyed in the appellation of 
the Executive of the acts of the Provincial Congress and 
of their own determinations. They corresponded with the 
Committees of Correspondence, conferred with the District 
Committees of Safety, with the County Committees, and 
with all other persons favorably disposed towards the com- 
mon cause, and executed or not at their pleasure the de- 
signs of their several bodies. 

On the 22d of October, 1775, intelligence of serious 
discontents among the people of the County of New 
Hanover was received, and this calamity was charitably 
ascribed to the misrepresentations of the Governor's party. 
The people had assembled in a large body, and publicly 
protested against the proceedings of the late Congress 
as beyond the limit of a peaceable mode of redress, and 
as of a character decidedly revolutionary, or rebellious. 


The Council highly disapproved of such conduct as tend- 
ing to create dissensions to the prejudice of American 
liberty, and instructed John Ashe, Samuel Ashe, and Mr. 
President Harnett, to explain the proceedings of the Con- 
gress to the people, and to endeavour by argument and 
persuasion to maintain that harmony, so essential to the 
preservation of the rights of the Province. These em- 
issaries of freedom soon contrived to restore order, and 
to infuse zeal, wherever they went ; and the discontented 
people of New Hanover soon yielded to the influence of 
their three leaders, and returned to the support of the 
common cause. 

The second Provincial Council was held again at the 
Court-House of Johnston on the 18th of December, 1775, 
and Cornelius Harnett, as President, was again at his post. 
On the second day of its session, the Sheriff of Halifax, 
Mr. Branch, presented himself to the Council, and prayed 
condign punishment on two Tories, whom he had caught 
in the course of his official excursions. Walter Lamb 
and George Massinbird were the names of the two per- 
sons in his custody, and the "judgment of the Council 
was, that Mr. Branch should keep in his custody the said 
Lamb, and remand him for trial before the Committee of 
Safety for Halifax district." The other, George Massin- 
bird, played the penitent, and, after taking an oath satisfac- 
tory to the Council, was discharged. The Council during 
its second session discovered the cause of the great discon- 
tents in the Cape Fear country, in the influence and indus- 
try of Governor Martin and the officers of the Cruiser, 
who, by proclamations and spies, contrived to disseminate 
their odious doctrines, and, by promises of high favor 
and offices, had produced dissatisfaction even among the 


Whigs. Tlie Provincial Congress had been represented 
as an assemblage of turbulent agitators, intent on public 
plunder, and regardless or insensible of the rights of man. 
The County Committees, those engines of revolution, 
were censured as a tyrannical, self-constituted junto, com- 
posed of violent and unprincipled men, whose only object, 
in the overthrow of the government, was to usurp the ab- 
solute authority of tyrants. Such were the schemes of 
Governor Martin, concerted in the state-room of a ship of 
war, and circulated among the people of the surrounding 
country. His floating residence was however guarded by 
a detachment of Whigs, and his Excellency, now restrict- 
ed in his movements to dangerous aquatic excursions, was 
unable to effect any material changes in public opinion, 
without the agency of spies and secret communications. 
The Council recommended to the Committees of Wil- 
mington and Brunswick, and to the commanding officers 
of the detachment, to cut off all manner of personal com- 
munication between the ship and the shore, and that all 
letters to or from " Governor Martin, or the ship of war," 
should be opened, and their contents observed. Obedi- 
ence to this efficient advice, and a determination to cut off 
all supplies of provisions from the shore, soon exhausted 
the strength of the Governor and his fleet, and thus 
healed in a measure the dissensions of the people. The 
prejudice against the measures concerted for the defence 
of American freedom was dispelled, and the people of New 
Hanover returned in a body to the support of the cause 
of the Provincial Congress, and the cause of the people. 

On the 2 1st of December, the Council, in anticipation 
of an invasion, appointed Committees in each district to 
attend to the state of the arms and other warlike imple- 


ments, and with authority to purchase up all such materials. 
On the same day it was resolved to raise two battalions 
of minute men in the district of Salisbury, and the follow- 
ing officers were appointed to the command of them. 

Griffith Rutherford, Colonel f 

John Phifer, Lieut.- Colonel > of the First Battalion, 

John Paisly, Major j 

Thomas Polk, Colonel ^ 

Adam Alexander, Lieut. -Colonel > 0/ the Second Battalion. 

Charles Maclaine, Major ) 

It will be seen from such proceedings how vigilant was 
the Council in guarding, not only the integrity of the 
Whig party, but the safety of the people, from invasion 
and domestic war. Their vigilance appears on every 
page of their journal ; but nowhere so conspicuously as 
on the 24th of December, the last day of their session. 

They recommended to the several town and county 
committees in the Province to furnish the captains of all 
military companies with copies of the Test, that it be 
presented to the men under their command for their ap- 
probation, and that a list of all such as shall refuse or 
neglect to sign the same, should be forwarded to the 
Council at their next meeting. It was then resolved, that 
no person should be entitled to any benefit or relief 
against any debtor as directed by the Provincial Con- 
gress, unless such person should at least ten days 
previously to application have subscribed the Continental 
Association and the Test, as recommended by the Pro- 
vincial Congress. The Whig party, thus rigidly disciplin- 
ed, speedily subdued their weaker and less numerous ene- 
my, and was soon prepared to insult the majesty of the 
Throne. An invariable enforcement of the decrees of 
their constituted authorities inspired a spirit of confidence 


among their friends, and of despair among their ene- 
mies ; and to bolh of these circumstances must we attrib- 
ute the many chivalrous deeds, which distinguished that 
age. In every section of the Province, the fury of the 
contest was raging, and public duty and public virtue 
persuaded the Whigs to a violent abuse of the persons of 
the Tories, and not unfrequently to the commission of a 
bloodier tragedy. The inducements to abandon the Tory 
party at this day were too numerous and too lucrative to 
be resisted, except by those who were attached to old 
England by the most endearing recollections ; and accord- 
ingly we find the spirit of Toryism more submissive, at 
this, than at a more subsequent and doubtful period of the 
contest. The King had no army in North Carolina, the 
Governor for the want of protection had absconded from 
his palace, and the authority of Mr. President Harnett 
and his Council was physically supreme. Under these 
circumstances, the Highlanders from Scodand were almost 
alone in their devotion to the authority of the Governor, 
and even many of these found it convenient (to escape 
their debts, as their countrymen said), to espouse the 
Whig cause, and to sustain it throughout the war. 

The third Provincial Council assembled in New Berne, 
by request of the President, on the 28ih of February, 
1776. The Continental Congress having recommended 
to the southern colonies to appoint committees to meet 
at Charleston, to ascertain the means of defence against 
invasion, President Harnett had called together the 
Council at an earlier period than was proposed, to des- 
patch the proper number of delegates. Abner Nash and 
John Kinchen were appointed on the part of North Car- 
olina, and instructed to repair to Charleston without delay. 


I shall extract from the Journal of this session one 
incident, which will show the nature of the business prin- 
cipally transacted by the Council. — March 2d, 1776. 
William Bourk, being; charged with being inimical to the 
liberties of America, was brought before this Council, 
when Mr. John Strange appeared as a witness, who, first 
being sworn, 

" Deposeth, and saith that last night, he heard the said William 
Bourk express himself in the following manner, viz. ' That we 
should all be subdued by the month of May by the King's troops, 
that General Gage deserved to be damned because he had not let the 
guards out to Bunker Hill, and it would have settled the dispute at 
that time. That there were forty-seven thousand troops expected 
soon to America, and it would be in vain to pretend to defend our- 
selves against them.' All which the said William Bourk acknowl- 
edged, and further said, ' he wished the time would happen this in- 
stant, but was sure the Americans would be subdued by the month 
of August ' ; whereupon it was Resolved, That the said William 
Bourk be sent to the Town of Halifax and committed to close gaol, 
there to remain until further orders." 

It had been proposed by the Continental Congress, 
that the Committee of Safety of Virginia and the Pro- 
vincial Council of North Carolina should meet together 
and confer on their mutual interest ; and Thomas Jones, 
Samuel Johnston, and Thomas Person were appointed 
to represent the Council on such an occasion. This was 
anodier mode of communication between the Colonies, 
which contributed its share to unite the sympathies of the 
Whigs in every section of the country, and which paved 
the way to such an unanimous action among them, on 
other succeeding and more important points. In this 
Council, it was resolved to disarm all suspected persons ; 
and this hazardous duty was entrusted to the county com- 
mittees. The execution of such a task was of course 


attended with much strife and bloodshed, and not to be 
justified on any other principles than those of war. It was 
the signal for rapine and plunder, as well as for arms; and 
many a loyal and dutiful subject of the King surrendered 
his principles, rather than his property, and became a 
loud and clamorous Whig. It was a glorious field for the 
display of personal courage, and for the achievement of 
daring deeds. In these petty battles, the magnanimity 
and gallantry of the gentleman of honor were often in- 
voked for the protection of beauty and timid virtue ; and 
many a damsel was shielded from violence by the chivalry 
of a single officer of generosity and valor.* 

* The reader is again reminded, that in discussing the proceed- 
ings of the Congress or the Council, the dates in the text are cita- 
tions of authorities from the manuscript Journals in the State De- 
partment of North Carolina. 




During the latter part of the year 1775, a numerous 
Colony of Scotch Highlanders, coming directly from the 
mother country, reinforced the party of Governor Martin 
on the shores of the Cape Fear. The heads of these clans, 
having suffered by their faithful adherence to the cause 
of the Pretender, and, while in Scotland, having lived in 
continued awe of the reigning sovereign, had now fled or 
migrated to North Carolina, in search of that profound 
peace, which the extent and solitude of her forests seemed 
to ensure. Their guilty apprehensions and alarms were 
subjected to the cunning and craft of Governor Martin, 
who preyed upon their feelings by threats of punishment for 
their former transgressions, and by misrepresentations of 
the character and strength of the Whigs. This argument 
he had used with success in his intrigues with the more 
ignorant of the Regulators of Orange, Anson, and Guil- 
ford ; and these people, thus operated on by the same feel- 
ing with the Highlanders, associated and cooperated with 
them, and now began to prepare to fight under their lead- 
ers. The banks of the Cape Fear and the valleys of its 
remote sources, the Deep and Haw rivers flowing through 
the present counties of Moore, Orange, Chatham, Guil- 
ford, and Randolph, comprising the very heart of the 


Province, were overrun with this species of population ; 
and the residence of Governor Martin, at the mouth of 
the river, enabled him to encourage them by the success 
of his intrigues and the constant assurance of succour and 
reward from the Throne. Confidence was inspired by 
the hourly expectation of Sir Henry Clinton at Wilming- 
ton with a powerful naval and military armament ; and 
rumors were also afloat that Sir Peter Parker and Lord 
Cornwallis had sailed from Portsmouth, at the head of a 
large and well disciplined army, intended for the subjuga- 
tion of the Southern Provinces. Thus were the Tories 
animated and encouraged by hopes of foreign aid, to as- 
sist in the conquest of a land, which they had adopted 
as a home for themselves and their posterity. 

But while the southern part of North Carolina was 
thus disturbed, the shores of the Albemarle contiguous to 
Virginia were threatened with an invasion from Lord 
Dunmore, whose emissaries were discovered in the vicinity 
of Edenton, endeavouring to enlist the negroes and the 
few Tories residing in that section of the Province. The 
efforts of his Lordship had deen instigated by Sir Henry 
Clinton, who was loitering on his way towards the head- 
quarters of Governor Martin, where he had determined 
to await the arrival of the armament of Sir Peter Par- 
ker. It was one part of his military policy to attack the 
Province, both at the north and the south ; and from the 
cooperation of Dunmore in the first, and the Highland 
Tories in the second, victory was confidently expected. 
But Colonel Robert Howe was at his post at Edenton, in 
which place a detachment of his regiment was stationed. 
On November 7th, Lord Dunmore issued a proclama- 
tion from Norfolk, at which place he had collected a 



large army of the lower order of whites and negroes, in 
which he proclaimed martial law * and offered freedom 
to the indented apprentices and slaves of the country. 
Thus abetted, he acquired an entire ascendancy in the 
vicinity of that ancient Borough, and the intelligence of 
his strength and growing influence extended into the 
territory of the adjacent State. Colonel Howe at the 
head of his troops marched into Virginia about the 
1st of December, and joined Colonel Woodford of 
Williamsburg, at the head of about two hundred minute- 
men and a detachment of regulars, at the Great Bridge 
about the time of the batde at that place, on the 9th of 
December. His Lordship, on gaining intelligence of their 
approach, established himself on a piece of high land sur- 
rounded by a marsh, on the north side of the Elizabeth 
River at the Great Bridge, which the two armies were 
obliged to cross, to reach Norfolk. The Provincial 
army encamped within gun shot of this post, and, although 
without artillery, prepared to maintain their stand. 
While the opposing armies were thus arrayed, eager and 
anxious for battle, on the 9th of December, Captain 
Fordyce, the commanding officer of Lord Dunmore's 
post, advanced to storm the works of the Provincials. 
Between day-break and sun-rise at the head of sixty 
grenadiers, he advanced with fixed bayonets, on the nar- 
row causeway leading from the post, and sustained with 
wonderful intrepidity the heavy front and flank fire of the 
American army. The victory was fiercely disputed by 
Captain Fordyce and his grenadiers, who were slaugh- 
tered to a man immediately before the breastwork of the 

* Marshall, Vol. I. p. 68. I quote from the abridged Life of 



Provincials. On the night of the 10th, the British post was 
abandoned, and the Provincial Army, under the exclusive 
command * of Colonel Howe, marched to Norfolk, and 
there forced Lord Dunmore, after the fashion of the 
North Carolina Royal Governor, to take refuge in a ship 
of war. 

(1776.) Colonel Howe fixed himself in the abandoned 
quarters of his routed rival, and vigilantly watched the 
movements of the ships of war, that floated directly ofTthe 
town. He occasionally amused the soldiers by firing 
into the vessels from the houses nearest the water, and 
Lord Dunmore, irritated by this harassing system of war- 
fare, on the 1st of January, 1776, landed a detachment 
of troops under a heavy cannonade, and set fire to the 
buildings on the wharves. The Provincial troops, en- 
tertaining strong prejudices against the station, in conse- 
quence of the reputed influence of Lord Dunmore 
among a majority of the people, made no effort to extin- 
guish the flames, and the best authority of the day records 
the circumstance, that the fire "continued for several 
weeks." f 

In the midst of these troubles. Colonel Howe waited 
on the proper authority of Virginia, and urged the pro- 
priety of burning down the remaining part of the city of 
Norfolk ; and, although this was one of those " ill-judged 
measures of which the consequences are felt long after 
the motives are forgotten," J still it is my duty to illus- 
trate the conduct of Colonel Howe, by an examination of 
the reasons which justified him in suggesting, and the Con- 
vention of Virginia in ordering, the destruction of the town. 

* Marshall's Life of Washington, Vol. I. p. 69. t Ibid. t Ibid. 


The strong hold which Dunmore had contrived to get 
on the sympathies of the lower order of the people in 
that part of the State, and the perfect facility of enlisting 
negroes as soldiers, rendered the constant presence of an 
efficient military force indispensable for the safety of the 
Whig cause. The convenient quarters afforded him in 
elegant edifices of the Borough, as well as its great con- 
venience as a military and naval depot, rendered it equally 
indispensable, that it should be destroyed, if this strong 
military force could not be maintained. The advanta- 
ges derived by the common enemy of the country from 
the possession of the Borough, aided and abetted by the 
sympathies of so many of the people, were too great to 
save the remainder of a small town, which had been 
already on fire " for several weeks " ; and Colonel Howe 
and the Virginia Convention prudently determined to lay 
waste the strong-hold of Dunmore, as one of the greatest 
services they could render the American cause. 

The courage and sagacity of Colonel Howe have never 
been questioned, and are well sustained by this single 
" ill-judged measure," of which the motives seem to be 
forgotten, long after its consequences have ceased to be 
felt. His troops alone protected the town, and kept 
in subjection the Tories and negroes of the surrounding 
country ; and, as his own country was now actually invad- 
ed by a foreign army, a higher obligation than he could 
possibly owe Virginia, would soon call him away to the 
defence of his own fireside. Colonel Woodford, accord- 
ing to Mr. Wirt, proceeded to Norfolk under Colonel 
Howe, who brought with him from North Carolina five 
or six hundred men, and into whose hands was committed 
the preservation of Virginia, and the defeat of the schemes 


of Lord Dunmore. Thus situated, compelled himself to 
return to the Cape Fear, and seeing no prospect of 
leaving behind him an efficient military force for the per- 
manent security of the advantage he had gained, Colonel 
Howe determined to leave to Lord Dunmore nothing but 
the ashes of his former magnificent head-quarters. Thus 
were the black and white adherents of the Royal cause 
in Virginia intimidated and subdued, and the threatened 
invasion of the Albemarle shores by Lord Dunmore 
averted. Howe carried the war into the enemy's camp, 
and, before even his schemes of invasion and warfare 
were concerted, was thundering at the gates of Norfolk. 

In North Carolina, tradition bestows on Colonel Howe 
and his troops the chief merit of having gained the ad- 
vantages over Lord Dunmore which I have described ^ 
and the Convention of Virginia and the Congress of 
North Carolina both justify and support his claims to 
such a distinction. The pages of Wirt and Marshall 
allude to him in distant and not the most respectful 
terms ; '^" but the voice of history is often but the echo of 
pride and prejudice, and I shall here present a contempo- 
rary record of the high opinion of his services, taken from 
the Journal of the Congress of North Carolina in April, 
1776. On the 27th of April, it was resolved that the 
thanks of the Congress should be returned to Brigadier- 
General Howe, for his manly, generous, and warlike con- 
duct, and more especially for the reputation which our 
Provincial troops acquired under him at the conflagra- 
tion of Norfolk. Accordingly on the 2d of May, Gen- 
eral Howe being present in the Congress, the President 
rose in his seat and thus addressed him. 

^ Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, pp. 188, 196, 197. 


" Brigadier General Howe, 
" Sir, 
" I am commanded by the Congress to return you their thanks for 
your manly, generous, and warlike conduct in these unhappy times? 
more especially for the reputation our troops acquired under your 
command. I now with infinite pleasure to myself, in compliance 
with that command, return you the thanks of this House, for 
the important services rendered by you to the common cause, and 
in particular for your manly and officerlike exertions, during the 
whole of the late important and critical campaign." 

To which the General returned the following answer : 

" Mr. President. 
" As I have no wish so ardent, no ambition so strong, as that of 
serving the noble cause to which I have devoted myself, how happy 
must it make me, when, to the pleasing consciousness of having 
endeavoured to do my duty, you so politely add the approbation 
of my country. It is an heartfelt and honorable testimony, that 
my efforts have not been wholly unsuccessful ; and my felicity upon 
this occasion can only be increased by considering, that I have this 
public opportunity of expressing the obligations I feel to be due to 
those officers and men of every corps under my command, whose 
ready acceptance and whose spirited execution of the orders issued, 
have obtained me the distinguishing honors of this day. Permit me, 
Sir, through you to assure the honorable Convention, that 1 have the 
most grateful sense of their favor, and that I conceive the best re- 
turn I can make is with zeal and activity to pursue the dictates of my 
duty, in which resolution I cannot but persevere, as the good of my 
country is the end I aim at, and its applause the consequence and 
reward of promoting it. Accept, Sir, my thanks for the manner in 
which you have so obligingly conveyed to me the sense of your 
honorable House." 

I must now return to the military operations in the 
southern part of North Carolina, and observe the warlike 
preparations of the Whigs and Highland Tories imme- 
diately preceding the celebrated battle of Moore's Creek. 
With a view of cooperating with Sir Henry Clinton as 
soon as he should arrive, Governor Martin had not only 
employed energetic emissaries to arouse the Tory popu- 


lation to arms, but had issued a commission of Briga- 
dier-General to Donald McDonald, the most influential 
chief of the Highlanders, which he accompanied with a 
Proclamation, commanding all the King's subjects to rally- 
around the standard of the new Scotch general. The 
paper was without a date, and the period of its publica- 
tion left to the discretion of McDonald. On the 1st of 
February the Royal standard was erected at Cross Creek, 
the proclamation published, and fifteen hundred men mus- 
tered under the command of General McDonald. 

In the midst of these preparations of the Tories, Colo- 
nel Moore, at the head of his Continental Regiment, and 
a detachment of the New Hanover Militia, marched to- 
wards Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), and pitched his 
camp on Rock Fish River, about twelve miles south 
of the head-quarters of McDonald. He fortified his 
camp, established a system of running scouts and spies, 
and thus prevented all communication between the Tories 
and the head-quarters of Governor Martin. In the mean 
time the Whigs of Wilmington and Brunswick were ac- 
tive and vigilant ; and, intent on the same general object 
of preventing the junction of the two forces, Colonels 
Caswell and Alexander Lillington had established them- 
selves on the bank of Moore's Creek near its entrance 
into South River in New Hanover. This army com- 
prised about a thousand men, consisting of the militia 
companies, and two volunteer corps, under the command 
of Colonel Lillington, which were said to have been the 
best disciplined soldiers in the Province. A rigid espi- 
onage was established throughout all the adjacent country, 
and every opportunity of intercourse between Governor 
Martin and General McDonald effectually destroyed. 


The first movement of General McDonald was towards 
Colonel Moore. Halting within a few miles of his camp, 
he addressed him a letter (dated on the 20ih of February), 
accompanying the Proclamation of the Governor and his 
own Manifesto, in which he urged the Colonel to espouse 
the cause of his Sovereign and the Constitution. It was 
a decided but friendly letter, and commenced by bewail- 
ing the difficulty of his situation ; urged on by his duty to 
the King to the necessity of shedding blood, and yet hu- 
manely disposed to avoid, if possible, so fatal a catas- 
trophe. He offered to the Colonel, his officers, and his 
men, in the name of the King, a free pardon and indem- 
nity for all past transgressions, if they would lay down 
their arms and take the oath of allegiance, and implored 
them to accept these terms, — " otherwise, he should 
consider them as traitors to the Constitution, and take the 
necessary steps to conquer and subdue them." 

Colonel Moore availed himself of a privilege of several 
days to consider and weigh in his mind the contents of 
the letter ; and embraced this opportunity of gaining a 
thorough insight into the arrangement and strength of the 
enemy's army. He delayed an answer until he could 
no longer do so, and then he replied in a letter, "^ that he 
and his followers were engaged in a cause, the most 
glorious and honorable in the world, — the defence of 
the rights of mankind, and that they needed no pardon. 
He inclosed the General a copy of the Test required by 
the Provincial Congress, and invited him and his officers 
to sign it, and then to lay down their arms ; otherwise, he 
might expect that treatment with which he had been pleas- 
ed to threaten him and his followers. 

* I have seen these letters in print as well as manuscript. 


But while this parley was going on between the two 
belligerents, intelligence was received at the camp of 
McDonald of the arrival of Sir Henry Clinton and Lord 
William Campbell at the head-quarters of Governor 
Martin, with a considerable force intended for the reduc- 
tion of North Carolina. The Scotch General was now 
intent on joining the army of Clinton, and endeavoured in 
every way to avoid an engagement with Colonel Moore, 
whose ranks had been daily swelled by the arrival of nu- 
merous bodies of militia. McDonald at last sagaciously 
determined to shun at every hazard an engagement with 
his adversary, and accordingly decamped at midnight, and 
by rapid marches contrived to elude the vigilant pursuit 
of Colonel JMoore. The retreating arniy crossed the 
Cape Fear, and directed its course towards Wilmington, 
intending to leave that place to the south, and approach 
the British station, which was near the mouth of the river, 
by clinging to the seashore, and thus escaping the Pro- 
vincial troops in and about the town of Brunswick. 

On the night of the second day's march. General 
McDonald pitched his camp on the banks of South River ; 
and, crossing from Bladen into New Hanover County on 
the next day, he suddenly came upon the encampments 
of Colonels Lillington and Caswell, upon the east side of 
Moore's Creek, a small stream that flows from north to 
south, and empties into the South River about twenty miles 
above Wilmington. The situation of the Scotch General, 
with the army of Colonel Moore in rapid pursuit and the 
forces of Colonels Lillington and Caswell in front, was 
too critical for delay ; and, although he himself was con- 
fined with sickness, an engagement was determined on 
under the immediate command of Colonel McLeod. 


The cairips of the belligerents were divided only by the 
small stream, which was crossed by a bridge; and, on the 
night of the 11th of March before the battle, the camp of 
Colonel Lillington was visited by one Felix Kenan,* an 
irresolute character, who had not the independence to be 
a Tory or the honesty to be a Whig, and from this in- 
dividual tlie intelligence was received, that an attack was 
to be made early the ensuing morning. Colonel Lilling- 
ton drew up his forces across a peninsula, formed by the 
creek, which commanded both the road and the bridge ; 
and, owing to this arrangement of his troops, which was 
singularly advantageous, Colonel Caswell was, for want 
of room, compelled to form in his rear. In the course of 
the night preceding the battle. Colonel Lillington ordered 
the planks to be taken from the bridge, and, keeping his 
men constantly under arms, awaited the approach of the 

At break of day the forces of the Scotch General were 
in motion, and with a steady march approached the verge 
of the stream, when the fire on both sides commenced, 
and Colonel McLeod charging furiously on the bridge, 
fell in the very commencement of the engagement. 
His officers following on, the bridge again proved a fatal 
spot. Their ranks were thrown into confusion not only 
by the death of their officers, but by the absence of 
the planks of the bridge ; and Colonel Lillington, availing 
himself of this discomfiture, charged across the stream 
and engaged the very heart of the enemy's ranks. The 
contest was even now fiercely waged. Many of the 
Scotch fought around the camp of their sick General 
with wonderful intrepidity, and yielded him up a prisoner, 

* This fact I obtained from a letter of Governor Ashe. 


only after every means of defence was exhausted. In the 
mean time Colonel Caswell, who had occupied the rear 
ground of Colonel Lillington, having crossed the creek, 
charged heavily on the ranks of the enemy, and with his 
aid the whole Royal army was routed, and the men flying 
in every direction were pursued, and many of them made 
prisoners. Thus terminated the battle of Moore's Creek, 
one of the most fortunate victories in the annals of the 
Revolution. The predictions and the hopes of Governor 
Martin were disappointed ; the unanimity of the Scotch 
population was broken ; the Tories were disheartened, 
and the Whigs inspired with confidence and enthusiasm. 
To Colonel Lillington 1 have ascribed the honors of the 
day, and have done so upon the evidence of the few 
living Patriarchs of North Carolina. He was the junior 
of Colonel Caswell in rank, but from the position of the 
latter it was impossible for him to share in the earlier 
labor of the day. Colonel Lillington was a native of 
North Carolina, and deserves to be remembered as one 
of the earliest and most efficient Whigs of that day.* 

* I must here acknowledge the heavy obligations which I owe 
to Colonel Samuel Ashe of Cape Fear. I am more indebted to him 
than to any other individual in the State for the most authentic 
and important historical details. He is now far advanced in life, 
but still retains the possession of a most vigorous mind. 




The Provincial Congress, at the summons of Samuel 
Johnston, assembled at Halifax on the 4lh of April, and 
this body was distinguished by the presence of those 
to whom I have often alluded, as the leaders of the Whig 
party. The important question of Independence was 
moved, discussed, and unanimously approved by this 
Congress, and this circumstance alone will perpetuate its 
fame. On Monday the 8th of April, 1776, Cornelius 
Harnett, Governor Burke, Allen Jones, Thomas Jones, 
Governor Nash, Mr. Kinchin, and General Thomas 
Person were appointed a committee to take into consid- 
eration the usurpations and violences committed by the 
King and Parliament of Britain ; and, on the succeeding 
12th, Mr. Harnett submitted the following report, which 
I am justified in pronouncing his own composition. 

" Report on the Subject of Independence. 
" It appears to your committee, that, pursuant to the plan concert- 
ed by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and 
Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a power over the persons 
and properties of the people unlimited and uncontrolled, and, dis- 
regarding their humble petitions for peace, liberty, and safety, have 
made divers legislative acts, denouncing war, famine, and every 
species of calamity against the continent in general. The British 
fleets and armies have been, and still are, daily employed in de- 
stroying the people and committing the most horrid devastations 


on the country. The Governors in different colonies have declared 
protection to slaves, who should imbrue their hands in the blood 
of their masters. Tlie ships belonging to America are declared 
prizes of war, and many of them have been violently seized and 
confiscated. In consequence of all which, multitudes of the peo- 
ple have been destroyed, or from easy circumstances reduced to the 
most lamentable distress. 

" And whereas, the moderation hitherto manifested by the United 
Colonies, and their sincere desire to be reconciled to the mother 
country on constitutional principles, have procured no mitigation 
of the aforesaid wrongs and usurpations, and no hopes remain of 
obtaining redress by those means alone which have been hitherto 
tried, — your Committee are of opinion, that the House should en- 
ter into the following Resolve, to wit : 

" Resolved, That the Delegates for this Colony in the Contin- 
ental Congress be impowered to concur with the Delegates of the 
other Colonies in declormg Independence, and forming foreign alli- 
ances, reserving to this Colony the sole and exclusive right of form- 
ing a Constitution and laws for this Colony and of appointing 
Delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general rep- 
resentation thereof) to meet the Delegates of the other Colonies, 
for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out." (Journal of 
the Congress, pp. 11, 12.) 

These proceedings were on the 12th of April, and 
the resolution which was proposed was on that day 
unanimously adopted. It preceded the recommendation 
of the Virginia Convention on the same subject by more 
than a month, and is the first open and public declaration 
for independence, by the proper authority of any one of 
the colonies, on record. It has, however, escaped the 
observation of the " historians of the adjacent States ; " 
and even Mr. Wirt, who was in the confidence of the 
author of the National Declaration of Independence, and 
whose details upon the history of that important instru- 
ment are copious, seems to have forgotten, if he ever 
knew, the real origin of the action of the Continental 


Congress. This resolution of the Provincial was for- 
warded on to the Continental Congress,* and has been 
within a few years observed among the stale papers at 
Washington City. It was noticed by Mr. Pitkin in his 
very able and useful work, and the proceedings of the 
Congress, in which it was adopted, were republished by 
the Assembly of North Carolina, a few years since, when 
the letter of Mr. Jefferson was before that body. In 
point of composition, the report may be compared with 
any of the public documents of that day, and will cer- 
tainly lose nothing by the strictest comparison with that 
before the Virginia Convention on the succeeding 15th of 

In the course of my details of the history of the State, 
I have often alluded to the constant vigilance of the 
Whigs over their internal and more deadly enemies, the 
Tories ; and now, during the session of this Congress, a 
public Manifesto or Declaration was published, explain- 
ing and justifying the severity of their conduct. It as- 
sumed the ground, that the Tories had been conquered 
at the battle of Moore's Creek, and set forth the reasons 
of their future policy, in the high and imperative tone of 
a victorious party. It was adopted on the 29th of April, 
and stands recorded on the Journal of the Congress, 
under that date. I have only room for the few conclud- 
ing paragraphs, which are here submitted to illustrate the 
liberal and generous feelings of the higher orders of the 

" We have their security in contemplation, not to make them 
miserable. In our power, their errors claim our pity, their situation 

* It was presented to the Continental Congress on the 27th of 
May, 1776. 



disarms our resentment. We shall hail their reformation with in- 
creasing pleasure, and receive them among us with open arms. 
Sincere contrition and repentance shall atone for their past conduct. 
Members of the same political body with ourselves, we feel the con- 
vulsion which such a severance occasions ; and shall bless the day, 
which shall restore them to us, friends of liberty, to the cause of 
America, the cause of God and mankind. 

" We war not with the helpless females, whom they have left be- 
hind them ; we sympathize in their sorrow, and wish to pour the balm 
of pity into the wounds which a separation from husbands, fathers, 
and the dearest relations has made. They are the rightful pension- 
ers upon the charity and bounty of those who have aught to spare 
from their own necessities for the relief of their indigent fellow 
creatures : to such we recommend them. 

" May the humanity and compassion, which mark the cause we 
are engaged in, influence them to such a conduct as may call forth 
our utmost tenderness to their friends, whom we have in our power. 
Much depends upon the future demeanor of the friends of the In- 
surgents who are left among us, as to the treatment our prisoners 
may experience. Let them consider these as hostages for their own 
good behaviour, and by their own merits make kind offices to their 
friends a tribute of duty as well as humanity from us, who have 
them in our power." 

The humanity of the Congress was exhibited by a 
grant of the most liberal parole of honor to General 
McDonald and his son, who held a Colonel's commis- 
sion in the Tory army ; and both of these officers are 
complimented for their candor in the very language of 
the resolution. The Whigs were the undoubted victors 
of the field, but they did not sully the laurels which they 
had gained, by a brutal or ignominious imprisonment of 
the person of the conquered General."^ 

On the 22d of April the Congress resolved to emit 
$250-000 in bills of credit, and adopted the following 
form as the impression of the currency. 

* The battle of Moore's Creek was fought on the 27th of Feb- 
ruary, 1776. 


'^ North Carolina Currency. 

Dollars, by authority of Congress, at Halifax, on 

the day of April, 177G. 

These bills were signed by William Haywood, John 
Webb, William Williams, and David Sumner ; and the 
most solemn oath and bond was exacted as an assurance of 
the due execution of the duties of the commission. The 
efforts of the Congress to escape the dexterity of the coun- 
terfeiters, were of but little avail ; and their Provincial 
bills of credit could only be distinguished from the coun- 
terfeits by their inferiority in the mere style of mechan- 
ical execution. The immediate vvants of the new govern- 
ment were, however, as well supplied with the one as 
the other. The slow process of redemption, the indifferent 
quality of the paper on which they were executed, and 
their reduced value, gradually exhausted the stock on hand, 
and saved the state the expense of a heavy assumption. 

One of the most important subjects before the Congress 
was the defence of the Cape Fear from the military and 
naval armament, hovering on the coast, and threatening to 
invade the very heart of the State. The signal defeat of 
the Tories, at Moore's Creek, had broken up the original 
plans of Governor Martin ; and now we find the Congress 
preparing, not only to sustain the advantages they had 
gained, but, if possible, to defeat the disciplined forces 
from the mother country. Two battalions, comprising 
fifteen hundred troops, were ordered to be immediately 
marched to Wilmington, under the command of Colonels 
Thomas Owen * of Bladen, and Thomas Eaton f of 
Bute, the former of whom, at the head of a considerable 
force, was ranging in the vicinity of Wilmington. Colonel 
Owen had been promoted to his present rank from that of 

* May 3d. t May 13th. 


a Major in the militia, to which he had been nominated 
by the preceding Congress, and was, like Colonel Lilling- 
ton, remarkable for his great industry in enlisting soldiers 
and filling up the ranks of the army. 

The seaport towns were authorized to arm one or more 
vessels at the public expense, and a committee appointed 
to frame a form of commission of marque and reprisals. 
Provisions and funds were ordered to be immediately 
sent to General Moore, who was in command at Wilming- 
ton, and Colonel Long was appointed to receive General 
Lee, who had been appointed to the command of the 
Southern forces by the Continental Congress, and who 
was daily expected in Halifax on his way to the Cape 
Fear. The whole military discipline of the State was 
improved, and the following officers were promoted ^ to 
the rank of Brigadier-Generals in their several districts : 

John Ashe, for the Wilmington District ; 

Allen Jones, for the Halifax District ; 

Edward Vail, for the Edenton District ; 

Griffith Rutherford, for the Salisbury District; 

Thomas Person, for the Hillsborough District ; 

William Bryan, for the New Berne District. 
The Brigadier-Generals of Halifax, Edenton, New 
Berne, and Wilmington, were instructed to hasten on the 
reinforcements ordered for General Moore at Wilmington ; 
and, whenever they should arrive. General John Ashe 
was ordered to the immediate command of the several 
detachments. In the Appendix I shall notice the various 
other changes made by this Congress, in the military dis- 
cipline of the State. 

Anticipating a tedious and doubtful campaign on the 

* May 5th. 


Cape Fear, the Congress ordered the emission of a larger 
amount in bills of credit, than the 250,000 dollars (or 
£100,000) already voted, and concluded to increase the 
sum to £500,000, including the former emission ; and here 
I will note the fact that the State had now emitted bills 
of credit "to the amount of one million three hundred 
and seventy-five thousand dollars, since the flight of the 
Royal Governor on the 24th of April, 1775. The credit 
of the State was pledged for the redemption of this 
amount ; and. although the currency dius created was rot- 
ten to the very core, yet it was the best that the exi- 
gencies of the day would allow, or the ability of the 
Congress could suggest. 

Before this Congress, was debated the project of a civil 
constitution, the form of which, was the first rough 
draught of the present constitution of the State. I shall, 
in a separate chapter, enter at large into an examination 
of the history of the constitution, and shall here only 
submit a few general observations to illustrate the pro- 
ceedings of the Congress. The idea of a constitution 
seemed to follow that of Independence ; and accordingly, 
the day succeeding the adoption of the resolution in favor 
of a Declaration, a committee was appointed to prepare 
a temporary civil consUtution.* On Saturday, the 27th 
of April, certain resolutions, which the committee recom- 
mended as the foundation of a constitution, were debated, 
and on the succeeding 30th. in consequence of some 
important considerations, the project of a constitution was 
abandoned, and a new committee appointed " to form a 
temporary form of government until the end of the next 
Congress." f 

* April 13th. t Journal of the Congress. 



On the lllh of May, this new committee reported a 
series of resolutions, proposing to abolish the Provincial 
Council and the District Committees of Safety, and to 
erect in their stead a State Council of Safety. The 
powers proposed to be bestowed upon the new Council 
were of the same order with those entrusted to its pre- 
decessor, but the new project was adopted as the simplest 
form of government. But the whole proceeding was of 
a party nature ; for there were, even at this early period 
of the existence of the Whig government, two rival fac- 
tions, contending for supremacy and power ; and I shall, 
in the chapter on the Constitution, freely and impartially 
discuss their conduct, not more as an historian than as a 
politician, [n electing the members of the Council of 
Safety, the Congress selected one for the State at large, 
and each District two, thus composing a body of thirteen. 
They were, 

Willie Jones, for the State. 
Cornelius Harnett, ") WiJviingtonThova^^ Eaton, ) Halifax 

Samuel Ashe, ) District. Joseph John Williams, 5 District. 

James Coor, ■)JVcic ^erne Thomas Person, } Hillsboro' 

John Simpson, 5 District. John Rand, 5 District. 

Thomas Jones, 5 Edenton Hezekiah Alexander, > Salishiry 

Whitmell Hill, > District. William Sharpe, 5 District. 

In the deliberations of the Council of Safety each 
District was entitled to one vote, and this mode of de- 
termining questions seems to have been more generally 
adopted in North Carolina than any other State. The 
Congress, the old Council, and now the Council of Safety, 
all voted upon the principle that the territory of the State, 
and not the people, was the essence of representation. 

It is impossible, and would be uninteresting, to give a 
more minute detail of the proceedings of this Congress. 
The procurement of gunpowder and other muniments of 


war, the judgment and punishment of Tories, and an 
immense quantity of private business, occupied the time 
and consideration of the members, and extended the 
session to the 14th of May. On that day the Congress 
adjourned, after a session of five weeks, leaving behind 
but litde unfinished business save the project of a civil 

But in the mean time, the military and naval armament 
under the command of Sir Peter Parker, had arrived in 
the Cape Fear ; ^ and this important intelligence reached 
Halifax during the session of the Congress. The whole 
Royal force in the Colony was now under the Immediate 
command of Major General Clinton, who had been a 
companion of Governor Martin's, on board the ship of 
war Crulzer, for more than a month, awaiting the arrival 
of the armament which had been detained in Ireland, 
receiving the troops ordered to America. General Clin- 
ton had travelled from New York along the seaport towns 
to Cape Fear, and had spent some time with Lord Dun- 
more, Governor of Virginia, in the midst of his engage- 
ment with General Howe of North Carolina. He had 
had time and opportunity to learn and observe the actual 
condition of the Colony, the opinions of the people, and 
the military policy of the Congress, and to have bene- 
fited by the conversation and experience of Governor 
Martin. His head-quarters were, however, so closely 
besieged by the Provincial troops, that the land forces 
were detained on board the fleet, which was anchored 
off the plantation of General Howe, near Fort Johnston. 

^ The first vessels of this armament arrived off Cape Fear on the 
18th of April. The whole force of Sir Peter comprised thirty-six 


The recolleciion of the lion-hearted proprietor, and the 
defeat of I^ord Dunmore, probahly induced the exception 
in the followini:; proclamation, which I consider the high- 
est conijiliment ihat could have been rendered to the 
valor and pairiolism of Harnett and Howe. 
" Bij Major General Clinton, Commander of his Majesty's Forces in 
the Southern Provinces in North Jlmerica, 
'' A Proclamation. 
« Whereas the most unprovoked and wicked rebellion has for some 
time past prevailed, and doth now exist within his Majesty's pro- 
vince of North Carolina, and the inhabitants (forgetting their alle- 
giance to their Sovereign, and denying the authority of the laws and 
statutes of the realm,) have, in a succession of crimes, proceeded 
to the total subversion of all lawful authority, usurping the powers 
of government, and erecting a tyranny in the hands of Congresses 
and Committees of various denominations, utterly unknown and 
repugnant to the British Constitution ; and divers people, in avowed 
defiance to all legal authority, are now actually in arms, waging 
unnatural war against their King ; and whereas all attempts to re- 
claim the infatuated and misguided multitude to a sense of their 
error have unhappily proved ineffectual : —I have it in command to 
proceed forthwith against all such men, or bodies of men, in arms, 
and acrainst all Congresses and Committees thus unlawfully estab- 
lished as against open enemies to the State. But, considering it a 
duty inseparable from the principle of humanity, first of all to fore- 
warn the deluded People of the miseries ever attendant upon civil 
war I do most earnestly entreat, and exhort them, as they tender 
their own happiness, and that of their posterity, to appease the 
veno-eance of an injured and justly incensed nation, by a return to 
their duty, to our common Sovereign, and to the blessings of a free 
government, as established by law ; hereby offering in his Majesty's 
name, free pardon to all such as shall lay down their arms, and sub- 
mit to the laws, excepting only from the benefit of such pardon, 
Cornelius Harnett and Robert Howe. And I do hereby require, 
that the Provincial Congress, and all Committees of Safety, and 
other unlawful associations, be dissolved, and the judges allowed 
to hold their courts according to the laws and Constitution of this 
Province ; of which all persons are required to take notice, as they 
will answer the contrary at their utmost peril. 


" Given on board the Pallas transport, in Cape Fear River, in the 
Province of North Carolina, the 5th day of May, 1776, and in 

the ICth year of His Majesty's Reign. 

" By Command of General Clinton. 

'< Richard Reave, Secretary. 
" To the Magistrates of the Province of North Carolina, to be by 
them ma(le public." 

Intent upon revenging on General Howe, the defeat of 
Lord Dunmore, General Clinton determined to ravage 
his plantation ; and accordingly, in the afternoon of the 
12th of May, he landed a body of nine hundred troops, 
assisted in command by Lord Cornwallis.* The sentry 
guard, that had been posted to watch the movements of 
the fleet, collected their horses and drove off the cattle ; 
and, while the enemy was marching over the causew^ay 
from the river to the dwelling-house, a portion of the 
sentry guard maintained a steady fire, killing one many 
wounding several others, and taking a sergeant of the 
thirty-third regiment prisoner.f The two British generals 
surrounded the mansion, and murdered three women 
whom they found concealed in the chambers of the 
house. Having thus satiated and glutted his revenge, 
the victorious Clinton advanced towards Ostin's Mills, 
at which place a heavy quantity of military stores and 
provisions was deposited, under the guard of Major 
Davis, at the head of a detachment of militia. Timely 
intelligence of his approach however was received, and 
the stores and provisions were quietly moved off, and 
the mills and the empty out-houses left at the mercy of 
the invaders. The establishment was fired, and the two 
Generals returned to their fleet with no other advantage 
than " three horses and two cows." J 

* Martin, Vol. II, p. 390. t Ibid. p. 391. 

X Ibid. The British authorities say, " with twenty bullocks." 


The battle of Moore's Creek had not only abridged 
the ranks, but extinguished the enthusiasm of the Loyal- 
ists. The concerted schemes of Governor Martin could 
not be executed even by the disciplined army, surround- 
ed as he was by Generals Moore and Ashe, two of the 
most vigilant officers of the Province. Colonels Owen 
and Lillington, too, were in the vicinity of Wilmington, 
watching the movements of the enemy, and guarding the 
Tories from the dangerous company of Governor Martin. 
General Clinton thus found himself most effectually sur- 
rounded, and even the energy of his splendid army 
paralyzed, by the industry, vigilance, and courage of his 
undisciplined rivals. Unacquainted with the country, and 
not confident of the ability of Governor Martin to manage 
a military campaign, he seemed afraid to undertake a 
more extensive operation than the sacking of a private 
mansion, and the brutal murder of defenceless women. 
General Howe was not on the field, nor in the immediate 
vicinity of his plantation, when Clinton and Cornwallis 
made the attack. He was in the more northern section 
of the State, filling up die ranks of his regiment, and pre- 
paring for the northern campaign in the Continental 

The vigilance of the Provincial forces prevented all 
communication between the Loyalists and the fleet, and 
thus soon reduced the army of Clinton to distress for want 
of provisions. The vanity of Martin had induced him 
to misrepresent the real state of affairs, and to exagger- 
ate his own power and popularity. The friendly assistance 
which he had promised from the people of the country, 
never arrived, and the troops were for several days sup- 
plied with no other food, than that of horse-flesh. The 


project of subduing North Carolina, and of restoring 
Governor Martin to his authority and his palace, was 
abandoned ; and on the 1st of June, 1776, the armament 
left the shores of the Cape Fear and of the State. Thus 
failed the campaign of General Clinton, and with it even 
the hopes-of the Tories of North Carolina. Defeated by 
General Howe in his efforts to give Lord Dunmore a 
hold on the Albemarle shore, his allies among the people 
entirely routed by Lillington at Moore's creek, and now 
himself discomfited and distressed at the head of a nu- 
merous and disciplined army, he left the Cape Fear for 

The fleet anchored off the coast of South Carolina 
early in the month of June,* and in a few days General 
Lee, at the head of the North Carolina and Viiginia 
troops, arrived in Charleston. It had been the good for- 
tune of General Lee to meet General Clinton in New 
York, Virginia, and North Carolina, and to observe the 
scheme of his operations. He now commanded a large 
detachment of the troops of North Carolina, and among 
them the Company of General John Ashe ; and these sol- 
diers were inspired with additional zeal from the recollec- 
tion that they were warring against their old enemy, f whom 
they had so recendy discomfited in their own country. 
Thus animated they contributed much to the defeat of 
the armament before Charleston, and to the total and 
complete overthrow of the efforts of the Ministry to sub- 
jugate the Southern country. 

There was one branch of the schemes of Governor 
Martin and General Clinton, which, although not connect- 

* The fleet sailed from the Cape Fear on the 1st of June, arrived 
off Charleston on the 4th, and entered the harbour on the 7th. 
t Governor Martin was on board the fleet of Sir Peter Parker. 


ed immediately with North Carolina, yet deserves to be 
mentioned as illustrative of the character of General 
Griffith Rutherford, one of the bravest officers in the ar- 
my of the State. In connexion with the Governor of East 
Florida, a plan had been formed to engage the Indians 
in the war against the Southern States ; and the plot so 
far succeeded, that, on the very day the British fleet at- 
tacked the fort of Charleston, the Cherokees made war 
upon the frontier setdements of South Carohna. With 
a view to conquer these blood-thirsty savages. General 
Rutherford, in the early part of July, crossed the moun- 
tains,"^ at the head of a body of nineteen hundred men, 
and penetrated into the present State of Tennessee, then 
a portion of North Carolina. After various successful 
skirmishes, he succeeded in reducing them ; and, ranging 
through their settlements, he laid waste their plantations 
and villages, and thus effectually restored peace and 
safety to the frontiers. Griffith Rutherford was one of 
the most decided and energetic Whigs of that day, and 
was perhaps the most conspicuous and serviceable officer 
in the w^estern secdon of the State. The present county 
of Rutherford was thus named in honor of him ; and the 
old people of the State speak of him in the most enthusi- 
astic terms, as a brave and honorable man. 

* Martin, Vol. 11, p. 393. 



In the preceding chapter I have conducted the reader 
to the period of the conclusion of this history, viz. the 
4th of July, 1776. The expedition of General Ruther- 
ford filled up the month of July; and I shall now return 
to notice the progress of the Council of Safety, the new 
executive of the Province, and in the course of this duty 
I shall introduce a few interesting extracts from their 
Journal, on the important subject of Independence. This 
body met for the first time in Wilmington, on the 5th of 
June, and again elected Cornelius Harnett, President, 
James Glascow and James Green, Jr., Secretaries. On 
the 6th of June, 

" General Ashe informed the Council, that there were a numher 
of outlying malcontents in the county of Bladen, who were de- 
sirous of returning home and submitting to the Council ; and it was 
agreed, that all such persons concerned in the late insurrection, that 
should take an oath before the Chairman of the County or Town 
Committee, to submit to such order and regulation as might be 
made by the government of the Colony, and that, when required, 
they would take up arms in defence thereof, might return to the 
peaceable enjoyment of their habitations." 

The party warfare, between the Tories and tho Whigs, 
was waged with the most deadly ferocity in both North 
and South Carolina. After the defeat of McDonald, the 
loyalists found no mercy at the hands of their victors, ex- 
cept in the clemency of the Congress or the Council. 


The leading and most respectable Whigs were divided in 
opinion as to the propriety of so rigorous a punishment ; 
but the militia companies, when once under arms, sought 
no other warfare than the absolute subjugation of their 
traitorous neighbours. In a contest like that of the revo- 
lution of North Carolina, where the people had called for 
a Declaration of Independence, and where the stake in 
question was the freedom of America, I can readily 
justify the severity and even the ferocity of the civil war. 
The Whigs, however, did nothing more than retaliate, on 
their rivals, the many high-handed outrages committed on 
them. W^hile the royal power was supported by the 
presence and authority of a Governor, and even after the 
flight of Martin, and while the invincible armament was 
expected in the Cape Fear, they committed similar ex- 
cesses under the high hope and expectation of a speedy 
and complete triumph. 

In concluding the subject of the Tory war, I shall 
pause for a few moments to notice the character and ser- 
vices of Colonel Ebenezer Folsome, the most violent Whig 
partizan in North Carolina, or perhaps even in the United 
Colonies. He lived in Cumberland, in the very midst of 
the Tories. At an eai-ly period of the struggle he had 
collected together a body of horsemen, and commenced 
on his own responsibility a regular Feudal war, ravaging 
the plantations of the loyalists, and frequently, perhaps, 
gratifying his own private revenge. The last Congress 
had elected him Colonel of the militia of Cumberland, 
and about the 1st of June I find him at the head of a 
hundred horsemen and a detachment of infantry, ranging 
through the upper counties of the Cape Fear, and carry- 
ing the war to the very fire-sides of the Tories. He soon 


became a favorite with the Council of Safety and the 
adjacent County Committee, on account of his strict and 
willing obedience of their orders ; and accordingly we find, 
that he is always employed on the most dangerous ad- 
ventures. The name of John Piles is equally famous in 
North Carolina as a violent and powerful Tory, command- 
ing the sympathies of a nun)ber of the Scotch and other 
loyalists. On the 15th of June, Colonel Folsome agreed 
with the Council to catch or conquer the Tory leader and 
all his family ; and accordingly selected a strong guard 
from his cavalry, and ranged through the present counties 
of Chatham, Moore, and Cumberland. He ultimately 
succeeded in meeting him at the house of Farquard 
Campbell, where he seemed to be enjoying, not only the 
hospitality, but the political confidence of his host. The 
Colonel seized John Piles and his son, and bore them 
off in triumph ; and in the lapse of a few months we find 
him again at the same house, seizing and carrying off the 
hospitable Farquard* himself. In such adventures he was 
the most successful hero of whom I have heard, in my 
various researches into the Tory war. The great number 
of loyalists in Cumberland had prevented the operations 
of the old County Committee ; and, that efficient depart- 
ment of the Whig government having dwindled away, 
Colonel Folsome found himself at the head of affairs, 
and woe unto that man who should doubt for a moment 
the integrity of the great American cause, or the suprema- 
cy of the Congress and Council. He however abused 
his trust, and was, during the succeeding year, tried for 
the common crime of usurpation and abuse of power, 

* Letter of Samuel Ashe to John Williams, of date the 12th of 
January, 1777. 


The question of a National Declaration of Indepen- 
dence, which had been first urged by North Carolina, and 
afterwards by Virginia, was introduced into the Continental 
Congress on the 27th of May, and finally consummated on 
the 4th of July, 1776. In my sketch of the character of 
William Hooper, I shall notice the proceedings of that 
body ; in this place I shall only observe, that, during the 
agitation of that question, the people of North Carolina 
were eagerly watching the signs of the times, and praying 
for the success of that great and glorious measure. They 
had, at various periods, in separate conventions, urged it 
upon the consideration of their fellow-citizens. The 
people of Mecklenburg had declared themselves free ; and, 
on the preceding 12th of April, the Provincial Congress 
had repeated and ratified their decree. 

On the 22d of July the news of the Declaration of In- 
dependence reached Halifax ; and, the Council of Safety 
being in session in that place, the following resolution was 
unanimously adopted. 

" Resolved, that the Committees of the respective 
counties and towns in this state, on receiving the Declara- 
tion of Independence, do cause the same to be proclaimed 
in the most public manner, in order that the good people 
of this colony may be fully informed thereof." 

On the 25th of July the Council proceeded to change 
the test oath ; and the preamble of the resolution states, 
that the Colonies were now free and independent States, 
and that all allegiance to the British Crown was for ever 
at an end. On the 27th of the same month the Council 
set apart Thursday, the first of August, as a day for 
proclaiming the Declaration at the Court House in Halifax ; 
and the freeholders and inhabitants of the county were 


requested to give their attendance at the time and place. 
On the appointed day an immense concourse of people 
assembled at Halifax to witness the interesting ceremony 
of a public proclamation of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. The Provincial troops and militia companies 
v^^ere all drawn up in full array, to witness the scene and 
to swear by their united acclamations to consummate the 
deed. At mid-day Cornelius Harnett ascended a rostrum 
which had been erected in front of the Court House, 
and even as he opened the scroll, upon which was written 
the immortal words of the Declaration, the enthusiasm of 
the immense crowd broke forth in one loud swell of re- 
joicing and prayer. The reader proceeded to his task, 
and read the Declaration to the mute and impassioned 
multitude with the solemnity of an appeal to Heaven. 
When he had finished, all the people shouted with joy, 
and the cannon, sounding from fort to fort, proclaimed 
the glorious tidings, that all the Thirteen Colonies were 
now free and independent States. The soldiers seized 
]\Ir. Harnett, and bore him on their shoulders through the 
streets of the town, applauding him as iheir champion, and 
swearing allegiance to the instrument he had read.* 

The resolution of the Council of Safety, ordering the 
several Committees to have the Declaration proclaimed to 
the people in the most public manner, was not observed 
in Cumberland ; and, on the 6ih of August, Colonel Fol- 
some and Colonel David Smith were authorized to call a 

* I received the account of this ceremony from a pious and 
elderly lady, who was present on the occasion, and whose friend- 
ship and acquaintance I esteem the more, because it descended to 
me as an inheritance. In this place it may not be amiss to say, 
that 1 have always found the details of elderly ladies, on matters of 
history, more correct than those of old men. 


general meeting of the inhabitants and to execute the 
order. I have never heard any account of the ceremony 
which Colonel Folsome undoubtedly instituted. The 
doctrine of treason, too, as expounded by the Congress, 
was ordered to be proclaimed to the people of Cumber- 
land, and to the regiment stationed at Cross Creek. 

1 have now arrived at the most interesting period of 
our history. In the revolution of North Carolina, the 
reader will observe three bold and energetic popular 
movements, all progressing towards a National Declara- 
tion of Independence. On the 26th of April, 1774, Wil- 
liam Hooper, in a letter to James Iredell, openly avowed 
that things were verging towards Independence. On the 
20th of May, 1775, the people of Mecklenburg declared 
themselves independent; and on the 12th of April, 1776, 
the Provincial Congress instructed their delegates in the 
Continental Congress to concur in a National Declaration. 
These are the grand events in the history of a State, 
which, according to Mr. Jefferson, sent a rank Tory to 
sign, on her behalf, the Declaration of Independence. I 
need not his confession, that she was not doubtful, '' that 
no state was more fixed or forward," to defend North 
Carolina from the malignant aspersions of his pen. I 
spurn his compliments as worthless, and his praise as a 
corrupt and corrupting gift. They are the conceptions 
of a wicked and profligate mind, and are served up but to 
gild the nauseating pill of an unprincipled political em- 

I appeal to the events of the revolution in North Caro- 
lina, and not to Mr. Jefferson's disclaimer, to attest the 
genuineness of the Whig principles of her illustrious dead. 
Virginia, although aided by Ms important services, waited 


for the example of North Carolina, to urge her on to the 
great crisis of Independence ; and, long before the Sage 
of Monticello had fixed his heart upon the national free- 
dom of America, the question of Independence had been 
mooted, discussed, and approved, by the almost unanimous 
voice of the Whigs of the State.* 

* The Provincial Congress of August and September, 1775, 
adopted a scheme of bounties for the protection of the manufactures 
of the State, which bounties were to be conferred by the Provincial 
Council. Accordingly, on the 12th of September, 1776, while the 
Council of Safety was in session, George Wolfendon, James Morgan, 
and James Gibson offered to the Council sundry pieces of linen, 
claiming the several bounties, pursuant to the resolve of the Con- 
gress. The Board, after due examination, found it impossible to 
come to any decision as to the relative value or excellence of the 
pieces presented, and accordingly the following resolve was adopted : 
" Resolved, That the Treasurers, or either of them, pay unto the 
said Wolfendon, Morgan, and Gibson, the sum of twenty-three 
pounds fifteen shillings each, it being their equal part of the several 
bounties allowed by the Congress." 

While on the subject of manufactures I will record in this note, 
that, about the year 1824, an ingenious lady, of Franklin county, 
wove on her own loom a shirt without seams. 



The first step towards the formation of the Constitu- 
tion of North Carolina was made on the loth of April, 
1776 ; and this seems to have been the result of the 
deliberation of the Convention on the subject of Indepen- 
dence. The idea oi a Constitution naturally followed that 
of National Independence ; and, the Congress of North 
Carolina having recommended a Declaration to that 
effect on the i2tli, the adoption of the principles of a 
solid, well-regulated government, formed the next most 
important subject for their consideration. Accordingly 
on the 13th, Samuel Johnston, the President of the Con- 
o-ress, Abner Nash, Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Jones, 
Green Hill, Governor Burke, Allen Jones, Mr. Locke, 
Mr. Blount, Mr. Rand, John Johnston, Samuel Ashe, 
Mr. Kinchin, Samuel Spencer, Mr. Haywood, Mr. 
Richardson, Mr. Bradford, Mr. Ramsay, and Thomas 
Person, were appointed a Committee * to prepare a civil 
Constitution. To this committee John Penn and William 
Hooper were added ; and before this body, thus complet- 
ed, was fought one of the most desperate party batdes 
to be recorded in the civil history of the State. The 
transition from a monarchical to a republican form of 
government was almost too gradual and easy to be per- 

* On the 13th of April, 1776.— MS. Journal. 


ceived, but the project of a total abandonment of the 
conservative principles of the British Constitution, pro- 
duced one of those violent political throes, which have 
so often stained with blood the career of revolutions. 
The Whig party of North Carolina was, at this crisis, 
convulsed, by this distracting question. The most im- 
portant characters of the Provincial Congress were divid- 
ed in opinion as to the principles of the new government ; 
and each obstinately conceived the safety, welfare, and 
honor of the State, to depend upon the success of his 
favorite schemes. 

From the members of the committee, I select the 
names of Samuel Johnston and Allen Jones, as the lead- 
ers of the conservative party. They had made immense 
sacrifices in the cause of the revolution. Samuel Johns- 
ton had succeeded John Harvey, in the control of the 
Whig party. He had published under his own name 
an order for the election of the Congress of August, 
1775 ; and had thrown himself forward in every crisis, 
as the civil head of the State. He had shrunk from no 
responsibility however heavy, from the performance of 
no duty however perilous, in the cause of the American 
revolution. His mind, his body, and his purse were at 
the service of his country ; and these resources he poured 
forth with all the profusion of a spendthrift. It is impos- 
sible to doubt the patriotism of such a man. 

But when the reckless proposition to abolish even the 
very elements of the British Constitution, and to substitute 
in their stead the incoherent principles of a democracy, 
was gravely urged by a majority of the committee, he 
shrunk from it as from the most deadly contagion. He 
was an ardent lover of freedom and of the national 


Independence of America, but he was no believer in the 
infallibility of the popular voice. He had seen the rights 
of the Colonies violated, not so much the rights of persons 
but the right of property, and against this usurpation he 
had zealously warred. The vagrant principle of universal 
suffrage, the popular election of Judges, and the despica- 
ble dependence of authority upon the will of the people 
at large, were never heard of in the revolution of North 
Carolina, until the demngogues of the Whig party started 
on their career of popularity. 

But Governor Johnston was not a man of that pliable 
and irresolute character, that bends to every passing gale. 
He did not surrender the honest convictions of his mind 
to the mere majority of individuals, nor compromise the 
splendid uniformity of his political character to propitiate 
the clamor of the soldiery. He was the honest advocate 
of a government of energy and of power, erected upon the 
most solid foundations. The restriction of the right of 
suffrage in all popular elections, the inviolable independ- 
ence of the Judiciary, the permanence and respectability 
of office, and the most perfect security of property and all 
vested rights, constituted his conception of the elements 
of a good government. " Wise or fortunate is the man," 
who builds his own reputation as a statesman, upon the 
imperishable rock of such principles. The lovers of 
constitutional freedom will recur to him as their founder, 
and " fiercely chasfise the guilt or folly of the rebels who 
shall presume to sully the majesty of" his name. 

Against this conservative party was opposed all the 
radicalism which had gathered around the ball of the 
revolution, which had now been rolling in North Carolina 
for more than two years. While its progress and direc- 


tion were controlled by Governor Johnston, its career 
was one of principle ; but now the growing strength of the 
people, and the arts of designing and ambitious men were 
endeavouring to impart a force, which instead of moving 
it forward, would have broken it into atoms, and perhaps 
have annihilated it for ever. 

1 pretend not to scrutinize the motives of politicians, 
more especially of those who have passed from the stage of 
life, and whose actions are obscured by the distance of 
more than half a century ; but that the leaders of the Whig 
party in North Carolina were actuated by different mo- 
tives, and eagerly intent on different and conflicting re- 
sults, is too obvious to be concealed. With many of the 
most eminent and zealous, such as Willie Jones and 
Thomas Person, the establishment of a democracy was an 
object of superior importance to the Independence of the 
country. Without the hope of consummating this dar- 
ling project, their zeal would have abated, and even the 
independence of the country have been surrendered, as 
not worth a struggle, when the certainty of an American 
aristocracy was before them. But a very different, and 
I must say a much nobler motive animated the bosom of 
Samuel Johnston and his conservative friends, in their 
zealous support of the American cause. The national 
Independence of their country was the very and the only 
element of their political enthusiasm. They did not look 
beyond it, and discover in the form of the government 
which they knew would be established, any principles of 
superior or even of equal magnitude. Their predilec- 
tions were in favor of a splendid government, representing 
the property of the people, and thus giving by its own 
independence and splendor a high character of dignity to 


the State. But all schemes or forms of government 
were as nothing when compared with the national Inde- 
pendence of America ; and with the achievement of this 
grand object they were prepared for either a monarchy, 
an aristocracy, or any other form of government except 
a wild and uncontrolled democracy. 

The Radicals contended with much show of reason, 
that the success of the revolution depended upon the 
adoption of a purely democratic form of government, 
and that the hope of such a thing was the sole cause 
of the enthusiasm of the lower orders of the people. The 
restriction of the right of suffrage which had prevailed in 
the Whig government, it was contended, had given the 
Tories an opportunity of seducing the non-freeholders to 
their interest, and that an extension of that most delicate 
and important right, to every " hiped " of the forest, was 
the surest means of uniting the voice of the people. 
The vain hope, that even the dependent Highlanders of 
the Cape Fear would, if the prerogative of citizenship 
were conferred, desert from the standard of their chieftain, 
was encouraged ; and that thus the war could be con- 
ducted with greater energy by the combined strength of 
the State. The coffers of the treasury were empty, and 
the only means of arousing and keeping alive the warlike 
spirit of the lower orders, was by conferring the highest 
political privileges. 

Upon the vital question, then, of enfranchising the lower 
order of the people, and upon the propriety of a splendid 
government, the Conservatives and the Radicals were 
divided ; and In the ranks of both of those parties were 
found many of the most enlightened and patriotic cidzens 
of the State. On the question of Independence, which 


was settled by the unanimous voice of the Congress, on 
the day before the appointment of the committee to form 
a civil Constitution, there was no division ; and, with the 
settlement of that more important point, the two rival 
parties started up into an active existence. Independ- 
ence had been so much talked of and so often acted upon 
in North Carolina, that it was considered throughout the 
State, as the peculiar subject of the deliberation of the 
Provincial Congress ; and the members assembled in 
Halifax predetermined to sanction and recommend, the 
propriety of a National declaration. On the 5th of April, 
the day after the meeting of the Congress, Mr. Johnston 
wrote to James Iredell, and after touching on the case 
of General McDonald, he said, — " All our people here 
are up for independence. God knows when I shall have 
the pleasure of seeing you ; there are very few among us 
capable of forwarding business, many of retarding it." On 
the 13th of April he again wrote to Mr. Iredell, and con- 
cluded his letter in the following words, — " The House 
have agreed to impower their Delegates at Philadelphia to 
concur with the other colonies in entering into foreign alli- 
ances and in declaring an independence of Great Britain. 
I cannot be more particular ; this is written in Congress. 
My love and compliments where due ; farewell." 

I shall draw from the same correspondence my materials 
in detailing the proceedings of the Committee ; and now 
present an extract from a letter, of date the 17th of April. 
The Committee had been in session for only four days, 
and thus early Governor Johnston found himself in a 
minority. The letter says, — "I must confess our pros- 
pects are at this time very gloomy ; our people are about 
forming a Constitution, and from what I can at present 


collect of their plan, it will be impossible from me to take 
any part in the execution of it. Numbers have started 
on the race of popularity, and condescend to the usual 
means of success." 

The Radicals found themselves in a majority in the 
Committee, and about the ISlh or 19th of the month of 
April,^ it was resolved " to establish a purely democratic 
form of government." The dissatisfaction of Governor 
Johnston is obvious from the tone of his letters ; and the 
concluding sentence of the one last submitted, points 
plainly to the cause of his discomfiture. He was how- 
ever a man of too much independence of opinion, and 
of too much influence in the State, to give up without a 
farther struggle so important a question as the character 
of the government, under w^hich he expected to live. 
The Radicals perceived at once the danger of alienating 
so important a personage from the interest of the new 
government ; and, although they sapiently assumed to 
themselves the name of orthodox in politics, yet they 
prudently consented to make terms with their defeated 

While this violent schism in the Whig party was hang- 
ing over the fate of the American cause in North Caro- 
lina, Thomas Jones, of Edenton, a personal friend of 
Governor Johnston and a cunning and ingenious poh- 
tician, interceded and appeased the rage of the contend- 
ing factions. He was in truth more of a conservative 
than his friend ; but, perceiving the strength of the Radi- 
cals, he had avoided the issue which Governor Johnston 
had the independence openly to confront. I have a 

* Letter of Judge John Williams to Judge Henderson, of date the 
28th of April, 1776. 


mere note or billet of his to Johnston, dated the 19th of 
April, upon which I predicate this view of his character. 
In that paper he informs the Governor that he had adjust- 
ed the disagreeable difficulty, which had interrupted the 
harmony of the Committee ; and then invited him to 
meet with ,the other members at his room on the evening 
of its date. 

The tone of Governor Johnston's letters to Mr. Iredell 
changes from this date ; and on the very next day we 
find him busily engaged in the consideration of the details 
of the new government. The compromise seems to have 
been so far satisfactory as to have overcome the almost 
insuperable objections of the Governor ; although it is 
obvious from many articles in the present Constitution, 
that the Radicals yielded much to gain the important 
service of his cooperation. I here present his letter, of 
date the 20th of April, which, it will be seen, is written 
with much good humor. 

"From Samuel Johnston to James Iredell. 

" Halifax, 20th of April, 1776. 
'' Dear Sir, 

" We have not yet been able to agree on a Constitution. We 
have a meeting on it every evening, but can conclude on nothing. 
The great difficulty in our way is, how to establish a check on the 
Representatives of the people, to prevent their assuming more power 
than would be consistent with the liberties of the people ', such 
as increasing the time of their duration and such like. Many 
projects have been proposed too tedious for a letter to communicate. 
Some have proposed that we should take up the plan of the Con- 
necticut Constitution for a ground-work, but with some amend- 
ments ; such as that all the great officers, instead of being elected 
by the people at large, should be appointed by the Assembly; but 
that the Judges of our Courts should hold their offices during good 
behaviour. After all, it appears to me, that there can be no check 
on the Representatives of the people in a democracy, but the people 


themselves ; and in order that the check may be more efficient I 
would have annual elections. The Congress have raised four new 
regiments, making in the whole six, and three companies of light 
horse. They are about striking a large sum of money for paying 
them. General Lee promises us a visit soon. I want much to see 
that original." 

The rest of this letter relates to domestic concerns, 
which would >be uninteresting to the reader. The ap- 
prehension that no substantial check could be established 
for the control of the Legislature has been fully realized 
in the history of many of the States. The Reports of the 
Supreme Court of the United States are adorned with 
innumerable cases, in which the learning and patriotism 
of the Judges are invoked, to check the vagrancy of State 
legislation. Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia, have each in their turn 
reared the crest to the arbitrament of an independent 
judiciary ; but North Carolina, quietly avoiding the path 
of the Federal Government, has submitted in all doubtful 
cases to the correction of her own courts. 

The civil Constitution was however completed by the 
25di of April, and was on that day laid before the Con- 
gress. "On motion, Resolved, That the temporary civil 
Constitution be taken under consideration to-morrow 
morning." "^ 

On the next day accordingly, the order of the day 
being read, " Resolved,-\ The House resolve itself into 
a committee of the whole House, to take into considera- 
tion certain resolutions, proposed as a foundation for a 
temporary civil Constitution. The House resolved itself 
into a committee of the whole House accordingly, and 

* Thursday, 25th of April. — MS. Journal. 
t MS. Journal, 26th of April. 


chose William Gumming, Esq., Chairman, and, after some 
time spent therein, Mr. President resumed the chair and 
Mr. Chairman reported the several resolutions, which 
were ordered to lie over until Monday." 

On Monday the subject was again postponed until 
the next day, when the Committee of the Constitution 
was dissolved, and all hope of the establishment of a 
permanent government by that Congress abandoned. 
This conclusion seems to have been exceedingly gratify- 
ing to Mr. Johnston, who on the 2d of May wrote the fol- 
lowing letter to Mr. Iredell. 

" Halifax, 2d May, 1776. 
" Dear Sir, 

" Affairs have taken a turn within a few days past. All ideas 
of forming a permanent Constitution are at this time laid aside. 
It is now proposed for the present to establish a Council to sit 
constantly, and County Committees to sit at certain fixed periods, 
but nothing is concluded. We find it necessary to emit a very large 
sum of paper money at the present emergency ; a circumstance 
which gives me more concern than any thing else, and yet it seems 
unavoidable. You can easily see the evils attending this measure. 
I am pretty well this morning, and have leave to be absent from the 
service of the House in order to prepare my public accounts for 
a settlement.* Allen Jones is Vice-President." 

On the 30th of April, Governor Burke, Samuel Ashe, 
Richard Caswell, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Penn, Abner Nash, 
Mr. Kinchin, Thomas Jones, and Mr. Coor, were ap- 
pointed a committee to propose " a temporary form of 
government until the end of the next Congress." The 
Radicals contrived not only to exclude Governor Johns- 

* Mr. Johnston was the Treasurer of the Northern District, 
and was more celebrated as a skilful financier than any other citi- 
zen of the State. In the performance of this delicate trust he con's 
tributed the most important services to his country. 


ton from this committee, but from a seat in the Council of 
Safety which was instituted by the Congress on the 11th 
of May. Tiieir inveterate opposition was continued even 
after the adjournment of the Congress ; and many, even 
of the most respectable of the Whigs, professed to doubt 
the sincerity of his attachment to the American cause. 
" The rancor of opposition," however, secured him " the 
idolatry of love " ; and the firmness with which he was 
supported by his conservative friends, soon gave him an 
important influence in a general arrangement of the party. 
The Council of Safety, for no other reason than that he 
was not elected a member of that board, (as he had been 
a member of the former Council,) looked upon him as 
their most deadly enemy ; and professed to view his 
defeat as a signal instance of the displeasure of the Con- 
gress. Their excessive dread of his power among the 
people of the State at large, forced them to respect him 
in their public capacity ; but the private letters of that 
day exhibit a well-concerted scheme of intrigue, to ruin 
his character as a patriot and statesman. 

On the 9th of August, 1776, while the Council of 
Safety was in session, the subject of the Constitution was 
introduced in connexion with that of Independence ; and 
it was solemnly recommended to the people of North 
Carolina, to pay the greatest attention to the election of 
members of Congress on the 1 5th of October ; and to 
have particularly in view the important consideration, that 
it would be the business of the Congress not only to make 
laws, but also to form a Constitution, " which as it was 
the corner-stone of all law, so it ought to be fixed and 
permanent ; and that according as it was well or ill 
ordered, it would tend in the first degree to promote the 


happiness or misery of the State." * It was likewise 
recommended to the people to elect five delegates prop- 
erly qualified to sit and vote in the Congress, as business 
of the last importance would undoubtedly come before 

I have never understood the reason of this urgent 
recommendation of the Council of Safety. Ever since 
the first Provincial Congress, in August, 1774, the elec- 
tions of the leading members had been conducted with- 
out even the apprehension of opposition. The public 
good required their aid and presence in the deliberations 
of the Congress, and the people biennally acknowledged 
the merit of their services by a general reelection. But 
the Council of Safety now issues a solemn warning to 
the people of the Slate, as if there was some doubtfulness 
in the camp of the Whig party, and concludes by an 
indefinite allusion to business of the last importance. The 
whole force and energy of the Radical party of the 
State, was directed to the single object of defeating 
Samuel Johnston in the Chowan election ; and I con- 
demn this recommendation of the Council as a mere 
instrument of party warfare. The subject of a Constitu- 
tion, now that the question of Independence was settled 
by a National Declaration, was more prominently before 
the people than any other question ; and, as it had been 
discussed in the previous Congress, the people could 
scarcely have forgotten its importance. The idea was 
constantly put forth, that the Conservatives were intent 
on the erection of a system of government adverse to 
the liberty of the people, and that they were in reality 
the advocates of a monarchy. By such rumors the 

* MS. Journal. 


Radicals, abetted by the Council of Safety, endeavoured 
to alarm the minds of the people, and to destroy the 
influence and power of the President of the Congress. 

The obtuse perception of the Radicals refused to 
acknowledge that there was any intermediate ground, 
between themselves and the advocates of a monarchy, 
upon which the people could erect the basis of their 
newly acquired freedom. The dangerous heresies of 
universal equality, and of an agrarian law, were better 
suited to their comprehension, than the encouragement 
of morality and industry, by the security of property and 
the maintenance of the natural divisions of society. In 
their intense hatred of England, they lost sight of the 
virtue and excellence of many of the principles of the 
Brhish Constitution ; and, in abjuring all allegiance to 
the sovereign, they ventured to include all respect for 
the most venerable monument of freedom that the world 
had ever seen. But the wisdom and prudence of Mr. 
Johnston could not second so heedless a career. De- 
spising, as deeply as could the most zealous Radical, the 
usurpations of King George, upon the property of the 
people of America, and acknowledging the utter impos- 
sibility and inexpediency of any thing like a monarchical 
form of government, he nevertheless earnestly insisted on 
the dangers of an irresponsible legislature, representing, 
not the property, but the mere will of the people. The 
amount of property which a merchant may own in a ship 
at sea, is the best ratio by which to compute the degree 
of his anxiety for her safety and success ; and the same 
principle might be successfully applied, in the composition 
of the government of a State. The principle that all 
men are by nature free and equal is true, because, like 


a thousand other maxims, no one thinks it worth a refuta- 
tion or qualification ; but the statesman, who shall under- 
take to build up a government upon such a foundation, 
will find even his own learning, integrity, humanity, and 
property poized at the polls, by the bought suffrage of 
a menial slave. 

The Radicals, however, gained the object of their 
strife, and Mr. Johnston was not returned a member 
from Chowan at die election on the 15th of October. 
I do not know that he actually canvassed for the elec- 
tion, for he had perceived and acknowledged the growing 
strength of his antagonists, and may probably have pru- 
dently declined the contest. The Congress assembled 
at Halifax on die 12th of November, and, at the instance 
of Allen Jones, Richard Caswell was elected President. 
On the second day of the session, Mr. President Cas- 
well, Thomas Person, Allen Jones, John Ashe, Abner 
Nash, Willie Jones, Thomas Jones, Mr. Bright, Mr. 
Neale, Samuel Ashe, Mr. Haywood, General Ruther- 
ford, Mr. Abbot, Luke Sumner, Thomas Respiss, Jun., 
Mr. Maclaine, Mr. Hogan, and Mr. Alexander, were ap- 
pointed a Committee to form and lay before the Congress 
a Bill of Rights, and form of a Constitution for the govern- 
ment of the State. Mr. Hewes, Mr. Harnett, Mr. Sharpe, 
Mr. Si)ear, Mr. Avery, Mr. Eaton, Mr. Birdsong, Mr. Ir- 
win, Mr. Wliitmell Hill, and Mr. Coor, were subsequently 
added ; and, thus completed, the Committee proceeded to 
the discharge of the duty assigned them. 

On the second day of the session of the Congress, 
a grave question arose as to the mode of determining 
questions ; and now it was proposed, as a preparatory 
step to die adoption of a Constitution, that all ques- 


tions should, for the future, be determined by voice, 
and not by counties and iowns. There was a divis- 
ion on the question ; and only the following counties 
and towns voted against the proposition ; — Beaufort, 
Brunswick, Carteret, Chowan, Hyde, Perquimons, Pas- 
quotank, Pitt, Town of Brunswick, and Town of New 
Berne. The other counties and boroughs, making a 
heavy majority, voted in the affirmative, and henceforth 
all questions were decided by the voice of the members. 

On Friday the 6th of December, Thomas Jones, from 
the Committee on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, 
informed the House that the form of the Constitution 
was prepared and ready for consideration. Mr. Jones 
read the Constitution in his place, and then delivered it 
in at the table. The secretary was ordered to employ 
clerks and to have numerous transcripts ready for the 
members, and the succeeding Monday was fixed upon 
as the day for its consideration. On Monday the 9th, 
Tuesday the 10th, and on Thursday the 12ih, it was 
debated, and on the last day the subject was postponed 
to Saturday the 14th, to give precedence to the Bill of 
Rights which Mr. Jones that day laid before the Con- 
gress. On Saturday the 14th of December, the Bill of 
Rights was first debated, paragraph by paragraph, and 
passed its first reading, and then the Constitution was 
likewise passed. On Monday the 16th, both instruments 
were again considered, but only the Bill of Rights was 
passed upon, the other being deferred to Tuesday. On 
Tuesday the 17th, the Bill of Rights was finally passed, 
and ordered to be engrossed. The final consideration of 
the Constitution was postponed to the next day, Wednesday 
the 18th, when it was finally adopted as the Constitution 
of North Carolina. 


Thus were the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of 
the State formed. They are said to have corae from 
the pen of Thomas Jones, aided and assisted by Willie 
Jones. I find in one of Governor Johnston's letters, that 
he alludes to it as Jones's Constitution, and the reader 
will observe that Thomas Jones was throughout the organ 
of the Committee. The Constitution was the child of 
the instrument which was debated before the Congress 
of the preceding spring ; although much improved by 
the various revisions and amendments v/hich it underwent, 
before its final adoption. 

Samuel Johnston, the most profound statesman in the 
State, although not a member of the Congress, repaired 
to Halifax on the business of the treasury, and on the 
7th of December wrote the following letter to Mr. Iredell. 

" Halifax, Dec. 7th, 1776. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I got here this afternoon, and, though I made short stages, find 
myself a good deal fatigued. My health is much the same as when 
I left home. God knows when there will be an end of this trifling 
here. A draft of the Constitution was presented to the House 
yesterday, and lies over for consideration. The members are fur- 
nishing themselves with copies of it. I have had a glance of it, and 
wished to send you a copy of it, but it was impossible ; perhaps 
the bearer of this. Col. Dauge, may have one. As well as I can 
judge from a cursory view of it, it may do as well as that adopted 
by any other colony. Nothing of the kind can be good. There 
is one thing in it which I cannot bear, and yet I am inclined to 
think it will stand. The Inhabitants are impowered to elect the 
Justices in their respective counties, who are to be the Judges of the 
County Courts. Numberless inconveniences must arise from so 
absurd an institution." 

The rest of this letter does not refer to the Consti- 
tution. On Monday the 9th of December, Mr. Johnston 
again wrote to Mr. Iredell, and I submit the following 
extract on the subject of this chapter. 


" Halifax, 9th Dec, 1776. 
" Dear Sir, 

" I wrote to you the evening after I got here, since wliich I have 
been endeavouring to descern what will be done, but am as much 
at a loss as ever. The Constitution is to be debated to-day, and 
some talk of finishing as soon as that is agreed on ; while others 
are for staying to appoint all the officers of the State, and to estab- 
lish Courts of Justice. Which of these plans will take place is 
uncertain. No one appears to have sufficient spirit to set them 
right. I am in great pain for the honor of the Province ; at the 
same time, when I consider only my own ease and peace, congratu- 
late myself on being clear of any share of the trouble I must have 
had, if I had been a member. Every one who has the least pre- 
tensions to be a gentleman is suspected and borne down per igno- 
hile vulgus, — a set of men without reading, experience, or principle 
to govern them." 

The character of Samuel Johnston does not need the 
aid of my pen to support it, by any other means than 
a mere record of the services of his life. By his wise 
and magnanimous administration of the government of 
the State, during the time that North Carolina was out of 
the Union, the most critical period of her existence, he 
secured to himself an imperishable fame ; and by his 
unwearied perseverance and zeal, he procured the adop- 
tion of the National Constitution, and thus gave charac- 
ter, integrity, and consistency to the union of the States. 
In 17SS and 1789, as in 1776, he boldly stood forth as 
the uncompromising advocate of the great conservative 
principle, the perfect security of property and all vested 
rights from the reach of the changeable will of the peo- 
ple ; and although all such statesmen must of necessity 
be unpopular in democratic governments, yet such is the 
effect of an independent course among an honorable 
people, that Governor Johnston was honored with their 
confidence by his election as first Senator from North 


Carolina, and then to the Bench, where he might ap- 
propriately and zealously support the principles he had so 
long cherished. 

I shall neither record, nor discuss in detail, the Bill of 
Rights and the Constitution. They have been transmit- 
ted to the present generation, unimpaired and without 
amendment ; and are, at this period, the only instruments 
of the kind formed by the sages of the Revolution, which 
have come down unscathed by the hand of innovation. 
Governor Johnston objected to it on account of its 
^^ radicalism''^ in 1776; but in 1833, it is censured as 
containing high conservative principles, inconsistent with 
the proper notions of modern democracy. The old Consti- 
tution of Virginia, ahhough fortified by a restriction of the 
right of suffrage, was at length overthrown by the clamor 
of the unrepresented class, and the same fate has been 
for many years past predicted for that of North Carolina. 
But, hitherto, the Constitution has withstood triumph- 
antly every assault. Conventions have been proposed 
to destroy it entirely, and begin anew the art of govern- 
ment ; irresponsible assemblages of designing and ambi- 
tious men have appealed directly to the people, without 
the intervention of the Legislature, and called upon them 
to vote upon the propriety of a revolution ; and bills have 
been presented to the Assembly, praying that specific 
amendments might be submitted to the people for ratifi- 
cation ; but there is somewhere in the venerable instru- 
ment the great principle of self-preservation, which has 
hitherto been able to defy the craft and cunning of the 
demagogue. All such schemes have failed. The cry is, 
the inequality of representation ; the mere territory and 
not the people of a county being the " thing " represented. 


The County of Jones, with a population of scarcely more 
than three thousand, has as much influence in the State 
as the County of Orange with a population of twenty-five 
thousand ; and the Borough of Halifax, with scarcely 
any while population at all, balances, in 'the House of 
Commons, one half of any county in the State. And 
yet, strange as it may seem, the history of the past will 
tell us that these small counties and rotten boroughs 
have contributed the most eminent and enlightened mem- 
bers of the House ; and, at no very remote period, the 
seven boroughs returned to the Commons seven mem- 
bers, who might have been fairly estimated the first men 
in the State, and who controlled by their talents alone 
the whole Assembly. 

This inequality of representation is an evil which should 
be removed, whenever the people shall have thrown off 
the " despotism of party," or shall have learnt to heed 
less the rant of a Radical, than the wise and honest coun- 
sel of a virtuous patriot. It is an unpropitious period for 
conventions. The order of the day is change and re- 
form, and the most venerable principle of the American 
revolution, — the independence of the Judges, — has 
already in many States been annihilated by frequent elec- 
tions and variable salaries. If in the election of members 
of a convention, the right of suffrage could be restricted 
to the land and slave holders, instead of being extended 
to every vagrant of the fields, the danger might be avoid- 
ed, and the present inequality of representation, as well as 
many other faults of the Constitution, be amended to the 
general satisfaction of the people. 

There is one feature in the Constitution of North 
Carolina which deserves to be particularly mentioned, as 


the only part which excited the enthusiasm of Sanauel 
Johnston, and which reconciled him to it as the founda- 
tion of a permanent government. It is the principle 
upon which the Senate is constituted. To be eligible to 
the Senate, a citizen must own in fee simple in the county 
which he represents, not less than three hundred acres 
of land, and the elector of a Senator must likewise be the 
proprietor of fifty acres. Thus the Senate is emphatically 
the representative of the landed interest of the State, and 
to such an extent, too, as to prove an admirable shield for 
the protection of property in times of general commotion 
and distress. Whenever the Constitution is assailed, the 
Senate is peculiarly its champion ; and the land-holders 
of the State should cautiously guard every encroachment 
on the integrity of an instrument, in which their rights as 
well as the safety of their property are so well secured. 

I shall conclude this chapter by a notice of a few of 
the Ordinances passed by the Congress, as incidental 
to the Constitution. The first elected Richard Caswell 
Governor, Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Person, William 
Dry (formerly one of the King's council), William Hay- 
wood, Edward Starkey, Joseph Leech, and Thomas 
Eaton members of the Council of State, and James 
Glasgow, Secretary of State ; and thus the government 
was organized. 

Another Ordinance, which was introduced by Thomas 
Jones, secured to the Church the titles of Church lands 
and houses of public worship, and " quieted the proprie- 
tors in the peaceable possession of the same." The 
prejudice against the Church, on account of its connexion 
with the Royal government, though very strong in North 
Carolina as in the other States, was not sufficiently so to 


destroy its rights, and this Ordinance seems to have pass- 
ed without opposition from any quarter. Another Ordin- 
ance appointed Thomas Jones, Samuel Johnston, Archi- 
bald Maclaine, James Iredell, Abner Nash, Christopher 
Neale, Samuel Ashe, Waightstill Avery, Samuel Spen- 
cer, Jasper Charlton, and John Penn, to review and 
consider all such Statutes and Acts of Assembly as had 
been or were in force in the State, and " to prepare such 
Bills to be passed into Laws, as might be consistent with 
the genius of a free people," and to lay them before the 
next Assembly.* 

* The subjoined extract from the Journal of the Congress on the 
23d of December, 1776, illustrates the views of the Congress as to 
the duration and inviolability of the American Union. Mr. Jones, 
from the committee to take into consideration the case of Joseph 
Hewes and Robert Smith, Esqrs., and to prepare a remonstrance to 
the General Congress and the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay, laid 
the said memorials and remonstrances before the House ; which 
were read, agreed to, and are as follows : 
" The Memorial of the State of North Carolina to the Delegates of 

the United States of America in Congress Assembled, showeth, 

" That about twelve months past, Messrs. Joseph Hewes and 
Robert Smith, of Edenton, merchants, and free citizens of this State, 
loaded a certain brigantine called the Joseph, under the command 
of Emperor Mosely, and sent her to Cadiz, in Spain, where she was 
detained until the 19th day of October by British ships of war, 
which cruised off the said port. That on the 11th day of November 
last, she, the said brigantine, being on her return to Edenton, with 
3000 bushels of salt, a quantity of wine, Jesuits' bark, and other 
articles of very considerable value, was seized and made a prize of 
by a privateer belonging to Boston in the State of Massachusetts 
Bay, named the Eagle, and commanded by Barzillai Smith, and said 
to be the property of Elijah Freeman Paine, as by the deposition 
hereunto annexed will appear. 

" That the said capture appears to this State to be a direct viola- 
tion of the peace and Union of the United States, and contrary to 
the laws of all civilized nations in general, and to the rights of the 


citizens of this State in particular. This State, ever watchful over 
the rights of its members, expects that strict justice will be done 
in the premises either by the captors or the State of Massachusetts 
Bay, and have no doubt but the Delegates of the United States will 
effectually interpose to have justice done injured citizens, and to 
punish those atrocious violators of all law and justice, whose avarice 
and rapacity, if not timely checked, cannot fail to be attended with 
the most fatal consequences to the Jlmerican Union." 

There was likewise a remonstrance to the State of Massachusetts 
Bay, which, after stating in detail the premises, concluded as follows : 
" The aforesaid capture being contrary to the law of nations, and in 
direct violation of the peace and Union of the United States, and 
the rights of the citizens of the State of North Carolina, the said 
State expects that the State of Massachusetts Bay will cause in- 
quiry to be made concerning the premises, and make effectual 
provision against such violence, and also cause full restoration and 
indemnification to be made to the said Joseph Hewes and Robert 
Smith, for their brigantine and cargo, and the damage occasioned 
by the capture aforesaid." 




ON THE 20th of may, 1775. 

The county of Mecklenburg, which at the time of this 
Declaration included the present county of Cabarrus, lies 
in the western part of the Stale of North Carolina. It 
was settled by emigrants from Great Britain, many of 
whom remained a few years on the shores of the Dela- 
ware before their final settlement in North Carolina. 
The families of the Polks and the Alexanders were 
among this class ; and I believe I date the period of their 
arrival in the State with sufficient exactness, when I say 
it was about the year 1750. The Alexanders were 
Scotch Presbyterians, and, I am inclined to think, came 
to the south several years after the Polks. 

The reader will observe, among the signers of the 
Declaration, many of the Alexanders and one of the 
Polks. The names of Brevard, Phifer, Davidson, Avery, 
and indeed of all the twenty-five, are familiar to me 
as genuine North Carolina families; names which are 
associated with honor and valor in nearly every event 
in the course of the war; and which are intimately 


blended with the independence of the country, not 
only in the act of its conception, but still more so in 
the battle-fields which gave it such triumphant success. 
Whilst the Sage of Monticello was pondering on the 
various projects of a reconciliation with the mother coun- 
try, and never for once looking beyond " that desirable 
end '■ ; while Virginia and even Massachusetts were con- 
tinually avowing allegiance to the Throne ; and North 
Carolina herself, through the medium of her Congress, 
was declaring that independence was not her object, the 
people of Mecklenburg, with the sagacity of an honest and 
injured race, untutored in the craft and cunning of poli- 
tics, recoiled at once on the power that oppressed them, 
and dissolved for ever the unhallowed union of British 
domination and American allegiance. A junto of poli- 
ticians would have recommended forbearance, and point- 
ed to some future and more propitious period for action ; 
but in the simplicity of their hearts they appealed to the 
law of nature indelibly stamped upon the human bosom, 
that when power becomes tyranny, resistance is a duty 
and the God of battles must decide. 

Tradition ascribes to Thomas Polk the principal agen- 
cy in bringing about the Declaration. He appears to 
have given the notice for the election of the Convention, 
and (being the Colonel of the county) to have superin- 
tended the election in each of the militia districts. He 
had been for a long time engaged in the service of the 
Province as a surveyor, and as a member of the Assem- 
bly 5 and was thus intimately acquainted, not only in 
Mecklenburg, but in the counties generally. His educa- 
tion had been acquired, not within the classic walls of an 
English university, but among his own native hills, and 


amidst the passions and feelings of bis countrymen. Dr. 
Epbraiiii Brevard (tlie author of the Declaration), and 
Waightstill Avery (the first Attorney-General of North 
Carolina), were men of the highest classical attainments, 
and, contributing their enlightened resources to the shrewd 
native enthusiasm of Thomas Polk, produced a Declara- 
tion at that time unrivalled, not only for the neatness of 
its style, but for the moral sublimity of its conception. 

The tribute which I pay is, however, not my own. 
My opinions are supported by the following letter of the 
late John Adams, a patriot whose services in the adoption 
of the National Declaration are of a higher order than 
those of mere composition. 

Copy of a Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. 

" Quincy, 22d June, 1819. 
" Dear Sir, 

" May I enclose you one of the greatest curiosities, and one of the 
deepest mysteries that ever occurred to me ; it is in the Essex 
Register of June the 5th, 1819. It is entitled, from the Raleigh 
Register, ' Declaration of Independence.' How is it possible that 
this paper should have been concealed from me to this day. Had 
it been communicated to me in the time of it, I know, if you do not 
know, that it would have been printed in every Whig newspaper 
upon the continent. You know, that if I had possessed it, I would 
have made the Hall of Congress echo and re-echo with it fifteen 
months before your Declaration of Independence. What a poor 
ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass is Tom Paine's 
Common Sense in comparison with this paper. Had I known it 
I would have commented upon it from the day you entered Con- 
gress till the fourth of July, 1770. 

" The genuine sense of America at that moment was never so 
well expressed before nor since. Richard Caswell, William Hooper, 
and Joseph Hewes, the then Representatives of North Carolina in 
Congress, you know as well as I ; and you know that the unanimity 
of the States finally depended on the vote of Joseph Hewes, and was 


finally determined by him ; and yet history is to ascribe the Ameri- 
can Revolution to Thomas Paine. Sat vcrhum sapienti. 
" I am, dear sir, your invariable friend, 

" President Jefferson." 

Mr. Adams, it seems, believed the truth of the 
Declaration at tlie date of this letter, which the reader 
will perceive is the same which provoked the scandalous 
and abusive epistle of Mr. Jefferson. The latter gende- 
man could not appreciate the document, and obviously 
winced un ler the high praises which his correspondent 
so zealously lavished on it. "The genuine sense of 
America at that moment was never so well expressed," 
and besides too, it was absolutely " fifteen months before 
your declaration." Here is the grand secret of Mr. Jef- 
ferson's hostility to the Mecklenburg Declaration, the 
occult motive of his infamous abuse of the character of 
William Hooper, and of his insulting disclaimer of " any 
doubtfulness in North Carolina." The Alexanders, the 
Polks, the Brevards, and their associates, instead of 
becoming learned upon the various plans and projects of 
reconciliation, and sagaciously studying out what would, 
and what would not, be popular or successful, declared 
themselves free and independent, " and this was their 
crime." The altar and the god they sunk together, 
fully a year before the Sage of Monticello had ceased his 
vows, or had surrendered his hopes of inventing a plan of 
reconciliation ; " and for this they could never be forgiven." 
They have left behind them in the memory of their 
countrymen, beyond the reach of a public calumniator, 

^' a name of fear 
That tyranny shall quake to hear ; 
And left their sons a hope, a fame, 
They, too, should rather die than shame." 



(20th of May, 1775.) 

" That whosoever directly or indirectly abets, or in any way, 
form, or manner, countenances the unchartered and dangerous 
invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to 
this country, to America, and to the inherent and unalienable rights 
of man. 

" That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg County, do hereby dis- 
solve the political bands, which have connected us with the Mother 
Country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the 
British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or 
association with that nation, who have wantonly trampled on our 
rights and liberties, and inhumanly slied the blood of American 
patriots at Lexington. 

" That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent 
people ; — are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self- 
governing association, under the control of no power, other than 
that of our God, and the general government of the Congress; — 
to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to 
each other, our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our 
most sacred honor. 

" That as we acknowledge the existence and control of no law 
nor legal officer, civil or military, within this county, we do hereby 
ordain and adopt as a rule of life, all, each, and every of our former 
laws; wherein, nevertheless, the Crown of Great Britain never can 
be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or author- 
ity therein. 

" That it is further decreed, that all, each, and every military 
officer in this county, is hereby reinstated in his former command 
and authority, he acting conformably to these regulations. And 
that every member present of this delegation shall henceforth be a 
civil officer, viz. a Justice of the Peace, in the character of a 
Committee-man, to issue process, hear, and determine all matters 
of controversy, according to said adopted laws ; and to preserve 
peace, union, and harmony in said county ; and to use every exer- 



tion to spread the love of country and fire of freedom throughout 
America, until a more general and organized government be estab- 
lished in this province. 

" John McEnitt Alexander, Secretanj. 
" Ephraim Brevard William Graham Matthew McClure 

Hezekiah J. Balch John Queary Neil Morrison 

John Phifer' Hezekiah Alexander Robert Irwin 

James Harris Adam Alexander John Flenniken 

William Kennon Charles Alexander David Reese 

John Ford Zaccheus Wilson, sen. John Davidson 

Richard Barry Waightstill Avery Richard Harris, sen. 

Henry Downe Benjamin Patton Thomas Polk." 

Ezra Alexander 

The Declaration, which I have just laid before the read- 
er has been noticed by several historians of a later date, than 
the period of its first appearance in the Raleigh Register, 
Mr. Pitkin, in his excellent " Political and Civil History of 
the United States," has done ample justice to its impor- 
tance, as the first public avowal of independence. It is, 
however, important that some contemporary record of so 
important an event should be exhibited, as the best evi- 
dence of its truth ; and I therefore adduce an extract from 
the Proclamation of Governor Martin, which is to be found 
on the lS5th and 186th pages of this volume, and which, 
it will be observed, was issued on the 8th of August, 1 775. 

" And whereas I have also seen a most infamous publication in 
the Cape Fear Mercurij, importing to be resolves of a set of people 
styling themselves a Committee for the County of Mecklenburg, 
most traitorously declaring the entire dissolution of the laws, gov- 
ernment, and constitution of this country, and setting up a system 
of rule and regulation repugnant to the laws, and subversive of His 
Majesty's Government." 

A copy of this important state-paper was addressed 
to Samuel Johnston, Moderator of the Provincial Con- 


gress, at Hillsborough, and was laid before that body by 
him on Friday the 25th day of August, 1775.* A printed 
copy of the same was found a few years since by that 
indefatigable antiquarian and devoted student, Peter 
Force, and so much of it as related to the INlecklenburg 
Declaration was republished in the papers of the day. 

For the preservation of the copy of the Declaration 
now in the Executive office of North Carolina, we are 
indebted to General Davie, among whose papers it was 
found in a somewhat injured state. A copy of it was 
likewise in the possession of Dr. Williamson, which copy 
Governor Montfort Stokes (in the State pamphlet) de- 
clares he saw in the possession of the Doctor, during the 
year 1793. The original book in which the proceedings 
of the Mecklenburg Convention were recorded, and 
which contained the original Resolves, properly signed, 
was destroyed by fire about the year 1 800 ; and I esteem 
myself fortunate in being able to appeal to such high 
personal testimony as that of General Davie and Governor 
Stokes, in establishing the identity of the Declaration. 

But there is perhaps higher authority to attest the 
identity of the Declaration. The late Reverend Hum- 
phrey Hunter, a soldier of the Revolution, left behind 
him a '' Journal of the War in the South " ; and, as he was 
an eyewitness of the proceedings of the Mecklenburg 
Convention, he has handed down to us the same Declara- 
tion as the one which was kept by General Davie. 

I have, in the Introduction to this work, stated the fact, 
that a pamphlet contradicting the tenor of Mr. Jefferson's 
letter was published by the authority of the Assembly of 
North Carolina, during the year 1831. A great variety 

* See Journal of the Congress. 


of evidence was adduced to show the truth of the Meck- 
lenburg Declaration, the whole of which was neatly 
sumnried up in the introductory remarks of Governor 
Stokes, then Governor of the State. The certificate of 
Captain James Jack,* of Elbert County, Georgia, who 
bore the Declaration to Philadelphia ; a letter from John 
Davidson, the last surviving Signer ; the Manuscript 
Journal of the Rev. Humphrey Hunter, detailing the 
whole proceeding, and giving the exact Declaration ; a 
letter from General Joseph Graham of Lincoln, who was 
present on the 19th and 20th of May, 1775; and finally 
the personal testimony of the late lamented Colonel William 
Polk, of Raleigh, who was likewise present on the occa- 
sion, — were all produced, and put forth to establish the 
truth of the Mecklenburg Declaration. The high char- 
acter of the evidence thus produced was vouched by the 
authority of the State, and the whole was submitted to 
the candid decision of the world. I have supported this 
mass of testimony by the Proclamation of Governor 
Martin, a contemporaneous record of the event; which 
places beyond all suspicion the fact, that the people of 
Mecklenburg declared themselves free and independent, 
more than one year anterior to the conception of a Na- 
tional Declaration. 

The government, which the people of Mecklenburg 
established after the Declaration, was composed of a 
Committee of Public Safety ; and the chairman of this 
body was entrusted with the power of an executive officer. 
The Convention was in session two days; and, during this 
period, the necessary by-laws and regulations were enact- 

* I omit the certificate for want of room ; it is, however, to be 
found in the State pamphlet. 



ed. The people of Mecklenburg, after this event, lived 
under this government until tlie adoption of the Constitu- 
tion, acknowledging no sovereign but their united will, 
and no authority but that of their own choice. Nor was 
it a government without energy. The letter of General 
Graham * relates the capture of Dunn and Booth ; and 
for the perfect correctness of his statements, I appeal to 
the Journal of the Congress for August, 1775. Under 
the administration of Abraham Alexander, the Chairman 
of the Committee of Public Safety, the laws enacted 
were rigorously enforced ; and each citizen, whenever he 
left the county, carried with him a certificate of character 
officially signed by the chairman. I here submit one 

* I here present the letter of General Graham, and the extract 

from the Journal of the Rev. Humphrey Hunter, both taken from 

the State pamphlet. 

Gen. Graham's Letter. 

" Vesuvius Furnace, 4th October, 1830. 
" Dear Sir, 

" Agreeably to your request, I will give you the details of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on the 20th of May, 
1775, as well as I can recollect after a lapse of fifty-five years. I 
was then a lad about half grown, was present on that occasion, (a 
looker on.) 

" During the winter and spring preceding that event, several 
popular meetings of the people were held in Charlotte; two of 
which I attended. Papers were read, grievances stated, and public 
measures discussed. As printing was not then common in the 
South, the papers were mostly manuscript ; one or more of which 
was from the pen of the Reverend Dr. Reese (then of Meck- 
lenburg), which met with general approbation, and copies of it 
circulated. It is to be regretted that those and other papers pub- 
lished at that period, and the journal of their proceedings, are lost. 
They would show much of the spirit and tone of thinking which 
prepared them for the measures they afterwards adopted. 

" On the 20th of May, 1775, besides the two persons elected from 
each militia company (usually called Committee-men), a much 


of these certificates in favor of William Henderson, 
which was furnished by John Davidson, the last survivor 
of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Inde- 

"North Carolina, Mecklenburg County, > 
JK^ovember 28, 1775, j 

" These may certify to all whom they may concern, that the 
bearer hereof, William Henderson, is allowed here to be a true 
friend to liberty, and signed the Association. 

" Certified by ABR'M ALEXANDER, Chairman 

of the Committee of P, <S." 

larger number of citizens attended in Charlotte than at any former 
meeting, — perhaps half the men in the county. The news of the 
battle of Lexington, the 19th of April preceding, had arrived. 
There appeared among the people much excitement. The com- 
mittee were organized in the Court-House by appointing Abraham 
Alexander, Esq., Chairman, and John M'Knitt Alexander, Esq., 
Clerk or Secretary, to the meeting. 

" After reading a number of papers as usual, and much animated 
discussion, the question was taken, and they resolved to declare 
themselves independent. One among other reasons offered, that 
the King or Ministry had, by proclamation or some edict, declared 
the Colonies out of the protection of the British Crown ; they ought, 
therefore, to declare themselves out of his protection, and resolve on 
independence. That their proceedings might be in due form, a 
sub-committee, consisting of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, a Mr. Kennon, 
an attorney, and a third person, whom I do not recollect, were 
appointed to draft their Declaration. They retired from the Court- 
House for some time ; but the committee continued in session in it. 
One circumstance occurred I distinctly remember : A member of 
the committee, who had said but little before, addressed the Chair- 
man as follows : ' If you resolve on independence, how shall we all 
be absolved from the obligations of the oath we took to be true to 
King George the Third about four years ago, after the Regulation 
battle, when we were sworn whole militia companies together. I 
should be glad to know how gentlemen can clear their consciences 
after taking that oath,' This speech produced confusion. The 
Chairman could scarcely preserve order, so many wished to reply. 


The people of Mecklenburg had no experienced 
politician to lead ihem ; — no Richard Henry Lee, who, 
skilled in the party tactics of the day, and conversant with 
the views respecting us abroad, could bring to their aid 
the reputation and ability of a leader. Their leaders 

There appeared great indignation and contempt at the speech of 
the member. Some said it was nonsense; others that allegiance 
and protection were reciprocal; when protection was withdrawn, 
allegiance ceased ; that the oath was only binding while the King 
protected us in the enjoyment of our rights and liberties as they 
existed at the time it was taken; which he had not done, but now 
declared us out of his protection ; therefore it was not binding. 
Any man who would interpret it otherwise, was a fool. By way of 
illustration, pointing to a green tree near the Court-House, he stat- 
ed, if he was sworn to do any thing as long as the leaves continued 
on that tree, it was so long binding; but when the leaves fell, he 
was discharged from its obligation. This was said to be certainly 
applicable in the present case. Out of respect for a worthy citizen, 
long since deceased, and his respectable connexions, I forbear to 
mention names ; for, though he was a friend to the cause, a sus- 
picion rested on him in the public mind for some time after. 

" The sub-committee appointed to draft the resolutions returned, 
and Doctor Ephraim Brevard read their report, as near as I can 
recollect, in the very words we have since seen them several times 
in print. It was unanimously adopted, and shortly after it was 
moved and seconded to have proclamation made and the people 
collected, that the proceedings be read at the Court-House door, in 
order that all might hear them. It was done, and they were receiv- 
ed with enthusiasm. It was then proposed by some one aloud to 
give three cheers and throw up their hats. It was immediately 
adopted, and the hats thrown. Several of them lit on the Court- 
House roof. The owners had some difficulty to reclaim them. 

" The foregoing is all from personal knowledge. I understood 
afterwards, that Captain James Jack, then of Charlotte, undertook, 
on the request of the committee, to carry a copy of their proceed- 
ings to Congress, which then sat in Philadelphia; and on his way, 
at Salisbury, the time of court, Mr. Kennon, who was one of the 
committee who assisted in drawing the Declaration, prevailed on 


were men of sterling patriotism more than of profound 
sagacity. Endowed with an intense passion for freedom, 
they could not listen without emotion to the clang of arms, 
from tlie fields of Lexington, or hear of " the shedding 
of the innocent blood of American patriots," without 

Captain Jack to get his papers, and have them read publicly ; which 
was done, and the proceedings met with general approbation. But 
two of the lawyers, John Dunn and a Mr. Booth, dissented, and 
asserted they were treasonable, and endeavoured to have Captain 
Jack detained. He drew his pistols, and threatened to kill the first 
man who would interrupt him, and passed on. The news of this 
reached Charlotte in a short time after, and the executive of the 
committee, whom they had invested with suitable powers, ordered 
a party of ten or twelve armed horsemen to bring said lawyers from 
Salisbury ; when they were brought, and the case was investigated 
before the committee. Dunn, on giving security and making fair 
promises, was permitted to return, and Booth was sentenced to go 
to Camden, in South Carolina, out of the sphere of his influence. 
My brother George Graham, and the late Col. John Carruth, were 
of the party that went to Salisbury ; and it is distinctly remembered, 
that when in Charlotte they came home at night, in order to pro- 
vide for their trip to Camden ; and that they and two others of the 
party took Booth to that place. This was the first military expedi- 
tion from Mecklenburg in the Revolutionary war, and believed to be 
the first any where to the South. 

" Yours respectfully, 

" Dr. Jos. M'Kt. Alexander, 

" Mecklenburg, JV. Carolina." 

Extract from the Memoir of the late Rev. Humphrey 

" Orders were presently issued by Col. Thos. Polk to the several 
militia companies, that two men, selected from each corps, should 
meet at the Court-House on the 19th of May, 1775, in order to con- 
sult with each other upon such measures as might be thought best 
to be pursued. Accordingly, on said day a far larger number than 
two out of each company were present. There was some difficulty 



Striking down for ever that IMolher Flag, which had 
waved so proudly for ages over the heads of their ances- 
tors. The county of Kent has been rendered immortal 
in English History by the invincibility of her Saxon spirit. 
She bravely and successfully resisted the rude innovation 

in choosing the commissioners. To have chosen all thought to be 
worthy, would have rendered the meeting too numerous. The fol- 
lowing were selected, and styled Delegates, and are here given, 
according to my best recollection, as they were placed on roll : 
Abram Alexander, sen'r, Thomas Polk, Rich'd Harris, scn'r, Adam 
Alexander, Richard Barry, John M'Knitt Alexander, Neil Moiison, 
Hezekiah Alexander, IJezekiah J. Balch, Zaccheus Wilson, John 
Phifer, James Harris. William Kennon, John Ford, Henry Downs, 
Ezra Alexander, William Graham, John Queary, Chas. Alexander, 
Waitstill Avery, Ephraim Brevard, Benjamin Patton, Matthew 
M'Clure, Robert Irwin, John Flenniken, and David Reese. 

" Abram Alexander was nominated, and unanimously voted to 
the Chair. John M'Knitt Alexander and Ephraim Brevard were 
chosen Secretaries. The Chair being occupied, and the Clerks 
seated, the House was called to order and proceeded to business. 
Then a full, a free, and dispassionate discussion obtained on the 
various subjects for which the delegation had been convened, and 
the following resolutions were unanimously ordained : 

'<'lst. Resolved, That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted, 
or in any way, form, or manner, countenanced the unchartered and 
dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an 
enemy to this country, to America, and to the inherent and inaliena- 
ble rights of man. 

" ' 2d. Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg county, 
do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to 
the mother country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegi- 
ance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connexion, con- 
tract, or association, with that nation, who have wantonly trampled 
on our rights and liberties, and inhumanly shed the blood of Ameri- 
can patriots at Lexington. 

" ' 3d. Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and 
independent people ; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and 
self-governing Association, under the control of no power other than 


of the haughty Norman ; and, although she now stands 
almost Lindislinguished on the map of England, the revolu- 
tion of ages, and not the sword, annihilated her distinctive 
character and institutions. And thus may the county of 
Mecklenburg be celebrated by some more fortunate pen. 

that of our God and the general government of the Congress ; to 
the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to 
each other our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our 
most sacred honor. 

" « 4th. Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the existence and 
control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, within this coun- 
ty, we do hereby ordain and adopt as a rule of life, all, each, and 
every of our former laws, — wherein, nevertheless, the Crown of 
Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, 
immunities, or authority therein. 

" ' 5th. Resolved, That it is further decreed, that all, each, and 
every militia officer in this county, is hereby reinstated in his for- 
mer command and authority, he acting conformably to these regu- 
lations. And that every member present, of this delegation, shall 
henceforth be a civil officer, viz. a Justice of the Peace, in the char- 
acter of a ' Committee-man,' to issue process, hear and determine 
all matters of controversy, according to said adopted laws, and to 
preserve peace, union, and harmony in said county; — and to use 
every exertion to spread the love of country and fire of freedom 
throughout America, until a more general and organized govern- 
ment be established in this province.' 

" Those resolves having been concurred in, by-laws and regula- 
tions for the government of a standing Committee of Public Safety 
were enacted and acknowledged. Then a select committee was 
appointed, to report on the ensuing day a full and definite statement 
of grievances, together with a more correct and formal draft of the 
Declaration of Independence. The proceedings having been thus 
arranged and somewhat in readiness for promulgation, the Delega- 
tion then adjourned until to-morrow, at 12 o'clock. 

" The 20th of May, at 12 o'clock, the Delegation, as above, had 
convened. The select committee were also present, and reported 
agreeably to instructions, viz. a statement of grievances and for- 
mal draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by Ephraim 


when the dawning era of our freedom shall, in the lapse 
of time, become matter of curiosity, and its origin bd 
sought for only to limit the period of its duration. The 
events of the 19th and 20th of May, 1775, will be record- 
ed in letters of living light, as the first of a series of deeds, 
that laid the foundations of our magnificent empire. 

Brevard, chairman of said committee, and read by him to the Dele- 
gation. The resolves, by-laws, and regulations were read by John 
M'Knitt Alexander. It was then announced from the Chair, ' Are 
you all agreed ? ' There was not a dissenting voice. Finally, the 
whole proceedings were read distinctly and audibly, at the Court- 
House door, by Col. Thomas Polk, to a large, respectable, and ap- 
proving assemblage of citizens, who were present, and gave sanction 
to the business of the day. A copy of all those transactions were 
then drawn off, and given in charge to Capt. James Jack, then of 
Charlotte, that he should present them to Congress, then in session 
in Philadelphia. 

" On that memorable day, I was 20 years and 14 days of age, a 
very deeply interested spectator, recollecting the dire hand of op- 
pression that had driven me from my native clime, now pursuing 
me in this happy asylum, and seeking to bind again in the fetters of 

" On the return of Capt. Jack, he reported that Congress, individ- 
ually, manifested their entire approbation of the conduct of the 
Mecklenburg citizens ; but deemed it premature to lay them official- 
ly before the House." 



The reader will remember that this gentleman is 
denounced in the offensive letter of Mr. Jefferson, as the 
rankest Tory in Congress, and that no evidence whatever 
was there produced to sustain this charge against the 
character of one of the signers of the National Declaration. 
The mere act of signing that Declaration should be a 
sufficient refutation of the calumny ; for the imputation of 
Toryism against Mr. Hooper is proclaimed as having 
been notorious at the period of the Mecklenburg Declara- 
tion, more than a year before the 4th of July, 1776. 
*'The paper speaks, too, of the continued exertions 
of their delegation (Caswell, Hooper, and Hughes) ' in 
the cause of liberty and independence : ' now you re- 
member as well as I do, that we had not a greater Tory 
in Congress than Hooper." Such is the emphatic lan- 
guage of the letter. No facts are presented, to attest its 
truth ; no circumstances in the life of Hooper are appeal- 
ed to, as calculated to inspire doubt or suspicion as to his 
patriotism. The mere declaration of the writer's opinion 
must be received as positive and solemn proof, and the 
character of North Carolina determined upon accordingly. 
The vanity of Mr. Jefferson had been so long nourished 
by the adulation of his party, that, in the latter part of 


his life, he really supposed himself infallible, and acted as 
though the gods had placed him upon the summit of his 
own Monticello, to pass sentence on the sins and reward 
the virtues of the inhabitants of the New World. 

This vainglorious delusion of the sage was encouraged 
by his party. In all controversies, political, religious, or 
literary, they recurred to their founder, and obeyed his 
responses with all the submission of idolatrous homage. 
Was the patriodsm of Brutus or the respective claims of 
Cicero and Ueaiosthenes to the palm of supremacy to be 
setded, the oracle of Monticello was consulted and his 
decrees obeyed. The divinity of the Saviour, the integ- 
rity of his religion, as well as the sublimity of the Koran, 
were alike subjected to his will. The vexed question of 
the superior richness and variety of languages was at once 
adjusted by his fiat ; and all his followers are still content, 
piously to abhor the exquisite melody and richness of 
their own nadve tongue, and to hurrah for the flexibility 
of the French, a language which they neither read, speak, 
nor understand when spoken. The orthography of our 
language too has been sometimes revolutionized by this 
radical autocrat ; and, as he was in the habit of ruling 
many of the leading men of North Carolina, he would 
sometimes condescend to change the orthography of their 
names, and I shall henceforth expect to find every idola- 
ter of Mr. Jefferson, not only denouncing Mr. Hooper as 
a Tory, but fiercely contending that Hewes is only 
properly spelt when it reads Hughes, 

There is no apology for this slavish subservience. 
There is about the character of Mr. Jefferson, none of 
that frankness which captivates the enthusiastic spirit of 
a young man. Unlike General Jackson, he gathered 


no laurels in the defeat of hostile armies, or in the subju- 
gation of barbarian tribes. The ambitious youth does 
not read in the primer of education of his hardships and 
fatigues in military campaigns, or of his valor in the 
field of New Orleans. His scholarship shrinks into 
contemptible pedantry when tested by critical ingenuity; 
and his philosophy, so well illustrated by his lucubrations 
on the winds of Virginia, into " ingenious perversions 
of truth." By his constant abuse of Washington, Mar- 
shall, Lee, and all the nobler sons of Virginia ; by his 
decided opposition to the Constitution of the United 
States ; and finally, by his political victory in 1801, he 
secured to liimself the imperishable reputation of the lead- 
er of the mob. By his pretensions to the character of a 
scholar and a philosopher, he has drawn to his support all 
the literary and political pedants of Virginia ; and, thus 
fortified by the close adherence of the dregs of every class 
of society, he ruled his country, from President to Presi- 
dent, through a period of more than twenty years. Thus 
fortified too, he went triumphantly through the great 
contest of the Embargo, crushing the property of the 
country by the prostration of trade ; and, entailing on his 
country two successive Virginian administrations, the same 
corrupt power controlled the property of the people dur- 
ing the progress of a three years' war. Appealing to 
the lowest passion in the human bosom, the jealousy of 
the idle and ignorant against the holders of property and 
all permanent institutions, he gathered around him the 
factious, ignorant, and discontented portion of the people, 
and, by the distribution of ofiices and other favors, con- 
trolled through them the government of the country. 
" Froth rides the stormiest wave." 


To all such men William Hooper was naturally opposed. 
Endowed with a nriost liberal education, (having been grad- 
uated at Harvard College, at the head of his class, in 1760), 
his zeal was not to be aroused by one whose prototype 
was Ulysses, while the combined characters of Nestor and 
Ajax were represented in the person of Washington. He 
had been bred to the profession of the law in the ofKce of 
James Otis ; and, imbibing from his master his political 
principles, he commenced the practice of his profession in 
1767, in North Carolina, a decided Whig. His familiar 
intercourse with the great patriot of IMassachusetts gave 
him an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the rights 
of the colonies and the aggressions of the ministry; and 
accordingly we find him conspicuous in all committees 
entrusted with the definition and publication of the 
nature of the controversy. In 1773, when he fi^st ap- 
peared in the Assembly, he commenced an active and 
leading career; and, continuing in the confidence of the 
people, he was one of the original projectors of the first 
Provincial Congress. He was emphatically in advance 
of the spirit of the times, and conceived the project 
of Independence long before even the initiatory steps 
had been taken by any of the patriots of that day. I 
appeal to the following letter. 

Letter from William Hooper to James Iredell. 
(April 26th, 1774.) 
« Dear Sir, 

" You have great reason to reproach me that I have not long 
before thit! answered your most acceptable letter of the 30th of 
December last. Attribute my neglect to business which I might 
have postponed, to forgetfulness, to indolence ; but by no means 
to want of respect, for be assured that this had not the smallest 
share in the omission. It is a crime however which, in some de- 
gree, has carried its punishment with it, as it has deprived me of 


a repetition of your epistolary favors hitherto, from which 1 might 
have derived ample instruction and amusement. 

" It has afforded me the utmost pleasure, that, notwithstanding 
the multiplicity of business in which you are engaged, you have 
found some leisure moments to dedicate to the investigation of 
those political subjects which have engaged the attention and hurt 
the peace of this province. Every man who thinks with candor 
is indebted to you for the share you have taken in this interesting 
controversy. You have discussed dry truths with the most pleas- 
ing language, and have not parted from the most refined delicacy of 
manners in the warmth of the contest. It is a circumstance which 
much enhances the merit of the performances written in opposition 
to the measures of government, that those who have attempted to 
answer them have for argument substituted personal invectives, 
and have lost sight of the measure to run foul of the man. 

" I am happy, dear Sir, that my conduct in public life has met 
your approbation. It is a suffrage which makes me vain, as it flows 
from a man who has wisdom to distinguish, and too much virtue to 
flatter. If I have served the public in any respect, I have done 
no more than my duty ; if I have adopted measures inconsistent 
with the public good, and pursued the completion of them, it is to 
be charged upon my understanding, for my heart hath had no share 
in the transgression. I shall meet the censure of the world with 
indifference, wrapt in that applause which no external circum- 
stances can rob me of, — that I have done my endeavours to the 
best of my knowledge to serve my country. 

" With a pleasure which words can scarce express, I have gone 
hand in hand with those whose virtue baffled the severest trial, by 
making a sacrifice of private interest to the promotion of the public 
good ; who in private life maintained a character exemplary in being 
upright, and by the independent rectitude of their conduct in pub- 
lic life, and the open, generous manner in which they expressed 
their sentiments, might rival the dignity of a more august senate 
than that in which they were placed. While the scene of life in 
which I was engaged with them would have rendered any reserve 
on my part not only improper, but even culpable, you were des- 
tined for a more retired, but not less useful conduct ; and whilst I 
was active in contest, you forged the weapons which were to give 
success to the cause which I supported. To your most intimate 
friends I am indebted for the discovery of you as a writer ; and you 
will pardon them for the luxury they have furnished me in an 



opportunity of being grateful to an author who claims no reward for 
serving the public, but the pleasure of it, and deals out his bounty 
to them without suffering them to know the hand from which it 

" With you I anticipate the important share which the colonies 
must soon have in regulating the political balance. They arc strid- 
ing fast to independence, and ere long will build an empire upon 
the ruin of Great Britain; will adopt its constitution purged of its 
impurities, and from an experience of its defects will guard against 
those evils which have wasted its vigor and brought jt to an un- 
timely end. From the fate of Rome, Britain may trace the cause 
of its present degeneracy, and its impending destruction. Similar 
causes will ever produce similar effects. The extent of the British 
dominion is become too unwieldy for her to sustain. Commerce 
hath generated a profusion of wealth, and luxury and corruption, the 
natural attendants of it. Those to whom are entrusted the conduct 
of the state, are too much absorbed in debauchery to attend to the 
rights of the constitution, or too enervated to dare to support them. 
Venality is at the standard it was when Jugurtha left Rome, with 
this difference, that subjects are now found who have wealth enough 
to make the purchase, and have advanced very far in the infamous 
traffic. What Sir Robert Walpole gained by the artful use of the 
public treasury is now the voluntary contribution of individuals, 
and subjects vie with each other in the pious purpose of subverting 
the constitution. In Britain the attack must soon produce its pur- 
pose ; it is directed at the freedom of election, its success buys the 
independence of Parliament, and then farewell Old England. 

"They, who view things superficially, are induced to believe, from 
the authority which the mother country maintains abroad, that the 
body politic is in the highest vigor. Appearances deceive them. 
What strikes them as the glow of health, is but the flushing of a 
fever. The coloring is transitory and fatal. Rome in its greatest 
lustre was upon the verge of dissolution ; an internal malady prey- 
ed upon its vitals, which became the more dangerous from being 
concealed. Good fortune is a powerful enemy to virtue, and man- 
kind become abandoned in proportion to the strength of temptation, 
and the facility of being gratified. Her ambition was sated. She 
sat down in indolence to enjoy the fruits of conquests, regardless 
of the means by which they were to be supported. Luxury and 
dissipation ensued. The amusements which they had formerly 
pursued, and which had conspired to brace their nerves and give 


vigor to their constitution, and thus prepared them for action, took 
a different turn ; the refinement of the arts and sciences, while 
it softened the ferocity of their manners, depraved the purity of 
their morals, and Rome, from being the nursery of heroes, became 
the residence of musicians, pimps, panders, and catamites. Their 
extravagance and profusion every day excited new wants, while 
the sources were no longer open from whence they were to be 
supplied. The provinces, dependent on them who had now added 
the Roman discipline to their own native bravery, prepared to 
subdue their conquerors with the arms which they had put into 
their hands. Wearied with being made the mere instruments of 
pleasure and convenience to Rome, they began to feel their own 
importance and to aim at independence. The Empire, no longer 
in a situation to give laws to her remote dependencies, and to 
enforce obedience by the exercise of her own strength, had re- 
course to barbarians for succour, and shuddered at the cabals of 
her own subjects. She fell a sacrifice to a herd of savage mis- 
creants, and the most polished state in the world sunk at once 
into absolute barbarism. She had been some time ripe for this 
fate. Some one of enterprise was wanting to make the attempt. 
Reserve the catastrophe, and might not Great Britain be the original 
from which this picture is taken ? 

" America is perhaps reserved to be their asylum ; may they 
find it the asylum of liberty too. Be it our endeavour to guard 
against every measure that may have a tendency to prevent so 
desirable an object. Thus I have forced upon you my undigested 
thoughts upon a subject, which some hints in your letter have 
drawn me into the discussion of, with a prolixity that will require 
all your good nature to excuse, 

" I know too well your reverence for our Constitution not to 
forgive it in another, although it borders upon enthusiasm. There 
may be an excess even in virtue. Adieu, dear Sir, I flatter myself 
that this may be introductory to a frequent and intimate correspond- 
ence between us, in which, though I am to be the only gainer in 
point of instruction or amusement, yet I shall in a manner there- 
by make you my debtor by furnishing you the highest entertain- 
ment, — the luxury of obliging a friend. 
" I am, dear Sir, 

With the most cordial esteem. 

Your most ob't, humble serv't, 


« From the Sound, Jpril 26, 1774, 


" By way of Postscript. By a Letter from Charlestown, I am 
informed the Crown Land Office is open, but upon different terms 
from what it formerly was." 

The charge of Toryism against the author of this 
letter " deserves only to be mentioned to be despised." 
I challenge the whole corps of Virginia historians, 
politicians, editors, and orators, to produce a paper of 
such a character at so early a period of the struggle. 
With a dale long before the meeting of the Continental 
Congress, it equals, in the boldness of its language and 
the intrepidity of its thoughts, the Fourth of July declara- 
tion of that body, a crisis which was matured by two 
years of deep consultation, and which was at last ap- 
proached by cautious and indeed timid footsteps. The 
National Declaration, the adoption of the Federal Consti- 
tution, and indeed the whole subsequent history of the 
country, have been but the fulfillment of its splendid 
prophecy. Had it been the composition of Mr. Jef- 
ferson, it would have been printed on satiuj honored 
with a weekly puff in the honied pages of Ritchie, and 
celebrated by all the " historians of the adjacent States," 
as a " gigantic step " of the Sage of Monticello. It 
would have been read before the Declaration on the 
Fourth of July and other festivals, and have found a 
place in the elegant epitaph that marks his grave. 
In North Carolina, amidst the popular hurrah for Mr. 
Jefferson, it has slept quietly for sixty years in the desk 
of the late Judge Iredell. I now publish it as the best 
illustration of the character of William Hooper. 

The political character of Mr. Hooper as applied to 
the Whig government of North Carolina, will be best 
understood by a discussion of the part he took in the 
formation of the constitution of the State. It is only by 


a recurrence to first principles, that the real character 
of a statesman is exhibited ; and the battle that was 
fought upon the erection of the Whig on the ruins of 
the Royal government in the spring and year of 1776, 
has afforded me, and must again afford me, an opportunity 
to sketch the character of one of the heroes of that day. 
In the struggle on the principles of the new government, 
Mr. Hooper cooperated with Samuel Johnston, although it 
is obvious he did not enter with much enthusiasm or zeal 
into the support of those high conservative principles, which 
distinguished the character of the latter. He does not ap- 
pear even to have excited the jealousy of the zealous Radi- 
cals of the spring Convention of 1776, nor to have lost, in 
the mildness of his course, the confidence of his conserva- 
tive friends. Being a Delegate in the Continental Congress, 
he did not mingle with much warmth in the party bicker- 
ings of his own Province ; and yet there is one clause in 
the present constitution, which so much excited his feel- 
ings, as to provoke the bitterest denunciation. 

In the Constitution of North Carolina there is a clause 
restricting offices of Trust and Profit to those who be- 
lieve in the truth of the Protestant Religion. This 
singular feature now strikes every one with astonishment, 
and provokes the almost universal condemnation of the 
educated gentlemen of the State. It is so repugnant to 
the feelings of an American, it is so contrary to the very 
nature of our institutions, to the very spirit of the Revolu- 
tion, that I own I was for a long time ashamed of it, as 
an instance of gross bigotry and illiberality. Confident, 
however, that the irresistible force of public opinion 
would never suffer an honest citizen to be deprived of 
the reward that was due his merit, I consoled myself 


with the reflection that it was a dead letter. Subsequent 
investigation into the private papers of those who formed 
it, has convinced me, that its importance has been mag- 
nified, and that the omission of the word Episcopal, in 
the original resolutions or draft, was considered as an 
establishment of the freedom of the Christian religion. 
Upon that word the battle was fought, and as it was struck 
out by an overwhelming voice, the project of a State reli- 
gion, otherwise than that of the Christian, was considered 
as annihilated. 

Against this principle, and all others of a like nature, 
Mr. Hooper zealously contended. The idea of propos- 
ing any religious test in a Constitution was to him so 
monstrous, that he wrote to Thomas Jones,* of Edenton, 
(a High Churchman,) a letter so offensive as to interrupt 
their acquaintance and friendship. The reader will re- 
mark in a letter which I shall presently exhibit, the 
vehemence of his denunciation against such a principle, 
and an insinuation that the idea of a religious test orig- 
inally came from Pennsylvania. It is singular that such 
a principle should have found support in the ranks of the 
Radical party. It was vehemently opposed by Harnett, 
Hooper, and Allen Jones, and seems to have been one 
of those questions upon which parties could not divide. 

Although Mr. Hooper inclined towards the conserva- 
tive rank, still he was too liberal to allow himself to be 
guided by the prejudices of party, and it was fortunate 
for him, as the Representative of the State in the Con- 
tinental Congress, that he should have stood somewhat 
aloof from the local politics of his constituents. Though 

* Letter dated the 13th of October, 1776. 


opposed to the control of a rabble and the avowed advo- 
cate of the representation of property, still he did not 
offend the feelings of his opponents by any public exhibi- 
tion of that contempt and abhorrence, which the profes- 
sion of such principles is too apt to arouse in the bosonri 
of an enlightened citizen. 

Thus -the political character of Mr. Hooper may be 
understood. The advocate of a government of energy 
and respectability, erected upon the property of the peo- 
ple, and controlled only by those who were thus doubly 
bound to the soil of the State. To such a man, Mr. 
Jefferson was, as it were by nature, opposed. Himself 
almost the advocate of an agrarian law, and an avowed 
believer in the universal equality of mankind, as the 
essential principle of a system of government, he must 
have viewed a politician of Mr. Hooper's stamp as but 
litde better than a supporter of a Russian autocracy. 
The one urged on the revolution to secure the property 
of the people from the grasp of a tyrannical Ministry ; 
the other engaged in the same work to ride into conse- 
quence and power upon the turbulent passions of the 
multitude. The one was the avowed advocate of order 
by the security of property and all vested rights ; the 
other spoke to his followers of the pride and haughtiness 
of the rich, of the sufferings of the poor, of the terrors 
of legitimate power, and of the necessity of a perpetual 
chaos. The one loved Washington as the saviour of the 
constitutional liberty of his country; the other abused him 
as a disciple of the English aristocracy, and an adherent of 
the doctrine of the supremacy of the law and the constitu- 
tion. It is a comparison between Oramazdes and Arimanes. 

I have shown by the letter of Mr. Hooper of date 


the 2Gtli of April, 1774, that even at that early period, 
so far from being a Tory, he had conceived and written 
out the horoscope of the Independence of his country. 
I shall now proceed to present extracts from his letters 
down to the adoption of ihe National Declaration. They 
are loo long to be published entire, and only the parts 
bearing on the character of their author are submitted. 

" From William Hooper to Samuel Johnston. 

" Philadelphia, May 23d, 1775. 
" This city has taken a deep share in the insurrection which is 
so generally dilFused through the continent. Men, women, and 
children feel the patriotic glow, and think every man in a state 
of reprobation beyond the power of heavenly mercy to forgive, 
who is not willing to meet death rather than concede a tittle of the 
Congress creed." 

" Hooper to Johnston. 

" Philadelphia, 5th of June, 1775. 
" I wrote you lately by Mr. Hewes' vessel. I have nothing to 
add but to request of you to exert your utmost influence to prevail 
upon the people to enroll themselves in companies ; sacredly to 
attend to the preservation of what little gunpowder remains among 
them, and to rest assured that no terms will be obtained from Lord 
North but what are purchased at the point of the sword." 

"Hooper to Johnston. 

" Philadelphia, 6th of February, 1776. 
" Do we not play a game where slavery or liberty is the stake ? — 
But why do I tease you, who are so much better capacitated to 
judge of the proper measures to be pursued than I am ? But suffer 
me. Must you not have Brigadier-Generals in districts and superior 
officers over the whole ^ Must not very large bodies be placed 
immediately along the seacoast ? Were I to advise, the whole 
force of the colony should be collected ready for immediate exertion 
when called for ; and bid adieu to plough-shares and pruning-hooks, 
till the sword could find its scabbard with safety and honor to its 
owner. My first wish is to be free ; my second to be reconciled to 
Great Britain. God grant that both may soon take place. Meas- 
ures must be taken immediately. Ere this the troops of the 
enemy are in your country ; may you stand forth like men, and 
fight the cause of liberty, the cause of the living God." 


I have, in the course of my investigations of the his- 
tory of North Carolina, collected a large number of Mr. 
Hooper's letters, and have never been able to gather 
from them the slightest doubt as to his patriotism. These 
letters are all elegantly written, and at some future and 
no very distant day shall be presented to the public as the 
consumm'ation of that defence of his character I have here 
undertaken. Passing now from the extracts of his letters, 
we find him, in April, 1776, a member of the Provincial 
Congress, and acting with those who voted for Independ- 
ence on the 12th of that month. After the adjournment of 
the Congress, he engaged in the campaign ao;ainst Clinton 
and Governor Martin, which was waged on the Cape Fear 
during the month of May. Employed in these duties, he 
did not reach the Continental Congress until the question 
of Independence was setded, and the signing of his name, 
therefore, as it was the highest, so it was the only support 
he could there give that instrument. 

I shall now introduce a long and valuable letter of 
Mr. Hooper, written after the 4th of July, in which will 
be found expressed the same glowing patriotism that 
distinguished all his compositions. I present it as an 
historical document, not vouching for the correctness of 
its estimate of the valor of the Eastern troops, although 
I have no question, but that Mr. Hooper wrote upon 
what he supposed the most correct data. 

"From William Hooper, M. C. 

" Philadelphia, 27th Sept. 1776. 
" This, my dear Sir, is truly confidential, — were it not that ray 
friend Hewes is the bearer, I should not trust it out of my own 
hands ; a letter which might be attended with unhappy consequen- 
ces, should it fall into the power of any one disposed to make an 
unfriendly use of it. 
" 1 have waited impatiently for our public affairs to take a favora 


ble turn to tlie Eastward before I sit down to delineate to you the 
state of them. I have waited to little purpose; every day gives a 
blacker tinge to the picture ; and I assume my pen at this stage of 
them, lest I should be induced hereafter to turn from the prospect 
with abhorrence, and be averse to trouble you upon so unpleasing 
a contemplation. 

" You will feel yourself little obliged to me even now, that I 
draw off your attention from the endearing conc-erns of private 
and domestic life, from the recesses of rural and philosophic retire- 
ment, to fix it upon scenes that characterize human nature in its 
most depraved state, and almost tempt a man to arraign Providence, 
that he has been cast into being at a time, when private and politi- 
cal vice is at a crisis, and the measure of iniquity full and over- 

" But, dear Sir, it becomes our duty to see things as they are, 
divested of all disguise ; and when the happiness of the present 
age, and of millions yet unborn, depends upon a reformation of 
them, we ought to spare no pains to effect so desirable a purpose. 

" I know it to be very impolitic to dwell upon his losses, to a 
man who is unlucky. But when you play so deep a hazard as at 
present, you ought not to be kept in ignorance how the game runs. 

" After the constant employment of the American army dur- 
ing a whole summer in fortifying Long Island and New York, 
General Howe landed with his army on the former ; and being 
opposed by a handful of our troops, whose bravery did honor to 
the glorious cause they fought for, with greatly superior numbers, 
Howe bore down all resistance, and, after having killed and wound- 
ed many, and taken near 1000 prisoners, retired to iiis encamp- 
ment, now enlarged to that part of the island of which he had 
dispossessed our friends. 

" Our men, now confined to their lines, were thought unequal to 
the defence of them. The enemy, possessed of heights which our 
troops, with all their opportunities, neglected to fortify, had the 
entire command. 

" Our. General wisely ordered a retreat, which was conducted 
without any loss but that of owr honor. 

" New York received us on our retreat, but, from what you know 
of its situation, not to hold us long. We retired with the loss of 
a great part of our stores in sight of a victorious enemy ; abandon- 
ing those works which had been reared at an immense expense, 
without any use but to stand as monuments of the absurdities 


which must ever attend a war, conducted with raw, undisciplined 
troops in the field, and want of political experience in the cabinet. 
Would I could draw a veil of oblivion over what ensued ! The 
enemy attempted to land a body of troops near Haerlem where we 
had two Brigades of Eastern forces stationed. Our men made way 
for them as soon as their arrival was announced. They saw j they 
fled ; not a single man faced his enemy, or fired his gun. Our 
brave General flew to the scene of action, but not a man would 
follow him. With prayers, entreaties, nay tears, he endeavoured 
to cause them to rally. At one time 60 of the enemy, separated 
from the main body, had the pleasure of pursuing two complete 
Brigades of New England heroes. ' Where then was that spirit of 
freedom which animated them .? Where were then the yeomanry of 
the country, men of property, — not mere mercenaries, — who fight 
the cause of freedom, and will succeed, or perish with It ? ' Mere 
words of puff". Vox, et prcEterea nihil. 

" Washington is now at Col. Roger Morris's, advantageously 
posted ; his army, however, in a condition far from pleasing. The 
scarcity of clothing of all kinds prevents them being clothed and 
covered as the season requires. Near 4000 of them are now sick, 
which is but small compared with those who have been returned 
formerly in that state. 

''He has had an immense deal of trouble with the militia, who 
from re'al (re alia) or feigned sickness have been a constant burden 
to the army without any use whatever. 

"Of 13 Battalions of Connecticut militia, all but 700 deserted. 
And these he dismissed, to save such a burdensome expense with- 
out any benefit resulting from it. 

" I am sorry to find that my countrymen are become a by-word 
among the nations. — 'Eastern Prowess,' — 'Nation poorly,' — 
' Camp difficulty,' are standing terms of reproach and dishonor. 
They suffer in comparison with troops to the southward of Hud- 
son's River, who have, to a man, behaved well ; and bore the whole 
brunt on Long Island. And that for which the Eastern troops must 
be damned to eternal fame ; they have plundered friends and foes 
without discrimination. When 1 commend the Southern troops, 
I except the Philadelphia City militia, who, poltroon-like, deserted 
•their standard, not being able to bear the absence of the muskets. 

" All this is, in a great measure, to be ascribed to the present 
footing upon which our army has been enlisted. The enrollments 
have been so short, that they were scarce in the field before it was 


time to disband them. Tliey acquired no military knowledge from 
experience ; their service was too short to establish subordination 
and discipline among them. 

" Another great grievance has been the want of proper officers 
to command ; the scantiness of pay, or some other cause, has drawn 
few gentlemen into commands. Offices have been chiefly distribut- 
ed among men to the Eastward, who have aimed at nothing but 
popularity in the army, and knew that nothing would so effectually 
secure it as condescension and equality. — Judge what would be 
the privates, when such were the officers. I am told that they have 
even stimulated tlieir men to desertion, to find an excuse to follow 
them ; and the regimental surgeons have taken bribes to certify 
sickness in order to exempt soldiers from duty. 

" It is a fact that a Connecticut militia Brigadier induced his 
whole Brigade to run away, and then most bravely ran away him- 
self. In a word, I begin to believe that patriotism among the com- 
mon soldiers, is a bubble, and that pay-icdl and hang-icell are the 
grand secrets to make an army ; — that this is a mere machine that 
ought never to think or act, but when acted upon ; — that it requires 
skilful artificers, or officers, to wind up and conduct its movements ; 
for when left to itself, it will soon run down, or go into irregulari- 
ties which must produce confusion and ruin to itself. If once a 
soldier is suffered to think for himself, or reason upon the propriety 
of the command of his officers, farewell to suddenness and decision 
in execution. These are the imperfections of our present army. 
The enclosed will show you the method which we have taken to 
remedy them. 

" Thus we stand alike and contrasted. Washington, brave ; 
Howe, brave ; Howe experienced, Washington, not. Howe's 
army disciplined, orderly, satisfied, well found with every thing j 
Washington's, raw troops, disorderly, discontented, and wanting 
almost every necessary for clothing, and very many for defence ; 
and the term of enlistment nearly expiring. Don't start from the 
picture ! It is taken strictly from the original ; and, far from excit- 
ing despair, it ought rather to rouse us from our lethargy, and induce 
us to remedy the evils while in our power, for yet they are so. 

" By way of back shade to the picture, I would inform you, that 
a few days ago, a detachment from the enemy took possession of 
our works at Paulus Hook ; the guard we had there retired and 
left them a bloodless conquest. Hewes will inform you that we 


lately had some advantage in a skirmish with the enemy. That 
perhaps has served to keep together our present army. 

" Our privateers have been successful. I will not say any thing 
of our continental ships, lest I should infringe upon Hewes' depart- 
ment. I fear that the want of men and cannon will prove an 
insuperable obstacle to their movements. 

" To what accident it is to be ascribed, I know not, but since 
Howe got ^possession of York, above one third of the city has been 
consumed by fire. It is reported, I know not with what truth, that 
Howe, who is obliged now and then to humor the Hessians, gave 
them one day to rejoice and riot, and that in the heat of their fes- 
tivity, they made a bonfire of the city, — so says rumor; others, 
with less- probability, ascribe it to our forces, who were nine miles 
distant from it at the time. 

" The successes of Howe have given a strange spring to Toryism. 
Men, who have hitherto lurked in silence and neutrality, seem wil- 
ling to take a side in opposition to the liberties of their country. 

" Toryism is a strange weed, the growth of a barren soil, whose 
vegetation is not progressive, but is indebted for a sudden exist- 
ence to the sunshine of prosperity, and perishes as soon as that 
leaves it ; having nothing radical in itself, or the soil from which 
it springs, to continue its existence longer. 

" You have seen the Constitution of Pennsylvania ! Humano 
capiti cervix equina jun eta ; the motley mixture of limited monarchy 
and an execrable democracy ; a beast without a head ; the mob 
made a second branch of legislation ; laws subjected to their revisal 
in order to reform them ; — a washing in ordure, by way of purifica- 
tion. Taverns and dram-shops are the councils to which the laws 
of this State are to be referred for approbation before they possess a 
binding influence ; — no man to be an Assembly man, unless he be- 
lieves in God. Is irreligion then the flourishing growth of Pennsyl- 
vania ? and is atheism a weed that thrives there ? Sure this in- 
sinuates as much. It is a melancholy consideration, that public 
proceedings are now, in a great measure, the histories of those 
concerned in them ; and popularity, interest, office, are the strong 
outlines which mark the production. In this instance they all 
work powerfully. I shall lament that any prepossession should 
have taken place in Carolina, in favor of the wisdom in politics of 
this State, or that the name which authenticates the public acts ot 
the Convention should have any weight to give such a plan a cur- 
rency. It is truly the excrement of the expiring genius of political 


phrenzy. It has made more Tories than Lord North ; deserves 
more imprecations than the Devil and all his angels. It will shake 
the very being of this once flourishing country. But I am at the 
bottom of my page ; I have performed all I promised ; and have 
given you a tale, piteous, truly piteous ; and will now leave you to 
indulge all the luxury of melancholy and distress for our bleeding 
country. Do not, however, imagine that I rather delineate the 
history of my own mind, than a state of facts as they are unwarped 
by a gloomy fancy. Do not mistake me, — my spirits have not 
failed me. I do not look upon present ills as incurable ; I never 
considered the path to liberty as strewn with roses ; — she keeps her 
temple upon the highest pinnacle on earth. They who would 
enter with sincerity and pure devotion, must climb over rocks and 
frightful precipices, covered with thorns and weeds. These mis- 
carriages will be frequent ; and how many thousands must perish 
in the pursuit ! But the prize is worthy all the fatigue and hazard ; 
and the adventurer, where others' journeys end, will look down with 
pleasure on the difficulties he has surmounted ; and with triumph 
count the glorious wounds that have purchased to him and pos- 
terity the invaluable blessing. Thus I sport in the field of metaphor 
more at ease than I, till now, thought myself capable of. 

" It is a standard which every man of the present day should 
bring himself to ; and were I to choose a motto for a modern Whig, 
it should be, ^Whatever is, is right! ' and on the reverse, 'JVil des- 
perandum.' May you and yours ever feel those blessings which 
are the result of genuine goodness of heart; and may the misfor- 
tunes of the public never intrude themselves upon your domestic 
peace ! 

" When I began this scrawl, I intended it only for you, I have 
been led into a train of scribbling which has not left me a moment to 
write to the man whom 1 love and esteem, Mr. Iredell. In supreme 
confidence, give him a sight of this, and beg his remembrance of 
me. To your and his families, pray offer my most respectful com- 
pliments ; and believe me to be, with unaltered esteem and affection, 
" Your friend, 


" Sam'l Johnston, Esq." 

I have preferred the publication of Mr. Hooper's let- 
ters, as a better means of defending his character from 
a mere naked aspersion, to any animadversions of my 


own. The one which I have just submiued, it will be 
seen, was strictly confidential. Mr. Hooper and Mr. 
Johnston were on most intimate social and political terms, 
and their correspondence the most labored and valuable 
1 have met with in the State. 

The best evidence of the Whig character of Mr. 
Hooper, was his reelection in December, 1776, to the 
Continental Congress. If he had been a Tory, the 
vigilance of the staunch Whig, Caswell, who was Gov- 
ernor elect of the State, and who had been so long and 
so intimately acquainted with him, would have detected 
and exposed him. 

But what was the character of Mr. Hooper, as a mem- 
ber of the Continental Congress f That body seems to 
have reposed the most unlimited confidence in his patriot- 
ism, and to have called in the aid of his abilities on all 
important committees. In conjunction with Dr. Franklin, 
Robert Morris, and Richard Henry Lee, he formed the 
secret Committee of Foreign Intercourse. This was per- 
haps the most important committee ever instituted by the 
Congress. They were authorized to conceal important 
information from the Congress itself, and to keep secret 
agents abroad, to make agreements, and thus secretly 
to pledge the faith of the nation. Would a Tory have 
been placed upon such a committee ? In the very pres- 
ence, too, of " so mighty and transcendent a patriot as Mr. 
Jefferson ^ " Adorned as the Continental Congress was 
with the patriotism, wealth, and talents of the whole 
country, would they have passed over such men, to have 
plumed, with the honor of their unlimited confidence, the 
rankest Tory in Congress. Where was the boasted Whig 
zeal of the sage of Monticello, that he did not rise in his 


place, and protest against the commission of such im- 
mensely important matters into such unworthy hands; — 
matters, the miscarriage or mismanagement of which 
would have destroyed all hopes of foreign aid, and have 
soiled for ever the escutcheon of the country. 

But for the purpose of destroying all skepticism as 
to the character of Mr. Hooper, I shall now appeal to 
the personal testimony of one of his contemporaries, 
who lived within the sphere of his acquaintance, and 
who, with a mind stored with the wisdom of a long, 
active, and patriotic life, now lives among us, as a light 
to cheer the darkness of the past. It was to this species of 
evidence that I first turned, to test the truth of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's aspersions. I have sought, and gathered too, infor- 
mation as to the character of Mr. Hooper, from the elder 
people of both sexes in Orange County, and on the 
Cape Fear, in both of which sections of the State he 
resided ; and it was scarcely an exaggeration, when I 
said, in the Introduction to this work, that I had " ques- 
tioned every old man and old woman from Cape Hatteras 
to the Blue Ridge ; " and none at all, when I said, that I 
had not heard a single word which would support the 
shameful calumny of rank Toryism. In a letter which I 
had the honor to receive from Colonel Samuel Ashe of 
Cape Fear, dated on the 2Gth of August, 1833, he thus 
speaks of Mr. Hooper : 

" My personal acquaintance with Mr. William Hooper, owing to 
the great disparity in our ages (for he was my senior by many 
years), was very slight, having been seldom thrown into his com- 
pany after I reached manhood. But I am happy in having this 
opportunity of bearing my testimony in his favor. As a lawyer, 
as a scholar, as a man of amiable and fascinating manners, he was 
unrivalled by any of his contemporaries ; and as a Whig, he enjoyed 
the entire confidence of all who knew him : and it never entered 


into my mind that the soundness of his Whig principles had ever 
been questioned by any authority. From my intimate knowledge 
of his character, I feel warranted in saying, that he was a man of 
as free principles, and as ardently devoted to the cause of American 
liberty, as any other of the distinguished personages, who were 
involved in the revolution." 

The unlimited confidence of the Continental Congress, 
of the Whigs of North Carolina, and, above all, his pri- 
vate letters, attest the character of Mr. Hooper. The 
charge of Mr. Jefferson deserves no lighter reproach, than 
to be pronounced a base and unprincipled falsehood, 
unsupported by any evidence within the range of human 
inquiry. A more flagrant instance of violation of truth 
cannot be found in the annals of cabalistic literature. It is 
stamped with all the malignity and captiousness of a hero 
who knew, in his own heart, that his boasted laurels had 
been purloined from the dead, and that they would be 
restored by the scrutiny of posterity. The character of 
Mr. Jefferson, like the house of the foolish man in the 
scripture parable, is built upon sand. It cannot stand 
the storm which the publication of his writings must pro- 
voke, from the hands of those whose lives are calumnia- 
ted with the seeming solemnities of truth. The Hamil- 
tons of New York, the Lees of Virginia, the Lowells of 
Massachusetts, and the whole country in the character 
of Washington, must appeal to the impartiality of pos- 
terity. As for my own part, I am content, that the 
aspersion of Mr. Hooper shall go down to future limes 
contradicted by this brief analysis of his character, — 
confirmed as that character is by his private and 
public letters, and the universal admiration of his con- 
temporaries. His letter of 26th of April, 1774, his 
services in the first Provincial and Continental Con- 


gresses, his zeal in urging the question of Independence 
in the spring Convention of 1776, and finally his signa- 
ture to the National Declaration, will be cherished as 
memorials of a patriot, when the shrine at Monlicello 
will be irreverently visited, like that at Delphi, only as the 
former habitation of a hev^then god. 

I have thus, in the course of this work, endeavoured to 
defend the character of North Carolina from the abuse 
of one, the popularity of whose name, with many, gives 
a sanction even to the fiction of an impossibility. The 
character of Mr. Hooper, and the truth of the Mecklen- 
burg Declaration, are important points in the estimate, 
which posterity will make of the character of the State. 
I feel confident that I have fulfilled my promise, and that 
the character of the former has been vindicated, and the 
truth of the latter established, beyond the reach of con- 
troversy. In the course of my labors, I have studiously 
shunned all equivocation of language, and have not hesitat- 
ed to write with a bitterness of reproach correspondent 
to the malignity of the charge of Mr. Jefferson. The 
enormity of the calumny, while it demanded a patient 
investigation, has justified the severest denunciation. 

The allusion to Mr. Hewes, in the letter of Mr. Jef- 
ferson, as an uncertain and wavering politician, tempering 
his zeal according to the aspect of the times, is equally 
as unfounded, as the other portions of his episde. Mr. 
Hewes made great sacrifices in the cause of liberty, 
and enjoyed throughout his life the confidence of the 
Whig party of North Carolina. I have a great number 
of his private letters before me, and search them in vain 
for any signs of equivocation on the subject of Independ- 
ence. He, for a long time, sustained himself as the only 


Representative of North Carolina, and gave his vote for 
and signed his name to, the Declaration of Independence. 
He laid the resolu ions of the Provincial Congress of 
North Carolina on Independence, before the Continental 
Congress, on the 27th of May,* before those of Virginia 
were there presented, and gave his heart and hand to the 
noble cause he was thus instructed to support. But in 
his politics, as applied to the government of North Caro- 
lina, he was a high conservative, and urged the erection 
of a splendid government, independent of the control of 
the mob, and of course of their boasted leader. Such 
may have been the signs of his wavering conduct, so 
clearly and exclusively visible to the sage of Monticello. 

* See Journal of the Continental Congress. 



1775 AND 1776. 

The three grand divisions of the army of the State 
adopted by the Congress of August, 1775, were the two 
Continental Regiments, commanded by Generals iVIoore 
and Howe, the Minute-men, and the regular Militia. 
In the body of the work, I have enumerated the names 
of the OfScers of the two first, and shall now present 
those of the Field-Officers of the Militia. 

Samuel Jarvis, Colonel. 

Dennis Dauge, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Taylor Jones, Major. 

Josiah Nicholson, 2d Major. 

John Lowry, Colonel. 

Isaac Gregory, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Demsy Burgess, Major. 

Joshua Campbell, 2d Major. 

Miles Harvey, Colonel. 

William Skinner, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Thomas Harvey, Major. 

Richard Clayton, 2d Major. 

Thomas Bonner, Colonel. 
James Blount, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Benbury, Major. 
Jacob Hunter, 2d Major. 

Thomas Whitmell, Colonel. 
Thomas Pugh, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
James Moore, Major. 
Arthur Brown, 2d Major. 

Benjamin Wynns, Colonel. 
Matthew Brickie, 
Laurence Baker, J\ 
George Little, 2d Major. 

Currituck County. 

Pasquotank County. 

yPerquimons County. 

vChoioan County. 
\ Bertie County. 

Matthew Bnckle Lieutenant-Colonel. {jj^^^f^^^ County. 
Laurence Baker, Major. { 



> Tyrrell County. 
\- Martin County. 

Halifax County. 

■ Korth Hampton County. 

Edward Buncombe, Colonel. 
Benjamin BlounI, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
James Long', Major. 
Joseph Spruill, 2d Major. 

William Williams, Colonel. 
Whitmell Hill, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Wiggins, Major. 
Kennith McKenzie, 2d Major. 

John Bradford, Colonel. 
"William Alston, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
David Sumner, Major. 
Egbert Hajwood, 2d Major. 

Allen Jones, Colonel. 

William Eaton, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Jeptha Atherton, Major. 

Howell Edmunds, 2d Major. J 

William Haywood, Colonel. "^ 

Sherwood W^.y wooA,Lieutenant-Colonel. i^^g^comhe County. 

Joseph Moore, Major. I 

Henry Home, 2d Major. J 

William Person, Colonel. ^ 

Philemon Hawkins,Jun.,iLieMfcnanf-Coi. 
William Alston, Major. 
Thomas Sherwood, 2d Major. 

Samuel Spencer, Colonel. 
Charles Medlock, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
James Auld, Major. 
David Love, 2d Major. 

Thomas Polk, Colonel. 

Adam Alexander, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

John Phifer, Major. 

John Davidson, 2d Major. 

William Graham, Colonel. 
Charles Maclaine, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Beatty, Major. 
Frederick Hambright, 2d Major. 

Ransom Sutherland, Colonel. 
James Martin, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
John Paisly, Major. 
John Tate, 2d Major. 

Martin Armstrong, Colonel. 
Joseph Williams, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
William Hall, Major. 
Joseph Winston, 2d Major. 

Griffith Rutherford, Colonel 
Francis Locke, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
John Dobbens, Major. 
James Brandon, 2d Major, 

Bute County. 

\- Anson County. 

\ Mecklenburg County. 

)■ Tryon County. 

Guilford County. 

Y Surry County. 
I Rowan County. 



Joseph Leech, Colonel. 
John Bryan, Lieutenant- Coloriel. 
John Benners, Major. 
Frederick Becton, 2d Major. 

"William Thompson, Colonel. 
Solomon Shepard, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Chad wick, Major. 
Malachi Bell, 2d Major. 

James Bonner, Colonel. 

Thomas* Bonner, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Roger Ormond, Major. 

William Brown, 2d Major. 

Rotheas Latham, Colonel. 

Benjamin Parmelin, Lieutenant- Colonel 

William Russell, Major. 

Thomas Jones, 2d Major. J 

Needham Bryan, Colonel. 
William Bryan, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
John Smith, Major. 
Samuel Smith, Jun., 2d Major. 

Abraham Shepard, Colonel. 
Thomas Torrans, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Martin Caswell, Major. 
William McKennie, 2d Major. 

John Simpson, Colonel. 
Robert Salter, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
George Evans, Major. 
James Armstrong, 2d Major. 

John Davis, Colonel. 
Thomas Davis, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Richard Quince, Jun., Major. 
Parker Qunice, 2d Major. 

William Gray, Colonel. 
Henry Rhodes, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Johnston, Major. 
James Howard, 2d Major. 

James Kenan, Colonel. 
Richard Clinton, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Routledge, Major. 
James Moore, 2d Major. 

*Thomas Rutherford, Colonel. 
fAlex. McAlister, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
*Duncan McNeill, Major. 
*Alexander McDonald, 2d Major. 


^Craven County. 
)■ Carteret County. 


y Beaufort County. 

Hyde County. 

■Johnston County. 

Dohhs County. 

Pitt County. 

Brunsioick County. 

}■ Onslow County. 



Duplin County. 

Cumberland County. 



t Whig. 



■ Ncio Hanover County. 

Bladen County. 

William Purviance, Colonel. 
Sampson Mosely, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
William Mosely, Major. 
John Devane, 2d Major. 

Thomas Robinson, Jun., Colonel. 
Thomas Brown, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Owen, Major, 
James Richardson, 2d Major. 

John Hogan, Colonel. 
John Butler, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
William Moore, Major. 
Nathaniel Rochester,* 2d Major. 

Joseph Taylor, Colonel. 

Charles R. Eaton, Lieutenant- Colonel . 

Samuel Smith, Major. 

William Williams, 2d Major. 

John Hinton, Colonel. 

Theophilus Hunter, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

John Hinton, Jan., jtfr/jor. 

Thomas Hines, 2d Major. 

Ambrose Ramsay, Colonel. 
Jeduthun Harper, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Mial Scurloch, Major. 
Elisha Cain, 2d Major. 

In the spring of 1776, the Militia system was re- 
organized. In several of the counties, the officers thus 
appointed were found to be adherents of the Royal 
cause, and these were not only superseded, but ar- 
raigned for trial. Such was the case with those of the 
county of Cumberland. The Militia of the counties of 
Orange, Pasquotank, and Rowan, were divided into 
two Regiments, and of course an additional number of 
officers were appointed. Many promotions, too, and 
several resignations occurred, and produced changes 
in the Militia system. I now proceed to enumerate the 
changes made by the Congress on the 22d of April, 

Orange County. 

Granville County. 

Wake County. 

Chatham County. 

Charles Medlock, Colonel. 
David Love, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
William Picket, Major. 
George Davidson, 2d Major. 

■Anson County. 

* After whom the town of Rochester in New York was called. 



William Brown, Major. 
Henry Bonner, 2d Major. 

Thomas Eaton, Colonel. 
William Alston, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Sherwood, Major. 
Green Hill, 2d Major. 

John Bryan, Colonel. 

Lemuel Hatch, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

John Bryan, Jan., Major. 

John Tilman, 2d Major. 

Hollowell Williams, Colonel. 
Solomon Perkins, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Asahel Simmonds, 2d Major. 

Alexander McAllister, Colonel. 
Ebenezer Folsome, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
David Smith, Major. 
Philip Alston, 2d Major. 

Matthew Jones, 2d Major. 

Thomas Routledge, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
James Moore, Major, 
Robert Dickson, 2d Major. 

Martin Caswell, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
William McKennie, Major. 
James Glasgow, 'Id Major. 

Exum Lewis, Colonel. 
Simon Gray, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Jonas Johnston, Major. 
Thomas Hunter, 2d Major. 

Thornton Yancy, 2d Major. 

James Martin, Colonel. 
John Paisly, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Thomas Owen, Major. 
Thomas Blair, 2d Major. 

Willis Alston, Colonel. 

David Sumner, Lieutenant- Colond. 

James Hogan, Major. 

Samuel Weldon, 2d Major. 

William Bryan, Colonel. 
John Smith, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Samuel Smith, Jun., Major. 
John Stevens, 2d Major. 

Adam Alexander, Colonel. 
John Phifer, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
John Davidson, Major. 
George A. Alexander, 2d Major. 


> Beaufort County. 


yjBute County^ 



Craven County. 

y Currituck County. 

> Cumberland County. 

Chatham County. 
■Duplin County. 

S-Dohbs County. 

> Edgecombe County. 
Granville County, 

> Guilford County. 

> Halifax County. 

> Johnston County. 

> Mecklenburg County. 



Anthony Ward, Lieutenant- Colonel, 
Henry Young, Major. 
Thomas Bloodworth, 2.d Major. 

William Eaton, Colonel. 

Jeptha Atherton, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Howell Edmunds, Major. 

Drury Gee, 2d Major. 

John Butler, Colonel. 
Nathaniel Rochester, Lieutenant- Col. 
Robert Abercrombie, Jun., Major. 
Hugh Tennen, 2d Major. 

James Saunders, Colonel. 
William "Moore, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
John Paine, Major. 
Thomas Harrison, 2d Major. 

Thomas Boyd, Colonel. 

Spencer Ripley, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Othniel Lascelles, Major. 

John Casey, 2d Major. 

Isaac Gregory, Colonel. 

Demsy Burgess, Lieutenant- Colonel. 

Joshua Campbell, Major. 

Peter Dauge, 2d Major. 

Francis Locke, Colonel. ") 

Alexander Dobbens, Lieutenant- Colonel. [First Roican 
James Brandon, Major. [ Regiment. 

James Smith, 2d Major. J 

■Christopher Beckman, Colonel. "^ 

Charles McDowell, Lieutenant- Colonel. \ Second Rowan 
Hugh Brevard, Major. \ Regiment. 

George Welfong, 2d Major. 

Joseph Winston, Major. 
Jesse Walton, 2d Major. 

Clement Crook, Colonel. 
James Long, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Joseph Spruill, Major. 
Andrew Long, 2d Major. 

Thomas Beatty, Lieutenant- Colonel. 
Andrew Hampton, Major. 
Jacob Cosner, 2d Major. 

yJVew Hanover County. 

-JVorth Hampton County. 

Southern Orange 

Northern Orange 

First Pasquotank 

\ Second Pasquotank 
j Regiment. 


\ Surry County. 

> Tyrrell County. 

> Tryon County, 

In the counties not here mentioned, no changes were 
made by the spring Congress of 1776. The Congress, 
however, increased the number of Regiments in the 
Continental service from two to six : and as James 




Moore and Robert Howe had been promoted to the 

rank of Brigadier-Generals in the Continental army, 

the following appointments were made to the commands 

of the First and Second Regiments. 

Francis Nash, Colonel. 

Thomas Clark, Lieutenant- Colonel. ^Ist Regiment. 

William -Davis, Major. 

Alexander Martin, Colonel. 

John Vaiien, Lieutenant- Colonel. y 2d Regiment. 

John White, Major. 

To the commands of the four new Regiments, the 

following Officers were appointed. 

Jethro Sumner, Colonel. 

William Alston, Lieutenant- Colonel. ySd Regiment. 

Samuel Lockhart, Major. 

Thomas Polk, Colonel. 

James Thackston, Lieutenant- Colonel. y4th Regiment. 

William Davidson, Major. 

Edward Buncombe, Colonel. 

Henry Irwin, Lieutenant- Colonel. ^^th Regiment. 

Levi Dawson, Major. 

Alexander Lillington, Colonel. '\ 

William Taylor, Lieutenant- Colonel. VQth Regiment. 

Gideon Lamb, Major. j 

There were, at this time, six Brigadier-Generals in 
the State, and each ranked in his own district. 

General John Ashe was Commander-in-chief in the District of 

General Allen Jones, in that of Halifax, 
General Edward Vail, in that of Edenton, 
General Griffith Rutherford, in that of Salisbury, 
-General Thomas Person, in that of Hillsborough, and 
General William Bryan, in that of New Berne. 
When, therefore, the armament of Sir Peter Parker 
was in the Cape Fear River, General Ashe ranked 
Brigadier-General Bryan, who commanded the troops 
from the New Berne district, on their march to Wil- 


The spring Congress of 177G raised three Light- 
Horse Companies, and made the following appointment 
of Officers. 

John Dickerson, Captain. "] 

Samuel Aslie, Jun., Lieutenant. Vlst Company. 

Abraham Childers, Cornet. J 

Martin Phifer, Captain. "^ 

James Sumner, Lieutenant. >2d Company. 

Valentine Beard, Corriet. J 

James Jones, Captain. ^ 

Cosimo Madacy, Lieutenant. '>3d Company. 

James Armstrong, Cornet. J 

I ought to mention here the Volunteer Companies of 
the State, who were invariably the best soldiers. Colonel 
Lillington's volunteer band was with him at the battle 
of Moore's Creek. General Rutherford commanded a 
similar band, as did Major Dauge of Currituck. 

In the campaign against Sir Peter Parker's armament, 
there was a volunteer company that marched from New 
Berne in May, under the command of Dr. Alexander 
Gaston. This company is mentioned in a letter in an 
old English Gazette, which I have, in the following 
manner : — " The rebels are watching our ships from 
their hiding-places on the shores throughout the day 
and night. A scouting party from the 33d yesterday 
brought in a private who reported himself as belong- 
ing to a company of a Captain Gaston, which had been 
on a scouring party about our ships for several days. 
He further reports the rebel forces as daily increasing 
in numbers and confidence." The letter is dated the 
35th of May, the old Gazette in October. There is some 
notice of this company in the accounts of Paymaster 
Ashe, a few sheets of which I obtained from the papers 
of the late Judge Williams. 



Letter from Richard Caswell to Mr. President Harnett. 

" Fehruarij 29th, 1776. 
'* Sir,' I have the pleasure to acquaint you that we 
had an engagement with the Tories at Widow Moore's 
Creek Bridge on the 27th current. Our army was about 
one thousand strong ; consisting of the New Berne 
battalion of Minute-men, the Militia from Craven, Johns- 
ton, Dobbs, and Wake, and a detachment of the Wil- 
mington battalion of Minute-men, which we found en- 
camped at Moore's Creek the night before the battle, 
under the command of Colonel Lillington. The Tories, 
by common report, were three thousand ; but General 
McDonald, whom we have prisoner, says there were 
about fifteen or sixteen hundred ; he was unwell that 
day and not in the battle. Captain McLeod, who seemed 
to be principal commander, and Captain John Campbell, 
are among the slain." 

In the same letter he says : — " Colonel Moore arrived 
at our camp a few hours after the engagement was over ; 
his troops came up that evening, and are now encamped 
on the ground where the battle was fought, and Colonel 
Martin is at or near Cross Creek, with a large body of 
men ; those, I presume, will be sufficient to put a stop 
to any attempt to embody them again." 

Letter from General Moore to Mr. President Harnett. 

" 3Iarch 2d, 1776. 

** The next morning, the 27th, at break of day an 
alarm gun was fired, immediately after which, scarcely 
leaving our people a moment to prepare, the Tory army 
with Captain McLeod at their head made their attack 


on Colonels Caswell and Lillington, and, finding a small 
entrenchment next the bridge on our side empty, con- 
cluded that our people had abandoned their post, and 
in the most furious manner advanced within thirty paces 
of our breast-work and artillery, where they met a very 
proper reception. '' 

Letter from an unknown source, dated the 10th of March, 
177C. (Remembrancer, Part II, p. 74 ) 

''Parties of men are dispersed all over the Colony, 
apprehending all suspected persons, and disarming all 
Highlanders and Regulators that were put to the rout in 
the late battle. The conquerors have already taken 
350 guns and shot-bags; about 150 swords and dirks; 
1500 excellent rifles ; two medicine-chests fresh from 
England, one of them valued at 300 pounds sterling, 
a box containing half Joaneses and Guineas, secreted 
in a stable at Cross Creek, discovered by a negro and 
reported to be worth ^15,000 sterling ; also thirteen wag- 
ons with complete sets of horses. 850 common soldiers 
were made prisoners, disarmed and discharged. Colonel 
Long has also apprehended several of their officers, who 
are now in Halifax gaol, viz. Colonel John Piles, Major 
Thomas Collins, Captain David Jackson, Enoch Brady, 
John Piles, and Thomas Readford, Lieutenant Stephen 
Parker, and Daniel McDonald, the latter wounded 
through the thigh. Ensign Denning, and Dr. Robertson. 
There are in the same gaol four persons of the name of 
Field, one Turner, and three Bells, a Midshipman, and 
a Cluarter-gunner of the Scorpion ; likewise, one Kings- 
borough McDonald, Mr. Rutherford, Hector McNeil, 
and Alexander McDonald, Captains Morrison, McKen- 
zie, lire, Leggate, Cross, Parsons, McCoy, Mase, Micke- 
son, McCarter, and Adjutant Frazer, Lieutenants 
Mclver and Hewes, Cameron, Donald Hewes, Donald 


Cameron, and sundry other Lieutenants and Ensigns, 
whose names we have not an account of. Kennett 
McDonald, Aid-de-Camp, James Hepborn, Secretary, 
Parson Beatty, and Dr. Morrison, Commissary. General 
McDonald and Brigadier-General McLeod (the latter of 
whom was killed) set out at the head of this banditti 
with the avowed intention of carrying Governor Martin 
into the interior part of the Province." * 

* I have admitted, in the body of this book, that Colonel Caswell 
was the senior of Colonel Lillington at the battle of Moore's Creek. 
I was mistaken, for the battle-field was in Lillington's district, and 
there he ranked Caswell, who held only a Colonel's commission, 
in the Minute service.