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The James Spni nt Historical fuljlications 


The North Carolina Hi^orical Society 

J. G. DE RouLHAC Hamilton 
Henry McGilbert Wagstaff 



VOL. 14 

No. I 


^» -V 

'■ 055 
78 8359 10 



Thb Seeman Printekt 

DuuuAU, N. C. 




The Harris letters which appear in this issue of the 
J.vMKs Si'uoNT IIisTouiCAL PUBLICATIONS rcprcsjiit, for the 
most part, a collection of the letters of Charles Wilson Har- 
ris (b. 1771, d. 1804) to his uncle, Dr. Charles Harris, 
and to his brother, Kobert Wilson Harris. They were do- 
nated by William Shakespeare Harris, a son of Dr. Charles 
Harris, to the North Carolina Historical Society at an un- 
known date, but probably before the Civil War. The other 
Charles Wilson Harris letters, those written durinsi; his con- 
nection with the University of North Carolina (1795-179(3), 
were found in a bound volume of manusi-ripts in the early 
fac.'ulty records of the University. They are about ten in 
number, and along with them have been inserted two Cald- 
well Icttcis to Harris. Tliere are two other Harris letters 
in addition, one by Ivobert Harris, father, and one by Kob- 
crt Wilson Harris, brother of Charles Wilson Harris. The 
sources whence these were obtained are subjects of a foot-note 
to the respective letters. The chronological order has been 
preserved in the presentation of the whole series, this method 
appearing better to rellect their intei-est than the other alter- 
native of grouping those to the same correspondent. 

'J'he name "Harris" is perhaj)S one of the most frequent 
in North Carolina. This must have been true at a very early 
})eriod also, since the name covers full four and one-half 
pages in the index of the Colonial and State Records. The 
particular Harris family from which Charles Wilson Harris 
sprung was a very prolific one and has a large number of 
surviving representatives in the state at the present time. 
H traces its descent back to one Edward Harris of Wiltshire, 
England, who removed to Ayrcshire, Scotland, in the latter 
jiart of the 17th century and there brought up a large family. 
One of his sons, Edward by name, married Flora Douglas of 
the celebrated Scotch border family of that name. Five sons 
of this union, James, Samuel, 1'homas, Richard, and Charles, 
appear to have emigrated to America sometime in the second 

6 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

quarter of the eiglitcenth century. Some of thorn settled in 
Pennsylvania and the others in Viri!;inia. l^atcr, probably 
abont 1751, Charles came from Virginia to North (Carolina 
and purchased a large tract of land on Kocky liiver in the 
Poplar Tent district of the present Cabarrus County, but at 
that time in Anson. This district was at the time receiving 
a stronii; tide of Scotch-Irish immigrants and soon bec.'ame a 
populous PiTsbyterian stronghold. 'J'his Charles Harris was 
twice iiuirried ; first to Jane Mcllhenney and, second, to 
Elizabeth Haker. From the first marriage was born in order 
Pobert, Martha, Jane, Thom;is, and James; and from the 
second, Charles and Samuel Harris, liobert Harris, the 
eldest of these ofl'spring of Charles Harris, inherited "Mill 
Grove," the home seat of his father on Pocky liiver, and 
became a man of fortune and influence in his county. He 
married ]\lary Wilson, daughter of Zaccheus Wilson, a signer 
of the "]\Iecklenburg Declaration," and of the same strong 
Scotch Presbyterian stock as himself. As a Pevolutionary 
patriot and soldier Pobert Harris, "Ksjuire," served in Gen- 
eral Joseph (iraham's comnnuid until he lost his arm in the 

. . . * . 

skirmish at Clapp's Mill, a preliminary incndent of the bat- 
tle of Guilford Court Courthouse in 1781. With slight 
I'Opcs of his recovery, his companions gave him into the care 
of an old German settler and wife, with the injunction to 
"care for him well, as he was a man of consc(picnce, and they 
would be rewarded." (See Graham's General Joseph Gra- 
ham and His Pevolutionary Papers, pp. 3^jr)-;}37.) Harris' 
des:;endants state that Mrs. Harris dreamed her husband was 
wounded and on the faith of the dream traveled with a slave, 
Jack, as her only attendant from her liome on Kocky Pivcr 
to the s -ene of the battle, seventy-five miles away, found her 
wounded spouse with his caretaker, nursed him to conval- 
eseence and brought him safely home. To him, by this stout- 
hearted wife, were born three children, each proudly bearing 
"Wilson" in their Christian names. They were -lane Wilson 
Harris, Charles Wilson Harris, and Pobert Wilson Harris. 
Jane, the eldest, married Nathaniel Alexander, son of John 
McKnit Alexander, secretary of the "Mecklenburg Convcn- 

The Harris Lktters 7 

tion." They had nine children and nnnicrons dcs'^endants 
survive. Charhs Wilson Harris was boi-n in 1771, and 
liobert Wilson Harris in 1770. 'J'heir mother died a few 
years after the Kevolntion, their father snLsequently marry- 
ing tlie widow of General William Lee Davidson, wlio fell in 
the Kevolntion. liobert Harris lived to a ripe old ai^e, dying 
in 1808 and lies bnried at Poplar Tent Church, where he was 
for many years ruling ehJcr. 

Charles Wilson Harris graduated at Princeton in 1702 
and was awarded the ]\latliematical oration, lie then spent 
one, or two, years with his half-uncle, Dr. Charles Hariis. at 
"Favoni," the home of the latter upon an estate adjoining 
tljat of liobert Harris and part of the original property of 
tlie eldest Charles Harris. Here he applied hims'df to the 
study of medicine under his uncle's guidance, apparently 
with the intention of entering that profession. Nevertheless, 
in 1705, at the date of his election to the tutorship of ^lathe- 
matics in the University of North Carolina, he was teaching 
in Prince Edward County, Virginia. His letters thereafter, 
with the notes subjoined, sufllciently outline his life and 
services. They disclose a character of worth and dignity. 
At twenty-five years of age he was presiding over the fortunes 
of the state's infant University and in this role he manifes!s 
a maturity unusual even in that period of our state and 
national life in which abilities ripened early. The trustees 
relin(]uislicd his services with great reluctance. His seven 
years of life after entering upon the practice of law at Hali- 
fax were filled with earnest and successful en^leavor and 
undoubtedly would have been crowned with high achieve- 
ment but for his early death. 

The editor wishes to express his appreciation and thanlo 
to Mrs. ^faud Craig Matthews, of Atlanta, Georgia, and to 
Mrs. Atwell C. Mcintosh, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 
great-grand daughters of liobert Wilson Harris, for their 
kindness in placing at his disposal certain of their family 
records that bear upon the genealogy of the Harris family. 

H. M. Wagstaff. 

Chapel Hill, N. C, Jan. 15, lOlG. 



I was not a little diverted with the Rcv'd. Kobirison, my 
partner in teaching, when a few days since, he proposed in a 
serions way that I should study divinity and settle on sonic 
glebe in Virginia. The inducements I need not mention. 
lie placed them in as flattering a view as possible. When he 
could not bend me to his will ; for the promise of a Bishopric 
in this county could not induce me to trouble myself with 
these non-sensical Church preferments; he turned oil" his 
proposal by saying that I ought to study divinity in some 
measure, it contains the best system of morality, and moral- 
ity is necessary to a man, let his calling in life be what it may. 
So it. is with the world. Every one will tell you his knowl- 
edge is necessary, no matter what business you follow. The 
lawyer as well as divine repeats a long tale to the intended 
physician, each in favor of his own profession, the former 
of the advantage the study of law may be to him. The great 
Blackstone says a knowledge of law is necessary to a phy- 
sician, that he may be useful to families upon sudden emer- 
gencies, in drawing up the formal part of last wills and tcsta- 
njents. Great encouragement indeed for one who has scarce- 
ly time to perfect the study of medicine, to set into the 
perusal of endless commentaries, reports, statutes, etc. But 
without so much preparation I have almost determined to go 
at once to physic. When I first undertook my present busi- 
ness I expected it and my professional study ^ would agree, 
but it is otherwise. Next winter is the time appointed in 
my own mind for beginning on this new study. I shall ac- 
knowledge with a great deal of gratitude any directions you 
may transmit me. What are made the rudiments of this art 
and what branches are generally entered upon first? I may 
at a leasure hour look over some of them. 

The murder of the king of France cannot be easily for- 
gotten.- II is fate is lamented by almost all ranks of people. 

10 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

Aristocrats pity him sincerely and the Democrats tliink lie de- 
served a better end. The zealous protestant and avaricious 
merchant alone find their account in his death. The former 
confesses the king's death was unrighteous, yet adds that in 
the hand of God, it may be the means of advancing the cause 
of religion, and crushing the power of the pope. The latter 
wishes the perpetrators of the murder may be repaid in their 
own coin, that their remittances may be signed with their 
own blood, adding that the king was a good-hearted fellow, 
loved good eating and drinking. The very demand of his 
table was an encouragement to merchandis2. Yet the com- 
motions occasioned by his death will enhance the value of 
American produce in Europe, and American bottoms alone 
will have an unmolested navigation in the adjacent s:;;;s. By 
a calculation from the time of declaring war between Eng- 
land and France,^ few European vessels will be expected in 
our ports after the lOth of next month. The forces of France 
as voted by the National Convention, will consist during this 
summer of 500,000 men. 

I wrote to Julwin IJecse^ immediately after my return 
but have received no answer. I cannot suppose my letter has 
mis;arried because I have re:;eived answers to some that 
were sent with it. 

Your humble servant, 

Charles W. ITaiikis, 

Dr. Chas. Harris, April 28, 1793. 

My love to Aunt Sally and Peggy. 

'At tills date Harris Intoriili'd to ciitor upon the study of medicine, 
doul)tloss liispiiLd by tlK' InduiMiti' of his uncle. Dr. Charles Harris. 

- I.ouis \\ 1 was sent to the guillothie the lilst of January. 17!).{. The 
news had readwd .\nierlcu In late Kebn nry. 

•'France declared war against Enalund the 1st of Kehruary, IT'.t.'J, ten 
days after I,ouls X\'rs execution. 

♦Son of .lane Harris and Itev. Thos. Iteese and tlierefore (Irst cousin of 
Charles Wil.son Harris. Kdwin Ut-t-se graduated nt I'rlnceton In tiie class 
of 17y4 and was a student at the date of this letter. 

The Harris Letters 11 

Dear Uncle: 

I have just come from P. Eilward which place I left in 
tip-top si)irits, expecting on my retnin to tind at least three 
or four letteis in Peteisburg.* However 1 had the pleasure 
of seeing Mr. Bruce- from Guilford from whom I heard 
mu.'h of the public and a little of the private att'airs of vour 
county. lie told me that Maj. Harris^ (T suppose Thomas) 
made a very respectable opposition to the election of ]\lr. 
LoL'ke.'' I am not acquainted with the foundation of this 
gentleman's po])ularity whifh s;'enis to be S) extensive. I 
wish he may answer his constituents' expectations, but 
pray that he may never be so successful in ailopting sangui- 
nary me.'sures for the regulation of our great union as he has 
been in the regulation of his private allairs, otherwise we 
shall all be d— — waiis, deserters of the general cause as 
soon as we are able to thiidc for o\ii selves. ]>y the s;ime gen- 
tleman, I was certified that Sam'l. CaldwelP has had the 
good fortune to pick from the top of Mt. Fairview that full- 
blown, most beautiful, and only remaining flower, iNfiss 

A . I fear that while he has free access to so 'fair 

an angel, he will often evade thoss wars which a min- 
ister from his profession has striven to wage against the 
world, the flesh tS: the D-v-l himself, lie is a gentleman 
who hrs hitherto fought with a great deal of courage and 
success." And if we judge from his perseverance he is im- 
pelled by no small force to the support of the cause he has 
undertaken. Put ^Mechanics (if not daily experience) teach 
us that any force may be overcome by the application of a 
proper power. 

A spc 'tacle of weeping has lately called the attention of 
the Vir-iinians. A s;iil of 300 vessels from Cape Francais 
containing the remains of the wretched inhabitants of that 
place.^ 'i'he towns of Richmond, Wm.burg and Norfolk 
were liberal enough to advance near G,000 Dol. for their 
immediate relief. I would have been at Norfolk at the very 
time this fleet arrived where I had an appointment to meet 
Mr. Kobinson but was prevented by a great inflammation in 

; t 

12 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

my eyes occasioned by the excessive heat of the weather in 
which I rode from P. Edward. I have been studyins; anat- 
omy, but not as a physician, it is very pleasing and liighly 
worthy the particular notice of anybody who reads for 
amusement, or general information. The greatest difficulty 
in learning must be, I presume, the majority of their names 
infer origin, insertion and uses. 

Write to me as soon as possible, and you will not find any 
neglect in, Dr. Sir, 

Your nephew, & 

most humble servant 
July 30, 1793 Charles W. Harris. 

Doctor Charles Harris, 

Since I wrote to vou, a letter from Cousin Edwin dated 
about May 1st came to hand by post. He was well, had be- 
come a whig, and is very much attached to the place, a sure 
sign of diligence. College never pleases an idler. He hates 
his tutors and even the very ground he is confined to. 

Doctor Charles Harris, Esq. 

No. Carolina. 

' IVtiisbiug was on tlie regular stage route from Philadelplila southward. 

* I'rohably George Rrucc, member of the general assembly from Uuillord, 

'.Major Thomas Harris, brother of Robert Harris and uncle of Charles W. 
Harris. lie was a brave ItevoUitionary officer of the Continental line and 
fought under Washington at Mmimuuth and Trenton. Transferred South, 
he was sevei-ely wounded and tal<i'ii jirisoner upon (Jates's defeat at Camilrn 
In .\ugust. 1780. In ITUi he was Federalist candidate In his district against 
Mattliew Locke, Itepubliean, but was defeated. 

' Matthew Locke, of Kowun, membi'r of the .'{rd, 4th and r)th Congresses, 
17!>.!-17!1!). lie was now at an ad\ancid age (born in ]7-!(), died 1801 i and 
had been prominent in the alTairs of North Carolina duiing her transition 
from colony to state, lie was an active p;uticipant in the Uegulator Iroublcs 
of 1770 71. at which date he was c(jutity mcmlier from IJowan in tlie Colonial 
Assembly, serving In that capacity until 1775. In tne latter year he t)i'canie 
a mi'mber of the .{rd rrovinciul Congress of North Carolina and was likewise 
a member of the -Ith and .'ilh. In the last he assisted at the construction of 
our lirst state constitulion In 1T7G. 

■Samuel C. Caldwell, son of Itev. David Caldwell of Guilford. He was 
born In 1708, was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Orange at nlnetei-n 
years of age, and in l''elnMiary, 17!)J, became pastor of Sugar Creek and Hope- 
well churches In Mecklenburg county. He served the Sugar Creek Church con- 
tinuously for thirty-live years until his death in 18:.'(;. being one of the best 
beloved und most useful men of his day. He married Abigail rulne Alexander, 

The Harris Letters 13 

daughter of John McKnIt Alexander, signer of the "Mecklenburg Declaration" 
and secretary of the convention. 

" Kootcs Sketches, p. 1!).'), show that during Caldwell's "first ministrations 
in these congregations (Hopewell and Sugar Creek) It pleased God to send a 
reviving time, lu conseguencc of which there were upward of seventy young 
communicants admitted to the Lord's Table In one day." 

'These were French colonial refugees fleeing from Cape Francals (now 
Cape Ilaytien) on the north coast of the Islam! of San Domingo. In IT'.il 
the slaves of Ilaytl, f-'rance's most profitable colony. Inspired by the Ideas 
of the French Hevolutlon, rose In rebellion against their masters and .so 
overwhelming was their superiority in numbers they soon had the mastoi-y. 
Horrible things were done in the island until Toussaint I/Ouerture. by liis 
genius as statesman as well as warrior, came to the head of the movi-ment 
and wrought a semblance of order Into the land. Many of the fleelnj; I'^rench 
colonials found safety In the smaller islands of France In the Windwards; 
many took shelter in Cuba under the sovereignty of Spain : many others came 
to the continent. The body referred to above was perhaps the largest sin>;le 
groui) that reached our shores, though many of them later went to Lunisiann 
(then n Si)anisb possession) where they joined other smaller bodies that had 
made direct for New Orleans. 

April lOth 1795. 

Dr. Sir, We have begun to intro(iuce, by degrees the 

reguhitions of the University/ and as yet have not been dis- 
appointed. There is one cLass in Natural Philosophy & 
Geography & four in the Languages — 

The constitution of this college is on a more liberal plan 
than any in America, & by the amendments which I think it 
will receive at the next meeting of the trustees, its usefulness 
will probably be much promoted. The notion that true 
learning consists rather in exercising the reasoning faculties, 
& laying up a store of useful knowledge, than in overloading 
the memory with words of a dead language, is becoming daily 
more prevalent — It appears hard to deny a young Gentleman 
the honour of a College, after he has with much labour &; 
painful attention acquired a competent knowledge of the 
Sciences; of composing & speaking with propriety in his own 
language, & has conned the first principles of whatever might 
render him useful or creditable in the world, merely because 
be could not read a language 2000 years old. Tho' the laws at 
present require that the Latin & Greek be understood by a 
graduate — they will in all probability be mitigated in this 
respect. These old forms, "which have been sanctioned by 
time but not by utility" ought to be dispensed with. I have 


14 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

lately found many good hints on education in a Look en- 
titled the rights of woman. — a book of very great merit, the 
production of an original genius — & penned in such a strong, 
masterly style that you woukl scarcely believe it the work of 
a woman — For we are taught to believe, by many able writers 
& tolerable accurate observers of mankind that the natural 
weakness of a woman's body extends to her mind, & becomes 
characteristic of her thouiihts & words as well as of her 
actions. IMiss Mary Wollstonccraft is the lady born clFectu- 
ally to rectify these misrepresentations from which so much 
evil has spring. Miss' intention is to bring about a total re- 
form in the education of women — . But takes occasion to 
speak of the errors in the present plan of teaching young 
men & Boys in Europe. "The memory" says she ''is loaded 
with unintelligible works, to make "askew of, without the 
understanding's acquiring any distinct ideas; but "only that 
education deserves emphatically to be termed cultivation of 
"mind, which teaches young people how to begin to think." 
She elfectually over throws Chesterfield's plan of bringing 
up boys, 'i'he amendments which she proposes are too Num- 
erous to be detailed in a letter, but are such as do the greatest 
honor to the a\ithoress & may be highly beneficial to man- 
kind That there is much wrong in the old manner of 

educating is plain & whatever alterations will be made in our 
University will be made by those who can be actuated by no 
other principle than general utility — At present we find 
much diiliculty in procuring books - The trustees have or- 
dered 200 l)ol. to be expended for that purpose; but it is 
very uncertain when the Books will arrive; Dr. Williamson- 
is commissioned to purchase & he is so totally engaged about 
his own book' which he is preparing for the press, that he 
may forget others of less importance -- Col. Moore^ presents 
us with Globes Mr. Benehan'' with an air pump as saon as 
it can be procured - We will shortly have an Electrical Ma- 
chine & other trilles. 

Our society is not so good at this place as we could wish. 
My only resort is to Mr. Ker who makes ample amends to mo 

The Harris Letters 15 

for the want of any other - he is a violent Republican & is 
continually deprecating the Aristocratical principles which 
have lately prevailed much in our Executive." The debates 
on self-created societies^ has brought to light many unrepub- 
lican principles that have been secretly growing in the bosom 
of our government. The Revd. Stanhope Smith*^ has in the 
last winter become a politician - lie declaims against Liber- 
tinism in politics as being attended by no less an evil than 
Atheism -- Smith has been lona; known to be an aristocrat & 
he is not a man of such conciliating manner as to have avoided 
the creating some personal enemies. A writer styled Arbiter 
in Oswald ['s] paper^ is not delicate in his remarks on the vice- 
president & is indeed illiberal in some general reflections on 
the Clergy - - Smith's sermon referred to by Arbiter on the 
subjects of national Gratitude lies on my table - It has many 
fine turned periods; many fine thoughts - But besides Mr. 
Arbiter's objections - Ilis dcs2ription of the present govern- 
ment is too highly coloured to be the copy of a human fabri- 
cation, his Encomium on the President is quite fulsome. 
Tho' he be the greatest man in America, it smells strong of 
Brittish seasoning. In page 23 he says "I see h'im like a rock 
in the midst of the ocean, receive unshaken all its waves, 
violence, intrigue, faction, dash themselves tc pieces against 
him, &; fall in empty murmers at his feet." — 

I have been engaged in such a manner since T arrived 
here, that I have done but little for mvsclf; Blackstone's 
Imo. Vol. is nearly finished but the remaining vol. will re- 
quire much more time and attention. I wish to ground my- 
self well in the principles of Law, yet have made no pro- 
vision for supplying books of a proper kind. I have in- 
terested myself much in the education of my brother;^" he is 
now growing fast & receiving none of those improvements 
which he ought. I could not prevail with my father to let 
him come to this place. I wish you would again mention it 
to him in a way that you may think proper; it can S2arcely be 
pecuniary want that hinder his complying with my reciuest. 
Nor can it be I hope, any distrust of my principles, as I have 

16 James Sprunt IIistoricai, Publications 

heard suggested; he & I have ever been very free in speaT<ing 
on tenetb, & I never observed any great degree of disappro- 
bation. If the hitter be the cause I have no more to say - - . 
Please send me your communications Ly every opportunity. 

I am youis 
with much 

TV X r^-L ^ TT • Charles W. Harris. 

iJoctor Charles Hams. 

Aunt Sally will please accept of my best wishes for her 
happiness & Mrs. Ker^' has particularly requested that her 
respects may be received thro' the medium of my Letter, tho' 
never acquainted personally with aunt/- by hearsay she is 
interested in her welfare. 

Doctor Charles Harris 
Cabarrus County. 

• 'I'lu' Iniversity was formally opened the 15th of January, 1705, with 
the Reverend David Ker the [Jicsldin^ and only professor. The fist stu- 
dent. Hinton James, of WilinlnRton, arrived the liith of Fcbrunry. The num- 
ber reached forty-one by the end of the term, the Mondiy after the lOth 
of July, when the lirst vacation Itefjan. Ker had l^-en chosen l)y the trustees 
In January, IT'.M, to launch the Institution, lie was a Presbyterian minister, 
then lesidins in Kayetteville. He was a recent Scotch-Irish Immigrant and 
had received his education at Trinity College, Dublin. Harris had bei>n 
chosen In March to tutor In mathematics anu just now assnnilng his 
duties. The '•regulations' referred to were a "Plan of studies and" 
n'iK>rled by a Comuiiltee of the Trustees and ratilied by the hoard, .lanuary 
10. 17!)4. -Vecording to the plan. Instruction in the new Institution for the 
time should he in belles-lettres, the lio'-uages, particularly TClll;li.^^l. a Mhi.t 
and modern history, hotnny, agriculture (theory and practice), the principles 
of nichitecture, astronomy, and natural i)hilosophy by the experimental 
method. Dr. Haftle attrlluites (History of the University or North Carolina, 
Vol. 1, p. 4!) I the virtues of this well balanced plan to the Inllui-nce of Dr. 
Samuel E. McCorkle. chairman of the committee on a 'Plan of Studi s." 
and to Dr. Hugh Williamson, probably the most enthusiastic member. Davie 
e.xcepted. ft Is also a matter of Interest that Harris, the second teacher 
chosen, was, as sliown by the context of his letter, so thoroughly In sympathy 
with the practical chai-acter of the cuniculum. 

- Dr. Hugh Williamson, a resident of lOdenton and member of the board 
of Trustees of the Tnlversity. He was bom In Pennsylvania, 17.'{." : graduated 
at the Dnhersity of Pennsylvania In 17.'»7: professcu- of mathematics In the 
University of Pennsylvania, 17(iO04, reslimed and studied nu'dicine In 
Edinburgh, Scotiind; settled for prnetice In Philadelphia In 1T7'.'. Having 
removed to North Carolina. Williamson In 178J represented the biroiish of 
Edenton In the state .Xsscmbly and in tlie same year was chosen a member of 
the Continental Congnss, serving lirst to 17Sri and again from 1787-17X8. 
He was a deh-gnte to the Philadelphia Convention and signed the coni|)leted 
Constitution, and was a rei)resentative In Congress under the Constitution 
from 1700 to 1793. He died In 1810, then resident In New York. 

The Harris Letters 17 

'Probably \Yilliamson's '•Climate of America." published In 1811; or his 
"History of North Curolinu," publislifd In isri. 

•Alfred Moore, member of the board of Trustees, 178!)1807, a Ucvnliitlon- 
ary patriot and commander of North Carolina Continental forces at Charles- 
ton durinir the lirltish attack upon that port in 177l». In I7S1-8J he raised 
and commanded a volunteer force to assist in harassing (?nrnwaHis In lis 
n-.arches through the state. In ]7!)8 he was elected a jiidj;e of the Superior 
Court of .N'oilh Carolina, and In the following year, upon the death of .lu-itlee 
James Iredell of the I'nited States Supri'me i^ourt. Moore was apponled by 
I'residi'nt Adams to fill his place. He served until ISO.'*, resigning on account 
Of 111 health, and died In ]8](). 

^ ItlcliarU Itennelian, of Hillsborough, an early friend of the University and 
a trustee from 17!)0 to If 01. 

•During his second term ( 1 7!i:M 7!)7) I'resident Washington, now held li 
such grateful regard by all his countrvmen, was not spr>ri>d I'austic criticism 
by tl'.at body of opinion wliicli was rai)idly being welded by .leflerson and bis 
lieutenants into the lU'publican paity. Democratic ideals, to be woiki'd out 
through the principle of poiuilar sovereignty, charactei'ized this party and 
brought it Into sliari) cortrnst witli whatever forces tnat seenn-d to emp'ia- 
Eize ■■cjassism"' In the nation and over-centrali/'ation of power in its govern 
ment. Washington, while dei)recating political divisions in the citl/.ens'ilp, 
lenned toward the Federalists, who oi)posed the rising tide of social and polit- 
ical ideals of .lelTersonian deumcracy. Hence he incurred the censiwe of p •«- 
sessing "aristocratlcal principles," a charge tending to discredit in the minds 
of the I!< prblicrns. 

' Washington was the first president of the "Society of the Cincinnati." 
founded at the end of the Itevolutinn among the nllicers of the army. me:n- 
bei'ship in which was to be perpetuated in the eldest male descendant of ori- 
ginal members. Its objects, besides forming an heriditnry order, were to 
promote friendships forn^ed in the war and to delilx'rate in secret ui)'in t!ie 
welfare of the country. The hereditary feature and si'cret dellbi'ratlon purpose 
aroused bitter criticism and denimciation among the popular baies. the 
storm growing so gr(>at that the Society susjjended its meetings for a numb-r 
of years. It had seemed to the democrallc masses an I'llort to estiblish an 
hereditary aristocracy, and so organized as to have undue weight ui)nn the 
life of the government and country. 

•' Samuel Stanho|)e Smith. D. D.. LI.. D., president of rrlnceton University 
from 17'.>r> to 1812 (resigned). He was an arts graduate of Princeton In 
17(>8. (See note to a subsecitient letter). 

'Oswald, lOlenzer, Puhlislier of the Independent Cazettei, or the C'lrnnlcle 
of Freedom. (Phila.) 17S2-1 7!)C>. He was a violent oi>nnn"nt of the pilici s 
of the Federalist party and jiartlcularly of .Me^ander Hamilton as a i)'>liti-al 
leader. Oswald, though an Fnglishmnn, entered the rif' s of th'> .Vmerlcan 
Army during the Revolution and fought under .\rnold both at Quebec and at 

'" Robert Wilson Harris entered the University sometime within the year, 
probrlily In .\ugust. 

"Mary Ker. wife of David Ker, horn In Ireland 'lOth of JIarch, 17.'>7; died 
In Nrtchez. Mississippi, :'Oth of November. 1P-t7. 

'-Mrs. Sara Harris Harris, first wife of Dr. Charles Harris. .After her 
death Dr. Harris married Lydla Houston Brevard. 


Dr. Sir, J""« ^«t, 1705. 

By Col. Osborn' I received your letter k am doulily glnd 
that Ileriot"- is in such a good state of healtli - It must add 
much to the happiness of your family -- Your business as 


18 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

physician having increased so much within a year pnst that 
if ever yon had any serious intentions of coming to this place, 
you must hefore now have relinquished it altogether. Many 
of our trustees are for immediately filling several professor- 
ships with proper persons -- and at any rate if every thing 
succeeds tolerably - it cannot be long before there is a pro- 
fessor of Chemistry, Anatomy, & - - There is no physician 
nearer to this place than Hillsborough, some of our students 
from the East, being very delicate are frequently attactked 
with returns of their Disorders & have suffered for the want 
of medicine - I have therefore with the advice of ^[r. Ker 
determined to keep a small apartment of Medicine for the 
accommodation of the students & the neighbourhood should 
they think proper to apply - until some physician shall think 
it worth his while to settle near us - - This I undertake with- 
out the most distant prospect of making any thing by it. 
The medicine T will give out at the cost & charges. If any 
advantages accrue they will be the pleasure I shall receive 
from finding myself useful & necessary to any person & the 
renewing occasionally that smattering of physic which I 
learnt when with you, an acquisition that I never wish to 

Inclosed I send you a plan of the Iljiiversity lands - the 
village - ornamental grounds springs, & -- But it would be 
unnecessary to enter into a Geographical des a-iption - The 
general opinion is that the place is most happily situated, - 
a delightful prospect, charming groves, medicinal spriuLJS - 
light & whoKsome air - it Inaccessible to vice - the last prop- 
erty Eevd. Pcttegrew^ bishop from Edenton added when lie 
visited us. I send you also a print which is to be put on 
every book with the donor's name. - - 

I am, sir, with sincerity 

yours Cuas W. Hauius. 
Doctor Charles Harris. 

Make my respects agreeable to Aunt Sally and Elihu. -- 

Doctor Charles Harris, 

Thj: Harris Letters 19 

"Colonel Adlal Osborne, of Rowan, a Trustee of the University from 
1780 to 1814. He graduated at I*i-inceton In 17U8 and fought through the 
Revolution, beginning bis military service as lieutenant colonel of the L'nd 
North Carolina Continental Keglment In 1775. He wns father of two sons, 
Alexander and Kdwin Jay, who received diplomas with the first clas-i gradu- 
ated by the University (1708), and another, Adlal, who graduated in 1802, 
and still another. Spruce McCoy, who graduated in 1808. 

'The "Heriot" referred to in this and the following letter is prot)ably a 
daughter of Dr. Charles Harris, though ibe editor has only the context to 
eubstantiate this assumption. He further believes she Is the same person 
called "I'eggy" in subsequent letters. 

' Reverend Charles Pettlgrew, of Lake Phelps, Tyrrell County, father of 
John and Kl)enezer I'ettigrew, two students in the U'niverslty ( 170."i-1797). 
Ebenezer Pettlgrew was a representative in Congress, 18.{5-18.'^7. The elder 
pettlgrew was chosen a bishop In the Protestant Episcopal or2;anization, but 
seems never to have been consecrated, refusing to go to Phlladelplila for 
that purpose because of the yellow fever epidemic of 1703 in that city. 

Dr. Sir, July 21st, 1795. 

I have just returned from a short tour which I made 
through Chatham after our visitation^ on the 13th instant. 
At which time I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. McCorkle'-^ 
but could not get time enough to write a letter to you - This 
morning I heard from Mrs. Hogan that your family was 
well except Heriot who is ill with the chin-cough - I would 
have been very happy in receiving a few lines by her. The 
number of students in the commencement of orders'* will 
amount to 54 - - Such numbers crowding in the trustees 
thought proper to make some further pio-.-ision for their 
accommodation & instruction - - They determined to proceed 
as soon as possible to the large building^ - 120 feet long — 
5G broad, 3 stories high - They are to receive proposals at 
the next general assembly. But as such a work could not be 
in any degree of readiness in less than two years - the build- 
ing commissioners are ordered to build a two story wooden 
house with G large rooms and a s3hool room, with a purpose 
to accommodate the younger boys & is to be termed the Gram- 
mar sjhool° - When this house becomes no more necessary 
for its present purposes it is intended to be converted into 
a dwelling house for some future professor who may liave a 
family - In a rough statement of the funds by the trustees 
they amounted to $15,400 -- $10,000 of this they desire to 
lay out in purchasing stock G per cent, that interest may be a 

20 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

permanent provision for the University. You must be cer- 
tain that with our present number - our hands must bo very 
full of business. It is a most difficult thin^i^ to procure a 
deserving teacher. A Grammar master is now wanted to take 
charge of the house which is to be built directly -- ]\Ir. Ker 
and I have liberty to procure one at 180 Dol. per an. & board. 
Several have been proposed but none that could be altogether 
approved. With this day's post I dispatch a letter to a IMr. 
Brown, an acquaintance of mine on James Kiver - T have 
great hopes that he will accept of the oiler & therefore wc can 
do nothing until an answer arrives - We have at length de- 
termined to collect a Jyiuseum" at this place - - the trustees 
unanimously came into the idea - & have agreed to use all 
their influence individually to procure curiosities - A num- 
ber of gentlemen on the seaboard have been engaged to pro- 
cure marine productions - But it belongs to the back country 
gentlemen to favour us with many curiosities, with which 
this country, particularly the S. Western territory abounds - 
These scattered about in every bodies hands, soon become 
lost & are never of any general advantage - - but when col- 
lected will become the source of amusement and instruction 
to tlious:\nds -- & when a number is collected due care will 
be taken to preserve them - - As you have considerable genius 
in this way & at the s:une time a warm friend to this insti- 
tution, I hope you will interest youis:3lf and your acquaint- 
ances to collect something worth while and forward them to 
us - They should be accompanied with labels or letters, show- 
ing where they were sent from, and giving some philosoph- 
ical account of them, I intend to take upon me to write to 
CumberlaiKF this purpose - There are certain times of the 
year when many go from your neighbourhood. T will en- 
deavor to have letters conveyed to my father before that 
time, but if I should not, and a favorable opportunity olleis, 
you would do us a favor to write to Dr. Dounld and George 
McWhirter on this subject - & also mention to niv father to 
write to some of his relations in the same place - It will be 
well to re(iucst the persons to whom yuu write that they send 

The Harris Letters 21 

a letter informing me how far it will be in their power to 
assist us- Various petrified objects, uncommon fruits, curious 
stones, bones of non-dcs:3ript animals, specimens of Indian 
clothing and their arts and manufacitures will all be very ac- 
ceptable - The Oil which Uncle Nathaniel^ brought from 
Cumberland is well worth preserving, perhaps you could 
send it by some early chance attended with a des?ription of 
the place where it is found. We have a blank-book into 
which we enter all curiosities with the Donor's name & the 
description attending it. Write to me by post. When will 
you visit us. Give my kindest respects to Aunt Sally** 

Charles W. Harris. 
Doctor Charles Harris 

The only curiosity yet received is an Ostrich egg from Judge 
Williams^'* - Inform Col. Smith '^ that Ivobert'- was very 
well about six diws ago when he started to see Mark - I ex- 
pect him back two days hence - Col. Smith would do some- 
thing in collecting for the Museum. 

Dr. Charles Harris, 

N. Carolina. 

By post 

, postage paid 
at Chapel-Hill. 


' Tlu' Jiist University Coininoncimont, July i:^, 170.". In piirsiinncp of an 
oidinanco of tlie board of Tnistcfs it was Mh» duty of one triisffc, l\ 
alplialictlcal order, from cacli Jiidiciai district, to visit the lJnivcr-;ity at 
examination times and rei)ort on r<'snlt of tlieir Inspection to the board. 
Tills practice did not last long. 

-■ Sanuiel lOusehius McCorkle was born near Harris' Kerry, Lancaster 
county. I'ennsylvaiila. Ills parents, Scotch-Irlsli Immigrants, removed fmm 
I'i-nnsylvania to Rowan County, North Carolina, wlien tlieir son was about 
ten years old. He received jireparations for college under Kev. Dnvld Caldwell 
In (I'uilford. Fie entered Princeton and took liis arts degree in 1772, returned 
home and became pastor of Thyatira chnrcli in Rowan, serving In thia 
capacity until his death (in the puljill i 21 st .lune. 1811. In addition to his 
labors as a most useful Presbyterian minister for n period of thirty years, lie 
conducted a classical school at his house In Itownn, and mt eflectunl an in- 
Btructor was lie tlint of the seven younR men coni|)nsliig flio first itrnduatl'H 
class at the i'niversity (17'.i'.»i, six of them liad been trained by liliu. He 
was trustee from 178".> to 1801 and at the date of the above letter, clialrmaa 
of the board. For an extended sUetcli of the life and services of Dr. Mc- 
Corkle. see Footes Sketches of North e'arolina, pp. rMO :!02. 

^ The second term of the University began tlie middle of .\iigust, 1705. 

22 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

*The South Building at the University, originally called "Main;" Its 
comer stone was laid In 171)8 but it was not linnlly coiiiplctt-d until 1814. 

* The Uraniinai- School went into operation In 1T!)C, with an ndviinred 
student, Klchard Sininis, as tcniporaiy mastt r. In Dicemhcr Nicholas Delvaiix 
and Samuel Allen Holmes were made instructors In It. tlioM»;li Holmes was 
soon advanced to a tutorship in the University, his place In the Grammar 
School being taken by William Uichards, a strolling lingllsb actor. (A note 
on Uichards appears below). 

• Kor a partial list of the specimens gathered by Interested donors for 
the Iniversity's early museum, see Battle, History of the University of North 
Carolina, \o\. 1, p. C7. 

' The Tennessee country along Cumberland River. Immigration in these 
years was setting strong toward the trans-mountain regioii. 

» Probably a maternal uncle of the writer. Charles W. Harris had no 
uncle on his fatlier's side named Nathaniel. 

•Dr. Charles Harris was twice married, his lirst wife (above) being Sara 
Harris, and the second I-ydia Brevard Houston. 

••.lohn Williams, of Granville. Superior Court judge from 1778 to 1700, 
and Trustee of the University from 1789 to 17U9. 

" I'rohably Hobert Smith, of Cabarrus, lieutenant In the 4th regiment of 
North Carolina Continental troops in the Revolution. 

"Robert Smith, doubtless son of "Col. Smith," was registered at the 
University in 1795. He did not graduate. 

Aug. 13, 1795. 
Dr. Uncle, 

I was liappy in bcins; informed by a letter from Oapt. 
Houston^ that your family is increased by a son- & that all 
is well - I should have expected to receive the first intelli- 
gence of such an occurrence from yours'^^ - It was alto- 
gether unforeseen by me. Every addition to your family 
will certainly make you more of the citizen. Tho' your sin- 
cere & general benevolence had already made you a warm 
friend to our institution & every plan for public Utility, yet 
since the birth of a son you must feel yourself more nearly 
interested in the aifairs of the University. -- 

Our number is now fifty six - & a great prospect of in- 
creasing considerably in a short time. We have used our 
endeavours to procure another assistant. But have not been 
successful. We have written to a young man of my acquaint- 
ance who lives below Williamsburg in Virginia & expect an 
answer by the next post. 

Our news at this place has given us more trouble <Sr dis- 
appointment than information - I joined Mr. Ker in getting 
Brown's Daily paper^ but it has not arrived by the two last 

The Harris Letters 23 

posts. & if it does not come more regularly we must dis- 
continue it. There is an universal uproar against the treaty'*. 
]t is said that we must garrison & defend the western posts, 
for the benefit of Brittish merchants - ; that the East-india 
trade was on a better footing before; that the West india 
trade is entirely destroyed - ; that the hands of our legisla- 
tors are tied down, that they can never take such measures 
for their future security as the patriotic ]Madison once pro- 
posed - - that the reciprocity held forth in several articles is 
a mere nullity. The Fayetteville Politicians have risked 
their credit in toasting this prodigy of negotiations while 
other companies were openly drinking him & his treaty to 
hell & damnation - - There has been some disagreeable busi- 
ness in New York on this subject & the great financier Ham- 
ilton^ hiis been very roughly handled by the people because 
he was supposed a friend to the treaty. 

The museum has made but small progress - & consists 
of only one Ostrich egg" - - . I hope when it is generally 
known that such a collection is making in this place we shall 
receive considerable assistance. 

I had a very favoourable opportunity about three days 
ago, of sending letters immediately to Cumberland by a 
gentleman who would travel with expedition - - 1 endeavoured 
to interest David Wilson, James Wilson & Dr. Donald in 
making collections & if no accident happens they can make 
some return before Winter. 

My law-progress, you must conclude is slow from the 
great share of business & attention to which is at present 
necessary for me to apply myself, - tho' slow, it is I think 
firm & determined — 

I am, dear sir, with 
much respect 

T^ ^, , TT Chas. W. IIakris. 

Dr. Charles liarris. 

Doctor Charles Harris, 

24 James Spuunt IIistokical Publications 

' rrolmlily Cnptaln .lauirs Houston, of Lincoln Couniy, an nctlvo \Vlil« In 
Itevoliitiouary dii.vs and whosu company contilbutfcJ greatly to the defeat 
of llie 'I'oi ies in the battle of Itamseiirs" Mill, .lune 20, ITHO. An nitornwihe 
supposition as to llie identity of the "Capt. Houston" nliove Is that lu' was tlie 
fullier of Wiiliam Houston of Iredell, who was a inemLier of the llrst g ailuat- 
lug chtss at the I niveisity (17!)Sl. 

- Williaui Shal< Ilanis, born IT'.t"), heeauic n worthy representative 
of his father's family, though he never att lined or desired polltl al prefer- 
ment. Me served his eountv as repvi sentat ive in tlie lower branch of the 
state Icgisluturp in 18.'0, ^yr,•2, 18C0 and 1802. 

•' rrol)al)ly the '•riiiladelphia (iazette and Universal Daily .\dvertlser," a 
dally nev spai)er putillshed at rhilndeljihia from 1T!H to ivoo bv Aniii-ew 
Ilrown and Samuel Uelf. and continued after 1800 as "Uelfs (Jazette." 

* The .lay Treaty, concluded by Chief .lustlce .lohn .lay with l^ng'and In 
November. 17!H. and sul mitted to the Senate in .lune, 17!)"), and ratified by 
the con.<!titutional two thirds majority \v|thout a vote to spa'c. I'lvi-n the 
federalists reprol»ated the treaty, while the I'epubllcans universally d 'nuunced 
It as a ran'i ln'trayai of American sovereignty. It certainly seemed far fro-n 
advantageous to .\merican interests. By its terms our western posts wei-e 
to lie evaceated liv tlie Hrltish. thou'.jh without comi)e:isation for tlielr long 
retention ( 1 78.'M 700 1 . The Mississijipl Klver was to be open to Hritish 
shi|)plng : .\merican citlzers to be recompensed for British captures of their 
sMps in the West lD(11(>s : French privateers to lie slmt out of our i>orts. 
The treaty even conceded the Hnglish contention tliat a natural flag could 
not protect non-contrab:\nd enemy goods upon the high seas. It made no 
r(>corrtierse for the lirge number of .\merlcan slaves carried off bv the 
Frg'ish armies at the close of the l{e\olutlon : and secured no redress for t'le 
Impressment of seamen from .\merlcan vessels, nor any promise that the prac- 
tice would be ab-'ndoped. A numiier of other imnortant provisions were a'so 
favorai'le to the l'"!pR'Ish. The treaty, however. Iind the one virtue of averting 
war vith Fngland tr)W!ird wliieli we were rapMly drifting. 

* Hamilton even at first condemned the treaty, iironouncing It "an old 
wonap's treaty." Imt soon came to its defense' in ordi>r to save th(> cn-dlt 
of the Ki-devpllv-t pfifty. .^t o-^e open air meeting in New Vork City he was 
stored for atten pHrp to defird it. 

*.Tn('Te .Tohn Willlarrs, of Granville, superior cou't .ludge from 1778 to 
1700 and trustee, 1780-1790, was the donor of the ostrich egg. 


Nov. 12th, 1705. 
Dr. Siij, 

I wrote to you some time airo, since wliich notliinp: of 
importance has occurred in our business. Our trustees are 
not likely to do much during the meeting of the asscmhly - - 
The more I know of their affairs & of my own dispositions 
& qualifications - the more I am determined against en- 
gaging in their business for life - I of late made an effort 
to procure some law books & Motherby but was disappoint- 
ed -- I will again make another attempt at Philadelphia 
when I have collected a little more money -- With my 
father* I send an extract of Lavatie's Phisiognomy & hope 

The Harris Letters 25 

you will accept of it & let My father & the rest of our family 
read it - It is a hook which has a (forded me much amuse- 
ment & I hope some real improvement - It appears to me, 
because I am not well enough acquainted with the s ',icnce, 
that his observations are often vague & uncertain - But what 
ever uncertainty there may be in it - I am fully convinced 
that it is well worth the attention of a young man who in life 
may have all characters to deal with & ought early to begin to 

learn to distinguish them I have sometimes thought 

that Mothcrby's Dictionary might not at this time be so agree- 
able to you or useful - I would take pleasure in procuring 
any others if you would only take the trouble of mentioning 
them - If you send me no advice of this kind I will order the 
book which I first intended - - I am more & more sensible 
of the advantages of which my reading on several subjects 
with you is likely to bring me & tho' I did not study them in 
that particular manner which I might, yet some general 
ideas remain strongly impressed on my mind which gives me 
a pleasure in, & a taste for a further improvement in them - 
Give my kindest respects to Aunt Sally & believe me your 

sincere friend 

Dr. Chas. Harris ^"^"- ^' ^^^"^•^- 

I have not been able to write as I would wish- -I have been 
all the time with Mr. Ker- & my father who are comparing 
their religious creeds -- Mr. Ker & Mrs. Ker present their 
compliments to you & Aunt & assure you that we often think 
of you 

Doctor Charles Harris, 

By Robert Harris Esq. Cabarrus. 

* Robert Harris, of Cabarrus, father of Charles W. Harris, appears from 
the context to have been visiting Ms son st Ohapcl HIM upon this dute. A 
sufficient reference to him appears In the preface. 

* ThouRh the editor has never seen any statement as to where the Inchelor 
Harris lived during his two .years of seivlce to the I'nlverslty, tlie fl'st fwi 
years of its actual life, his Intimate relations with the Ker family, as Indl ated 
In the above letter and others of the series, tend to prove that he resided with 
this family who occupied the presidents house (then upon the site of the 
present Swain Hall), begun In 17i)3 and completed for occupancy by 1705. 

20 James Sprunt Histouical Publications 

June 1st. 1796. 
Dr. friend,* 

In your last letter you expressed some uncertainty re- 
specting the place in which you would attempt the practice 
of Physic, This, in a great measure prevented me from 
writing as often as I could wish. You see by my address 
that I am still a teacher tho' much against my inclination -- 
It is difficult in this illiterate part of the United States to 
procure any person that is able and willing to undertake the 
arduous task of instructing. I continue in my present situa- 
tion because the trustees cannot procure any person to per- 
form the duties of my office. I earnestly desire to be en- 
gaged in some professional business in the world - - One of 
my motives for writing you at this time was to receive some 
information of Mr. Caldwell^ who graduated one year before 
us & spoke the first Salutatory Oration - - I have heard that 
he has been employed in teaching ever since he left College - - 
if he is not yet permanently settled, and has no obie;*tion 
against removing farther south I make no doubt but he may 
be placed in a situation in this state altogether agreeable -- 
I must beg leave to trouble you in this affair & request that 
you would by post give me any information concerniu'T: his 
place of abode; employment &, which you may think neces- 
sary - - Or if you can let him know of the enquiries which 
I have made, it will be still a greater favor. 
The University contains 37 students - - The employment 
which I would relinquish to Mr. Caldwell if he would airec- 
able to the trustees is tbe Professorship of Mathemnti s & 
Natural Philosophy worth at present more than 500 Dol. per 
Ano. & in time to come will be more valuable. 

I am your sincere friend, 

Chas. W. Harris. 
Dr. Jno. C. Otto. 

Postage paid. 

The Harris Letters 27 

I mentioned Mr. Cald- 
well's name to the trus- 
tees. Write by the first 
post to Chapel-hill. Uni- 
versity of N. C. 

Doctor John C. Otto, 
Philadelphia, or 
Woodbury -- 

' Dr. .lohn Conrad Otto, to whom this lettor la written, was an A. B. 
gra(?iiato of I'rlncoton, of the clasfe of 1702 (the class of Harris^ He re- 
ceived his A. M. from I'rinceton in ITlt"), and an M. I), from the University 
of rcni'sylvanla In 17i)G. From 17!)8 to 1802 he was physician to the 
IM I'adeli ilia Dispensary, and from ISl.J to 18:5.') he was a physician In the 
Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. From 18-10 to the date of his death 
In 1S4I he was Vlce-l'iesldent of the College of rhysicians. I'hiiade'p^iia. 

^Joseph Caldwell, A. H. Princeton, 1701: Tutor, Princeton, 170.5-06; Clerk 
of Faculty, Princeton, 170(1; Professor Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, 
University of North Carolina, 1706-1817: President of University of North 
Carolin.i, 1P04-12. 1 81 (•)-.■{.-> : .V. M. Princeton, 1704. also University of North 
Carolina in 1700 (honomry) : and D. D. I'rinceton, 1816. Me died In 18:5.".. 
For a full account of the services of Caldwell to the University of North 
Carolina, see Battle, History of the University of North Carolhia, Vol. 1, 
p. IT-', It sea. 

Nassau Halt.. 

r have just received a letter from you by Mr. Otto re- 
qucstiii.i]^ information respecting my present employment and 
expc'tations.' I am still unsettled in the world, tho' I have 
passed thro' most of the time T allotted for obtaining a pro- 
fession. Tt has been my purpose for sometime past to apply 
for license in the ministry next spring. This, however, is an 
event perfectly at my own dis3retion. And I am unable yet 
to s ly how far your letter may infiuence my decision. T have 
been two years and an half studying divinity, and if I had 
chosen miirht have requested license some time ago. T am 
now employed in the business of tutor in this college. I com- 
menced a year from the prcssnt date. T should feel myself 
80 diffident with respect to the duties of a teacher of mathe- 
m:iti s that I shoiiKl s -arcely know how to venture the re- 
sponsibility of such an office, were it not that I had some 
time since an opportunity of becoming acquainted in some 

28 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

measure with my strength. And the' I still apprehend that 
I do not possess the qualifications requisite to such an ofVice, 
I believe I should be able to prepare myself with assid\iity 
and attention, I wish to receive further information of the 
situation of affairs, before I form or express an opinion. To 
know the several offices of the University and the names of 
those who fill them — the buildines that belonsr to it — & the 
conditions of the funds, if there are any, the classes and num- 
ber of students in each — under what regulations the students 
are at prcsjnt and whether on the whole you think the labor of 
teaching, fatiguing and oppressive. I wish you to mention also 
the expenses and whether the country and situation is healthy. 
By being so particular in my enquiries, I would not have you 
imagine that I would expect to be accommodated in the best 
manner with everything that is agreeable and convenient. 
But as I am almost entirely ignorant on all the subjects, 
I have enumerated, that I may form any determination at all 
it will be necessary that I be able in some degree to estimate 
them. You know the advantages my present station possesses, 
and therefore will easily conceive that it would be by no 
means wise to barter them away for an uncertainty. Mr. 
ITobart" is my colleague, and tho' I have not the happiness 
of a personal or intimate acquaintance with him, yet I have 
the satisfaction of being assured that I may rely without 
reserve on every information you may offer, and that you or 
thos3 with whom you are connected may not want the same 
advantages of information on your side, Dr. Smith,^ Dr. 
]\rinto"* or any of the people of Princeton in whom you are 
willing to confide, will no doubt give you every information 
you may ask. I ought now to mention that it will not by any 
means be convenient for me to leave this place till next fall 
after commencement. From your own knowledge of affairs 
here, you will be able to judge the reason of this. 

Mr. C. W. Harris, 
Chapel Hill, 
Korth Carolina. 

The Harris Letters 29 

'This letter to Harris, in the bound manuscript volumes of unpublislicd 
records of the University Is In Caldwell's h:ind\vritinK. but without date and 
signature. It Is doubtless a copy of his original letter to Harris, made by 
himself and placed in the facility arcliivcs, as a matter of record, during 
Ills early period of service to the University. It Is his rei)ly to either Harris' 
inquiries of Dr. J. C. Otto about Caldwell, (see preceding letter), or Ills 
reply to a letter from Harris to himself direct, but transmitted through Otto. 
Its date should probably be the latter pnrt of .lune, 17!>(>. The suceeding 
letter in tlie series, of date July 2-ltli, is Harris reply, continuing the ni'go- 
tiations for Caldwell's services and Incidentally throwing a clear light up >n 
the conditions, internal, and external, of the elghteen-months-old University 
of North Carolina. 

-.lohn Henry Ilohart, A. B., Princeton ITOa : Tutor ITnC-lTOS; Clerk of 
Faculty Princeton 170G-17i)8; Professor Pastoral Theology and Sacred Ora- 
tory Ceneial Seminary, N. Y., 18'21-.'K); .Assistant Protestant li^plscopal Bishop, 
New York 1811-lG; Protestant ICpisenpal Bishop New York 181U-:50; A. M. 
I'rinceton 170C; and D. D. Union 1807. 

'Samuel Stanhope Smith, Tutor I'rinceton 1770-73; Rector Hampien- 
Sldney .\cademy 177.'>-7!); Cleik Board of Trustees Princeton I'Sl-O.")-. Treas- 
urer Princeton 178.'{-SG; I'rofessor Moral I'hilosonhy and Theolo'^y Princeton 
178I)-n.-. : President I'rinceton 17!)5-1812; .\. B. I'rinceton ]7()!>: .v! M. Prince- 
ton 1772; D. I). I'rinceton. also Yale, 17R:?; I.L. D. Harvard 1810; resigned 
I*resideney I'rinceton 1812: and died 181!). 

* Walter Minto, M. .\., 1. 1,. I).. I'rofessor Mathematics and Natural Philo- 
sophy Princeton 1787-9G, died 1796. 

University July 24th 1796. 

Yoii will, "udthoiit doubt, be expecting some account from 
me long before the arrival of this but I delayed giving an 
answer to your letter until the meeting of the Board of 
Trustees which was on the 15th inst. that I mi<2;ht have it in 
my power to write to you more fully. For as a teacher in the 
University I had no authority to give you any encouragement 
that could be relied upon — without the concurrence of the 

In answer to the several queries which you proposed, I 
am to inform you that the offices' of the University are Pres- 
ident, who is professor of Rhetoric & Belles lettrcs; Professor 
of Moral Philosophy; Professor of Natural Philosophy; 
Professor of Mathematics; of Chemistry; & of Languages — 
in all five Professorships. Revd Ker who has lately left this 
place was professor of languages & performed the duties of 
President pro tempore. Bevd McCorkle, D. D. of this state 
was appointed to the professorship of ^foral Philosophy, but 
as he could not immediately accept of the appointment and 
the trustees began to be very doubtful respecting his qualifi- 

30 James Sprunt IfrsTORiCAL Publications 

cation for that business the appointment has been retracted. * 
Ixevd. Holmes is now Professor of Languai^es. I am the 
other professor who besides the duties of my particular office, 
am obliged for the want of teachers to attend to the Moral 
Philosophy class & perform the duties of President. Be- 
sides there are two tutors''^ of the lower classes. As to the 
classes, the Moral Philosophy class is the first and consists 
of six young men. They will study Paley, Burlemagni, Mon- 
tesqueiu, & Mallet's elements of history. The mathematical 
class will consist of 15 who will study Simson's Euclid, Sim- 
son's Algebra, Trigonometry, Surveying, Navigation, and if 
required. Conic Sections, Projection of the Sphere & Nichol- 
son's Nat. Philosophy & Ferguson's Astronomy. The Geog- 
raphy & Arithmetic class will be composed of 10 students, 
the Latin class of nearly as many, & there will be five or six 
in Greek. The tutors each attend to near 30 82holars, so that 
the whole number will be about 100. I have not been very 
particular, or accurate in some of the statements of the classes 
because it is now vacation & the young gentlemen when they 
meet, will commence their studies in new classes. We im- 
mitate Nassau Hall in the conduct of our affairs as much as 
our circumstances will admit. The Professorship of IMathe- 
matics &. Natural Philosophy will not be more burdensome 
nor laborious at this place than at Princeton. I have been at 
the Univeisity since the first commencement of business & 
determined to devote myself during my stay entirely to its 
interests. For this reason I have always been employed in 
duties which were not annexed to my professorship & which 
I think it will not be necessary for any future professor to 
perform. To me they were not oppressive. I received my 
reward in finding myself useful to an institution which was 
zealously patronized by the whole state. Our situation is 
without doubt healthy — that was a circumstance which par- 
ticularly recommended Chapel Hill for the seat of the Uni- 
versity. As our state is not favourably situated for com- 
merce, & the University fixed in an interior part of the coun- 
try you must readily conceive that the expense of clothing 

The Harris Letters 31 

will be something dearer at this place than at Princeton. 
But boarding is much cheaper, our diet at Commons is pre- 
ferable to yours and procured at the low rate of 40 Dollars a 
year. The Trustees will pay for your boarding if you choose 
to diet at Commons. It has cost me nothing as yet. The 
buildings already compleated are one wing 98 feet long & 40 
broad two stories high containing 16 rooms; an elegant & 
large house for the President, with out-houses; Steward's 
house, Kitchen &. The Buildings which are to be erected 
are a large house 115 feet long 50 broad & three stories; a 
wing exactly similar to the one above mentioned & placed 
fronting it; a chapel 50 feet long & 40 broad. I have annexed 
a small paper which will show you in what order thess houses 
are to be arranged. The Chapel^ is already contracted for, 
& will cost near 3,000 Dollars. The foundation will be laid 
within two weeks. The trustees can at pleasure realize 15,000 
Dollars more with which they have determined to commence 
the large building as soon as they can procure an undertaker. 
It would be difficult to give any correct statement of the 
funds. I requested the Treasurer to make out a small ac- 
count of them, which I purposed to inclose for your satisfac- 
tion. This I have not yet received but he assured me that 
they could not be stated at less than 30,000 Dollars, tho' 
some of the property was such as could not be immediately 

I have now given you a short but I fear not satisfactory 
answer to your enquiries. From what I have said you will 
easily perceive that the University labours more at present for 
the want of good teachers than anything else. Were the build- 
ings compleated and more of the professorships filled there 
would not be less than 200 students. The professorship of 
Mathematics is at present worth 500 Dollars & will I am 
certain in a short time be equal to GOO. Yet I may inform 
you that the society in the neighbourhood of the University 
is very uncultivated & unenviting. I have no communication 
with it. When there is a little leisure I ride 12 or 14 miles 
& there find very agreeable company,*^ & the seminary is 

32 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

occasionally visited by the most respectable gentlemen in the 
state. One who resides here will generally be confined to the 
company of teachers students or books. Chapel Hill is 25 
miles from Raleigh the seat of government. From the new- 
ness of the University every thing is rather in an uns3ttled 
state, Imt from present appearances I expect a situation here 
will within a short time become as agreeable & profitable as 
any of a like kind in the Union. You might here reasonably 
enquire why Mr. Ker has relinquished his business and why 
I intend to follow his example when prospects are so flatter- 
ing. As to Mr. Ker he went away much against his own 
will/ and as to my self I never could think of spending my 
life in teaching or 1 should not alter my situation. The law 
is my aim, and it is now high time to make some eifectual 
preparation in that way. I gave the trustees warning of my 
intention six months ago* After all I hope you will not rely 
too much on what I have said. I could not easily forgive 
myself should I be, even the innocent cause of persuading 
you to a situation which might on trial prove less agreeable 
than that which you at present hold. Consult with your 
friends in that country & if they should approve of the pros- 
pects which open to you from this state, accept of them. 

You may calculate without difiSdence on all the assist- 
ance which I can give you. Your letter I handed to the trus- 
tees who gave me liberty to inform you that you might be 
certain of the appointment should you think proper to accept. 
Gen. Davie of Ilallifax, a leading member of the board, 
promised to write to you. We expect from London a small 
apparatus which will probably arrive before Christmas. Our 
education at Princeton waa shamefully & inexcus.ibly de- 
ficient in experimental Philosophy, a circumstance which I 
have often reflected upon with concern. If you have never 
attended particularly to that subject, before your commence- 
ment, you would undoubtedly find it a great advantage to 
see the Apparatus in Philadelphia & to learn the manner of 
using different kinds of Electrical Machines, Air-pump, 
Telescope, Microscope, Camera-Obscura, Magic Lantern, 

The Harris Letters 33 

Quadrants, Sextants, & whatever else you may suppose use- 
ful or entertaining. I should have appeared often very ridic- 
ulous in my own eyes had I not gotten a smattering ot" ex- 
perimental Philosophy hy visiting Williamsburgh College in 

I would thank you to make my respects acceptable to 
Dr. Smith, Dr. Minto, & Mr. Ilobart, if it be not inconsistent 
with the subject of our correspondence. I would willingly 
receive the degree of A. M. if I should be thought worthy 
of it & it could be procured in my absence. T suppose there 
is some expense attending it, which if you defray I will remit 
by some opportunity, at any rate when our members return 
to congress. 

If upon the whole you think of accepting our proposal 
you ought to arrive here between the end of October and the 
middle of ISTovember about which time the classes will again 
meet & you might at once enter upon your professorship. 
I am, sir, with all 

possible respect your 

Cjias. W. Harris. 
Mr. Joseph Caldwell. 

Be kind enough to oblige me with a letter by Post as soon 
as possible after the reception of this. It would be highly 
pleasing to know something particular respecting the pres- 
ent situation of my Alma Mater. Direct to Chapel-Hill. 


2Gth July 9G Double ' 50. 

Mr. Joskpii Caldwell^ Tutor, 
at Princeton, 

New Jersey. 

»The Trustees, on July 15, 1700, accepted Kor's iTHlRnDtlon ns presiding 
professor and promoted Harris to that ofllee. Kcr's dialr of Uhcloric and 
lielle-I.ettres went unfilled, as did also the chair of Chemistry. Ilirrls as- 
sumed the duties of the chair of Natural I'hilosophy in additlou to his own 
of Mathematles (he having been tutor In the last named subject from the 
beginning of his service In April, 1705, to the end of the first term in July, 


34 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

since when he had occupied the professorship). Samuel Allen Holmes was 
promoted from the Grammar School to the chair of Languages and was 
assisted hy W. L. Iliciiards as tutor In lOnRlish and French. Ilulmi's' aiJ- 
poiiitimnt later proved to be of very doubtful benefit to the insLilution. 

- \Vm. K. Davie, the most intluential member of the Hoard of Trustees, 
seems not to have been enthusiastic for Mct.'orkles appointment, and when 
the latter made his accept.ince conditional upon an increase in salary equal 
to the annual rental value of the presiding professor's house (which he was 
to occui)y, and whose duties he was to assume i in case lie was deprived of 
the use of the house upon the election of a president, the board retracted the 
appolutmnt. For further details relative to tlie failure of this app lintment 
see Uattle, History of the Uuiversity of North Carolina, Vol. 1, p. 100. 

■' W. L. Kieliards, 'J'utor in French and lliiglish, and Nicholas Delvaux, 
Tutor in Latin. Each of these also were teaclurs in the (Jranimar School. 

* The Chapel was comjileted out of the funds of a donation by (ieneral 
Thomas I'erson, of Granville, and was named "I'erson Hall" in his liomir. 
It was the east wing of the present building upou the campus still beaiing 
the name of I'erson Hall. 

'This proi)erty which could not be immediately productive consisted 
mainly of land warrants to Tennessee lands donated by Colonel Benjamin 
Smith (afterwards Governor) in 1790. Nothing was realized from them 
before 1815. 

" Harris' outlet for social Intercourse was Hillsborough, twelve miles 

' There seem to have been two reasons for the disseverance of Ker's con- 
nections with the T'niversity after a yen- and half of service: first, his lnal)il- 
Ity to cope witli tlie "unruly" spiiit of the student body and, secorul, the fact 
that he had develoi)cd heterodox political and reli.uious principles. The bulk 
of the >ourig Univeisiiy's support, both in the Trustees and in the patronai^e, 
was Federalist i«)litically and staunch Presbyterian In matters spiritual. 
Ker beejme a "furious KepuMlcan'" and at the satue time shook off his Pres- 
byterian orthodoxy, .\fler leaving the I'niversily he ml,'rated to the teiritury 
of Mi.ssissipjii and in l.'-O-' was appointed a territorial Judge by President 
Jefferson, in which olhce he served until his deatli In JSOo. 

PART OF MR. Caldwell's letter ^ 

"I showed our corrcspoiulence to Dr. Smith the day 
"after I received your last letter. He read it and hesitated 
"not to advise iny acceptance. He is not well satisfied with 
"his present situation, as he informed me hefore I left him. 
"He looked at the plan chosen for the Iniildini^s on Chapel 
hill & went so far, as to say that he would he ready to relin- 
quish his estahlishmeut & prospects here & remove to your 
University, if the trustees or those in whose power it should 
be, would give up the disposition and direction of affairs into 
his hands, the ordering of the huildiniis in their structure 
and situation, of the environs of the University, tlie choice 
of the Library &, 6l. He thought that by the additional ex- 
pense of a few thousand dollars more than what tlie present 

The IIarkis Letters 35 

plan will require, the University might be made superior in 
elegance as well as convenience to any thing in our country. 
It is an undeniable truth that Dr. Smith is a man of superior 
cultivation and taste. These are so far from being super- 
ficial, that they are entirely of the solid and substantial kind. 
His reputation as a man of genius, of stdence, and of talents 
peculiarly fitted for instruction and discipline are too well 
known to you & to the people of the U. States to need any ex- 
planation. He has a family that .must be expensive any 
where, but particularly in such a place as this; where the 
inhabitants with whom he is obliged to be in habits of cere- 
mony, affect to be of what themselves would call the highest 
order. Being on a road which is travelled more than any 
other in the U. States, his disposition inclines him, and his 
situation obliges him to receive and entertain, with much 
expense, visitors at all times. It is by no means necessary 
for me to inform you that the inhabitants of this place were 
never agreeable to him nor he to them. As to his health, he 
declares that he is seriously apprehensive of the effects of the 
next winter upon it. He has filled the office of president 
with more mildness than he did that of vice president. The 
trustees of this place would certainly be very unwilling to 
part with him. g^r- y, i— n^j 

t'^^uijiL.%ja * ^ Joseph Caldwell. 

*A copy, In Harris' hand, of CaldweU's reply to the preceding letter. It 
was aijpeiuled by Harris to the succeeding letter to James Mogg, of FHlls- 
borongh, a meinlier of the Ti-ustee committee on appointments. It is to convey 
the information both of Caldwell's acceptance of the ("hair of Mithematics 
and the i)ossii)ility of the accei)tance by l)r. Samuel St:iiiho|)P Smith, president 
of Princeton, of the piesidency of the University of North Carolina should It 
be ofl'ered him. Heading between the lines, one may conclude that unsatis- 
factory conditions at Piinceton at that date, coupled with tlie fair prospects 
of the future of the Ilnivrsity of North Carolina, were greater in their In- 
fluence upon Dr. Smith's attitude than the minor causes which Caldwell's 
letter discloses. However, for reasons probably financial in character, the 
chance of securing Dr. Smith was let slip by the Trustees, the negitlatlons 
never taking the actual form of au offer to him so far as the University 
records disclose. 

University Sep. 1st 1796. 
My dear friend, 

I now have the pleasure of informing you that Mr. Cald- 
"well intends to accept of the professorship of Mathematics 

36 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

at this place. I reocived his final answer hy last Tuesday's 
post. lie will set out on his journey in the first week of 
next month & will probably arrive about the first of Novem- 
ber. I feel a secret pride in finding that the prospects of our 
national institution are so flattering, as to entice to it men of 
real abilities and merit; and you who are so entirely devoted 
to its interest cannot but rejoice that you have tlius far been 
successful in establishing an University. I had communi- 
cated to !Mr. Caldwell, agreeably to his recpicst, a very par- 
ticular, and as far as I was able, an accurate account of our 
affairs, and for his information had enclosed a small, rough 
plan of the intended situation of the buildings, avenues and 
walks, all which he shewed to Dr. Smith, and in his last 
letter had favoured me with the intelligence which I have 
transcribed into the annexed paper. Of it you are at liberty 
to make what use you think proper, as you arc one of the 
Committee of correspondence and appointments. After you 
have perused the paper I beg leave to add the following re- 
marks respecting Dr. Smith, lie is as eh^gant and accurate 
a classical scholar as any professor in any of the Northern 
Colleges. He has devoted much time to the study of moral 
and political Philosophy & the philosophy of nature and we 
may judge of his progress in these, by some of his publica- 
tions. He is well versed in Ivhetoric & the Belles Lettres 
his style is said to be neat, <fc elegant. lie is a staiulard of 
pronunciation, and his delivery is articulate, & pleasing, his 
gesture easy and engaging. In short he is possessed of many 
qualities of an Orator. His age is near fifty; ho is rather 
above the common size & when I knew him, inclined to cor- 
pulency. He is universally thought handsome in his person 
L very polite in his mannei*. What Mr. Caldwell has I'clated 
of the conversation between Dr. Smith & himself is in a loose, 
ej)istolary style; and the conditions mentioned cannot be sup- 
posed to be determinate. The whole 1 submit to you. For 
my own part if 1 know anything of Dr. Smith tV: the situation 
of this place I am certain, he would be more useful than any 

The Hareis Letters 37 

man you could procure from Connecticut even Bishop Sea- 
bury himself. 

As to our affairs at present, everything goes on in an 
ordinary way. The young gentlemen have not put us to the 
necessity of inflicting any high censures since the commence- 
ment of the session, but have applied themselves to their 
respective studies with much industry and regularity, ^[r. 
Ilichards who assists in the preparatory sr-hool writes a very 
fine hand & by his method and attention promises to be an 
acquisition to the University in the way of writing. We 
expect to see you now & then if it be not inconvenient. Do 
me the honour of presenting my best respects to your family. 
I am sir, your most 

humble servant 

CiiAS, W. Harris. 
Dr. James Hogg^ 

Mr. Gavin Oliver will much oblige me by making out a very 
small abstract of the state of the funds of the University. 
I spoke to him on that subject at our last examination. 

James Hogg, Esquire, 

Sept. 5th. 1796 
My dear friend, 

I received by last post your final answer on the subject 
of our correspondence — Your determination to accept of the 
professorship of Mathematics gives me great pleasure, and 
tho' 3'ou will find our institution in an infant state, yet such 
a foundation has been laid, and so great are the exertions on 
the part of the trustees, that I entertain scarce any doubts, 
but it will be brought to perfection in due time. I am sorry 
that Dr. Smith is not agreeably situated at Princeton. I had 
often mentioned his name to the trustees, but always sup- 
posed that no offers from this state could entice him from 
Nassau, particularly since he accepted the Presidency. I 

I ■ 

38 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

wish our trustees could make a removal to the University 
agreeable and profitable to him; such an event I am certain 
would be higlily useful to our growing institution. At any 
rate, I will make use of your letter to introduce proposals of 
that nature. I have already transmitted extracts of it to 
Gen. Davie of ITallifax and Mr. Hogg of Hillsborough, they 
are leading trustees, and not unacquainted with Dr. Smith's 
literary character. 

I would advise you to relinquish the idea of coming by 
water, it will be attended with many dilHcultics, and })revent 
you from seeing some of the best parts of the U. States. To 
travel by stage would cost 50 Dollars before you could arrive 
at Petersburg, 170 miles from this place. I think it the 
best plan to purchase a small but good horse and a single 
chair, you could with this equipage travel very conveniently 
and as expeditiously as on single horse. In your chair box 
}ou could carry many necessaries which you might need 
before the arrival of your trunk. This j)lan you may make 
as cheap as you please and keeping the post road through the 
city of Washington, Alexandria, near Mt. Vernon, Pich- 
mond, Petersburg, &. you would find much entertainment 
and improve your knowledge of the Geography of our coun- 
try & without doubt it would be very serviceable to your 
health. The loss in the price of the horse could not be con- 
siderable, and I would take the chair off your hands. A half- 
worn chair, if well made, would answer your purpose & be 
much cheaper. You would save something considerable by 
filling your trunk with one or two pieces of linen, stockings, 
shoes, broadcloth and whatever articles of clothing you. would 
need in the course of a year all which are much dearer here 
than in Philadelphia & sometimes not easily procured. 

Your trunks may be addressed to Petersburg as on the an- 
nexed paper, where they will he ixitx^ivod, and cost of shipping 
J aid by !Mr, Grain & Anderson, who will forward them on to 
Hillsborough immediately, they will receive directions to this 
purpose long before your trunks can arrive. If no ship for 

The IIakris Letters 39 

that place should sail while you are at Philadelphia, Mr. 
Otto can superintend that business. 

I wish to order about 100 Dollars worth of books from 
Kobert Campbell, Bookseller in the city. This I shall do 
before you set out. You would oblige nie by putting them 
in the same line of conveyance with your trunks & with the 
same address. I will write to Mr. Otto on the subject, from 
whom you will receive further accounts. Give my best re- 
spects to Dr. !Minto, Dr. Smith & ^Ir. llobart, I am, sir, 
with sincerity 

Your friend, 

CiiAs. W. Harris. 
Mr. Joseph Caldwell. 

Chapel Hill 

Cth Sept. 179G 25 

Mr. Joseph Caldwell, 
New Jersey. 

November 18th 179G. 
Dear Son. 

About this time I thought to have been with you, but the 
State of my business is such that I cannot be so long from 
home without sulVering some of my purposes to mis 'ary, I 
herewith send you some business^ that I hope you will trans- 
act for me at the Assembly you will find the ground work of 
it in two papers I send you with this. Some time after Gen. 
Davidson fell in the defence of the country, the General As- 
sembly willing to do his heirs what Justice they could under- 
took to settle his ^Military claims themselves and allowed his 
heirs the sum of Seven hundred and thirty six pounds Seveu 
shillings for his Services to the United States, and another 
sum of two hundred and ninety seven pounds from the State 
of N. Carolina. 

40 James Speunt Historical Publications 

After some time the heirs of the deed aledged themselves 
injured both in the Qiuility and the Quantity of the allow- 
ance made for the services done to the United States, in 
order to do themselves justice the heirs with the advice and 
assistance of their friends returned all the pay they had re- 
ceived from the State No. Carolina in order that they might 
be entitled to have their accounts settled on the same prin- 
ciples other continental officers had and recieve hard cash in 
lieu of depreciated paper money. The Agent who transacted 
this business thrcjugh mistake or ignorance returned the two 
hundred and ninety seven pounds that had been paid for 
]\rilitia services together with the allowance that had been 
made for Continental services you will find from the papers 
I send you that one thousand and thirty three pounds in- 
cludes the allowance for both Continental and Militia Ser- 
vices which appears to be all the heirs ever received from 
North Carulina. To make you to understand the nature of 
the claim T will state some facts 

First The allowance made to the heirs of Gen. David- 
son hy the State of North Carolina was not sufii(;ient 
when the his account was justly settled in Philadelphia 
by near three hundred pounds. 

Second The whole of the pay the heirs ever received 
from North Carolina was paid back including Militia 

Third If the heirs of Gen, Davidson had paid back no 
more than the allowance made them for his Continentjil 
Services they would be Intitled to A settlement with 
the United States. 

Fourllihj The State of North Carolina never refunded 
that allowance of two hundred and Ninety seven pounds 
that was made to them for his Militia Services though 
it was returned intt* the Treasurers office through ignor- 
ance or mistake of the Ajrent. 


From which I infer that Sum of two hundred and Ninety 

The Harris Letters 41 

Seven pounds is yet due from the State of North Carolina to 
the heirs of Gen. Davidson. 

I)r, Charley 

Your prudence will direct you who to apply to for 
assistance in bringing forward this Claim Mr. Lock who was 
one of the engrossing clerks was very helpful to me before 
in this business Mr. Craven- who is Comtrouler can give 
you the [illegible] respecting this of any person I can Direct 
you to. 

I would be glad you could make it convenient to go to 
Raleigh with John Davidson^ who is the bearer of this it is 
easier doing business of this sort early in the session than 
towards the last when the members are confused and anxious 
about their different Interests and caprices any expense 
you will be at on account of this will be replaced to you. If 
you succeed in this give the money to Col Phifer^ or bring 
it with you when you come home. I am with affection 

Yr. Father 

RoBT. Harris. 
Mr. Charles W. Harris. 

N. B. • Remember me to Bob^ I hope to see him about ITew 

Before you put in your memorial enquire whether it 
would be better to petition for the certifycates that was Re- 
turned or Money to the amount. 

Addressed : 

Mr. Charles Harris 
Chapel Hill. 

Endorsed : 

Gen, Davidson. 

• This letter, the only one of the srrlos written by the father of Charles 
Wilson Harris, wns madi- available \>} the coiiitosy of Mr. U. I). W. Connor, 
Secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission. Robert Harris' con- 
nection with the military claims of the iJavidson heirs was due to his mar- 
riage Willi Mrs. Davidson several years after the death of her husband, (Gen- 
eral William Lee Davidson, In the battle of Cowan's Ford, 1781. Willlara Lee 
Davidson, of Mecklenburg county, was Major in the fourth of the six regl- 

42 James Si'uun.t IIistokical Publications 

mcnts raised by Nortb Carolina in 1775 and early 177G and tendered to Con- 
gress lor service in tlie common defense of tlie country. These troops were 
talven into tlie Conlinentai service by Congress on t)ie 7th May, ITTTi, their 
ollieers beinR duly conlirnied. They were marelied to tlie North under (Jeneral 
Francis Nash to reinforce the Army of Washington. After arduous si-rvlcu 
of Ihree years under Washington the remainder of these troops wcire sent 
South, Nov., 177i), to reinforce (Jeneral Benjamin Lincoln in South Carolina. 
In Ihe meantime Davidson had been promoted to the rank of iieuti-nant 
colonel, i'assing through North Caroliu:i he obtained leave to visit his family. 
When his furlough was about to expire he aftenii)ti'd to rejoin his re;;iinent at 
Charleston, but found the city so closely beleaguered by the British that it 
was impossible to do so. When Charleston capituhitcd, in May, 17S0, David- 
son's regiment became prisoners of war, thus lea\ ing him without fi comuiand. 
Tliereupon he returned to North Carolina and raised in Mecklenburg and ad- 
joining counties a volunteer cm-ps for the purpose of overthrowing the Tori's 
of the back country, who had becouie particularly aggressive since I.incoln'a 
capitulation at Charleston. lie was engaged in this service unlil C.encial 
Horatio Cafes' defeat on the 10th .Vugust, at Camden. In this l):iltle (Jrillilh 
Itutherford, brigadier-general of North Carolina niililia in the Salisbury Dis- 
trict, was taken prisoner. The North Carolina Board of War temporarily 
assigned Henry William Flarrington to Uutherfords post and on the ;;ist 
August the legislature appointed Davidson to the connmmd as brigadier-g •n- 
eral until such time as Uutherford should be released. General Davidson 
docs not appear to have assumed active command in the district until the 1st 
of January, 1781, at which date he resigned as lieuti-nant colonel in the 
Continental Army. One month later, February 1, he was killed at Cowan'.s 
Ford, on the Catawba, where he bad posted his forces at General N:Uh:nvel 
Greene's order to oi)i)ose the crossing of Cornwallis' .\rmy. Hence ai'ose the 
claim of his heirs, upon both the United States and the State of .'Vorth 
Carolifa. Tlieir claims against the United Slates were under the terms of a 
re.solulion of Congress of the I'-lth .\ngust, 17S0. which grunted half-pay for 
.seven years to the ollieers of the army who should continue in the service to 
the end of the war, or to the widows, or orphans of tlu)se who should die in 
the service, to commence from the time of such ollieers death. The sltle- 
nient of both claims by the Stale of North Carolina was rejected, as noted 
In the letter. Then the state adju.sted the claim for militia service alone, the 
claim against the United StJtes continuing until linally settled by the ';{lth 
Congress, .January 1, 1S.")7. The reason for the long delay rested in the fact 
that Davidson's death did not occur while in the Continental Army and hence, 
teclinically, his heiis had no claim under the resolution of Congress of 1780. 
T^-.' settlement of lSr>7 was therefore an act of 

==.lohn Craven, of Ilaliiax. State Comptroller from 1784 to 1808. 

"Third son of General William Davidson. The other Davidson heirs 
were: (uorge, William, Kphraim, Parmela, and Margaret. 

* Caleb I'hifer, born nt "Cold Water," Cabarrus countv (then a pTrt of 
An.son) .\i)ril 8, 171!); died July :{, 1811. lie represented Mecklenburg In 
the lower branch of the state legislature from 177M to ]70_'; one term ox- 
cei)ted, that of 17!)0. His portion of Mecklenburg being erected l;ito Cabarrus 
In 17!>2 he became its lirst state senator in 17!t:! and served continuously tt 
1801. His tide of "Colonel" appears to have been a courtesy title, or else 
confused with that of his brother John, who was major, and Ileuten«nt colonel 
in the war of the Ijevolulion. 

« Itdbert Wil.son Harris, son of the writer, and a student In the Univer- 
Bity. See earlier note. 

IIiLLSBOuo, April 11, 1797. 
Dear Sir^ 

I have arrived safe at this place and attended the busi- 
ness of the court for one day, but have not gone to the Uni- 

The Harris Letters 43 

versity.^ The political opinions^ run strongly against the 
French who are without reserve called a pack of danin'd vil- 
lains, the same prevails over all the lower parts of the state 
with but few solitary exceptions. The rchitions given by 
Captains and sailors from the West Indies who have been 
robbed of everything and have experienced personal insults 
added to injury have much excited the passions of the people, 
^fr. Ilogg^ is just from Wilmington and says that the sailors 
have attempted to raise a mob and drive oft" the French 
frigate that now lies in that place, as it is considered very 
hard that they should lie and furnish themselves in our 
ports,'* then sail out and take all our vessels without dis- 
crimination. Mr. Hogg attended the play at Wilmington for 
two evenings where great numbers were present of all classes. 
In the interludes the company was entertained with music, 
when the French patriotic tunes were called for, they wero 
incessantly hissed, and the musicians obliged to cease. At 
one time God Save the King was called, a little hissing was 
heard but the other party drowned it with a general and loud 
applause. This will serve to show the great change in the 
minds of the people. Several gentlemen are in town who say 
they have seen a proclamation of the presant presidcnf'' call- 
in"- a Congress to meet on the last of the month. We do not 
altogether believe the account as the gentlemen express some 
doubt respecting the authenticity of the publication. Mrs. 
Kirklaud of whom we were conversing is now on the re- 
covery. Please present my respects to Aunt Sally and am 

CiiAS. W. Harris. 

Dr. Charles Harris, Esjuire. 

'This letter was written by Flarrls at nillsboro while on his way from 
Cahanns to Flnlifnx. where he proposed to take tip the pnrmilt of the law In 
General Havie's ottico. lie had ended his connection with the I'nherslty the 
previous December, his duties as adinlnistiative ollicer of the Institution 
temporarily resting in the hands of Caldwell iinlil James Smiley (iillesile 
was chosen by tile Trustees as principal of the University In December, 17!>7. 

* In reference to the ail-alisorhing question of the Kiwopean strugsle and 
the ri'liition of our lufiint repul)lic thereto. North Carolina opinion during 
the early phases of the French Revolution had been strongly pro-French, but 

44 James Spkunt Historical, Publications 

with the excesses of the "Terror" fresh in mind, and France's persistent efforts 
to iiivulve the United States in the strug;ile on lier side, togctlicr willi her 
rejection, I-'cbriirury, 17U7, of Charles C. I'incUiu'}' as our accredited represen- 
tative, public tipiuion in the -state veered around aud was now running 
Btroii^ly against l-'ratice. 

" i.ither James Hogg, merchant of Wilmington, Fajetteville, and llills- 
boro, or his son Jolin Hogg. The elder Hogg was one of tlie strongest sup- 
porters of the recently founded state University, beiug perhaps second only 
to Davie in bis usefulness to Its interests. A tru.stee from ITM'J to 1802, he 
attended all meetings of tliat liody, frequently visitt'd the institution, was a 
member of the Trustee committee on appointments, and a member of the 
committee that selected a device for a seal. His son, .John Hogg, was a 
partner WMtli his father in business and a member from Orange in tlie lower 
branch ot the; state legislature in 1701 and 17!K;. 

* Our treaty of alliance witli France in IITH provided that thi- I'^rench 
might bring their prizes into our ports and that enemies of i'^'rance might 
not lit out privateers in the said ports. (!enet, French rei)ublican minister 
in 179."!, had Interpreted this to imply tliat French prizes might not only 
be brought in, but sold also, and that Franco under the treaty possessed the 
right to fit out privateers in our harbors. Washington and his cabinet inti-r- 
preted the treaty to mean tliat France might lit out such privateers, but not 
use our ports as a base for their operations against her enemy. '.Iso the right 
to sell in our ports prizes taken at sea was denied. Hence tl.e situation as 
coinplaint'd of above : French privateers titted out in our ports and then lay 
ofl' tlie same ports for the capture of our vessels claimed to be carrying 

" I'rcsident Jolin Adams, inaugurated March 4, 1794. Despite our strained 
relations with France be did not call the extra session of Congress sug- 
gested above. 

Halifax, May 8th, 1707. 
Dear Uncle: 

I have arrived safe at this phice and find myself pretty 
well fixed for study, tho surrounded on all sides with a great 
variety of amusements, in every respect calculated to engage 
the attention of one in the vigor of youth. I spent a few 
evenings in forming an acquaintance in some of the neigh- 
bouring families, but generally was busily occupied with the 
alfairs of court, as 1 enlisted at once into the drudgery of 
Ceneral Davie's ollice, at present I feel a little relieved for 
court rose on yesterday evening. Evei-y one here is nnich 
agitated by tlie near approiich of a cock-fight which begins on 
this afternoon. There have been severtii pack-fights but none 
so decisive as to enable us to guess what will be the fate of 
the general engagement.' The gentlemen in town fight 
against those of the country, otherwise it is the Longs against 
the Alstons. I'ho know my puise is not much interesttnl in 
the affair, yet as an inhabitant of the town I hope the event 
will be favorable to the town party. l>ut llodgc without 

The Harris Letters 45 

doubt will announce to you in his journal the issue of so im- 
portant a contlict. 

The most renowned Dr. Perkins^ left town yesterday. 
He has been operating for a week past upon the sick and the 
lame, the deaf and the dumb, and blind in this neighbor- 
hood. Some assert that all the miracles mentioned in the 
gospels have been wrought anew. Others arc infidels. How- 
ever, none complains of his charges for he labored without 
money and without price. I had not the pleasure of hearing 
much of the doctor's conversation and should I judge from 
his appearance, 1 would conclude, that if there be anything 
uncommon in his points, that the discovery was made like 
all other great discoveries — by accident. He is about fifty 
five or sixty years old, considerably above the com.non size, 
his eyebrows remarkably large and heavy, his nose, lips, and 
chin denote rather the fatness of his head than the sprightli- 
ness of his genius. He seems as if he had been more ac- 
customed to sleeping and eating than studying or making dis- 
coveries, or as if he had oftener drunk from a tun of beer, 
than sipped from Helicon's fountain. 

I am, dear sir, your friend and servant, 

T^ ^ ^1 , TT • CiiAS. W. Harris. 

JJoctor Charles Harris, 


» Evidently reference to local politics and local political leaders. There 
were numeious I.ongs and Alstons in the town and county of Halifax at this 
date. Iliilifax was one of the seven borouf^li towns in the state with the 
riKlit of separate roi)resentatiun in the lower house. Richard II. Long repre- 
sented tlie town in 17S)2, 170S, IT'JO, and 1800. Willis Alston was one of 
tiie county representatives, either in the housi? or senate, from 1700 to 1705. 
Elected to Congress in 1799 he served until 1815, and again from 182.") to 
18.n. lie was a Republican in politics and Chairman of the Ways and Mi>ana 
Committee during the was of 1812. 

^f I'robnhly Dr. Elisha I'erkins. of Connecticut, who in 1798 patented certain 
"magnetic tractors" for the cure of various human ills. These "tractirs" 
were compass-like affairs, with one blunt pointed and one sharp-pointed 
arm, made of combinations of copper, zinc, and gold, or iron, silver, and 
platinum. Cures were elTeeted by stroking, and their principle of acllon was 
supposed to be sinalogous to that of galvanism or animal magnetism. The 
"tractors" of Dr. I'erkins had a remarkable vogue In Etigland as well as in 
this country in the early 19th century. 

Halifax, July. 
My dear Brother,^ 

It is with pleasure that I learn from your letter the 

4G James Sprunt Historical Publications 

progress you have made in the studies of college, as also in 
your private reading — the only thing you have to attend to, 
is that you read no more than you are able to digest properly. 
By now rellec-ting upon what you have read it will be easier 
to discover whether you read with due attention. Suppose 
1 were to ask you from Anson's voyage- what was the object 
of his expedition? Why did he fail in a great measure? 
What part of his conduct shows most clearly his courage? his 
perseverance, or his hunumity ? What is the feudal system ? 
How introduced into England? When was the present form 
of Goverimicnt established ? Whether was Charles I or his 
parliament most to blame in the civil wars? By maldng a 
few simple questions of this kind you will readily discover 
your strength. 

I am not surprised that you should have the mumps, 
when they are so generally prevalent. As you had tlie small- 
pox when a cliild you need not fear them — a circumstance 
with which perhaps you are unacquainted. 

You will in July probably have a short vacation and may 
be inclined to visit Hillsborough. I owe Mrs. Estis ten dol- 
lars for a bed which I have heretofore neglected to pay. You 
would oblige me by calling upon her and discharging the 
debt, also make an apology for the tardy payment. I will 
write to Mr. Richards^ and request him to give you money 
for that purpose. 

You are desirous that I would send a description of the 
spinning machine. This I could not do without making a 
rough plan upon paper, which will re(]uire some time. When 
J have time I shall take pleasure in satisfying your curiosity. 

I have heard nothin<>- of my horse. Please let me know 
how he comes on."* You can write by Dr. IlalP or others of 
this town who will be at your examination. 

I am, dear sir, with affection. 

Your brother, 

Ciias. W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert Harris. 

The Harris Letters 47 

* Robert Wilson Harris, younger and only brother of Charles Wilson 
Harris, was born in 17T0 at Rajiton, his fathers' home upon the "Mill (Jrove 
Traet" in the I'oplar Tent distiiet, Cabarrus. He entered (he University 
during its seeond session, wliieh began in August, ll'Xt. He seems to have 
remained a student tliere until sometime in November, 1707. From tliis date 
he remained witli his father in Cabarrus until about February, 170U, at 
which time he undertook a mercantile career at Salisbury. In 1801 he set 
up a mercantile business at Sneodslio)-o, on the Pedee Uiver, in Anson county, 
and here remained until his death in 181:-'. 

-Tlie boolv to which Harris here refers was published In London, 1784, by 
Jolin and I'aul Knai)ton, with the title page as follows: ".V Voyage round 
tile World in the Years 1 740-1744, By (Jeorge .\nson, lOsq., Commander In 
Chief of His Majesty's ships sent upon an exp(>diti()n lo the South Seas. 
Compiled from papers and otlier materials of tlie Ulght Honorable George 
Lord .\nson, and publislied under his Direction. IJy IJichnrd Walter." H was 
during the "War of .lenUins Far," between England and Spain, 17:iO-42, that 
Anson, with six Hhii)s set out for the racific by way of Cape Horn. He 
plundered the Sjianisli ports and shipping up tiie wliole west coast of Soutli 
America, captured Si)aMisli treasure to tlie amount of ,^00,000 pounds In 
gold, crossed t« the I'bilippines, plundered these, iind returned to Fnghind 
around .\frica. His exjiloits during this memorable voyage recalled to the 
English navy the old glories ot Drake and the otlier sea captains of the 
Elizabctlian Era. 

' William Augustus Richards, teacher In the Grammar Schoo. and tutor in 
the University in Knglisii, French, and sometimes German from 170(5 to his 
death in 170S. Richards was an ICnglishman of varied attainments and 
experiences. Ho had seen service both in the English navy and the merchant 
marine. In America he had become a strolling player, his troupe becoming 
stranded at Warreiiton, North Carolina, whereupon he secured employment 
as a teacher in the ".Academy" of that place. He showed such proficiency in 
tills role that, falling under the observation of certain members of the Uni- 
versity's board of Trustees, lie was procured for the work at the University 
as above stated. Here, in an exemplary manner, he justified the contidcnce 
of his sponsors and acquired that of everyone connected with tlie Institution. 
During a part of his service Richards acted as Treasurer of the University, a 
chlif duty of the oflice at this period being to serve as repository of the 
funds for students and to pay out the same upon order from parents and 

* Horse probably left by Harris at Chapel Hill upon his retirement from 
service at the University. It was likely now at the use of his brother, or 
awaiting sale. The ownership of a horse for riding was at this date a 
necessity In North Carolina to every lawyer, preach(>r, practitioner, teaelier, 
and all others whose? intei<>sts required iiny degree of travel. Population was 
yet too sparse, and roads too undeveloped to justify stage-coach lines west of 
Warrenton. The luxurious traveler sometimes used a "clialr," or two- 
wheeled, one-seated veliicli! known to the present generation as the "sulky" 
or "dog-cart ;" Imt the average traveler went on liorse-baek. 

'Probibly Reverend James Hall, D. D. (Princeton and the University of 
North Carolina), who as Synod Missionary of the Presbyterian Church in the 
Carolli ns at this date, was an untiring traveler throughout North Carolina 
and adjoining states. Dr. Hall was born and reared in Iredell county (then 
a part of Rowan). He graduated at Princeton In 1774 and at once entered 
the ministry In his native region. At the outbreak of the Revolution In 
177r> lie became an ardent patriot and an inspiration to the cause of inde- 
pendence. In 1770 lie became captain to a volunteer company or cavalry 
organized in his district and. a little late^, chaplain of tlie regiment Into 
which his company was Integrated. In this double capacity of chaplain and 
captain he did yeoman service against Comwallls' in vision. 17W0 81. After 
the war he resumed his .ministry with great vigor and effectiveness. Dr. Hall 
was greatly interested In the fortunes of the State University, frequently 
visited It, and was an early donor of tiooks to its lliirary. He died in 1826 
at the ripe age of eighty-two years. For a full sketch of this remarkable man, 
Bce Foote's Sketches of North Carolina, Chapter 24. 

48 James Spkunt Histouical Publications 

,. r. Halifax, July 8, '07. 

Dear JiiiOTiiEu: ^ ' 

Inclosed I send an unsealed letter to Mrs. Estis, hoping 

you will read and seal it before you deliver it to Mrs. Kstis.^ 

Mr. Ivichards will give you the money when you demand it. 

Please settle the account when you juixt go to Hillsborough. 

I am your brother, 

Mr. Robert Harris, Ciias. W. Hakiiis. 


'Tliis business mattor with Mrs. Estis, of llillsboro, is cxplaiiUMl iu tho 
previous letter above. 

T^ TT Halifax, Aug. 2Gth, 171)7. 

Dear Uncle, ' *= ' 

I venture still upon a stay in this sickly country. So much 
is to be performed in the way of study before a man can 
enter (with any prospects of success), upon the practice of 
law/ that I am induced to prolong my opportunities of im- 
provement at this j)hice, and if one or two lawyers who now 
plead in the neighbouring counties should die or det-line 
business, probably 1 might make my first attempts in Halifax 
district. I have some distant hope that IJlake Baker- will 
be promoted to the bench by the next Assembly. I shall not 
fix myself before that period. 

You perhaps have heard that Dr. Perkins, for liis great 
skill in metallics, has been expelled from the Medical So- 
ciety in Massac-husetts, a doctor in New York not long since 
published a very rational piece on these extraordinary points. 
He admits that they indubitably have their effect in several 
instances but not to the extent which Dr. P. has alleged. He 
admits no operation of electricity or magnetism, as many 
S'-ribblers on the subject have supposed, and actcounts for 
their power by the tickling and pleasing titulation which 
their application to the skin may occasion, this being a sensa- 
tion so opposite to a pain in tlio mns;\ilar parts, that the 
latter often is overcome and a spasm or constriction may Ijo 
removed. Of course an ivory toothpick or a tickling straw 
may be as useful as Brass and Iron. 

The Harkis Letters 49 

Inclosed I send a letter to Mr. Edwin Reese respecting a 
vacancy in the University which may be at his choice. I 
.hope you will forward it by post if not better nor more ready 
conveyance olfers. If I have mistaken his address be so 
kind as to-correct it. My best respects to Aunt Sally. I hope 
you will long enjoy uninterrupted health and be the means 
of bestowing the same blessing on a great number of patients. 
I am, sir, with respect yours, 

CuAS. W. Harris. 
Doctor Charles Harris. 

• Harris was now reading law under the supervision of General Wm. R. 
Davie and at the same time assisting Davie in the ofBce end o' his work. 
He procured his license to practice in 17'JS, and In ITil'J assum d the whole 
burdon of Davie's practice when the latter became Commissioner to France. 

'Blake Baker was a native of Warren County. He was Attomey-Oeneral 
of North Carolina from 1703 to 1802. In 1807 he represented Warren 
county in the state legislature. In 1808 he was appointed by Governor 
David Stone one of the judges of Superior Court. He was a violent Repub- 
Ucan partisan from about 17'J9 to the date of his death, 1818. 

Halif-^, Sept. 22, 1797. 
My dear Brother, 

It is so long since I received a letter from you that I am 
entirely unacquainted with your progress in your studies. 
I hear a good report, in general, of the University, and I 
flatter myself that your industry and talents keep you from 
being ranked among the dullest of your fellow students. In 
the letter which I have received from you, there is a uni- 
form silence respecting your plan for life. You are now 
seventeen years of age and must know that much depends 
upon your own exertions and your own plans; and whatever 
deference you may be disposed to pay to the advice of friends 
I can hardly be persuaded to believe that you will entirely 
submit to their direction and disposition, without so much as 
exercising your own choice. Whatever that choice may be, 
you ought to make it known, that your friends may assist 
you in bringing it into operation. In conversation you have 
informed me that ^'ou had a predilection for merchandise, it 
is probable that you still continue in the same mind. In con- 


60 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

sequence of what you then said I have ever since been enquir- 
ing for an eligible situation, in that line, for a beginner. But 
previously having mentioned the subject to your father, lie 
neither approving nor disapproving in direct terms, I took 
it for granted that he would find no difliculty in consisting 
to anything which would apparently promote your interest. 
Tho' my ignorance of the minutia of trade may render it im- 
possible for me to particularize the qualifications necessai-y 
for one about to enter the business, yet I am certain that, 
industry and frugality, steady perseverance, honesty and 
punctuality are essential in a mercantile character and I hope 
that in these you would not be found deficient. A good and 
accurate knowledge of accounts and an casij business hand 
are not matters of small consequence. When I last had the 
pleasure of seeing you I particularly requested you to make 
all possible improvements in Book-keeping and writing. I 
hope you have not neglected them. Your last letters were 
written something better than usual, but there is great room 
for improvement. 

I have now in view a merchant of my acquaintance to 
whom I have mentioned you, he carries on business very ex- 
tensively and is still wishing to extend it farther. He owns 
several vessels, three of which are now at sea, one on a voy- 
age to London, the others to West Indies, lie may have use 
for such a person as you. I will know the particulars before 
my return, and if the prospect is good I shall make con- 
ditional proposals to him in your behalf. In the meantime, 
let me hear from you and also from home if you have received 
any late accounts. I have received but one letter from my 
father since I left the back country. I am with respect and 
affection, Dear Sir, 

Your brother, 

OnAUiKS W. IIauhis. 
Present my respects to the Gentlemen of the University. 

Mr. Robert Harris. 

The IIarkis Letters 61 

Halifax, Oct. 29tli, 1797. 
Dear Brother, 

I received your letter in answer to mine respecting your 
intention of entering into merchandise and am liappy to find 
that you agree with me upon that subject. You mention a 
plan which you had formed of improving the farm on Kocky 
Tiiver. That would, at best, be confining your exertions to a 
very small sphere. Your father's farm which he has always 
designed for you, is very much cut down, and taking into 
calculation the mills and stills, cannot be very productive, 
besides it lies in a distant and retired part of the country 
where fortune would rarely throw bars of gold into your lap. 
She deals out her favors in busier and more crowded coun- 

One of Mr. Drew's^ Brigs has arrived from the West 
Indies. Ilis ship the Poll Carey got safe to London, is now 
daily expected at Edenton, and must soon arrive, unless the 
savage Sans cullottes- be kind enough to pilot her into some 
of the Bepublican ports. ^ Mr. Drew is now in Halifax. I 
have spoken to him respecting you, and from your character 
ho appears desirous of having you with him as soon as pos- 
sible. Especially if the Poll Carey makes her port. The 
employment he will give you is of the most extensive kind. 
You would stay in a store in Halifax until the spring, when 
his vessels sail, he says you shall go Supercargo to Havana or 
to London or some other place in Europe. He expects that 
you will not refuse to attend to his business in any part of 
the world wherever his interest may lie, and it may at times 
be necessary for you to remain in London or elsewhere six 
months or more to transact his concerns. What he will allow 
you I have not, nor shall not enquire ; industry, honesty and 
abilities will not go unrewarded. This much 1 have been 
able to do for you, it is but trifling; the burthen of any man's 
interest must rest upon himself. I hope you are employing 
every moment of leisure time in writing, accounts, etc. In 
pursuing this plan, as it requires that you should be at a 
distance from home, you must consider the feelings of your 

52 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

father, who always has been particularly attached to you. 
His hearty consftnt you must endeavor to obtain. This is the 
niore necessary because he has none of his cliildren with him, 
is now less able to attend to the more active and laborious 
part of his business. I will be at the University by the 14th 
of Nov. when I shall converse with you further on the sub- 
ject of this letter. In the meantime do as your friends would 
wish, and may you prosper. 

I am, your brother, with affection, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert Harris. 

N. Carolina. 

I have taken Superior court license and shall return to this 
place after Christmas. Perhaps you will come with me. 

"John and Williams Drew were mercliants and traders at Halifax and 
Edenton, doiiif; a tienernl earrylns trade and export business. In 17!):j-94 
they gave, respectively, 04 and 10 dollars upon subscription to the University. 
Evidently, as siif,'gested in a previous letter, Charles W. Harris hud secured ihu 
olTer of an apprenticeship for his brother, Uobert, with the Drew mercantile 

^ Hreechless fellows, a name of rei)roach given by the aristocrats at the 
time of the French Revolution to one belonging to the extreme republican 
party, the members of which had rejected short breeches, an article of dresa 
peculiar to the upper class, and had adopted pantaloons. 

.'{. France in 17!)7 was openly pre\ing ui>(>n our trade under color of 
contraband laws and English precedent, to which the infant United States had 
subiiiilted. In reality France's Itepuhlican flovernnient (Thi; Directory at 
this time) was actuated by resentment at our interpretation of our treaty 
with France (madt; 1778), and by the profits accruing from plundering a 
nation clearly too weak to resist. Our Commissioners, I'inckney, Marshall, 
and Cerry were this very month (Oct., 1707) in Paris trying to open nego- 
tiations with ill.; eorruj)! Direclory ti. cl I'je uj) all <;auses of tension bi'twet-n 
France and America. Their efforts ended in the '"X. Y. Z." incident, and a 
burst of indignation throughout America. 

Halifax, November 12th, 1797. 
Dear Brother, 

The alteration which has taken place in my plans since 
I last wrote to you has made it necessary for me to defer my 
journey to the back [country] for ten days longer than T had 
at first intended. Court in Nash county begins on tomorrow, 
in Halifax next week. I must attend to them before I set 

O M 

The Harris Letters 53 

out. I hope you have provided a horse and everything 
liccessary to go to Cabarrus^ immediately after the exami- 
nations. Take care of the letter I last wrote to you respecting 
your prospects in the mercantile line, and show it to your 
father when you introduce a conversation with hira on that 
subject, if you think proper to consult him before I arrive in 
Cabarrus, which will be about the 30th of November. Mr. 
Drew's ship Poll Carey has not yet come to port. 

As I shall have a great number of books to bring from 
the back country- on my return to Halifax, I would be will- 
ing that such as are at the University should be conveyed by 
some of the young gentlemen of this place when they come 
home. I have written to Mr. Geo. Long requesting him to 
contrive the matter. I now scarcely recollect whrc books of 
mine are at Chapel Hill — Anson's Voyage, Tookc's Pan- 
theon,^ and my large Atlas, or book of Maps are among the 
number. Mr. Bingham^ of Chatham borrowed my Atlas 
perhaps he has returned it before this time. If not, and Mr. 
Long^ will be kind enough to undertake to convey it, I hope 
you will send to Mr. Bingham for it. My horse is on the spot 
and you could hire a boy for a dollar. It would be but the 
journey of a day. But whoever goes for it ought to be di- 
rected to secure it well against wearing and tearing; a wet- 
ting would ruin the book entirely — therefore that also should 
be guarded against. 

Mr. Richards*' owes me a balance of $2G.OO, I requested 
him to pay the same to you. I beg, therefore, that you would 
be so kind as to receive it and pay it immediately to Mr. 
Holmes^ — to whom I am indebted, but if Mr. Richards 
should not pay it or any circumstance turn up contrary to 
my expectations so that the money cannot be paid to Mr. 
Holmes, I hope you will mention it to him as I have inform- 
ed him that you would pay tlie money. Pleasant Hall** is to 
ride my horse to Halifax. You will give any flsssistance in 
your power in fixing him up for his journey. Perhaps the 
horse may require new shoes or, some repairing about his 

54 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

Please to have my bed clothes and other articles in my 
tmnk well aired and and the whole secured in the possession 
of some careful person before you leave Chapel Hill. Writo 
to me by the young Gentlemen who return to Halifax. Give 
my respects to Mr. Spriniis,^ Frank Burton/" Houston/^ 
and Mr. Osborne/- Dixon/ ^ and others. I arn, dear brother, 

Yours affectionately, 
Mr. Pobert Harris. Charles W. Harris. 


' Kaf^ton, tlie Harris home on Rocky River, was seven miles distant to the 
west of the present town of Concord, coanty-sejt of Caliarnis. It w;ia 
orifiinally in Anson county ; tlu-n in Mi'ckienl)iirK. cut olf from Anson in 
170-'. Afti-r ]7!):i it was in Cabarrus, cut off in that year from Mfcltlinhur^. 

= "Tlie bade countiy" was a common phrase in tlie South tilrou^llout 
colonial times and up to about ISi'U. being used alike in Vir-rinla, tlie Caro- 
linas, and Ceorgia, to donate the less populous Interior or 'iedmoat regions 
In contia-distincti>.n to the st-alionrd area. 

'"The I'antlKon," representing the "Fabulous Histories of the Heathen 
Gods, and Most Ulustrious Heroes, in a I'lain and Familiar Mi thod, l>y way 
of dialogue," by Andrew Tooke, M. A. Tooke was born in London in 11.73 
and died in 17:51. His book was an exceedingly popular work among eigli- 
teentli century scholars, the twi-nty-nintli edition of it being published In 
London in llU'-i. 

* Fvulently William Ringham the first (reverend), an honor graduate of 
Glasgow rniv<rsit.\. Scotland. He immigrated to .\merlca anout 17S.S: lor a 
short time he preached at Wilmington, N'ortn Carolina, and established a classi- 
cal school there. In 17".ir« be ri-nioved his school to I'ittsbiro, in Cbathaiu 
county. From 1801 to ISO") he was professor of Ancient Languages in the 
State University, resigning in the latter year to reopen his school at I'itts- 
boio. In 180S he removed his school to Hillsbnro, and a little later to a 
plantation he had purchased near the present siti- of Mebane. The present 
Uingbam School at Mebane is in direct descent from the lirst William 
liingbam's log school-house near that place. 

^ Georgi' Washington Long, of Halifax, entered the University in ]70.-| and 
graduated in 17'.'!). He was one of the orginizers of the Concord Socleiy 
(later the I'bilan thropic Literary* in I'i'.Ki and is recorded as Its first debater, 
the (juery being: •Which Is best, — .Vn Kducation or a Fortune," the supporters 
of I'ducation winnii;g llie decision. 

* William .\uguslus Richards, tutor in the llniverslty. See above. 

'' Samuel Holmes, professor of languages in the University from 1700 
to 17i»S. Holmes was not In high f ivor with bis colleagues at the University 
and seems to have been a disturbing element in the period of his service 
there. See Rattles History of the University, Vol. I, pp. ]".(>, ct 8C<i. 

* William I'Ica.sant Hall, of Halifa.x, graduate of the University in 1803. 
and member of tb«- House of Commons for the town of Halifax in ISOS. 

•Adam A. Siirlngs, of Mecklenburg, one of the seven who made up the 
first grarlujting class of the University (17'.)St. 

'•Francis Nash Williams llurton, of (irunville, A. B. University of North 
Carolina, 17'Ji>. 

" William Houston, of Iredell, A. B. University of North Carolina, 17".)S. 

'- KItlier Alexander Osborne, or Edwin .T. Osborne, brothers, of Rowan, 
A. B. graduates of the University of North Carolina in 17'.i8. 

*^' The editor Is unable to discover the identity of this person. He was 
not a member of any of the classes at the University of near dale. 

The Harris Letters 55 

Nov. 27th, 1797. 
Dear Brother, 

I aril happy to understand that you were lucky enough to 
procure a horse for your journey home. I shall be with you 
at farthest, within ten days after you receive this letter. I 
need not inform you that the disappointment in not receiving 
my horse detained me longer than I expected. I now write 
to inform you that we have just heard that the Poll Carey has 
arrived at the bar and is probably before this time safely 
moored at Edenton. She made a very lucky voyage and 
among other things has brought in dry goods to the amount 
of 13,000 pounds sterling, Mr. Drew,^ from what he has 
heard of your character, is very desirous of employing you in 
his service, and has lately urged me to use my interest in pro- 
curing your consent, and the consent of your fatl er to engage 
in his business, lie wants the assistance of some person 
immediately. He has had several ajji)lif'ati()ns but has agr(;(!d 
to engage with no one until he heard from you. J have al- 
ways told you to consult with your father and procure his 
entire approbation was the first step. I make no doubt but 
you have dis:::losed the matter to him and heard his opinion. 
Give nie leave to observe that I conceive it highly necessary 
that every young man should learn some business or some 
trade which would be attached to his person, and give him an 
intrinsical worth, independent of his circumstances as to 
j)roperty or family. But such an acquisition cannot be made 
without some inconvenience, without the sacrifice of a per- 
son's pleasures for a time. If you study physic you must 
serve an apprenticeship in beating at the mortar and rolling 
pills. If law, you must copy lengthy Bills, answers, etc. 
You must set Bichard Boe and John Doe (poor innocent 
names) to eject, assault, batter and misuse each other and 
then bring them to justice against their wills. If merchan- 
dise, you must sweep up the storehouse, weigh sugar, meas- 
ure salt, write a great deal and stand constantly behind the 
counter for a long time before you will be able to earn your 
bread. I mention not these difficulties to discourage. I hope 

56 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

you have more firmness than to turn your back on trifling 
obstacles. Now, if your father consents, you ought, without 
delay, to procure some decent clothing, at least one suit, if you 
succeed, as I hope you would. It would be the last expense 
to your father. If you come at all, you should immediately. 
Determine soon ; remember that what I have to communicate 
to you shall be supprest until I see you in Cabarrus. 

My best wishes, 
my dear brother 

shall always attend you. 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert Harris, 

Give my airection to my father and show him my letters 
to you on this subject. My love to my step-mother.^ 
Nov. 27th, 1707. 

(Gen. Smith^ will much oblige his humble servant Chas. Har- 
ris by giving this letter the first opportunity of a conveyance). 

^MiTchant of Halifax and Edenton, with wboin Harris was endeavoring to 
place his brother Robert for an apprcnticesliip in busini'ss. See above. 

^ Hobcrt Harris, tlie elder, niarrii-d as his second wife the widow of 
General William Davidson, lulled Feb. 1st, ITcSI, at the bittle of Oowan'3 
Pord in his elTorts, with the badly organized state militia, to hamper Corn- 
wallis' crossing tlio Catawba IJiver. 

^nenjamin SmitI), soldier, statesman, and philanthropist. One of the first 
trustees of the University of North Carolina. Donor in 17!)0 of •JO.iiOO acres 
of T(>nnessee land to the institution about to be founded. lie was for fifteen 
years a member of the state Legislature (senate) from Brunswiek count./. 
lie was governor in ISIO. Smith Hall, at the University, now used as the 
Law Building, was named in his honor. He died at Smithvillc, Columbus 
county, February 10th, IStiD. 

Halifax, Nov. 7, 1798. 
My dear Brother, 

If you are engaged in merchandise, you must certainly 
have a South-Sea-scheme in view, — if in Chemistry, you aro 
pursuing the discovery of tlie Philosopher's stone, if in As- 
tronomy, you are searching for Mercury's Moons, nnd if in 
Mechanics, then you must be beating your brain for the 
perpetual motion. If not engaged in the one or the other 
of the above mentioned pursuits, how comes it to pass, that 

The Haeris Letters 57 

the weekly post bears on its wings not a single line from the 
airy hills of old Itagton, where you breathe such healthy 
lively air? Methinks your imagination would constantly 
teem with images and your brain be crowded with ideas. 
And if so, why not impart them to me ? I only console my- 
self in this way that in all events you will not permit your- 
self to be unemployed, and that when not engaged in writing 
tc me that you are more usefully engaged in business of im- 

I observe in a passage in Cousin William's^ last letter 
that you and he intend to give me a visit in January. T shall 
be happy at all times and places to see you. A complete suit 
of broadcloth at that season will be both fashionable and 
comfortable. If Oscar- has not been sent by Mr. Allison^ to 
the Assembly, you probably design to bring him in January. 
In that case I would only observe that you must bring an- 
other to ride back and not depend upon my little bay as I 
have already sold him to be delivered when I receive Oscar. 

I am very desirous to know how your intended storehouse 
progresses, and what plans you have lately formed for the 
purpose of replenishing it, — if you be at any loss about that 
matter only apply to Mr. Industry, he has been the great 
replenisher and furnisher of all shops in the world, and 
without doubt will give his assistance to you. It appears to 
me that tho Hour is very low at this time, it must before long 
rise very considerably. The exportation of provision has of 
late been so difficult and our trade to the West Indies so 
much harassed^ that nothing less could be expected but a 
cheapness of our provisional articles. A change in these par- 
ticulars must soon take place. 

If your cousin, Miss Reese,^ still continues with her 
relations on Rocky River, pray present her my compliments 
in the most respectful terms. Let me hear how my sister" 
and her numerous family enjoy their health. As to her 
happiness she and I never could agree respecting its con- 
stituent parts. I only desire she may always find herself as 
happy as I ever wish her. I asked numerous questions in 

58 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

my last letter, — the answers of some of them were import- 
ant, — I might almost have consulted the Orxicle of Delphi 
in the same time. 

Yours Tfcspectfully, 

CiiAKLKs Wilson Harris. 
Mr. Robt. Harris, 


• I'robahly William Lee Davidson, step-brothor to Charles and Rol)frt 
Harris. His motlicr, tlic widow of (Joncral William Davidson, who was l;illid 
at «.'()Wiin"s Ford in 17S0, married tin- older Uobert Harris. His mother was 
Mary Bi-cvard liefore her lirst marriage. William Lee l)avidson was a state 
senator from MecUh nbiirj; for a number of vears after 1S1.5; was a pation of 
cdueation. and i);>rtieularly of Davidson College, which bears his name. 

- Name of a horse. 

*.l()lin Allison, member of the Commons from Cabarrus in 17j8, 1800, and 
from IKO'J to L'-O."). 

* Hotli Kroneh and Knglish Interference with neutral trade, as an incident 
of the gi-cat l^uropean stiiiygle, was a most distressing feature nf our political 
and economic life in the closing deciide of the IStli and the o|)enIng decade of 
the I'.Hli century. In tlie wai- of 181J we finally turned \\\n>n i;ni;land, one 
of our tormentors, tliouj;li we had siillVred scarcc^ly less from I'rance. 

'•" l*rol);il)ly the daughter of Jane Harris and Ueverend 'J'hoinas Uecse, and 
sister of Kdw in Iteise. 

°.Iane Har-is (the younger), wife of Nathaniel .Moxander. This only sister 
of Charles and liobert Harris, bore her husband nine children. 

Halifax, Jan'y G, 1799. 
Dear Buotiier, 

Your letter of Dec. 1st, came to hand, you there detail 
the diilicultits which have prevented you from becoming; a 
merchant. I wish it was in my power to remove them, there 
is no situation in this town or neighborhood that I could 
recommend, besides it would be highly imprudent for one 
wlio enjoys such a constitution as you do, to sport with it in 
this sickly climate. I already sensibly feel that I am on tlie 
misty melancholy and diseased banks of Koanoke!^ Not on 
your pure, cheerful and healthy hills. Some opportunity no 
doubt will soon occur in yotir favor and afford ample employ- 
ment to yon without removing from home, in the meantime 
the Farm, ^lills, etc., will not leave you entirely without 
some business. 

The Harris Letters 59 

If possible I shall remove to the University during the 
sickly months of next season, at any rate I will be there in 
July, at the commencement. Perhaps it may be convenient 
for you to meet me at that place, if so, let me hear from you. 
Whether you have had an opportunity of conveying my 
horse to Chapel Hill, I have not yet heard. 

Present my respects to my father and all my friends. 


Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Tlobert Wilson Harris, 

Cabarrus, (via Charlotte.) 

' Harris apparently was already beginning that decline in his health that 
was to end with liis early death from tuln'rciilosls, .Ian. !">, isot. llaliiax, 
fiitiinted oti the ItoanoUe ICivcr in the camparatively low, alluvial plain of our 
coast rcfilon, undoiiiitediy Impressed Harris, an up-country mar, as unhealth- 
ful, as witness his frequent references tliereto. 

Halifax, Feb. 7Sth, '99. 
Brother: Your favour of the 4th inst., I have the pleas- 
ure of acknowledging, and am happy to hear that you are 
agreeably situated in Salisbury.^ You need not be informed 
after the trial you have already made, that the business of 
the county requires the greatest attention and constant con- 
finement. Your perseverance will certainly overcome every 
difficulty and discouragement. It is weakness in the ex- 
treme or great want of judgment to attempt an undertaking 
and afterwards relinquish it half finished. It is certain that 
little villages in our State are not very distinguished as 
SL'hools of industry or virtue of any kind, but are rather re- 
markable for idleness in the youth that frequent their streets 
and public houses; you will, I hope, be little influenced by 
example of those of your own age. 

My indisposition which began in last October has very 
much abated within a few weeks past, and yielded only to 
a regular course of the Rushonion, or Sangradian'^ practice of 
physic, after many inett'ectual attempts to procure health by 
tonics, &c. In January I began to let blood once in every 
two days, and drink salts continually. This regimen, though 

GO James Sprunt Historical Publications 

unlikely to produce the effect, pursued rigorously for ten or 
twelve days, restored me in some measure to my former com- 
plexion and strength. 

When last in Salisbury I left in Evan Alexander's care,^ 
among other books, Martin's Natural Pbilosophy, in three 
vol. octavos; they are books which were once possessed by an 
uncle'* of ours, who died at Princeton, and were given to me 
as 'remembrances.' Please to call upon Mr. Alexander and 
take them into your care. Should I not call upon you for 
them, this letter will be a proof to others that I intended 
them as a present to you. 

It is yet uncertain whether I will travel in the summer 
as far as Salisbury ; there is but little doubt of my being at 
Chapel Hill in July, where I would be happy to mest with 
you if it would not 'interfere with your business. 

Please to present my best respects to Mr. Torrence^ and 
his lady. 1 am, dear sir, 

Most respectfully, 

Your brother, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Eobert W. Harris. 

' Early in 1799 Robort Wilson Harris, after a period of evident hositatlon 
In the matter of a pursuit, went to Salislnuy and engaged in a mercantile 
business. Wlit'tlier lie was in an indepeudent venture or in the capacity of an 
employee there the author is unable to discover. He remained in .Sulisbury 
until sometime in IKOli. 

= The Ruslionion or Sangradian practice of physic was the practice of 
copious hloodlcttliig as a cure for numerous human Ills. Dr. nenjamln 
Rush, of I'liiladelphia. a sijiner of the Declaration of Independence, was Its 
chief exponent of use in .\merica during tlie latter decade of the 18th o-ntury. 
He played a leading part in the light against the epidemic of x.'l'nw fever 
whicli visited IMilladeli)lila in 179:5, breaking down his own health by treating 
a luuKlred to a hundred and fifty patienis a day. Ills method of ;realment was 
to give doses of calomel and jalap, bleed freely, and dn^nch the patient, within 
and without, with warm water. He aroused much criticism witliln and 
witliout the profession. I'eter I'orcupine (William Cobbett) In his gazette 
likened Rush to Dr. Sangrado, a blood-letting quack In I.e Sage's Oil lUns. 
Rush brought suit against Cobbett for libel and secured a verdict for $5,000 

^ Evan Elexander, of Salisbury, Rowan county, Trustee of the University 
1799 to UOO. and representative In the CommonB from the borough of Salis- 
bury from 17S»8 to 180:{. 

* Samuel Harris, full-brother to Dr. Charles Harris of "Favonl" and half- 
brother to Robert Harris, father of Charles Wilson Harris. Samuel Harris 
graduated at Princeton in 1787 and was tutor there in 1788 and in 1789 
until his death In that year. 

•Albert Torrence. This gentleman was of Irish birth, bom 17D2. He 

The Harris Letters 61 

settled in Rowan county sometime Just before the Revolution, building a home 
on the heights overlooking tl>e Yadkin River to the northeast of Salisbury, 
and facing the "Jersi.-y Settlement" on the opposite side of the rivor. It 
was from this height that Cornwaills cannonaded (ieneral Nathaniel (Jreene 
across the river In the latter's memorable retreat through North Carolina la 
1781. The Torrence home was a center of culture and relinemi'nt in the early 
days of the republic. Here a ball was tendered President Washington while on 
his southern tour in 1791. Mrs. Torrence's maiden name was Ilackett, her 
sister, .\bigail O'Nell Ilackett, becoming the wife of Uobert Harris (the 
younger) In 1801. Albert Torrence reared four sons, Hugh, Albert, Jami3 
and Charles, and one daughter who married Wm. K. I'owe, of Cheraw, S. C. 
The elder Torrence died In 18i;5 at the age of seventy-two. The Torrence 
home about this date came to be known as "The Heights of Gowerie." 

Halifax, June 4, 1799. 
Dear Brother: 

My health has much improved since I did myself the 
pleasure of writing to you. Soon after my letter I submitted 
to another course of bleeding which had its effect. Still a 
little of the bile floats in my system but it leaves me strength 
and spirit enough to pursue my business. 

I flatter myself that you continue to be much pleased 
with you shop engagements, — a forced employment can 
never thrive. On the first of July I visit the University.^ 
Nothing could reconcile me to the disappointment which I 
would feel at not meeting with you there, but hearing that 
you were much better employed. At present I continue but 
one day at home. 

Excuse the shortness of this, I am, 

With respect and affection, 
Your brother, 
Robert W. Harris, Charles W. Harris. 


N. Carolina. 

'The degree of Master of Arts, then an honorary degree, was conferred on 
Harris by the University at Commencement, July 5, 1709, his Journey referred 
to above being made to Chapel Hill for the purpose of its reception. 

Halifax, Nov. 18th, 1799. 
My dear Brother: 

Your letter due the first inst. has not yet arrived. I pre- 
sume it has not been owing to any want of regularity in you, 

C2 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

but to the want of punctuality in the post riders. Prav how 
is your health? Is your father returned? What news from 
your sister and family? It is thro' you alone that I con- 
verse with all my friends in the back-country. They are 
silent, they forget me in a moment. Were I in a less con- 
templative, or reflecting mood, than I feel myself at present, 
there would be sufficient reason to induce me to consider of 
how little consequence the life of an individual is to his 
country, friends, or even relatives, who is a young man, 
without a character, just entering upon business, and single 
or a bachelor? If he goes, he is no more missed than a grain 
of sand from the seashore. Such I feel is my situation at 
present. Let me look forward, suppose success attends me 
in my profession, my demise would be a matter of joy not 
grief to a needy -tribe of brother attorneys. Suppose I had 
an established character, and filled situations of eminence, 
envy would clap her wings with rapture to hear I was no 
more, and many a sprightly sparkling eye would be fixed 
U[)on the vacancy I had filled. If married, rich, of a com- 
fortable age, and blessed (as the world is pleased to term 
it) with children, my condition would not be improved. My 
own family would smile in their hearts, when sable black 
covered their outsidcs, for now they become masters of 
themselves and property, — these are not wild speculations. 
They are the result of observations on real life. I always 
thought there was more ingenuity, than reality in Cicero's 
famous treatise on the pleasures of old age. One of the 
■greatest pleasures I now enjoy is the perusal of a letter from 
you and the monthly expectation of another. Pray do not 
disappoint me. 

You will conceive me Hypo.* from the above, but I still 
act the the farce of life with as comic a face as any of my 
neighbors, and as the situation of my health will permit, 
which is very far from being firm. 

I go to court this moment to engage in the disputes of 
others, and scuffle for a /40. Perhaps you may think my mind 

The Hareis Letters 63 

better prepared for (Melancholy) dissertation than for foren- 
sic jangling. 

I recommend you to the favors of fortune 
with all the affection of a brother. 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Eobert W. Harris, 

'Hypochondriacal. This spirit of morbidity disclosed by the aboTe letter 
eeems to have mastered the writer from time to time and is doiil)tless ex- 
plained by his declining health. The ever lengthening sliadow of the dread 
disease, consumption, now In a few years was to end his life. 

Halifax, Jan. 20th, 1800. 
Dr. Brother, 

The Bejirer of this is Mr. Joseph Davie,^ brother of Gen. 
Davie, I recommend him to your attention, should he call 
upon you. His stay here is short, and I have only time to 
express my good wishes for your welfare. Your double let- 
ter of the 14th Inst, arrived this morning with affidavits. 
A few days ago was seized at Edenton the schooner Sam. 
Tredwcll, John Drew,, owner, and libelled by the collector 
for trading to the French West Indies, contrary to a late act 
of Congress, prohibiting the intercourse," &c. The Captain 
says he was carried in by force by a French privateer, and 
only released on conditions that he would dispose of his 
cargo there and load with the produce of the Island. How- 
ever there is great reason to believe that there was some secret 
intelligence and perfect understanding between the captors 
& captured, and that the latter consented to be taken in to 
port by force. It may upon investigation turn out to be one 
of that species of smuggling complained of by our naval offi- 
cers, some months past. I believe she is the first vessel that 
has been seized under the same circumstances. Enclosed I 
send two notes, one on Wm. Snow, the other on LEr, Winter, 
both of Bowan county. They are for sums under the juris- 
diction of the court and must therefore be tried by Justices 
of the peace. The money is due to Gen. Davie. I must 


request that you would oblige me by placing them in the 
hands of such constables as may collect the money if they will 
not i)ay on demand. If you give them to any constable or 
other person, take a receipt for them, get the money as soon 
as possible. 

Inclosed is the rough scribble of a piece intended for 
Hodge's paper.^ I altered my mind. If you think proper 
request ]\lr. Coupee^ to print it and send me the paper con- 
taining it by post. It is intended to expose the fatal con- 
sequence of the much delayed prosecutions against a set of 
the most consummate villains. The attorney general is not 
perfectly excusable. Be secret in this paragraph. 
I am, my dear brother, 

Most affectionately, 

CiiAKLKs W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 

Pray present my respects to Mr, Torrence and family. 

* Josi'ph Davie must have boon on a visit from England to liis brother 
Wm. K. Davio. Genei-al Davie had no relatives resident In America bi'sidoa 
an uncle, William Uiohaidson, of South Carolina, by whom he was roared 
and for whom he was named. 

-After the "X. Y. Z." Incident with France In 1708 the Federal Adminis- 
tration, .Tolin Adams president, regarded war with that country as inevitable 
and began to prepare therefor. Congress swiftly rushed rnrough several acts 
loolvinK to that end. One of these created a navy department : Mnother in- 
creased our v(>ry weak navy by a number of frif^ates to be Immediately built; 
another forbade trade with the French West Indies; and still another ordered 
our navy to protect the residue of our trade to the West Indies and attack 
and capture French ships interferrinK tborewith. Under this last policy a 
number of sea fights occurred with French vessi-Is, which added iirestlfje to 
our infant navy. About «-! I'Monch vessels, mainly privateers, were taken 
by us before France was brought in 1800 to make a new treaty with 
the United States. Thereupon our naval-commercial war with France ceased 
until Napoleon laid new restrictions upon our trade during .TelTerson's second 
term. .\t the date of this letter, Wm. R. DavIo, whose practice at law Harris 
had now assumed, was in Paris with Klsworth and Vans Murray arr.uitring 
the treaty that was soon to settle our dilTiM-onces with France temi>orarily. 

'Abraham Ilodge, a veteran printer and pioneer newspai)er man in North 
Carolina, was born in the colony of New Nork, 175."), and died at Halifax, 
In the state of North Carolina. A»k -i, IROo. Aided by the grant of the 
public printing he set up a press at New Hern In 178G and published there 
'"I'he State (Jazoltc; of North t'arollna." In 17S!) the business was removed to 
Edenton, the publishers now being Ilodge and Wills. In 1793 Ilodge began to 
publish in Halifax "The North Carolina State Journal." Continuing the 
Halifax paper, Hodge and his nephew, William Boylan. began In 170i> to pub- 
lish In Fayetteville the; "North Carolina Minerva and Fayettevillo .\dvortiser." 
In 175)0 they removed this paper to Kaleigh where it continued as "The 

The Harkis Letters 65 

North Carolina Minerva and Raleigh Advertiser." The legislative session of 
1800 (Nov. IT-Dec. 20) deprived [lodge of the public printing, transferring It 
to .loseph (Allies who had in tiie previous year set up 7'//e Raliif/h Register 
as tile organ of the I{epul)lican party wliieh was now assuming definite control 
in the state. Hodge and his nephew, Loyian, were staunch Federilists. Tliey 
and tlieii- friends accepted tlie loss of the public printing with ill grace. 
(See otiier letters below). The "piece" referred to by Harris was evidently 
first Intended for publication in Hodge's piiper at Ualei'^h. 

♦Francis Coupee. He established a print shop at Salisbury In 1708 and 
in connection therewith published "The North Carolina Mercury and Salis- 
bury Advertiser." 

• Blake Ital<er, of Warren county, was Attorney-General of North Carolina 
from 1705 to 1802. For further references to him see letters below. 

Halifax, March 15th, 1800. 
My dear Brother, 

Your favor written on your birthday I have the pleasure 
of acknowledging. The subject is important to you and can- 
not fail to be interesting to me. Such considerations and 
speculations as you have entered into are well s''.ited to a 
Birth-day, and very different from the thoughtless, giddy 
mode now in use at this place, of spending such seasons. 
When you seriously ask my advice in a matter of such mo- 
ment as the plan of life you ought to adopt, I wish that I 
possessed experience and wisdom, that 1 might answer you 
to some purpose. If I have discovered any truth from the 
few years that I have lived, and from the little observation 
1 have made, it is, that happiness and success in life are not 
inseparably connected with any particular employment or 
pursuit. The Farmer, the Merchant, the Physician, the Me- 
chanic with steadiness, attention and prudence enjoy each 
his share of this world's goods. The Farmer stands upon 
more stable foundation, the Merchant plays a game at which 
he must at times risk his all. In either line of life I flatter 
myself you would in some measure succeed. Bivalship of 
"which you speak is nothing. It is to be expected, not feared 
in every situation & should only serve to heighten our exer- 
tions and streny-then our resolution. When vou form vour 
plans and have resolved, let nothing, nothing discourage you. 
As a farmer I doubt not but you would be respected in your 
neighborhood and being somewhat acquainted with transact- 
ing business you might successfully at times mix with it a 

66 James Spkunt Histokical Publications 

little traffic & speculation. The greatest fortunes are made in 
this country by farming and planting. 

You have heard of Truxton's^ desperate engagement 
with a supposed 54 French frigate. We are at present all in 
doubt and uncertainty respecting that business; from a sug- 
gestion that she was engaged with the United States frigate, 
the Constitution, Capt. Talbot,- of 44 Guns, it is said the 
latter has been spoken off the capes of Virginia, much dam- 
aged by a fight with a French frigate which she would have 
taken but a sail from Guadeloupe hove in sight, — these sup- 
posed fights happening nearly about the same time and place 
appear a little suspicious, — we hope the report is unfounded, 
and that a mistake so unfortunate and disgraceful to our 
Navy has not been made.^ It may be a blast to keep alive 
the old misunderstanding'* between the Captains of those two 
Frigates. Allen J. Grcen,^ once a fellow-student at the Uni- 
versity, has been appointed a midshipman, and has taken his 
place on board of the Chesapeake," a vessel l»uilt in Norfolk 
and now nearly ready for sea. 

You speak of my indisposition and the propriety of my 
removing from Halifax. It is possible I might recover my 
health by a removal and find business in my profession 
in other parts of the state, but I have not relinquished all 
hopes of a perfect recovery even here. I am now engaged in 
a practice about to become valuable, I have in a great meas- 
ure overcome the embarrassments of a young practiticmer, 
am employed in cjascs of great moment to my friends, their 
confidence in me has been personal. It would be a poor re- 
turn for me to make them for their attention, either to with- 
draw myself from their suits or to place them in the hands of 
another Attorney, nor is it probable that my situation in 
these respects will alter. New actions are commencing by 
my advice. When one business dies, three or four others are 
born. On these accounts I can only leave my post under cir- 
cumstances that would form in themselves a sufficient apology 
for me; my want of punctuality in writing you for some 
time past was owing to absence on my circuit. Let me hear 

The Hakkis Letters 67 

from you regularly and of your health. I am, my dear 
Brother, yours, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 
Salisbury, N. C. 

» Captain Thomas Truxton commanded the UnltecJ States frigate "Constel- 
lation" in the attempt of our government, 1799-1800, to repel the effort of 
France and England to prey upon our commerce under the claim of enforeioi^ 
tlieir contruhand laws. It was the 1st of February, 1800, that the drawn fight 
between the "Constellation" and the French ship "La Vengeance" had oc- 
curred near Guadaloupe in the West Indies. The "La Vengeance" was out- 
pointed in thi- action, despite lior superiority in men and guns. Though she 
cscaru'd and later crept into the Dutch port of Curacoa, she was found to be 
all but disiil)k'd, with lifty of her men killed and one hundred and ten 
wounded. The American sliip substiilned a loss of only ;i!) killed and 
wounded. In February the previous year Truxton, commanding the "Con- 
stitution," had ca[)tured the French ship "L'lnsurgente." These two s\ic- 
cesses iKul raised the credit of this commander to a great height in American 
public opinion. Congress presented him with a gold metal March 25, 1800. 

= Captain Silas Talbot, a veteran seaman of the Revolution, and now In 
command of the "Constitution." Ills notable success in the n'.Val war with 
France was his ruse in Port Platte, San Domingo, by which he captured the 
French privateer, "Sandwich." 

' This rumor proved to be unfounded. 

* The editor has been unable to discover the cause of the differences be- 
tween Tru.xton and Talbot, though it must have been a subject of wide dis- 
cussion at tlie time. 

* Allen J. Green, of South Carolina, a matriculate of the University of 
North Carolina In 1795. lie was one of the founders of "The Dibatlng 
Society," which, within the same year split into two branches, the seceding 
mmibcrs setting up the "Concord Society." This latter society renamed It- 
si-lf the following year (Aug. 29, 1790) the I'hilanthroplc Society, and has 
so remained. Green remained with the parent society, which soon took 
the name "Dialectic." Green remained only one year at the University. He 
received the appointment of midshipman Jan. 6, 1800, and resigned Jan. 
17, 1803. 

•This was the unfortunate vessel that, under Commodore Barron in 1807, 
Bubmitted to a search for deserting British seamen at the hands of the 
British sliip "Leopard" and for which Barron was court-martialed and dis- 
missed from the service. The same ship, in 1813, under command of Captain 
Janus Lawrence, was defeated off Boston harbor by the British ship "Shan- 
non" and taken Into Halifax harbor. Nova Scotia. 

Halifax, April 6th, 1800. 
My dear Brother, 

Your letter by Mr. Hodge I received yesterday. It is 
true I have not had it in my power for some time past to write 
agreeably to our engagement, owing principally to my ab- 
sence from this place. Miss Narcissa's^ elopement I was 
sorry to hear of, and is the more distressing to the parents 
on account of the death of their favorite child. That family 

68 . James Sprunt Histohical Publications 

about the tiino of my birth and before, enjoyed prospects 

equal to any other in the pkice. Their sons are ?■ 

Their daughters no longer bear the name of the family. This 
is not more accident but owing to some causes which are 
worthy of being enquired after and avoided. Of all the 
misfortunes that can happen a man, that is the greatest which 
arises from a father's disappointment in the prospects of his 

children . You are to be a farmer, I presume.^ Once I 

advised you to steer a distance from Love & matrimony. 
Your plans were then different from what they are at pres- 
ent. If you settle at Ragton, I will hope to hear, soon after, 

that you have joined yourself to an amiable who is as 

much the choice of your friends as of yourself (in serio). 

You say nothing in your letters of your health, from this 
I am led to conclude that you have recovered from your 
emaciation and now weigh full 150 lbs. I have not been so 
particular as to balance myself for several months, but im- 
agine I am nearly as when I last saw you. Jn subscribing 
for Peter Porcupine, Liusli LigJtt/^ I have also directed hira 
to send you one. Each number will cost you the postage only, 
to wit, six cents. After reading them you can oblige Dr. 
Harris^ <S:c with a perusal. They may not be masterpieces 
but will serve to wash out the littlenesses of some great char- 
acters. His facts are generally true, I may say, always, but 
he often paints in high colours. ]Tis abuse, though great, 
stands upon a true foundation. I am happy to hear of the 
true federalism of your county." ^Ir. ITodge^ brings back 
a goodly report. I wish how long the back country may con- 
tinue Industrious, Virtuous & Patriotic. Ilerc** party influ- 
ence or omni])()tcnt brandy (both blind leaders) dictate ev- 

I have in conjunction with a Mr. l)rown, a fellow lawyer, 
purchased four or live lots in Halifax, in the upper part of it, 
and on an airy elevation and am now fixing up an olllce into 
which I shall remove before June. I hope for many advan- 
tages from this alteration. I now live so low in town that 
the sickly current of Koanoke continually rolls under my 

The IIakris Letters 69 

very nose. I live often in fogs, — while mosquitoes and 
frogs sing and croak me to rest. Not a word from Gen. 
Duvie.^ His lady^° is very uneasy, and fretted herself into 
a real indisposition. 

My respects to Mr. Torrence's family. Accept of my 
thanks for Mr. McRea's eulogiiim. 

I am, dear brother, 

most affectionately yours, 

Charles W. Harris. 

Mr. Hodge expects and begs that you send him a receipt from 
the clerk of Mecklenburg county for the Laws & Journals, 
as soon as you can receive the same. 

Halifax, N. C. 
April 7th. 

Mr. Robert W. Harris, 
Salisbury, N. 0. 

•The identity of "Miss Narcissa" and tier family the editor Is unable to 
discover. 'I'he family was one probably resident in Salisbury and with wblcli 
the Harris brothers both were aeciiinliiteil. 

= The fulluro of the writer to eomiileie the sonteiuo relative to the '"sous" 
seems from the ooutext to liulloute "uiiworlhiness"' on their part. 

' Uobert Harris had evidently Informed his brother of a Ci'ntemplated 
change in his occupation, prol>al)ly Indicating bis purpose to return to their 
fathers, home to engage in agriculture and trade. 'I'lie editor thlnlxs It piob- 
able that he did reside with bis father between the early winter of ISOO 
and the summer of 1S02. At the latter date he established himself as nicr- 
cliant at Sneedsboro, In Anson county. Sec letters hclow. 

* itusbllght (a rush candle, or its light ; hence, a small feeble light). 
William Cobbett, English joinnalist. was born at Fordham, In Surry, England, 
17C-. Coming to America by way of France in 17'.)2, he set up a print-shop 
In l'liiladel[)bia, then the seat of the American government, and under the pen 
name of I'oter Porcupine lashed French republicanism and American d ino- 
cracy with a scorn "as coarse and personal as it was always bitter." Cobbett 
reached his public mainly through pamphlets until 171I7, when he established, 
March 4, "I'Drcuplnes Gazette" as a daily, and in 1798 a triweekly mall edi- 
tion of the same paper, without the advertisements, and called the "('ountry 
Porcupine." As a cham[)lon of Federalism and scourge of Uepubllc;inisra 
Coobelt's productions were universally popular amung the Federalists. In 
1799 his paper was removed from Philadelphia on account of the yellow fever 
epidemic and continued as a weoUly until early 1800 at Bustleton, I'ennsyl- 
vania. About this date Dr. Benjamin Rush secured the $.'">000 verdict Bgaiust 
hlra for libel (see an earlb-r notei. Seriously crippled financially, Cobbi-tt 
DOW launched the "Uushllglit" to continue his attack upon Itush and other 
of his enemies, being careful however, to keep within the law. The "llush- 
llght" was in the form of a pamphlet and seven niunbers in all were Issued. 
Nos. 1 to 6 were published February 15, 28, March 1."), ;u, April .'iO. and 
August 30. 1800. Vol. 2, No. 1 (undated) has title: "The Republican Rush- 
light by William Cobbett." No. G was pubilslied In London. No place of 
publication Is given for Vol. 2, No. 1. The other numbers were iiulillshed In 
New York. Cobbett loft America In the fall of IKOO. In .hinuary. 1802, he 
began to publish In London hid "Weekly Political Register" which be coo- 

70 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

tlnuod wltliout intormission until his death In 1835. This new piiblicsitlon 
was at lirst stoutly Tory in politics, but later became an uncompi-oiuising 
charniiion of Kadicalisru. 

"Dr. (Jliailis Harris, of Cabarrus, uncle of the Harris brothers. 

* This was '•presidential year," and there has bci'n no i)eriod in our 
natioiKii history that presents an aspect of stronger partizansliip in politics. 
Federalists and Kepubliciins throughout the nation c(jnfronted eaeli other In a 
spirit of utter distrust and rancor. .IclVci-son, the "hope" of the I{i'i)ui)lic:ins, 
aoIiiev(-d the [iresidency over Jolin Ailains and the latti'r retired from olVu-e 
In 1801 with utter bad grace and amid tlie gloomiest forchodinss of liis |)arty- 
men as to the future of the country in tlu? hands of the radicals. The west- 
ern and southwestern counties in North Carolina remaitied staunchly Federal- 
ist during these stormy years, in general returning Federalist representatives 
to Congess from lTi>9 to 1&0;$, a number of districts contiuuing to do so as 
late as 1813. 

' .Abraham Hodge, the editor. See snpro. 

* Halifax and tlie congressional district centering therein was strongly 
Republican. Willis .Mston, a "rabid radical" in the eyes of the Federalists, 
represented the district continuously from 17;)!> to 1S1:{. 

" Ceneral William U. Davie, in conjiuiction with Oliver Ellsworth and Wil- 
liam \'ans Murray, had been appointed as commissioner to l-'ranee in 1T1I9 
by I'resident .\dams in an endeavor to heal our dilVerences with tint connlry. 
Davie h:ul resigned the guvernorshii) of the state to aecei)t the mission. A 
treaty was signed with iS'ai)oleon on the .■{()th of September, l^Ot). Davie 
returned to America in December, reaching his home in llalifo v on the 2i;ih of 
that month. 

'".Airs. William It. Davie was Sarah Jones, sister of (Jeneral .Allen .Tones 
and Willi(! .Tones of Halifax. The latter was the adi'oit politic il leader of 
the forces in the state which had succe-isfully opposi-d the ralilicniion of 
tlie I'V'deral Constitution by the state in 1788, d(>ferring the action of the 
slate for more than a year. .\fter North (Carolina did enter tl>e Union 
Jones withdrew from political life. 

Second Sinulay in May 1800. 
My DEAR Brother, Halifax. 

I am just freed from the fatigues of a tedious and busy 
court. Judge Haywood* presided, — it Avas his object to dis- 
burthen the docket of a number of ohl disputed casjs, which 
have been expecting slow-footed justice for more than ten 
years. Our jail has not been more crowded with villains 
than at the conimen(;ement of the last term. Two persons 
Avere committed for horse stealing, three for stealing negroes, 
two for the murder of negroes, one for perjury, one for pass- 
ing counterfeit money, and two witnessjs for the State, — of 
suspicious characters Avho could not give security for their 
appearance at court. Of these, three Avere sentenced to 
death. One to the pillory, others fined or acquitted. This 
is a melancholy catalogue- to the man who lias been calculat- 
ing upon the progressive improvement of our country in 
civilization and morality and is enough to produce dispair 

The Harris Letters Yl 

when added to the Blacklists that are kept at Raleigh. I am 
well persuaded that it is in yonr part of the State if any- 
where, that we can disL;over anything like general morality. 
There religion is not considered a disgrace and its teachers 
are^ still reputable. 

Elections^ now begin to be the general subject of con- 
versations. Parties in this district become more and more 
defined. It is not the personal good qualities of a candidate 
that are inquired for; whether he is a Fedc^ralist or not, is all 
the question. T. Blount"'* will poll against Alston*' fur Con- 
gress. Judge ITaywood against Gideon Alston^ for elector. 
This last is the most important. The re-election of Adams 
to the Presidency is very doubtful. Should Jelt'erson be suc- 
cessful we may expect that those complaints and discontents 
which prevailed in the State of Pennsylvania on the election 
of ^IcKean^ to the government will extend over all the Union. 
We must expect that those Avho now hold posts of Honor, 
trust, or profit, under the United States, however worthy for 
abilities or integrity will be displaced purely because they 
are federal and their places filled with such as accord with 
the Chief Magistrate in their political principles.'"* 

Judge McCay'*^ is said to be the candidate for elector in 
the Salisbury division. Pray let me know what prospect 
there is of his succeeding and who opposes him. 

Please present my best respects to your father, sister, (Src. 
when next you see them, or write to them. It will be im- 
possible for me, I fear, to see you this summer. My old, 
faithful horse, for some time past has been a little lame and 
1 could not safely trust (him) in so long a Journey. 

My respects to Mr. Torrence and family. Tell Mr. E. 
Osborne^ ^ that I am happy to hear that he is about to 

buckle to with so amiable a lady as Miss S ^^S . 

Your Brother, 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, Charles W. Harris. 

Halifax, N. C. 
May 12 th, 1800. 

72 James Sprunt Histokical Publications 

* John Haywood, of Halifax, was Attorney-General of North Carolina 
from 17"J1 to 17t)4. In 171)4 he was elected by the Assembly us n .)iidj,'e of thii 
Superior Court and served on the bench until l.SOO, at which time he re- 
signed, and uccrepted a retainer of |1,U()0 iu defend .Iniius (Jlasgow a.i,':iiiist tlie 
charge of issuing fiaudulent land warrants wliili; Secretary of Slate (1777- 
17S)S). By this action, and his course during tlie trial, Haywood incurred a 
considerable degree of odium in the state. As a result he emigrated to 
'J'ennessei' where ho became a member of the Supreme Court, which ollicc 
he held until his death iu 18l'G. While a citi/en of North Carolina he had 
published "A Treatise on the Duty and Ulhce of Justices of the I'eace, She i Ill's, 
etc.," and "A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina." In Tenuessijc he 
l)Ublislicd "The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee." 

-Tliis gloomy picture of court congestion and tlie multiplicity and charac- 
ter of the crimes before the County Courts in tlio year IhOO tends somewhat 
to soften the view, now so generally and justly i)revalejit, that our .judicial 
system is inadequate and too slow-moving. The contrast is in favor of tlie 
present ; but few would contend that our present system is a remarlial)la 
product for a hundred and more years of growth. 

■■ Harris' appreciation of the fact that the West, or "bade country" was at 
(his date maintaining Federalist leaders in oflice, while the lOast generally 
was in control of the Democracy. 

* Elections for the Seventh Congress and for president of tlic United 

^Thomas Blount, representative from North Carolina In the ;{rd, 4th, and 
5th (\ingresses ( 17i).'M7Ji'J) and again In the i>th, 10th and )2th Congiesses, 
dying in ulliee in isii!. He was a resident of Turburo in ICdfjcoinb '. He was 
sj.\.th in a family of ten, the olVsi)ring of Jacob lllount. of Craven. Tliree 
others of the brothers attaincil distinction in public life. Tlu'se were William, 
Willie, and John (Jray Itlount. (Kor the family genealogy sec Wheeler's 
Iti'miniscences, page I'M), ct ncq. 

"Willis Alston, of llalilax. Member of Congress from 179!) to 1815 and 
again from 18i:r> to IS.'il. He was a strong reijiiblicau partizan and much 
hated by his oppt)nenls. During the War of 1812 he was Cliainnaii of 
House Ways and Means Committee. 

' (iideon Alston was a brother of Willis Alston and likewise an ardent 
Republican. He was iu the state S'uiate in 180.") and ISOO. In ]S()7 he was 
clecti'd a Councillor of State by the .Assembly and to the sauje olhce in each 
succesive year until 18.'!1, one year excepted, ISlo. 

"Thomas McKean, member from Pennsylvania to (he Stamp Act Con- 
gress, 17(;r>, deli'gates from Delaware to the I'Mrst Continental Congress, 1774, 
and to the Second Continental I'ongress, 1775, a Signer of the Declaration 
of Indeiiendence and of the Articles of Confederation, author of the Constitu- 
tion of Delaware. He was the only man who served continuously through 
all the sessions of the two Continental Congresses. In 17'.)!) he was elected 
in opposition to tin- Federalists as governor of Pennsylvania where the transi- 
tion to Krpuldican contiol was accompanied by loud mutterings of discon.ent 
on the part of the Federalist party. Nev(>rtlieless he was chosen for three 
successixe terms, retiring from the olliee in 1808. 

" l''orebodirigs as to what .lefierscm would do with the appointing power, 
slnnild he be elected president, was gent-ral among the I''ederallsts lliroiighont 
the country, lipon election, however, his use of the aiipointing power was 
much milder than his opponents had anticipated, though they n-fused to 
admit this. He made no clean sweep of the Feder;ilist incumbents but at- 
tempted a policy of e(|uali'/.atlon by degrees, i-emoving a few Fi'deralist olliee- 
holders directly, re])laclng olliers with Itepubllcans as ti-rms expiied by limita- 
tion, and still others whom death renioviHl from oflice. In other words, the 
lirst Hepublican president of the United States was not a "spoilsmin." 

'" Spruce McCay, of Itowan, member of the Superior Court bench from 
1782 to 1808, the date of his death. He was one of the mostfiiseful citizens 
of the state during the years of his service. He married Fannie Henderson, 
daughter of Judge liichard Henderson, founder of the Transylvania Company 
which made the pioneer effort, on an extended scale, in the settlement of 
KentucUy and Tennessee. Contrary to Harris' supposition. It does Dot seoin 

The Haeeis Letters 73 

/Ikoly tliat Judge McCny was a candidate for Congress from the Salisbury 
district in 1800. In tliat year Archibald Henderson, McCay's brother In-law, 
was the Federalist candidate for the district, to succeed himself, and was suc- 
cessfully elected. 

" lOdwln Jay Osborne, of Rowan, a member of the first graduating class 
at the University of North Carolina (1708). He became a useful lawyer, 
practicing first at Wilmington and later removing to Salisbury. He was 
the father of Judge James W. Osborne, who was born in 1811, graduutid at 
llie State University in 18.S0, and became one of the most brilliant luwyi-rs 
the state has ever produced. He was a judge of the Superior Court from 
18r»D to his death in 18Gri, and was the father of tiie well-known foriniT 
l)istrict Attorney of New York of the same name and now living in that 
city. Harris" reference above to Edwin Jay Osborne's marriage (buckle to?) 

with a Miss S ■ S— must have been based on 

mere rumor, which proved Inaccurate. Osborne married a Miss Harriet 
Walker, of Wilmington. 

Halifax, June 20, 1800. 
My dear Brother, 


Your letter of the first Ins. I received, and am sorry that 
my business and aljsence prevent me from bein^ as punctual 
in my correspondence as you are. The fatigue of myself 
and horse, with the circuit, which I have just finished, the 
length of the journey and that of the season have conspired 
to determine me to forego the pleasure of seeing my relations 
this Summer. The extent of my excursion will be to Shockoe 
Springs^ in Warren County. My inclinations still are set 
upon a voyage to sea, but the short intervals in my business 
present an insuperable Barrier to the execution of such a 

I continue repairing the pleasant lots which I informed 
you Mr. Brown & myself had purchased; the house is almost 
ready for my reception. I have laid out about one hundred 
dollars besides the purchase, and to make it convenient, some 
hundreds more would be necessary. Boarding is here so ex- 
travagant that I look forward to such arrangements as will 
enable me to furnish breakfast and supper within myself. 

Our general attention as to public affairs is set upon the 
election of president and vi(;e-prcsident. The issue depends 
upon our state."* As far as 1 can procure information, the 
following is a statement of probabilities: ^ 


74 James Sprunt Historical Publications 


Edenton District Mr. Harvey Col. Hamilton 

Bertie " Wm. McKenzie Col. Winn Vantified. 

Halifax " Mr. Haywood Gid. Alston 

Washington " Col. Mayo Mr. Ed. Hall 

Granville " L. Henderson Col. Taylor 

Hillshoro " W. Alves Col. Tatoni ' doubtful 

Fayette " Martin i 

Newbern " Mr. Jones — I federal 

Salisbury " Judge MacCoy • j 

Wilmington " -doubtful 

Morgan " antilied. 

Surry &c. " antified. 

Almost every person has his own opinion respecting these 
elections. Pray lot nie know what is the general opinion 
rcspectiniij tliem in your county. 

Sliouhl it prove true that Buonaparte has lately been 
mortally wounded"'' our negotiations must be retarded and 
our expectations of celebrating the fourth of July with 
(jl(!n. Davie he cntirtjly disa])p()inteil.^ It is tiow known that 
the l*()rtsmouth — Capt. Neal, sailed for the purpose of 
bringing back our Envoys — she has been gone nearly three 

From Ixaleigh we hear that Glasgow' and Willoughby 
Williams''* have been found guilty, that the Grand Jury has 
found a bill against Thomas lUount.'* It has been whispered 
that the indictments against these men are deficient and not 
supportable, it" so, we siiall hear that .ludgment has been 
accepted. This would completely settle the business with 
our State officers, particularly with Mv. Baker.^*^ 

I am, your brother, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. liobert W. Harris, 

N. Carolina. 

Mail Halifax, N. C. 

June 21st. 

The Harris Letters 75 

1 Shockoe Springs, in Warren County, was in colonial days and the early 
period of the rt'pulilic a wellUnown and favorite hi-alth resort, 'llie wat<'r9 
were regarded as having excellent medicinal qualities and attracted health- 
seekers from afar. 

=• Harris made this voyage to sea hefore his death and failed to find the 
relief he anticipated. See Lelow. 

' In the electoral vote of ISOO Adams received G5 and Jefferson and Burr 
73 each, the election in conseiiuence heiiig thrown into the House for a di';'i- 
Bion between Jefterson and Burr, and wltli the well known result. North 
Carolina had twelve electoral votes at this date, the electors being chosen by 
districts. Of these Adams secured four and Jefterson eight. Hence Harris' 
estimate of the probable Federalist strength exceeded it by one vote. In 
171)0 .\dams had carried only one district in the state. 

♦ Harris' list of the electoral candidates is Incomplete, and the editor is 
unal)Ie to complete it with the material accessible. 

'" One of the mani false rumors that frequently reached America of Napo- 
leon's assassination. 

•General I)avie did not arrive in America until the first week In Decem- 
ber, It'OO, landing in Norfolk. Hope in the favorable character of the treaty 
he carrl.'d immediately boosted the price of export commodities. (See 
Ralriyh Iteijistcr, Dec. 16, I-SOO;. 

'James Glasgow, secretary of state in North Carolina from 1777 to 17!»8, 
was brought to trial the 10th of June, 1800, before a special court composed, 
by an act of the Assembly for the especial purpose, of the judges of the 
four superior court districts into which the state was then divided. Judge 
John Haywood resigned hefore the court convened and 'ecame the chief 
advocate of the defense. The remaining three juuges, Samuel Johnston, John 
Louis Taylor, and John Hall constituted the court. The charges against 
Glasgow einhrai.-ed particular the fraudulent issue of land warrants by which 
he had materially protitcd. He was convicted, the court rendering its deci- 
sion on the 17th June, the penalty being a fine of 2000 pounds and commit- 
ment to iail until the fine was paid. 

" Willoughby Williams, of Greene County, Deputy Secretary of Slate, was 
Indlcti-d and tried with Glasgow for collusion and also convicted, his penalty 
being .^lOO jiounds and jail until paid. 

• The Blount brothers, Thomas and John Gray, were also indicted before 
the special court, charged with procurement of land warrants by fraud 
through James Armstrong, entry-taker of claims for western lands. The 
frauds charged were of date 178!), the lands concerned being now (1800) in 
the stJte of Tennessee. Both were ultimately aciiultted. John Gray Blount 
was in early manhood a com))anlon of Daniel Boone in trans-mountain ex- 
ploration and had t.ius become Interested in the western country. A resident 
of Beaufort, he was reputed at the date of the trial to l)e the 1 irgest land- 
holder In the state, much of it, however, being property in the new state to 
the west. It was the western land Interests of the Blount family that carried 
two other of the Blount brothers, William and Willie, to the trans-motmtain 
frontier. In 1700 William Blount was appointed by Washington as governor 
of the Territory south of the Ohio, just ceded by Virginia and North Carolina 
to the Federal Government. The northern portion became the state of Ken- 
tucky In 1792. Blount was president of the Convention which made tlie 
Constitution under which Tennrsee became a state In 1700. In the same year 
he was chosen United States senator from Tennessee anu In 1707 was ex- 
polled from the senate for Inciting the CreeK and Cherokee Indians to at- 
tacks upon Spanish territory. Willie Blount was secretary to his brother 
while territorial governor, and himself governor of Tennessee from 1809 
to I8iri. 

"•Blake Baker, the Attorney-GenorRl, was suspected by the public of lick- 
ing zeal in his efforts to uncover the land frauds. So general became this 
opinion that he published a defense of himself. See ftalcirjh Register, 
Sept. 9, 1800. 

76 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

Warren County^ Siiockoe Sprinos, 

July 11th, 1800. 
My dear Brother, 

I have been at this place five days drinking the mineral, 
and feel no effects from it. I had greater expectations from 
the change of air and exercise than from any virtue in the 
water. I have fixed myself with accommodations a mile and 
a half from the springs, walk to it every morning before 
Breakfast, and ride to it at noon and night. This spring, 
like all others of the kind has profound wonders, — at one 
time or another every disorder in its turn has been removed 
by its power, if we are to credit common report. It rises 
within about eight feet from the bed of Shockoe Creek, is 
nearly as low as the creek water and springs from a bed of 
mud, which in wet seasons is trodden up by the cows (who 
are very fond of the water) and rendered inaccessible except 
by walking upon poles laid down for the purpose. The mud 
is black, and yellow sediment appears in every part of the 
spring or its branch. There is no inclosure around it. No 
baths. No accommodations to be had at the spot. The water 
is a strong dinsetic and from its taste I imagine it is princi- 
pally nitrous. It is eight miles from Warrenton, 40 from 
Halifax and near 50 from Raleigh.^ 

The fourth of July has everywhere been celebrated with 
great attention. The toasts drunk upon that occasion will bo 
a kind of key to the political sentiments of the most reputable 
class of citizens. Federalism and its opponent become daily 
more distinctly divided by districts, counties, towns, or neigh- 
borhoods, but this division will be only formidable when 
States become the limits. of political opinions, then nothing 
less than a dissolution of our Union will be the consequence, 
and on this principle we seem now nearly ripe for a division.- 

The death of Jeiferson has been reported. It first came 
from Baltimore, the Jacobins' believe it not. I mentioned 
it to Citizen iMacon^ on mv arrival at Warrenton. lie had 
not heard it before, turned oil", supposed I was sporting with 
him, and would have no further conversation on the subject. 

The Harris Letters 77 

It would entirely disconcert the wondrous and deep laid 
plans of those disorganizers. 

I am closely engaged in learning the French language 
under the Marquis de Clugny,^ and hope to be able to con- 
verse in it before Christmas. Give my respects to Mr. Tor- 
reuce and family. 

I am, with affection, 

Your brother, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 
Salisbury, N. C. 

Warrenton, N. C. 

July 22nd, 1800. 

• See note on Shockoe Springs appended to an earlier letter In the series. 
'As the presidential election of 1800 approaelied, party spirit ran so hl,'h 

that many public men seriously anticipated a dissolution of the Union. I'ar- 
tlzan lancor was particularly stirred to white heat by the Allen and Sedition 
Acts and the trials that took place under the latter. Jefferson's followers 
believed these acts a clear Invasion by Congress of the sphere of personal 
rights under state control. Centralization of all powers In the hands of the 
Kederal government seemed to the Hepuhlicans the Federalists' program. Tho 
Virginia-Kentucky Uesolutlons voiced their protests and excitement continued 
to grow until Jefferson was actually In office. It was a critical year In 
American history, for the followers of Jefferson were doubtless inclined to go 
to extreme lengths to wrest control from the I'^ederallst party. 

' 'i'he followers of Jefferson were generally called "Jacobins" by their oppo- 
nents during the last decade of the century. The purpose was to identify Re- 
publican principles with those of the extreme radicals, members of the 
Jacobin Clubs, In the "Terror" period of the French Uevolutlon. 

* Natlianiel Macon, of Warren County, representative In Congress from 
North Carolina from 171)1 to 1817, speaker of the House from 1801 to 1807, 
and United States senator from 1817 to 1827. He was a stout supporter 
of the principals of Republicanism. Harris" reference to him as "citizen" 
Macon is ironical, citizen being the usual Federalist appellation given to the 
leaders of the democracy in America to eniphaslze their identity in principles 
with the extremists in France under whose Influence titles of nobility had 
been abolished in the revolution and "citizen" decreed the only allowable 

^ A French nobleman resident In Warrenton, a refugee of the Revolution. 

July 29th, 1800. 
My dear Brother, 

Your letters of the first and 15th inst. arrived at this 
place a few days ago being forwarded by the P. M. of Hali- 
fax, and thank you for the information they contain. I hope 

78 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

there is but little doubt respecting tlie selection of Mr. Hen- 
derson.^ However firm your district may be, Jacobin prin- 
ciples seem to increase in strength here. In this division for 
Elector I believe the anti-federal candidate will receive a 
majority of votes in every county. Mr. Haywood, late judge, 
as aifairs have turned, was the most improper person in the 
district to be proposed for that oflice. He is wavering and 
undetermined, and his conduct of late has not only ruined 
his own popularity but injured the cause which we expected 
he would promote. The resignation of his judgeship at a 
time the public had the greatest demand for his services, and 
when his place could not be filled by an appointment, is con- 
sidered by every person in the same unfavorable light, and 
leads to a conclusion that avarice is his primum mobile. So 
far has it operated against him that in the county of Frauklin 
whei-e he resides, and for which he offers as a representative 
in the next General Assembly, he will uot receive more than 
fifty votes." 

In your letters I hear nothing from Kagton nor from 
your neighbors. Is your father &g well ? for he rarely sends 
me a letter. I received accounts a few days past from your 
sister.^ She always writes to inform me of something dis- 
astrous, the death of her mother-in-law, and of others, her 
neighbors were announced in her last. 

Tomorrow I leave this Kepublican county and will spend 
some days in Franklin and Nash on my return to Halifax; 
my court soon begins. I must be in readiness and have adopt- 
ed your plan of writing some days before my promised time, 
when I suspect any business or absence might otherwise 
prevent it. 

I am. Dr. Brother, 

Yours affectionately, 

Ttr T. 1 . TIT IT • Charles W. Harris. 

Mr. iiobert W. Harris, 

Salisbury, N. C. 

•Archibald Henderson, of Salisbury, a Federalist aspirant as representa- 
tive In the Gtli Consress. to be elected In November. Henderson was success- 
ful, and also again In 18u:^. 

The Harris Letters 79 

* See a former note on Haywood's resignation from the bench. He was 
defontcd In 1800 both as candidate for presidential elector and for the As- 

' 'J'he only sister of Charles Wilson Harris and Robert Wilson Harris was 
named Jane, born in 1770, and dlod in 1842. She married Nathaniel Alexan- 
der, son of Abram Alexander, chairman of the "Mecklenburg Declaration" 


T^ -D AuL'. 3rd, 1800. 

JJear Urother, " 

I have arrived at Halifax sooner than was expected when 
1 hist wrote to you. A few fevers and agues have made their 
appearance here during my absence. As for myself I feci a 
little improved by my journey and hope to weather out the 

Letters from Gen, Davie arrived here by the two last 
posts, but contained nothing except of a private nature. They 
are dated as far back as the 19th of April. The Portsmouth, 
— Capt. Neal — was then waiting to bring the commissioners 
home. The General expected to celebrate the 4th of July in 
America. In this expectation he has been disappointed. The 
different accounts which we have seen in the papers re- 
specting any final adjustment of our diiferences with France, 
or of a failure of the mission must be entirely fabricated. 
And little credit can be attached to any accounts of their 
proceedings until officially published.^ In my absence the 
Rushlight- came to hand. !Mr. Hodge who knew of my in- 
tention of sending you one set, was good enough to forward 
them postpaid. 1 hope you have received them. If your 
friends on Rocky River have not seen them, you can send 
them down. They will serve to pass off a dull moment. 

Thomas Blount has been acquitted and his brother J. G. 
Blount, as they say Honorably. T. B.^ has made an offer of 
his services as a representative to Congress. I cannot pretend 
to say whether or not he will be elected. 

Let me hear from you as soon as your elections are de- 
cided. I am. Your Brother, 

ir T^ 1- i. TTT TT • CiiAULES W. Harris. 

Mr. Robert W. Harris, 

Salisbury, N. C. 

80 James Sprunt Histokical Publications 

* See note In an earlier letlter. 

' I'orcupinc's pamplilct gazette. See note In an earlier letter. 
'Thomas liloimt. He was di-featt'd for this, the 0th Congress. See note 
to an earlier letter for his congressional services. 

Halifax, Aug. 29th, 1800. 
Dear Brother, 


Your letter containing the details of the election in your 
district I this day received, — the substance I have given to 
Mr. Hodge. I did not write ag/eeably to your request, be- 
cause I found that all information which my letter could 
contain would be included in Mr, H.'s Journal.^ ^Ir. Blount^ 
lost his election by a great majority, but who are we rep- 
resented by ? Why, a trifling, Jesuitical pretender to poli- 
tics, who if he dare to speak as he thinks would be found very 
discordant in sentiment from a great, and the most rcs])ei;t- 
able part of his constitutents. All that can be said in his 
favour is comprised in saying that he is preferable to Blount. 
That Great Demagogue is worn down. I attended Tarboro 
court last week. I did not meet with him in any company 
during the whole term. No dinings nor drinkings at his 
house, none of his prattle in the streets or public houses. 
The hand bills which he has industriously posted along every 
road, seem to pronounce to all that he is at least of a sus})ic- 
ious character. They have wrought conviction in no person's 
mind, but have raised doubts in many. 

Mr. Hodge's last papers contain some accounts of the 
speeches of a great^ Lawyer. Were you acquainted with 
Blake Baker, it would be unnecessary to inform you that 
he is orator and politician alluded to. He has lately com- 
menced a most violent demonstration and always was a fool. 
He has been open and s;;urrilou3 in his abuse of Mr. Hodge, 
& a few more in this neighborhood. And that provoked what 
you now see in print; he will be a candidate for Senator at 
next assembly, and (also I) Judge Taylor.'* 

Letters arrived here this evening from Gen. Davie, dated 
May 18th. The negotiation had been retarded by the indis- 
position of Joseph Buonaparte, the head of the French Com- 

The Harkis Letters 81 

missioners and Tallien, one of the ministers. At the date of 
the letters they had recovered and their business was pro- 
gressing slowly. However, we have good reason to believe 
that the negotiation was suspended in June. The intelligence 
comes by a late arrival from St. Sebastian.'* 

Great exertions are making by Mr. Baker, Blount, Ma- 
con, and a few others to have Gales" elected public printer 
in the place of our friend Mr. Hodge. This gentleman Gales 
is said to be by birth an Irishman, but it is certain that he 
lately conducted a weekly publication in Sheffield in England 
and came to America because he did not behave peaceably 
at home. It is certain that he was invited from Philadelphia 
to llaleigh by party men for party purposes. A letter of 
John G. Blount to Gen. Willis^ of Lumberton is a sufficient 
proof of this, — this letter, owing to its reference to some land 
speculation on which (torn) has been brought in our Sup. 
Court was delivered in Mr, Brown's hands, where it now is. 
It opens to Gen. Willis the whole plan and congratulates him 
on the prospect, and refers to some consoling letters from his 
brother Tom. Pray listen & let me know what the members 
from your country think on the subject of State printer and 
inform me. 

T am, dear sir, 

CiiAKi.KN W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 

N. Carolina. 

' Either Hodge's "Nortb Cniolina Journal." at Hallfux, or bis "North 
C^aroUna Minerva and Raleigh Advertiser," at RalelKh. See an earlier note 
for Hodge's career aa publisher. 

" Thomas Blount, candidate for Congress. See note to previous letter. 
Willis Alston, Republican, as was Blount, won an eusy victory. Harris' dis- 
taste for Blount was probably more than political. He doubtless believed him 
guilty in the land fraud charges. Novoi-tholcsn the context secerns to prove 
Blount an adroit politician and master of the weapons In use dtn-lng the early 
ante prohibition era. This may have accounted for his political recrude- 
scence in 1805. 

'Spoken In Irony of Attorney-General Blake Baker, whom Harris seems 
to dislike equally with Blount. 

*John Louis Taylor, of Cumberland, Judge of Superior Court. David 
Stone, of Bertie, was the Hiicceswfiil cnndldnte Iw-fore this assembly (Nov. 17- 

82 Jamks Spkunt IIistouioal Publications 

Dec. 20, 1800) for tbe Tlniled Stales senate, lie succeeded Timothy Blood- 
worth, and hnd Jesse Franklin, of Surry, as colleague. Roth were Republicans. 

' St. Sebastian, a Spanish port on tiie Nortlieni, or Biscay, coast. 

•Joseph Gales, of Sheffleld, England. (Jales edited th(! Shellield Heyister 
until 17'J«. I'itt's Treasonable Practices Bill and Seditious Meetings Bill 
of 171)5 tended to curb the rights of the pi'ess in voicing the discontent of 
the English masses who wt^re sufl'ering from the burdens of the government's 
war against the French Revolution. Uales In conse(|uence came to America 
apd set up his paper at I'hiladelpnia in 17S)0. Natlianlel Macon In 179!) 
Induced him to come to Raleigh where he set up the Raleigh Register which 
at once became the organ of the Republican party In the state. The aggres- 
siveness and the ability of the editor soon made liis paper the leading 
Journal in the state and greatly strengthened tlu; dominance of the party 
whose cause he backed. Macon and other Republican leaders, in order to in- 
sure the permanence and strength of the paper, saw to It In the fall of INUO 
that Gales was chosen by tlie Assembly, n<iw Republican, as i)ublic printer over 
the Federalist Ilodge, who had had the public printing since 178G. The 
Federalists liercely resented and resisted this "abuse of patronage" by the 
A.ssembly but were Impotent to prevent Hodge's deposition. 

' Probably Colonel John Willis, of Lumberton, Robeson County, a Revo- 
lutionary patriot and commander of militia in the operations of General 
t»reene against Cornwallis In 1780-81. He was frequently the representative 
of Robeson in the .\ssembly. In l)oth houses, between 1787 and 180(». 

Halifax, Sept. 18, 1800. 
Dr. Brother, 

Your letter of Aug. 2(ith I reiteived last niglit, on my re- 
turn from ^fartin (^ourt. You complain that I do not write 
regularly to you, yet I oaiinot recollect that 1 have neglected 
to write you a letter at the time appointed for some months 
past and then my failure was owing to absence. You re(pie3t to 
know the author of the Law cliaracter's speech, at New Bern. 
It is princi])ally Mr. Shcpperd' who is the Federal tumdi- 
date in that District for Klector, tho' several other persons 
had their share in it. ('itizen Hodge could not help adding 
a little, as far as relates to the subject of British Debts. The 
"Affair at Brantley" and ''Anticijiation," wliich were in the 
succeeding journal are to be ascribed to JMr. Jlodge. The 
"proclamation" in this day's paper is ^Ir. Brown's, and "the 
fnrtiiei' particulars of the late Battle at KaUiigh" is mine; 
thus you have a gcmtral acc<mnt of authorship- which you 
will use, 1 am certain with prudence. Mr. liakcr was on a 
visit to Prince Edward in Virginia to see his wifts's relations, 
and went at least thirty mih's out of his way to receive a beat- 
ing at Kal(!igh. I expected that the colouring in lioylan's let- 
ter was high, but on comparing it with the representation of 

TiiK ITakris Letters 83 

indifferent persons it appears altogether moderate, certain 
it is the attorney betrayed a most dastardly soul to receive 
four or five blows on his back without facing the danger. 
Mr. Sessums, his own champion, says he shed tears in the 
street before he got clear of the field of battle. Mr. Schcnck, 
his friend from Tarboro says the Attorney was so dismayed 
at the first blow that he did not once raise his loaded whip. 
All condemn, Boylan is a very young man, about my height, 
but heavier and is much less than B. Baker. lie is nephew to 
friend Tfodge. I hope your part of the State will do every- 
thing possible to secure Mr. Hodge's election as State printer. 
The Jacobins have two great objects in view at the next gen- 
eral Assembly, one to elect B. Baker Senator of the U. States. 
He is a kind of Martyr to their cause. The other is to give 
the patronage of the state to a printer of violent anti-federal 
principles. As to the first, it is to be hoped that Blake's own 
stupidity, folly and cowardice will prevent their wishes. 
Never did a man lay himself open to so much merited cen- 
sure as he has done by his late conduct. It ought to be pub- 
lished every where, and spoken of by every tongue. It only 
requires to be known and understood to be detested. 

Our republican neighbours, the Virginians, have lately 
almost experienced the same blessed effects of their outrage- 
ous democratic whims.^ The negroes in Kichmond and its 
neighbourhood had vombined to make a general slaughter of 
all the wiiite males and eldei-ly women, 'i'he younger were to 
be preserved for tlieir wives, they had a bold adventurer at 
their head who was to assume the name of Buonaparte. They 
had prepared a vast number of pikes and fabricated arms of 
different kinds out of scythes, sickles, etc., which were con- 
cealed in their cabins, had provided funds, from which they 
in several instances gave as uiuch as four dollars bounty to 
(torn) or enlist a fellow in tlicir service. I'he plot was dis- 
(;overed only three days before it was to have been put into 
execution. The whole city was in arms, a great many ap- 
prehended. Several have alr(;ady )<»;e;j exer-uJ'rd. lin'/ha- 
j)arte by the hist accoiinhs had n(»t b(!(;n taken, biif liad fled to 

84 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

the woods in a complete suit of regimentals. Tho' nothing 
of this has transpired in the papers, it comes in a way that 
cannot be doubted. 

T am, dear brother, 

Most attectionately yours, 

OiiAUi.KS W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 

Salisbury, N. Carolina. 

* Probably WllUnm Sbepard, Esq. of New Bern, father of William Ulddle 
Shepard, member of Congress 1829-1837, aud of Cliarles Shepard, member of 
Congress 1837-1841. 

'The titles bo liberally interspersed hi the above letter seem to refer 
to articles by the several gentlemen named, which doubtless appears In 
Hodge's Raleigh paper, The North Carolina Minerva and Raleigh Advertiser. 
The editor hasn't access to the pa|)er of the dates upon which they probably 
appeared. or all of them were doubtless of a controversial character 
and Harris' contribution ; "The further jvurtlculars of the late battle at 
rtaleigh," must have been an account, colored In the Interest of the Federalist, 
of an encounter between Blake Baker, the Attorney-Oeneral, and William 
Boylan, ni^phew of Hodge aud co-editor of the Minciva. From the context It 
seems that the trouble grew out of the struggle over the question of the 
public printing, which the Alincrvu had arul was about to lose to Gules of 
the opposite party aud editor of the Jiuhiuh Jttyisttr. Boylan was a very 
partisan and aggnsslve Federalist and moreover hud a hnancial Interest at 

' Harris attributes every ill that affects the country to the rising tide of 
ilemocracy. Tlie reference here is to a slave rising in and around Richmond, 
planned by a slave named (Jabriel Prosser, self-styled "Bonaparte." It was 
to have taken place September 1st, i»00. The rendezvous of the negro troops 
was to be a brook about sl.x miles from Richmond. The force was fo com- 
prise eleven hundred slaves, divided Into three divisions, and marching upon 
Richmond from as many sides, was to deliver a surprise night attack. The 
arsenal was to be the common objective point of the three divisions. Success 
here was to be followt-d by a call to arms of their fellow-slaves and friends of 
humanity throughout the continent. This well-concelved plot i)roved abortive. 
(J'abrlel was hunted down and captured in hiding on board tho schooner, Mary, 
four miles down tl»e .Tames, September 2.'{, 1 KOI). Ills execution followed 

Halik.vx, Oct. 5, 1800. 

My dear BUOTIIER, 

1 have lately received several letters from you, the last 
dated Sept. 23rd. I feel myself much obliged to you for 
your attention. You have not for some time given me an 
account of your health. — Whether you yet weigh your 190 
pounds, — as for myself I still linger in my dull way some- 
times recovering — sometimes complaining. T have for three 
or four nights past betni troubled by what T may call an ague 

The Harris Letters 85 

and fever, but it has no very uncomfortable attendants, ex- 
cept that it possesses me with an invincible aversion to 
sleep. Besides my professional engagements, — T am em- 
ployed in repairing the lots and grounds which Mr. Brown 
and myself purchased sometime past, and in forming plans 
to accomodate myself on better terms in future, am sowing 
wheat and clover for pasture, building a kitchen, and so ex- 
pect within a very few weeks, to have a boy and a negro 
woman on our lots. This will reduce the pain of our wash- 
ing &c and the expense of horsefced. It is right, and the only 
way to make life comfortable, always to be engaged in some 
plans. A few days ago I made a visit to Colonel llaynes,^ 
an acquaintance of mine in Northampton, and uncle to Mrs. 
McCoy; he is now some years older than any of his family 
for some generations past have been known to be; he is of a 
weakly constitution, and has been lately reduced almost to a 
shadow by an indisposition which has lasted some months; he 
never had a child. After dinner he nearly exhausted him- 
self walking through and explaining a large elegant building 
which he now has upon the stocks, this room he intended to 
make more elegant than any in the county, that would be a 
fine, cool summer retreat, a -bird would be an excellent din- 
ing room ; here he intended to plant a tree to shade a window, 
there to set out an arbour, — in short he planned and ex- 
plained everything as if he had the most perfect assurance 
of living there for three score years to come, or felt the 
blood of youth warm and active in his veins. Poor man ! 
I am certain, that instead of living to occupy his palace, the 
first mansion he will remove to, will be his coffin, instead of 
enjoying the shade of his trees and arbours. He will never 
live to see them put forth their first leaves. Yet I do not 
blame him, life by such castle-building is dragged on with 
some comfort, when it might otherwise be entirely insup- 

Last evening letters were received here from General 
Davie dated as far back as June 14th. As usual they contain 
nothing that respects the mission of the envoy, but it is ob- 

86 James Spkunt Historical Publications 

served in one, that he expects to arrive in America, nearly 
as soon as the letter. It has had a long passage, perhaps the 
conje.'tiircs printed in Hodge's paper of tomorrow are not 
altogether nnfounded, that the tardiness of the negotiation 
proceed from some view which the French government has 
to the ensning election of President." Our friend Ilodge is 
not yet returned from New York. I expect he will be here 
within three weeks. I received $10 by Colonel Ashe^ for 
General Davie. 

I am, dear brother, 

Most affectionately yours, 


My respects to Mr. Torrence and family. 

Halifax, N. C. 
Oct. 0th, 1800. 

Mr. Robert W. Harris, 

Salisbury, N. Carolina. 

" I'lohnbly Eaton Ila.vnos of Northampton County, nunnbcr of the 4th 
Carol ina rrovlncial Congress, which met at Halifax the 4th of April, 1770. 

-The Federalists {.'enerally suspected the Erench government (now the 
Consulate) to be wilfully laggard in its negotiations with our Commisssionors 
with the view of influencing favorably the Kepublican party's fortunes in the 
November election for president. This no doubt did enter Into the consider- 
ation of First Consul Honai.'arte to some extent. 

'John l'.aptisla .\she (b. 17r>8, d. 1802), son of Governor Samuel Ashe 
(governor from 17!»r) to 17!t8, '.i terms). John B. .\she was a resident of 
Halifax and had been a distinguislied Kevolutionary patriot and soldier. 
lie had fought at .Vlamance in the Uegulator War of 1771 : he was a lieuten- 
anleolonel under (Jeneral (Jreene at the Imtlle of Eutaw in 1781 ; he was a 
member of lli(> Continental Congress in 1787 88; a member of the 1st and 
2iid Congresses under the present constitution, and elected governor of the 
State In 18U2 but died before be assumed ollke. 

Halifax, Dec. 5th, 1802.^ 
Dear Brother, 

I received not long sinoo your letter informing me tliat 
you had become postmaster.- I shall duly attend to its contents 
as often as I am at home. It gives me great pleasure and no 
small degree of pride to hear that my nephew Charles'^ con- 
tinues in good health and grows apace. J am confident that 

The Harris Letters 87 

the prudence of my sister and yourself will give his infancy 
and youth such treatment as will harden both his body and 
mind for the rough vicissitudes of manhood. No greater 
curses in this life await a man than a feeble mind or puny 
constitution. 1 hope your dispute with your father will soon 
terminate; I cannot, tho' disposed to judge most favorably, 
think you are altogether free from blame in the business. 
Otherwis2 the affair would have been settled Ion"; aoo. When 
with you I observed with no inconsiderable pain, that you had 
not made the conciliatory graces (if I may so call them) 
cither your study or practice. The good will of every man is 
worth something and it is often to be acquired by the most 
trifling attentions than by a more solid purchase. 

Let me hear of your family frequently, how the town 
progresses, if business increases, be assured that everything 
connected in any measure with your interest cannot fail to 
be most acceptable information to me. Present my best 
respects to my sister Abby,'* 
I am. 


Most affectionately yours, 

Charles W. IIaicris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, Merchant, 
Snecdsboro, N. Carolina. 

' It Is unfortunate that the two-year hiatus In Charles Harris' letters to 
his brother cannot be filled at present, thougli they may yet appear fron» somu 
unknown source. It would have been particularly interesting to have had 
his eoninient upon the election of Jeft'erson and the general eclli)se of the 
Federalist cause In 1801. 

- Uol)ert Wilson Harris was now post-master and merchant at Sneedsboro, 
a new town situated on the Yadkin, or Peedee River, in Anson county, m-ar 
the Soutli Carolina line. The town Is now defunct, but It had early hopes 
and prospects of a vlijorous life. As late as 1818 a stock company was 
formed to boom the place, with the e.vpectatinn of developing navngation on 
the I'eedee above nnd below, thus securing the trade of a large territory north- 
ward In tlie Yadkin Valley. .\lso It expected to draw trade from the east- 
waid toward Fayettevllle. which was then a trade centc>r on flie Cape Kear, 
and from the westward toward Charlotte. .Vrchflnid P. Murphy, the "father" 
of Internal Improvements In North Cai^oMna was n sliarrholder In t'le enter- 
prise to boom Sneedsboro and Its chief promoter. It being a "side enlernrlMe" 
of the Yadkin Niivigitlon ConiDnny. which whs organized in .Inly. 1S1K. with 
Mui-phy as president. In 181!) Murphy confidently expected Sneedsboro to be 
the great Inland town of the state. These bright hnpes were doomml to disTp- 
polrtirent. Soon after Murphy's death In 18;I2 the "town" disai)peared from 
the map. 

88 James Sprunt Historical Publications 

' Charles Wilson llarils, born to Robert Wilson Harris and liis wife, Abl 
gall Ilackott Harris, Aijril, 1802. The young Harris here Introduced was tlie 
eldest child of Robert Harris and later became a most useful citizen of tlie 
BtKte. At early manhood he entered I'rincton and remained some years, then 
Studied medicine and becoming a physician settled for practice at ills grand- 
father's old place at "Mill (Jro\'e," on Rocky Kiver in Cabarrus. In 1K28 he 
married Mary Uarringer, sister of (leneral Rufus Rurringcr, of Judge Victor 
Harringer of the Foreign Court, at Cairo, Kg.vpt, and of Daniel Moreiu 
Barrlnger, representative in Congr(>ss, 184;!-1H 1!», Minister of the United 
States to Spain under the Taylor-Kilimore .\dmlnistration, and Delegate to the 
I'eace Congress of 18(U on the eve of the Civil War. From the union of 
Charles Wilson Harris and Mary Rarringer sprang a family of twelve 
children, the fifth of whom was Harriett Hackett Harris, who married Cap- 
tain .V. J. Seagle and died in Chapel Hill, December li)14, at the home of her 
daughter, Mrs. A. C. Mcintosh. 

•Abigail O'Neil llackett, wife of Robert W. Harris. 

Halifax, May 22nd, 1803. 
Dr. Brother, 

I set off in a few days for Norfolk, & shall endeavor to 
find my way to Bermuda or the Bahamas.^ In a second 
will I have left you ray p]xccutor & so arranged the husincss 
that you can complete it at one journey. My will is in Mr. 
Brown's possession. He has promised to have it proved. 
Should I rest my hones in the delightful climate 1 steer for, 
you can come down at a succeeding court and settle all. 

I carry between $700 i*k 800 with me. 

I have empowered Mr. Brown to receive the following 
sums for me: — 

In Northampton £ 25 

In Martin £ G 

Court of Equity £ 50 
From Const, (able) Alsbrooke £ 13 

In Halifax £ 22 

In Halifax Sup. £ 57 

From Const, (able) Ilorton £ 50 

I left bond with ( ?) £119 

Accts. worth £92 19s Gd 

And Mr. Brown owes me by promissory note 2G4£ 10s, 
amounting to G99£ 9s Gd. I have stated this for your satis- 
faction; some small loss is to be expected in several of the 
items. Besides on my books, horse, chair, harness and bed. 

The Harris Letters 89 

The little negro girl,^ I could not provide for her iu mj 
aLscnce and sold her to the owner of her father. 

I have been entirely incapable of attending to electioneer- 
ing subjects, but I may safely pronounce that if Alston and 
Jacocks (republicans) both stand a poll,^ Gen. Davie will 
be elected. 

Present my best respects to Abby. 
I am, Your brother, 

Charles W. Harris. 
Mr. Robert W. Harris, 
(P. Master) 

Sneedsboro, N. Carolina. 

* Charles W. Harris sailed from Norfolk on the 3rd of July for the 
Bahamas, where he trusted the climate would favorably affect his now rapidly 
declining health. Unconsciously this letter carries much of pathos, since it 
presents a brave spirit, well aware of his meagre chaiics for life, setting his 
affairs in order for the end. His sojourn at Nassau, in the Bahamas proved 
disappointing In its effects upon his malady (tuberculosis) and he returned 
to North Carolina in the latter part of the year, going to his brother's home 
at Sneedsboro, where he died, January 15th. 1804, in the thirty-third year of 
his age. 

= 'J'hls little girl was evidently a slave purchased by Harris to look after 
his comfort In the bachelor's home he had established in a house built by 
him in 1800 upon a part of the property owned at that time with Mr. 
Brown, tils friend and fellow-attorney in Halifax. Presumably he had now 
sold his share in this real estate to Brown, this accounting for the promissory 
note for 2t>4 pounds and 10 shillings referred to above. 

* In the Congressional election of August, 1803, (8th Congress) Willis 
Alston, representative of the Halifax District since 1799, had a rival as- 
pirant in his own party that threatened to divide the party strength and 
give the district to the Federalists. The danger of Republican defeat was the 
greater in that (Jeneral Wui. U. Davie, the strong man of his party in the 
state, was the Federalist contestant for the seat. I'is friends generally ex- 
pected Davie's great popularity and the Republican division to be di'cisive In 
their candidate's favor. However, their hopes were destined to disappoint- 
ment. Nathaniel Macon, state Republican leader, and speaker of the National 
IHouse of Itepresentatlves since 1801, interested himself in the situation (See 
Dodd, Life of Nathaniel Macon, 181). Jacocks was in.,uenced to withdraw, 
thus giving Alston a clear field against Davie with the result that the latti'r 
was beaten. He now retired from public life and two years later gave up his 
practice of law for quiet repose upon his South Carolina estate, "Tlvoli, near 


N"ew Providence. Nassau,^ July 17, 1803. 

Dear Brother, 

I arrived here safely on the 14th inst. with the short 
passage of eleven days, without meeting any Frenchmen.^ 

90 Jamds Sprunt IIistoiucal Publications 

I have not been here long enough to shake off the effects of 
my voyage, or to form any conjecture respecting the opera- 
tion of the climate on my constitution. I feel the heat ex- 
cessive, no rain, everything parched up. 

The news of war"' has been here about eight days. I am 
told it has pi'oduced a great alteration for the better. It has 
given life to business; before the si^hooner in which I came 
anchored, we had a press gang aboard* which took all the 
white sailors except one. 

I wish I could enclose some of the fruits which abound 
here. Present me to sister Abby and Charles. 


Charles W. Harris. 

Mr. Tiobert W. Harris, 

N. Carolina. 
U. States. 

* See note 1 to preceding letter. 

' See note 4 below. 

"rile Treaty of Amiens, March 25, 1802, had brought the first lull in hos- 
tilities between Kngland and France since 171).'{. .Vnd this peace was only 
tempoiai-y. May 18, IfO'!, England declared war anew iijjon France and did 
not ajjain sheath her sword until Napoleons first abdication, April 11, 1814. 

' I'resumal)ly Harris sailed from Norfolic for Nassau upon an Fnglish 
Bhip, hence liie reference to tlie imf)ressmi'nt of the crew of liis vessel us 
well as the infei'ential fear of meeting a French vessel. Nevertheless, I-^ng- 
land did not now long content herself with impressment of the soUliers of her 
own merchant marine into service, l)ut began that course with lOnslish sub- 
jects found in merchant service under the tlag of the United States, thus 
making up ouc of the issues which led to the War of 1812. 

I arrived herc^ on Sunday last after a tolerable agreeable 
journey of two weeks. 1 am well pleased with the rout and 
shall always {)refcr it. I wrote from Fayetteville inclosing 
one thousand dollars with directions to whom to pay it, which 
I hope you received. I have not sold a bale of cotton nor is 
there a prosj)e(;t of doing it very soon. I shall probably pur- 
chase very few goods. It will not however occasion any dis- 
appointment in the payment of the money I owe. I expect 
in a few days to receive a letter from you to hear from my 

MAR 3 1 1916 

The Harris LEXTEiia 91 

dear family. Kiss our dear little children, tell them I love 
them as much as if I suw them every day and that I will 
bring them pretty little books and good shoes. I am my dear 
Abby with the most sincere love your affectionate 


EoBT. W. Harris. 
Mrs. Robt. W. Harris, 
Sneedsboro, N. C. 
Anson County. 

» This letter was furnished to the collection by Mrs. A. C. Mcintosh, of 
Chapel Hill, a great-grand daughter of the writer, Robert Wilson Harris. It 
was written from rhiladelpliia and, though without date, must be placed be- 
tween 1802. when he became a resident at Sneedsboro, and the date of his 
death there In 1812, probably nearer the latter. 

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