powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Arthur Dobbs to James Glen [Extract]
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
March 12, 1755
Volume 05, Pages 387-393


Letter from Governor Dobbs to Governor Glen, dated 12th March 1755.

Sir,

Your letter of the 4th Decr I answered the moment I received it from your Messenger in which was the Copy of your Instruction about the boundary Line, and the Copy of your letter to President Rowan in March last, upon the same subject, which Answer you say you did not receive until the 10th of last month. I also received the duplicate of the same letter from you dated the 10th of January last, upon the return of the Express you sent to Virginia, & returned you immediately a duplicate of my former letter, presuming that your Messenger had not delivered my former Letter so that the unaccountable delay in your not getting my Answer in 2 months was owing to the dilatoriness or neglect of your own Messenger.

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your Answer to my letter dated the 20th of February, which I must beg leave to say is wrote in a very extraordinary style, I may say dictatorial, not as one Governor to another having equal powers from his Majesty, and independant of each other, but as if I was dependant upon you, and obliged to give you an account of my behaviour in the transacting Affairs of this Government, taxing me with sending you scraps of my instruction about the Boundary line

-------------------- page 388 --------------------
and concealing the remainder of it, alledging that my instruction was the advice of a friend, or some verbal direction from some private person, which you are the rather inclined to believe, as I have not followed it, by consulting with you upon it, but proposing to send over to the Lords of Trade what I thought would be a reasonable line, when you were ready, and now give me notice that you are ready to appoint Commissioners to fix the line pursuant to your Instructions, and expect that I will do the same from this Province, and modestly request of me to send you the whole instruction relative to it, and that it would be kind in me to send you a Copy of my letter to the Lords of Trade upon that Subject.

I shall postpone taking Notice of the remainder of your letter, which seems calculated to exculpate yourself for not passing the Act of your Assembly, until I reply to the first part about the Boundary Line, as being the chief transaction betwixt the two Provinces, nor does it require an Answer, if you had not insinuated thro' the whole that I had not obeyed my instructions in emitting a Currency for the like service, but deserved pursuant to the Act of Parliament, to be dismissed from my Government, and to be rendered incapable of any Public Office or place of Trust for so doing, and therefore since the whole deserves to be answered paragraph by paragraph I shall begin with the first.

As to what is relative to the outrages you mention committed on the Frontiers in your Letter to the President of last March, I have inquired into it, and think your Government has been much more to blame than the Government here, for they only repelled an invasive force when you in your Government took upon you to grant patents to levy taxes and impose Fines upon the Inhabitants of this Province for not attending your musters, altho' they lived beyond the limits which had been so far agreed upon betwixt the Commissioners appointed under the great seal of each Province which they had all signed as to fix the latitude of the line to 35 degrees so long ago as 1735 which line had been laid out in part, and tho' that Division was not confirmed in England by his Majesty, yet it ought to have stood good until his Majesty should think proper to determine the Line more equitably betwixt the two Provinces.

I must therefore inform you that if you had taken full notice of my Letter to you dated last Christmas, that when I had acquainted you with the only instruction I had relative to the Boundary, which I again affirm to be the only instruction I received, and the whole of that instruction, tho' you are pleased not to believe it, that I acquainted you that his Majesty had withdrawn the former instruction given to my predecessor Governor Johnston which I apprehend was in the same or in the like

-------------------- page 389 --------------------
forms of that you sent to me, but of a prior date to yours of 1739, and had also withdrawn farther instruction given in 1735, when the Commissioners had in part fixed it, so that when his Majesty had disapproved of and released me from those instructions, which were judged to have been very unequitable, and had been prepared injudiciously by the Gentlemen who were then of the Board of Trade, who had not then proper maps of the interior parts of these Provinces, which if the Instruction had been put in execution it must have prevented this Province from being extended westward, since the Spring head of the Northwest branch of Cape Fear approaches very near, if it does not enter the Virginia line and that upon that Articles being struck out of my Instruction, the Lords Commissioners of Trade gave me that Instruction for my Direction Line.

Therefore upon the receipt of your Letter with the Copy of the Article of your Instruction which you would not be willing to depart from and which by the whole tenor of your last letter you are determined to adhere to, I had nothing furthur to consult you upon, unless I had desired to protract the fixing Line, but only to acquaint you with my Instruction, and that his Majesty had withdrawn all his former Instructions relative to it in this Province, and therefore it would have been nugatory in me to treat with you upon other Terms, which you would not submit to, and I was released from agreeing to, and therefore I thought nothing could expedite the Determination of the Line better than that each Government should propose a Line which it thought most reasonable, and lay them at once before the Lords of Trade with reasons from each to support the Line proposed, and then their Lordships would be properly prepared how to advise his Majesty to fix the Boundary, nor do I think you had any Foundation to expatiate so eloquently upon my saying this Province would cheerfully submit to whatever his Majesty should determine in it.

You may therefore see that by your own letter and Instruction sent to me confirmed by your last letter and Declaration that you would steadily stand to your Instructions, that I judged right in what I have done, and therefore am more surprised at your modest request that it would be kind in me to acquaint you with my reasons sent over to support the line which this Province judges reasonable to fix an equitable Boundary.

Considering also that your Instruction was obtained by the friends of your Province, who then had access and right with the Lords of Trade, when this Province was unsettled and thought of little consequence to Britain, and that the situation of Affairs is much changed since, as our number of whites are near double the number of what are in your

-------------------- page 390 --------------------
Province, and many valuable Commodities are now raised in this Province of great importance to Britain and that the export of British goods and manufactures imported here are greatly increased, it may be presumed that this Province should be equally favoured as the Southern Province, & not be couped up and prevented from extending their Settlements Westward to & beyond the Mountains, when our zeal to support his Majesty's Right to those Countries is at least equal to that of your Government.

Might we not then with as much equity propose that the Boundary Line should run 30 miles north of Santee from the sea coast to its Spring heads, which as Savanna River to its source is at present the Boundary Line betwixt it and Georgia, and would consequently by its rising so far to the Northward equally prevent their extending their Settlements beyond the Mountains, would it not be as equitable for this Province to expect the one, as for your Province to expect the other upon Cape Fear River.

Tho' this be not the plan we propose, yet we should have as much equity to the one, as you would have if the plan of your Instructions was follow'd. In the Letter I have wrote and proposed the Boundary Line to the Lords of Trade with my reasons to support it, I have left it open for you to do the same, if you think proper, and don't desire to know your reasons or your plan to fix the Boundary to animadvert upon it, and therefore you ought not to expect to see mine to animadvert upon, but let each stand or fall upon its own merit, so that you are at liberty to proceed in what manner you think best for the good of your Province, and if you don't choose to write upon it to the Lords of Trade, you may depend upon my not sending Commissioners to fix the Boundary pursuant to your Instruction until I have a furthur Instruction upon it from His Majesty or the Board of Trade, but this I may Venture to say that if you don't write soon to the Lords of Trade about it, since there is a necessity of having it speedily determined, that their Lordships may advise his Majesty to determine it without furthur delay, without giving you farther notice, as I shall send them a Copy of this Letter to you along with your Letter to me, which I think proper and very prudent in me to lay before them.

As to your next paragraph in relation to this Assemblie's having granted a supply of £8000 Currency for to aid Virginia by giving 200 men for one year in two Companies for that purpose desiring the Copy of the Act to know how it was raised, so reasonable a request I shall willingly grant, whether you only desire to know how it is raised, or whether it be to find fault with me in passing it, I shall not enquire into,

-------------------- page 391 --------------------
and refer you to the particulars in the Act, by which you may see that the plan I mentioned to you was altered in the House by giving only one Company of 100 men for one year and 10 months, if so long necessary and another Company of 50 men to defend our Frontiers from the Depredations & Massacres committed there by the French Indians, and to protect our back Settlers & Indian Allies.

But in this Paragraph by your not giving Credit to a surmise that it was given by an Emission of a Paper Currency, you insinuate that if I did it I was to blame, because by your adhering at this critical time to the letter of your Instructions, you have not thought proper to pass a Bill for stamping and signing Public Orders.

All the subsequent Paragraphs being to excuse yourself and to lay the blame upon other Governors who should pass such a Bill, had this and the reasons given been only sent to me with a view to justify your proceedings in rejecting the Bill I should have no reason to mention or reply to it, but as there is a sting goes along with it condemning all other Northern Governors who should emit any paper Currency upon the present occasion, which you think is of no moment, or any Emergency, accusing those who do it of disobeying as well an Act of Parliament, as his Majesties Instructions and as betrayers of their trust to the Crown, that they deserve immediately to be dismissed, and for ever to be rendered incapable of any public Office or place of Trust, you must give me leave to animadvert upon these Articles, and to leave it to his Majesty and his Ministry which of us has obeyed and adhered to the Spirit of the Instructions given to us, which is to defend and preserve his just right in and to his Colonies in America, and in promoting & increasing their wealth, Trade and Possessions, and then leave it to his Majesty who is to be approved or censured.

Your first reason is because you are restrained from passing any Bill for creating or issuing any paper Currency, by a strong & positive instruction from his Majesty, and that tho' Sir Thos Robinson's Letter be pressing, yet he is silent with regard to that Instruction, & therefore the letter can't be deemed a revocation of it, and that a Governor could with a very bad grace pretend to shew his zeal for the King's service by complying with that letter and violating his express Commands under his sign Manual.

I am not a little surprised that Mr Glen should not know better the nature of a Secretary of State's letter and Office, it is as expressly His Majesty's Command, as if given under his sign Manual, and the Secretary knows nothing of your Instructions, nor can you imagine that his Majesty tho' he signs the Instructions prepared for him thro' the proper

-------------------- page 392 --------------------
Offices, and approved of by his Council, has time to read them, & consequently neither his Majesty nor the Secretary could take notice of your Instruction, at the same time you allow that Sir Thos Robinson's pressing Letter is for the King's service. You must therefore give me leave to say that what he writes to you by order of his Majesty, you are as much obliged to obey as what is under his sign Manual, and more as it is of subsequent Date, and he is the best judge of the Emergency and necessity of the service.

Your next reason is because the Board of Trade is so explicitely of that Opinion that no additional Bills of Credit should be emitted, that no Governor can pretend ignorance of it, and that they have declared it as their Opinion that it naturally drives away gold and silver, which you confirm by your own Experience and observation, and that you have sunk £150,000 Currency above £21000 Sterling since the year 1739 in 16 years, and now ⅔rds of all payments made in Gold and Silver.

If you had any adequate knowledge of the nature of Trade, you must demonstrably know, that no Gold or Silver in any Country where it is not a Commondity and the produce of the Country, can be confined to a trading nation unless the Balance of Trade be in favour of such Country for if you have not goods or returns to answer your imports, the Colony must run in Debt, which must be discharged by Gold and Silver or Credit be ruined and therefore the sinking your paper Currency will not retain it, but so far as you lessen your Importations. But the true reason of your having so much Bullion passing in your Markets is occasioned by the increase of the price or quantity of your Rice, Indigo etc exported, and that you have few Bills left to go to Market with them, if it should only be occasioned by the lessening of your imports and Trade with Britain and its Colonies, you can never persuade me that the Lords of Trade would approve of your lessening the Exports of Britain, but the true cause of complaint was Governors passing such Acts wantonly, & for no emergent service, in order to carry on private jobs in the Colony by emitting & creating a paper Currency and that in such large sums as was beyond what the Trade of the Colony could circulate, which consequently depreciated them in value as they could not answer in paying their Debts abroad, and generally gave insufficient Taxes to reduce the Bills within reasonable Bounds.

You furthur say that you were approved in rejecting a former Bill for emitting £40,000 in Bills or public orders, with a promise of being supported by the Lords of Trade if you steadily adhered to your Instructions, but you don't mention for what purpose that sum was to be emitted, nor what value in Bills were then standing out or unpaid, I

-------------------- page 393 --------------------
dare say it was not for such an emergency as at present, and thus you rest satisfied that no Governor can blame you for adhering to your Instructions, & don't apprehend that his Majesty will blame you for not taking a sum immediately necessary for his Majesty's service, because you don't think it so sudden and extraordinary an emergency of Government as to justify a Governor of a Northern Colony to assent to such an Act.

Here I must differ from you toto cœlo, & think you argue quite contrary to what you vanced in the beginning of your Letter, that you would not set up your own sentiments against his Majesties absolute Commands.

Do you not own that Sir Thomas Robinson writes to you pressingly by his Majesties order for to raise money for the immediate service and aid of Virginia. Does not his Majesty his Ministry, his Parliament, and the Voice of all the People of Britain, who have a regard to his Majesty, and the prosperity of the British Empire, declare it to be a pressing Emergency, and to be nip'd in the Bud, before the French have finished their Chain of forts & confined all our Colonies to the Eastward of the Mountains. Does not the Gallick Monarch threaten Britain with an immediate War, if they don't recall the Order for the Troops embarking from Ireland for our Protection, saying that we must depend upon their honour & faith, that they will send Orders to recall their Troops who have invaded our Colonies, a faith and honour so often broken, witness Chignato and St Johns in Novia Scotia, and the Neutral Islands in America; ought you then to sett up yourself as a better Judge of the imediate Emergency than the Secretary of State by his Majesty's Order and postpone or slight the aid immediately necessary to be sent to Virginia.

I am, sir, &c.,
ARTHUR DOBBS.