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Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
December 12, 1771
Volume 09, Pages 66-69

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. Vol. 219.]
Governor Martin to Earl Hillsborough.

North Carolina New Bern.
December 12th 1771.

I have the honour to transmit to your Lordship herewith, a Copy of my Speech at the opening of the Session of the General Assembly

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on the 19th of last month, with the Addresses of the two Houses and my answers.

As far as I am able to discern at present, the most difficult business of this Session will be to make provision for the service of the Militia forces, employed to suppress the late Insurrection, which appears to me to be indispensible to the present peace, and the future security of this Country, for My Lord if any delay occurs on this head, many poor people, who forsook their homes and left their Crops to perish, in order to support Government in that time of defection, depending on its faith for recompence, must starve; a circumstance such as must necessarily abate the forward Loyalty, that has so lately triumphed over rebellion here, and for want of which, the Colony at a future day may become a prey to sedition, and violence, a consideration that involves an endless train of consequences to his Majestys American Empire. The representations made by Governor Tryon of the state of the finances of this Country and your Lordships knowledge of the expedient that was resorted to in a less pressing emergency, in the year 1768 of issuing debenture notes, induced me to hope that I should have been delivered from all embarrassment on this subject and the rather as I solicited it in the first letter I had the honor to write to your Lordship, from hence, it was in this expectation partly that I prorogued the General Assembly beyond the period to which it stood prorogued at my arrival. It is most certain my Lord that the present exigence can only be supplied by extraordinary means, what they may be I cannot precisely tell but I will endeavour that they be such as shall be the least injurious and exceptionable. If I am obliged to countenance the same expedient that served a former necessity Your Lordship may be assured, it will only be upon the clearest evidence that it is the last shift, and then with true repugnance not only on account of the difficulty with which I see the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations before got over it but as it is inducive of a fraudulent medium of circulation which I am clearly of opinion it is contrary to good policy to augment. That I may not here appear inconsistent I must inform your Lordship that my opinion of the expedient of a new emission of paper bills, of great amount offered to your Lordship's consideration in my first letter was formed upon the Judgment of Governor Tryon, with which, mine upon closer examination of this subject does not correspond; but although such is my fixed principle My Lord I

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cannot think this province under its present circumstances considering the great deficiency of specie can dispence with the want of such a medium of circulation altogether. The legal tender bills of credit now current amounting to £42,800—ought before this time to have been sunk, but the funds established for that purpose have proved deficient which is in part owing to erroneous destruction of other later emissions of paper, in their stead and to the insolvency of the Collectors of Taxes, but chiefly from neglect to replace sums that have been at sundry times drawn from it and from the withdrawing prematurely in the year 1768 a poll tax of three shillings appropriated to that fund. By an accurate account of the public accounts made in consequence of a vote of the Assembly at the last Session it appears that there is due to the public on the several funds upwards of sixty six thousand pounds which is in the hands of the Tax Collectors of various denominations; of this sum only twelve thousand pounds arises from the sinking fund; its deficiency must therefore be made up from the surplussages of the other funds when the outstanding debts are collected, and it cannot be doubted that a future Assembly will readily make such an application as the only means of sinking this money for which the public faith is pledged. I shall think it my duty to press the Assembly to effectual measures for calling in the public debts which being taken will bring into the Treasury it may be presumed at least fifty thousand pounds; that will there lie dead, and be ready I hope at the next Session, for application to the sinking fund as far as may be necessary to the extinction of the legal tender paper. Under these circumstances My Lord I apprehend if I am compelled to give in to the expedient of issuing debenture notes to satisfy the clamours of the people, who lately stood forth here in support of Government this Country may admit of such an augmentation of the paper Medium without depreciation below its present standard, with respect to the sterling exchange which is at this time lower here than at New York.

I now transmit to your Lordship a Copy of a Message from the Assembly desiring me to grant a pardon to the Insurgents with certain exceptions and my answer thereto, which I hope will meet with his Majesty's and your Lordships approbation.

Having received a petition in behalf of certain persons (of whose names I now send your Lordship a list) excepted in one of Govr Tryon's proclamations under the description of persons concerned in

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destroying General Waddell's ammunition I laid it before his Majesty's Council and it appearing that the young people guilty of this heinous offence, had been ever well affected to Government of good character and seduced by misrepresentation to this violence, the board unanimously joined in request to me to recommend them for his Majesty's most gracious pardon which I thought it out of my own power to extend to them, after I had referred the matter to the consideration of my Royal Master.

I am of opinion as I had the honor to tell your Lordship in a former letter that a pardon of as great extent as his Majesty shall see fit may be a healing measure well applied and I therefore most humbly recommend it to the Royal Consideration.

Benjamin Merrill one of the six criminals executed soon after the action with the Insurgents has left an innocent and miserable family consisting of his widow and seven young children who must starve unless his Majesty will be graciously pleased to continue to them possession of the lands of the delinquent. I am therefore my Lord engaged by the feelings of humanity to implore his Majesty's favor to this wretched and fatherless family.

Your Lordship will receive herewith a copy of a Message from the Assembly relative to the detention of a vessel the property of one of his Majesty's subjects in this Colony and her Crew at La vera Cruz with Copies of papers therein referred to authenticated under the province seal. I propose as a means of obtaining the speediest release of his Majesty's subjects and reparation for this injury to make application to the Commander in Chief of his Majesty's squadron at Jamaica, in the meantime I thought it my duty to transmit to your Lordship the best evidence on this matter for his Majesty's information and lest satisfaction should not be had through the intervention of that Officer.

I received last month a visit from King Pow of the Catawba Nation who came with three of his Chiefs under the usual pretext of respect and amity to furnish themselves with conveniences and luxuries, which they beg with no very scrupulous delicacy. I learned from them that their whole tribe does not amount to six hundred and that having made peace with all their enemies they are resolved quietly to devote themselves to the culture of their lands and to the attainment of knowledge in Religion and the Arts that tend to civilize rude nature

I have the honor to be &c
JO. MARTIN.