powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Josiah Martin to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
December 26, 1771
Volume 09, Pages 75-78

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

North Carolina New Bern
December 26th 1771.

I have the honor to inform your Lordship that at the conclusion of the business of the Session of the General Assembly of this

-------------------- page 76 --------------------
Province on the 23rd Instant I dissolved the Assembly. A measure taken by me my Lord not only in conformity to his Majesty's instructions but as expedient in my opinion towards conciliating the minds of the people only intent upon a new representation which I am assured cannot be selected so bad as the last. It was however indispensibly necessary to keep that to provide for the present excigences; since it is universally agreed that a future Assembly would not have been found to do it.

A great part of the time of this Session my Lord was consumed in the most disorderly speculations such as I am informed are constantly the offspring of a necessity to raise money in this Country. A Majority from the Southern district in which the people are almost universally necessitous and in debt and whose policy it seems it has been to overflow the province with paper money would have availed themselves of this exigence and made it a pander to that pernicious design. The minority from the Northern districts as warmly opposed this system; the first plan was again and again retrenched of extravagences. Long contention at length began to create ill humor on both sides and I entertained apprehension that no measure would be taken to satisfy the poor people who relying on the public faith had so notably stood forth in support of Government and were actually starving for want of their promised stipend. I was therefore my Lord glad at last to close with the only expedient they would adopt that could serve the present emergency, and I have given my assent to an act for raising the sum of sixty thousand pounds proclamation money the vast amount of the expense of suppressing the late insurrection for which stamped debenture notes are to be issued forthwith. I have likewise My Lord given my assent to an act to indemnify the people who acted in behalf of Government on that occasion who would otherwise have been torn to pieces by malicious and vexatious prosecutions in this Country where a spirit of litigation prevails beyond example. For both these steps My Lord out of the ordinary course of things and over the limit to which I wish to confine my self I must build my hopes of justification on the sole ground of necessity which I thought my duty to his Majesty called upon me to yield in these instances to prevent the certain confusion that a suspence of such measures would have occasioned by alienating the affections of the very poor people who had been so recently the Bulwark of his Majesty's Government in this province and who now looked up to that Government for Justice from their Country.

-------------------- page 77 --------------------

The assurances given me by the Assembly that they had taken effectual measures to call in the public Debts afford me hopes that this emission of paper considerable as it is will not depreciate, especially when I consider it will be near four months before it can be altered, in which time by a proper exertion of the Treasurers I apprehend a sum nearly equal will be taken out of the hands of the public Debtors which will thenceforth lie dead until another Session when the public faith will call upon the next Assembly to make up the deficiency of the fund established for sinking the legal tender paper. That can only be done by the application of as much of this excess of the other funds as shall be necessary to its aid, and this I shall lend all my strength to accomplish as essential to the preservation of the public credit.

The Acts and Journals of the late Session of the General Assembly I will transmit to your Lordship as soon as I can obtain fair copies of them.

I received a few days ago under your Lordships cover through the hands of Lord Charles Montague his Majesty's Royal Instruction directing me to appoint Commissioners to act jointly with Commissioners to be appointed by the Governor of South Carolina in running a boundary line between the two provinces. Accordingly my Lord I communicated without loss of time his Majesty's commands to the Assembly and desired they would enable me to defray the charge of the service prescribed, which was refused upon the reasons which will appear to your Lordship in their Message in answer to me herewith transmitted. I am now at a loss my Lord, how to proceed in this business and shall be more so if Lord Charles Montague does not according to my proposition engage the province under his Government to bear the whole expense.

The embarrassments of the last session have been such as to leave me no opening to procure the amendments in the Laws as prescribed by the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations by their Lordships letter of the 12th of last December to Governor Tryon. At the next Session I hope I shall be able to accomplish that business to their Lordships satisfaction. It is indeed my Lord matter of wonder to me that under my circumstances of ill health I have been able to endure the weight of business with which I have been oppressed; nothing I think can have supported me but my earnest desire of doing right. If I shall be so happy as to find my conduct approved by my Royal Master such a recompence my Lord will

-------------------- page 78 --------------------
alleviate all my sufferings and enable me to encounter with cheerfulness every difficulty that may present itself.

The loyal struggle lately made here and the distressed state of this Country's finances I am hopeful My Lord will recommend it to his Majesty's Royal consideration and induce a parliamentary Relief.

By the returns made to me it appears that after the action with the Insurgents six thousand four hundred and nine men came into the several detachments of the Army and took the Oaths to Government in consequence of Governor Tryon's Proclamations, and that between seven and eight hundred stand of arms were collected from them which are for the most part unserviceable

I have the honor &c
JO. MARTIN.