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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
November 04, 1774
Volume 09, Pages 1083-1087

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[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Letter from Governor Martin to the Earl of Dartmouth. (Private.)

New York, Novembr 4th, 1774.

My Lord,

I have the honor to acquaint your Lordship that pursuant to my design of coming hither for the repair of my health communicated to your Lordship in my last letter from Carolina, No. 26, I embarked at New Bern on the 4th day of September and arrived here on the 18th day following, and although I have been since that time much ailing I find myself restored so far beyond my expectation at this day that I hope by the middle of this month to be on my way to No. Carolina with a constitution renewed by change of climate for two months only.

The Congress of Provincial Deputies at Philadelphia which has for some time past been the object of universal attention broke up late in the last month, having given specimens of its complexion and temper from time to time that presaged no good result; indeed I never expected any from an Assembly in its nature and design so unconstitutional, formed generally of men of the most inflammatory Spirits selected out of the several colonies for their democratical principles, their known averseness and opposition to Government or their forward zeal for the service, and convened professedly to ratify with the greater appearance of solemnity the precipitate and rash resolutions that were, I doubt not, in great measure of their own designation and obtained by their influence in their respective Provinces by which they had previously marked out to themselves a Line of conduct that precluded all calm inquiry and discussion and was the most derogatory to the authority and dignity of Government. After all however I could not have conceived that the issue of this meeting would be such as your Lordship will see it has been by the detail of its proceedings in the Paper I have now the honor to enclose which I think no loyal and dutiful subject of our most gracious sovereign can contemplate without feeling the most indignant revoltings. They seemed to have carried matters so far my Lord and with so high a hand as to challenge the Parent State to a conduct of decision. The crisis my Lord is come in my humble opinion and perhaps in the best time when Britain must assert and establish her just Rights

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and authority in the Colonies whatever they may be or give up forever all pretensions to dominion over them. On this great and trying occasion I pray most fervently that the Almighty may endue his Majesty's Councils with such wisdom and firmness that all things may be ordered in the manner most inducive to the honor and strength of the British Empire to the permanent establishment of its happy constitution under his Majesty's Government and to the utmost advancement of the Glory and happiness of that best of Princes which are manifestly in his Royal consideration ever involved in the falsity of his People.

During my short sojourn in this Province in this Season of political disquisition my observation has led me to conclude that the spirit of Loyalty runs higher here than in any other Colony of the Continent and that there are in it more friends to Government from principle if not enough to controul the domineering Spirit of licentiousness provided they had sufficient confidence in each other to come to a fair explanation of their minds, but for want of assurance of their own principles and of mutual support, and I believe too for want of some man of spirit and of weight and consequence in the Country to take the lead, their good dispositions discover themselves only in murmurs of dissatisfaction.

Another cause of their backwardness I apprehend is their uncertainty of the Mob and of their influence over it. The people of consideration feel too late their ill policy in having made it so consequential and omnipotent in the time of the disturbances occasioned by the Stamp Act and fear now to attempt as much as they wish to resume the power with which they then conspired to arm the Multitude, that they now see a Monster of their own creation become formidable to themselves usurping dominion and giving Law instead of submitting to be the instruments of their will and continuing subject to their dominion.

This circumstance I am inclined to think My Lord, will deter them from declaring themselves unless the beginning discontents of the Farmers and the Merchants at the apprehensions of a new exportation agreement which is equally repugnant to both their interest should unite these people and draw friends to their side, in which case and if a Body of Troops could be spared at New York considerable enough to give them countenance and to awe the Mob I do think Loyal well wishers to Government would come forth in number and of influence sufficient to guide the measures of this

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Colony in a manner consistent with reason and the duty of good subjects, and it might be expected that the good example of a Province of so high consideration would have a powerful effect on the rest of the continent. I confess My Lord, I am much confirmed in these sentiments since I have understood that the proceedings of the Congress have been received with high marks of disapprobation by many of the principle Inhabitants of New York, but after all My Lord they are only my own Opinion most humbly offered to your Lordship and I should be wanting in candor if I did not freely acknowledge at the same time that well judging people of consideration at New York think differently on these points, not admitting that there is any power in the Mob there, or that any restraint arises from apprehensions of its strength and Influence and who account for the reserve or supineness of the friends of Government upon other principles. They say that the people of this description whose conduct would govern a majority of the Province although attached to the constitution and government of Great Britain and willing and desirous to support it, yet falling in with the common principle in doubting or denying the Power of Parliament with regard to internal taxation (of which the generality affirm the duty upon Tea to have all the essence), they cannot stand forth in defence of the acknowledged rights and authority of Government while that duty remains and that the few who consider it a regulation of Trade that ought to be submitted to, are afraid to profess sentiments so contrary to the prevailing opinion or to form upon them, or to pursue any plan of conduct favorable to Government at the hazard of becoming obnoxious to their Country, and if the tea duty is continued of being deemed and treated as the cause of it and perhaps as promoters of a system of Parliamentary taxation in the Colonies, the duty upon tea therefore My Lord it would seem operates alike upon all men however principled to the disadvantage of Governt by creating enemies or repressing the good dispositions of its friends; of the last denomination there are many who wish this import taken off, not only as a measure that will tend to conciliate the differences submitting between Britain and her Colonies and from conviction that it will never yield any Revenue to the State and must be a perpetual source of division among the friends of Government while it exists, but as it will disappoint the views of the Smuglers of Dutch Tea who have made monstrous advantages of the opposition they have industriously excited and fomented on this subject professing to aim
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by these means at the repeal of the Tax Act, which they certainly intended to produce a contrary effect, deprecating in their hearts that course above all things that must inevitably destroy their monopoly of that commodity and all its concomitant benefits.

The expediency of retaining the principle of the right of Parliament to tax trade in the Colonies and of still exercising its power therein and of transferring the duty now charged upon Tea to some other article of commerce, are matters of too high moment and consequence for me to presume to give my humble judgment upon to your Lordship, but I cannot help expressing my wishes that some regular political system was formed for these Colonies.

It is remarkable here, my Lord, I think at this time and I cannot therefore help observing to your Lordship the congeniality of the principles of the Church of England with our form of Government.

To the reproach of the professors of Christianity on both sides, in my humble opinion distinctions and animosities have immemorially prevailed in this Country between the people of the established Church and the Presbyterians on the score of the difference of their unessential modes of Church Government, and the same spirit of division has entered into or been transferred to most other concernments; at present there is no less apparent schism between their Politicks than in matters appertaining to religion, and while Loyalty, Moderation and respect to Government seem to distinguish the generality of the Members of the Church of England, I am sincerely sorry to find they are by no means the characters of the Presbyterians at large, whence and from other observations I have made I am inclined to think the people of this denomination in general throughout the continent are not of the principles of the church of Scotland, but like the people of New England, more of the leaven of the Independants, who according to English Story have been ever unfriendly to Monarchical Government.

If my opinion is right, my Lord, I submit to your Lordship's wisdom the expediency of giving greater encouragement to the establishment of the Church of England in a political view with respect to religion, its grand object, I consider it as conducive to its purposes, and as Liberty to gain ground while it is cultivated with a generous spirit of toleration. I am also convinced that order and good government are nowhere so well maintained as where the duties of religion are carefully observed and inculcated, wherefore I am extremely solicitous to see the Clergy of No Carolina upon a better

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footing, that its number now vastly short of what is requisite may be augmented with able & good men.

Although I am at present out of the sphere wherein I am admitted to the honor of communicating with your Lordship, I have thought it my duty in the present times to submit to your Lordship my sentiments of them, which will I think plead my excuse for obtruding upon you from hence this long letter.

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