powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
May 18, 1775
Volume 09, Pages 1255-1257

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

New Bern, 18th May 1775.

My Lord,

By the Post of the 12th instant I had the honor to receive your Lordships very important separate Dispatch accompanying a Copy

-------------------- page 1255 --------------------
of the Resolution of the House of Commons with regard to His Majesty's American Provinces formed in consequence of the Address of the two Houses of Parliament to the King on the 7th of February, and your Lordships two private and circular Letters referring thereto, all bearing date the 3d of March last.

The Resolution of the House of Commons that is so congenial to His Majestys gracious and indulgent Disposition towards his American Subjects is certainly not only liberal, but founded on their own Propositions and will bring the verity of them to the Test. I most heartily wish My Lord, that the pressages of a sober discussion and grateful acceptance of the Terms proposed in this Resolution were more auspicious than they are, but the frenzy that has been so long growing among the People of these Colonies seems daily I think to spread wider and wider and is continually breaking forth in new and dangerous outrages that at least remove the prospect of Accommodation further off, if they do not absolutely preclude all hopes of it by the desirable means of peacefull reasoning and practicable Negociation.

The effect of the Propositions contained in the Resolution of the House of Commons on the People of this Continent will depend I apprehend My Lord upon the Light in which it shall be taken up and considered in the Congress now held at Philadelphia for throughout the Provinces every political Body except the Assembly of New York now seems governed absolutely by the sentence of that Assembly. If it shall become a subject of consideration there, as it may be presumed it will, the Provincial Assemblies I cannot doubt will follow any Resolution that Body shall form upon it, either of acceptance or refusal, but I am confident the utmost Address would fail in an attempt to engage the Assembly of this Province to come to any favourable Determination upon it. If it should be even practicable to induce a consideration of the Resolution of the House of Commons before the result of the present Congress is known, and when that shall transpire the Provincial Assemblies your Lordship may depend will take their tone from it as heretofore, and no separate part may be expected to be taken by them, but on points where the Congress shall form no rule, if this be the case, of the Resolution of the House of Commons, and it is passed over without notice there, it may be possible to bring it under the Consideration of the Assemblies, in which event and in every other your Lordship may be assured it will be my most anxious Endeavour to come up to the Expectations

-------------------- page 1256 --------------------
of my Royal Master by employing my best Address to promote His Majestys benignant wishes and Intentions. I have the honor to agree perfectly in sentiment with your Lordship that this Resolution of the House of Commons will stand a lasting Monument of the Justice, Moderation and Candour of Parliament, and if it should not prove the foundation of lasting Reconciliation, as I most sincerely hope it may, it will surely discover the true principles of the Americans and the extent of their pretensions and designs, and possibly open some other avenue to Accomodation, or at last it will determine with certainty what must be the future Operations of Government.

The Inhabitants of this Country on the Sea Coast, are for the most part infected with the ill spirit that prevails in the adjacent Provinces of Virginia and South Carolina, whose extravagancies they are copying by arming men, electing officers and so forth. In this little Town they are now actually endeavouring to form what they call independant Companies under my nose, & Civil Government becomes more and more prostrate every day.

It is remarkable that as the People here are more remote from the confines of Virginia and South Carolina, they are better affected to Government, and in the Central and Western Counties they are to be found in great numbers yet stedfast in duty and loyalty of which their voluntary Declarations to me in favour of Government that have been signed by 1400 or 1500 men are the best Evidence. But how long these People may resist the unremitted labours of the seditious to alienate them I cannot say.

Notwithstanding the great Majorities which have appeared in both Houses, as your Lordship observes upon every question for maintaining the Supremacy of Parliament and which I believe it almost the only Political Truth that the Newspapers detail to us with repect to the present Contest, the Americans do not thence infer, nor cannot be persuaded to believe, that such Majorities declare the sense of the Nation upon the subject of Parliamentary Right to Tax the Colonies. They take their Creed from the Speeches said to be declined [declaimed] by certain members of Parliament in opposition to Administration, that are industriously circulated in the Colonies, and which it may be presumed are worked up and altered by Newpaper Compilers and the Tools of Faction, in the way that may best serve their purpose of exciting Sedition in America. And your Lordship may depend they rest their hopes of succeeding in the present Contest much more upon the Encouragement thus held

-------------------- page 1257 --------------------
out to them, and to the workings of Faction in Britain than upon their own boasted strength and power of resistance, after all their insulting Gasconades about it, and nothing I believe can convince this People of the futility of their Dependance on the one or the other but the perseverance of Government in such vigorous Measures as their infatuated conduct has unfortunately rendered necessary, to reclaim the Colonies to due obedience to the Constitutional Authority of Parliament and I am therefore satisfied of the Wisdom of the determination against any Relaxation of them.

Intent as I am My Lord to execute His Majesty's Commands to me in the most exact and faithful manner, and fearing to be chargeable with an omission of my Duty in not calling the Assembly immediately to try the practicability of bringing it to form some favourable and acceptable overture on the Resolution of the House of Commons I have advised with the members of the Council in whom I can most confide upon the Subject and I find them clearly in opinion with me of the inefficacy of such a Measure, while the Congress is sitting, and I trust your Lordship considering my reason, will think I postpone the Experiment on proper Grounds, knowing also as your Lordship will by this time the unruly temper of the late Assembly of this Province.

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