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Proclamation by Josiah Martin concerning the election of delegates to the Provincial Congress of North Carolina and militia officers and loyalty to Great Britain
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
August 15, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 141-151

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Governor Martin's “Fiery” Proclamation.
A Proclamation.

Whereas I have seen a publication in the Cape Fear Mercury which appears to be proceedings of a General Meeting of People

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stiling themselves Committees of the District of Wilmington signed Richard Quince Senr Chairman, in which the well known and incontestible facts set forth in my Proclamation bearing date the 12th day of June last are most daringly and impudently contradicted, and the basest and most scandalous Seditious and inflammatory falsehoods are asserted evidently calculated to impose upon and mislead the People of this Province and to alienate their affections from His Majesty and His Government and concluding in the true spirit of licentiousness and malignity that characterizes the production of these seditious combinations with a resolve declaring me an Enemy to the Interests of this Province in particular and America in General an impotent and state device that the malice and falsehood of these unprincipled censors have suggested, and which is their last contemptible Artifice, constantly resorted to and employed to culminate and traduce every man, in every rank and station of life, who opposes their infamous and traite ous proceedings

And whereas by the evil, pernicious and traiterous Councils and influence of the well known Leaders of these seditious Committees, a body of men was assembled in Arms in Wilmington on the 16th or 17th day of July last, for the purpose as was professed in a letter signed the People, sent to me on the night of the 18th of the same month, by a certain John Ashe (who presumed insidiously to employ the more respectable name of the People to cover his own flagitious Designs) of removing the King's Artillery from Fort Johnston under the pretence of preserving and securing the same for the use and service of His Majesty, and prefacing this Declaration with sundry complaints of violence and misbehaviour on the part of John Collet Esqre Governor and Captn of the said Fort Johnston, many of which it was in my power and it would have been my Duty to have redressed, if they had been represented to me, which letter signed the People I thought it proper to answer and to dissuade the deluded multitude from involving themselves in the criminal enterprize of removing the King's Artillery, which had been dismounted by my authority and not by Capt Collet as had been pretended in order to deceive the People into a violence so dangerous and unwarrantable, and I am to lament that my said letter in Answer to the People produced no other or better effect than to prevent their Execution of the criminal intention of removing the King's Artillery which was all that their letter to me avowed, and that they proceed under the lead of the said John Ashe and other

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the evil minded Conspirators against the peace and welfare of this Province, to the said Fort Johnston and wantonly in the dead hour of night set on fire and reduce to ashes the houses and buildings within His Majesty's said Fort that had been evacuated and disarmed and was entirely defenceless, and that they returned the next day and completed before my face the destruction of the wooden defences of the Fort to which the fire had not extended, burning the houses and desolating everything in the neighbourhood of the place with a degree of wanton barbarity that would disgrace human nature in the most savage state and was an overt act of high treason against His Majesty which justified my immediate vengeance restrained by pity for the innocent, misguided and deluded people whom I considered as the blind instruments of their atrocious leaders who, defeated in the still more flagitous designs they meditated, of which I have the fullest evidence and already involved in guilt of the blackest dye themselves it might be presumed urged on the people to every enormity that might make them appear principles in their own treason instead of blind Instruments thereof and by extending the guilt among many screen themselves from the penalties which they had wantonly incurred, nothing doubting at the same time that cool and sober reflection would justly turn the resentment and indignation of the people against the wicked contrivers and promoters of the violences into which they had been betrayed to the disgrace of their country and humanity and that they would expiate their own guilt by delivering up their leaders to receive the condign punishments that the Laws inflict on such atrocious offenders, but having seen with astonishment a Publication in the Cape Fear Mercury of the 28th day of the last month in which a set of People stiling themselves the Committee for the Town of Wilmington and County of New Hanover have to obviate the just effects that I expected from the return of reason and reflection to the people most falsely, seditiously and traitorously asserted “That Capt Collet was under my auspices preparing Fort Johnston for the reception of a promised Reinforcement which was to be employed in reducing the good people of this Province to a slavish submission to the will of a wicked and tyranic Minister, and for this diabolical purpose had collected several abandoned profligates whose crimes had rendered them unworthy of Civil Society,” etc., intending by various false pretences therein set forth to justify the enormities into which they had plunged the innocent people who I am confident were for
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the most part strangers to all the ostensible motives to the outrages they were hurried on to commit and which according to the acknowledgement of this despicable seditious meeting had no better foundation than resentment to Captain Collet, an individual whose offences the Law's power and that which I derive from His Majesty were competent to correct in a legal way, and seeing that the said Committee as it is called have artfully by insidious compliments and flattery and by their contemptible applause of the outrages and violences perpetrated in and about Fort Johnston endeavoured to reconcile the minds of the People to Treason and Rebellion in order to avert from their own heads the just wrath with which a due sense of those crimes would naturally inspire the People against the infamous persons who had basely betrayed them into offences of so heinous and dangerous a nature. And whereas I have also seen a most infamous publication in the Cape Fear Mercury importing to be resolves of a set of people stiling themselves a Committee for the County of Mecklenburg most traiterously declaring the entire dissolution of the Laws Government and Constitution of this country and setting up a system of rule and regulation repugnant to the Laws and subversive of His Majesty's Government, and another publication in the said Cape Fear Mercury of the 14th of last month, addressed “To the Committees of the several Towns and Counties of North Carolina appointed for the purpose of carrying into execution the Resolves of the Continental Congress” bearing date at Philadelphia June 19th 1775 signed Wm Hooper, Joseph Hewes, Richd Caswell, the preposterous enormity of which cannot be adequately described and abhor'd it marks the Assembly from whose Members it comes to be the genuine Source of those foul streams of sedition which through the channels of committees have overflowed this once happy land, and at this moment threaten it with every species of misery ruin and destruction. This publication begins with a recital of the most unparrellelled falsehoods that ever disgraced a sheet of paper, witness the infamous misrepresentation of the affair at Lexington (which must be also wilful) and the notoriously false position that Britain cannot support her Navy without the aid of North Carolina Commodities calculated to gull the people into a surrender of all the benefits of Commerce to the idle and absurd Speculations and decrees of the affectedly omnipotent Congress at Philadelphia, it proceeds upon these false and infamous assertions and forgeries to excite the people of North Carolina to
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usurp the prerogative of the Crown by forming a Militia and appointing officers thereto and finally to take up arms against the King and His Government, impudently reprehending the people of this Colony for their inactivity in Treason and Rebellion and concluding with a most contradictory insidious and nonsensical jargon of exhortation to the people affronting to and inconsistent with reason and common sense to exert themselves for the preservation of Britain to strengthen the hands of Civil Government to preserve the liberty of the Constitution to look up to the reigning Monarch of Britain as their lawful and rightful Sovereign and to dare every danger and difficulty in support of His Majestys Person Crown and dignity after monstrously in the same breath urging the people to the distress and ruin of Britain to the subversion of all Civil Government to open rebellion against the King and His authority, and in the most pointed Terms prompting them to arms and resistance thus speciously attempting to reconcile allegiance and revolt and insidiously inviting the people to actual rebellion under the mark and guise and profession of Duty and Respect, a shallow concealment of horrid treason that I have no doubt every honest man will explode and treat with its merited contempt and abhorrence, while no man can wonder at the absurdity of this address as it must invariably attend every like attempt to reconcile things in reason and nature inconsistent. The treasonable proceedings of an infamous Committee at New Bern at the head of a Body of armed Men in seizing and carrying off six pieces of Artillery the property of the King that lay behind the palace at that place repeated insults and violences offered to His Majesty's Subjects by these little tyrannical and arbitrary Combinations and among others to some of my own Servants who have been stopped when employ'd on my business and forcibly detained and searched, the unremitting assiduity of those engines of sedition to sow discontent and disaffection and the base artifices they employ to alienate and prejudice the Minds of His Majtys Subjects by confidently and traiterously propogating the most base scandalous and monstrous falsehoods of the Kings religious and political principles and of ill designs of His Majesty's Ministers daring thus to defame and traduce even the sacred character of the best of princes whose eminent and distinguished virtues by universal acknowledgement erradiate with unexampled lustre his Imperial Diadem, and whose piety and strict and inviolable regard to the happy Constitution of His Kingdoms
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in Church and State and to the welfare of all His People stand confessed and admired throughout the world and confound and reprobate the infamous, traitorous and flagitious falsehoods and forgeries to which faction hath upon every occasion resorted to prop and support the most unprincipled and unnatural Rebellion that was ever excited in any part of the world upon which the light of Civilization had once dawned. The dangerous illegal and unconstitutional measure to which the People are invited by an Advertisement I have seen signed Saml Johnston of Electing Delegates to meet in Convention on the 20th instant at Hillsborough that is subversive of the whole Constitution of this Country, and evidently calculated to seduce and alienate His Majesty's faithful and loyal Subjects in the Interior and Western Counties of this Province whose steadfast duty to their King and Country that hath hitherto resisted all the black artifices of falsehood, Sedition and Treason, and hath already upon my Representation received the King's most gracious approbation and acceptance which I am authorized and have now the high satisfaction to signify to His Majesty's faithful Subjects throughout this Province and particularly to those in the Counties of Dobbs, Cumberland, Anson, Orange, Guilford, Chatham, Rowan and Surry, who have given me more especial and public testimonials of their loyalty, fidelity, and duty and to give them assurance of His Majesty's most firm support which I am confidant will not only confirm the good dispositions of this faithful people and strengthen them to battle and defeat every effort of sedition and treason but prompt them also to resist their first approaches by withstanding the now meditated and insidious attempt of the intended Provincial Convention, to steal in upon them the spirit and erect among them the standard of Rebellion under the cloak and pretence of meeting for solemn deliberation on the public welfare. And I have no doubt that they will convice the traiterous contrivers and abettors of this Plot of the vainness of their traiterous Devices to sow sedition and disaffection in that land of loyalty by indignantly spurning from them the said intended Provincial Convention contrived for the instruments of their seduction and not suffering its corrupted breath to pollute the air of their country now the pure region of good faith and incorruptible loyalty, to whose virtuous Inhabitants I trust is yet reserved the glorious achievement of crushing unnatural rebellion and delivering their country from lawless power and wide spreading anarchy of restoring and preserving in it
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the free and happy Constitution of Britain with all the train of envied rights and blessings which belong to that great and admired system of true and generous liberty now most alarmingly threatened with overthrow by rebellious republican and tyrannical factions throughout America. To the end therefore that the People of this Province at large may be made acquainted with the enormities, outrages and violences and disorders hereinbefore recited which manifestly tend to the destruction of their peace and welfare, and to the utter subversion of his Majestys Government and the Laws and Constitution of this country, and that I may faithfully discharge my Duty to the King and to His Majestys People of this Province whose welfare and prosperity have ever been my constant study, and in order fully to forewarn the people of the Dangers and Calamities to which the men who have set themselves up for leaders in sedition and Treason are courting them to support them in their flagitious enormities or to screen themselves from the penalties to which they know they are become liable by extending their crimes among numbers of their innocent fellow Subjects for whom I have every tender feeling of pity, compassion and forgiveness, I have thought it proper to issue this proclamation hereby to exhort His Majesty's Subjects the People of this Province as they tender the invaluable Rights, Liberties, and privileges of British Subjects that they do seriously reflect upon and consider the outrages and violences into which the innocent inhabitants of many parts of this Province and in the Counties of Duplin, New Hanover, Craven and Brunswick in particular have been betrayed by the Seditious Artifices of certain traiterous persons who have presumed to take the lead among them and to attend to the obvious and ruinous consequences of following the wicked and flagitious Councils of men who intent only upon romantic schemes and their own mistaken Interests and aggrandizement are cajoling the People by the most false assertions and insinuations of oppression on the part of His Majesty and His Government to become Instruments of their base views of establishing themselves in Tyranny over them treacherously aiming by specious pretences of regard to their rights and Liberties that have never been invaded or intended to be invaded to delude the People to work their own Destruction in order to gratify for a moment their own lust of power and lawless ambition that would undoubtedly carry them if they could possibly succeed to reduce the people upon whom they now
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call and rely for support in their criminal Designs to the most slavish submission to that very arbitrary power to which they would now climb upon the shoulders and by the assistance of the People. Let the people best consider cooly and dispassionately the cause in which their infamous leaders would engage them they will see it from the beginning of the discontents in America founded in erroneous principles and to this day supported by every art of falsehood and misrepresentation their best coloured and most specious Arguments fraught with sophistry and illusion have shrunk back from the light of truth and vanished confounded before the standard of right reason. Yet still unabashed the Tools of sedition have impudently and unremitingly imposed falsehood after falsehood upon the innocent people extravagantly prophaining even the most sacred name of the Almighty to promote their flagitious purpose of exciting Rebellion until they have shaken the Allegiance and Duty of great numbers and actually involved some of the People in the most horrid crimes against their Sovereign and the Laws and Constitution of their Country. And I do hereby most especially admonish His Majestys faithful Subjects in this Colony, that the holding what is called a Provincial Convention at Hillsborough in the heart of the Province is calculated to extend more widely the traiterous and rebellious designs of the Enemies of His Majesty and His Government, and the Constitution of this Province, and particularly to influence, intimidate and seduce His Majestys Loyal and Faithful Subjects in that Neighbourhood from their Duty to their King & Country which they have hitherto so faithfully maintained, for the furtherance of which purposes a certain Richard Caswell, one of the three Persons deputed by a former illegal Convention in this Colony to attend a Congress no less illegal at Philadelphia is sent an Emissary from that Assembly that hath so lately denounced ruin and destruction to America to forward and superintend this meeting at Hillsborough and to enflame it with the fatal example of the Philadelphia Congress, a part which he has entered upon with the most active zeal after having often declared his principles averse to the cause in which he is engaged, thus exhibiting himself to the world a monstrous engine of double treason against his own conscience and against His King and Country. And whereas I consider this a most open and daring attempt to stir up unnatural Rebellion in this Colony against His Majesty and His Government,

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I do hereby advise forewarn and exhort all His Majesty's Subjects within this Province to forbear making any choice of Delegates to represent them in the intended Convention at Hillsborough as they would avoid the guilt of giving sanction to an illegal Assembly acting upon principles subversive of the happy Constitution of their Country and that they do by every means in their power oppose that dangerous and unconstitutional Assembly and resist its baneful influence.

And whereas in order to encourage the people to proceed in the Treasons to which they have been blindly influenced and misled by the Persons who have set themselves up for leaders among them, it has been represented in order to enflame and render the People desperate that they have offended past forgiveness and that having no mercy to hope for from the King their better chance is to prosecute their Treasons to open Rebellion and resistance of His Majesty and His Government, I think it proper in tenderness and pity to the poor misguided multitude and to obviate this abominable design of engaging them more deeply in transgression hereby to offer promise and to declare to all each and every of them His Majesty's most gracious pardon for all violences done and committed to the date hereof on their return to their Duty to the King and obedience to lawfull Government and renouncing their seditious and treasonable proceedings and I hereby offer ample reward and encouragement to the People or any of them who shall yield and deliver up to me the few principal persons who seduced them to the treasonable outrages hereinbefore recited to be dealt with according to Law.

And whereas, the People in many places have been seduced to the choice and appointment of Military officers among themselves which is an usurpation and invasion of His Majesty's just and lawful prerogative. And whereas no person whatever is entitled to hold exercise or enjoy any Commission or Authority over the Militia of this Colony but such as are Commissioned by His Majesty or His Governor of this Province. And whereas a certain John Ashe hereinbefore named who lately resigned to me his Commission of Colonel in the Militia of the County of New Hanover has presumed to influence and conduct a body of armed men of the said County and other adjacent Counties to the most daring and treasonable outrages and a certain Robert Howes alias Howe hath also presumed without Commission from me or any lawfull Authority to take upon himself the stile and title of Colonel and to advertise and summon the

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Militia of the County of Brunswick to meet in order to be trained to Arms, I do hereby forewarn the People against any and every such Election of officers to which they are invited and caution them against any obedience and regard to any Persons who have been or may be so chosen and appointed hereby declaring every such Election illegal unconstitutional and null and void to all intents and purpose. And that the said John Ashe and Robert Howes alias Howe before mentioned and both of them and every other person and persons who hath or have presumed to array the Militia and to assemble men in Arms within this Province without my Commission or Authority have invaded His Majesty's just and Royal Prerogative and violated the Laws of their Country to which they will be answerable for the same. And whereas, it is out of doubt that a majority of the People of this Colony left to follow the impulses of their own hearts and understanding are loyal and faithful Subjects to His Majesty and true and firm friends to the Constitution and Laws of their Country. And whereas, it appears that the assembling Convention at Hillsborough will bring the Affairs of this Country to a Crisis which will make it necessary for every man to assert his principles, I do hereby conjure the good people of this Province as they tender & regard the blessings of British Subjects that they do firmly persist and persevere in their Duty and allegiance to His Majesty, hereby assuring them in the King's name and by His Majesty's Authority of his firm and determined resolution to maintain his faithful Subjects in the full and free enjoyment of all their religious and Civil Rights, Liberties and Privileges and of His Majesty's utmost Encouragement to them in the defence and support thereof against all Enemies, Rebels and traitors whatsoever. And I do hereby strictly require and Command all His Majesties Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs and other officers, and all other His Majesties liege Subjects to exert themselves in the discovery of all seditious Treasons and Traiterous Conspiracies, and in bringing to justice the principals and accomplices therein. And I do further strictly enjoin them to give all manner of aid, countenance, assistance and protection to all His Majesty's loyal and faithful People, and all persons are hereby required to take notice and govern themselves accordingly.

Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the said Province on board His Majesty's Sloop Cruizer in Cape Fear River, this 8th day

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of August Anno Dom: 1775, and in the 15th year of His Majesty's Reign.

By His Excellency's Command:
J. Biggleston, D. S.

God save the King.