Since my last letter to your Lordship I have had the honour to receive your Lordship's Dispatches Nos 17 and 18 by the return of an Express Boat which I ventured to send to Charles Town about a month ago in expectation of the arrival of a Mail from England.
Pursuant to his Majesty's Commands signified to me by your Lordship's dispatch of the former number your Lordship may depend I shall make the Resolutions of the Lords of Trade on the representations of the Assembly's Agents touching the Law of Attachments and the proposed provisions in the Court Law to which they refer my absolute rule and guide with regard to those points whenever they shall again be agitated in the Legislature of this Province of which I most sincerely wish I could see a nearer prospect.
The account which your Lordship is pleased to give me by your Dispatch No 18 of the King's firm resolution to pursue the most vigorous measures by sea and land for reducing his Majesty's rebellious subjects on this Continent to obedience cannot but afford satisfaction to every faithful subject of his Majesty as it is certainly a determination founded in humanity as well as good Policy, for the longer the present prevailing spirit of Rebellion is suffered to triumph without check, the more widely it will spread and the more blood it will cost to subdue it. I most sincerely deplore at the same time the miseries that impend the People of this vast continent in general owing to the fatal influence of a few ungovernable turbulent and factious spirits who have astonishingly had the address to involve this multitude of people by fallacious and specious alarms in the guilt of Rebellion to support themselves in the prosecutionLiberty that beguiles the minds of the vulgar beyond the power of antidote.
Your Lordship may depend I will not fail in the strictest observance of His Majesty's commands to exert every endeavour and to employ every means that shall be in my power to aid and support General Gage and Admiral Graves in all such operations as they may think proper to undertake for carrying the King's orders into full execution and restoring the authority of his Majesty's Government, at the same time I grieve to be obliged to acknowledge to your Lordship that I have not the least power at present to assist their operations.
The Provincial Congress lately held at Hillsborough has produced all the ill consequences that I apprehended from it. I beg leave to refer your Lordship for such of its proceedings as have been made publick to the Cape Fear Mercuries of the 15th, 22nd and 29th of September herewith enclosed which discover but too plainly the extravagant spirit that prevailed in that Assembly. My private Informations of its temper differ widely, on the one hand I learn (and from authority to which I am inclined to give the greater credit) that the measures of raising troopes met with warm opposition from the Delegates of the Western Counties and that it was carried against them by the rule of taking the votes by Counties, of which those upon the Sea Coast and in the midland Country formed a great majority in favour of it, much owing to the influence of the candidates for military honours in this Southern part of the Province and more to their thirst for the profits with which they expected them to be accompanied. On the other hand I hear that the opposition of the Western Counties was only to the number of Troops intended to be raised, first proposed at three thousand men, which ceased on the reduction of the number to one thousand and that they concurred in every other measure at which if it be true I cannot indeed greatly wonder when I consider the extreme ignorance of the Inhabitants of that part of the Country and the arts imployed to Seduce them by the inflammatory Spirits who have taken the lead in all the popular Assembly's of this Colony. According to my information a Committee was appointed by this Provincial Congressr Farquhard Campbell an ignorant man who has been settled from his childhood in this Country, is an old Member of the Assembly and has imbibed all the American popular principles and prejudices. By the advice of some of his Countrymen I was induced after the receipt of your Lordship's letter No. 16 to communicate with this man on the alarming state of the Country and to sound his disposition in case of matters coming to extremity here, and he expressed to me such abhorence of the violences that had been done at Fort Johnston and in other instances and discovered so much jealousy and apprehension of the ill designs of the Leaders in Sedition here, giving me at the same time so strong assurances of his own loyalty and the good dispositions of his Countrymen that I unsuspecting his dissimulation and treachery was led to impart to him the encouragements I was authorized to hold out to his Majesty's loyal Subjects in this Colony who should stand forth in support of Government which he received with much seeming approbation and repeatedly assured me he would consult with the principles among his Countrymen without whose concurrence he could promise nothing of himself, and would acquaint me with their determinations. From the time of this conversation between us in July I heard nothing of Mr Campbell until since the late Convention at Hillsborough, where he appeared in the Character of a Delegate from the County of Cumberland and there, according to my information, unasked and unsolicited and without provocation of any sort was guilty of the base Treachery of promulging all I had said to him in confidential secrecy, which he had promised sacredly and inviolably to observe, and of the aggravating crime of falsehood in making additions of his own invention and declaring that he had rejected all my propositions—fortunately however he could discover nothing new: for the public here were already fully r Campbell referred, Copies of it having been circulated here by the Committee of Charles Town who intercepted and detained the Original.
Thus my Lord I have the mortification to see all the fair promising advantages which this Country afforded me for supporting His Majesty's Government wrested from me by the machinations of sedition for want of all the necessary means to use and improve them. Seven months have elapsed since my first application to General Gage for arms and ammunition in all which time I have not received the shadow of support while the busy spirit of Faction has had full opportunity to play off all its artifices and to counteract all my endeavours for his Majesty's service and the present state of affairs here evinces its fatal success. Still My Lord if I ever am supported I shall not fail to employ every effort to regain my lost ground which may not yet be impossible altho I confess nothing can be more discouraging than my present prospects. I wish my Lord not to be understood by this representation to impute in any sort or degree the disappointment of my well founded expectations of maintaining the King's Government in this Country to neglect or remissness on the part of General Gage for I am very confident from my own knowledge of that Gentleman and his zeal for his Majesty's service I should have wanted no aid which he could have afforded me for the advancement of the public service, my design and meaning is only to account to your Lordship for the misfortune of losing this Colony and to shew that the present total subversion of order and Government in it has been wholly owing to my want of all the means to use and improve timely those advantages by which I have so long flattered your Lordship as well as myself I should be able to retain it, in a state of obedience to lawfull authority and Government. After all however I am yet induced to hope that if the present unnatural contest should continue and Government shall think proper to try effectually its strength in this Province it will be found that the Scotch here have only been dormant for want of support and that they have not lost their loyalty or love for their Mother Country and if it is thought advisable My Lord to aid me with two Battalions I would humbly recommend that they be of Highlanders of which we have these in a large body raising in Britain rather than any other Troops not only because they will recruit here with greater facility but as they will be the sure means of
I transmit to your Lordship herewith enclosed a North Carolina Gazette of the 6th instant containing in the first page a very extraordinary Plan of confederation for the united Colonies which was introduced to the late Congress at Hillsborough I am well informed by Mr William Hooper a native of Boston who was the author of the very inflammatory letter addressed to the Committees here, which I transmitted to your Lordship some time ago that is said to have been the first cause of violence in this Country and which was signed by him and the other two Delegates from this Colony to the Continental Congress who all returned from Philadelphia to attend this provincial meeting. I am glad to see My Lord there was temper and moderation enough in that Assembly to reject this proposition for the present and I am highly pleased with the restrictions laid on the Delegates to the Congress which I am willing to consider a good presage. This Plan it would seem My Lord must have come with some sort of recommendation from the Philadelphia Congress but perhaps not in its aggregate capacity notwithstanding the disavowal in the preface to it, For your Lordship will observe towards the conclusion it is said These Articles shall be postponed to the several Provincial Conventions or Assemblies &c: a language of authority one cannot suppose the Delegates of North Carolina to hold alone. I confess I think this Piece bears strongly the impression and characters of New England manufacture and craft for the principle of Population on which the great governing power is to be proportioned and formed however speciously equitable will forever in the nature of things secure the balance to the Northern Colonies which consequently if this Plan could be established would give law to the Southern Provinces and finally subjugate them as is the object and ultimate design I must suspect of the N. England lust of domination but however right or wrong these my conjectures may be the Paper in question like many of the publications of the Continental Congress has so much of the appearance of system and breathes so strongly the spirit of independance
Among other Institutions of the late Provincial Congress your Lordship will observe it has appointed a Provincial Council which is vested with supreme power during the recess of that Assembly. In this select body, consisting of thirteen members, there are no less than seven Attornies, all of whom are most infamous or most contemptible characters except Mr Samuel Ashe and Mr Samuel Johnston, who have the reputation of being men of integrity. Among the rest of its members there are scarcely any of good principles or character, and some of them are despicable to the last degree.
Mr Samuel Johnston having summoned and convened the late Congress at Hillsborough and presided therein, and having also accepted the office of Treasurer of the Northern District of this Colony under the appointment of this unconstitutional Assembly of his own creation, in open violation of an Act of the Provincial Legislature, by which Treasurers are appointed and actually existing. I have thought it high time and indispensibly my duty to supersede him as Deputy Naval Officer of this Province, and I have accordingly appointed Mr Archibald Neilson, a gentleman well qualified by his knowledge, integrity and good principles to act in that Office until His Majesty's Pleasure shall be known. He is indeed the only capable person that, in my present state, cut off from all intercourse with the country, I can appoint, or with whom I can communicate upon the subject. I do not think, however, that I could at any time make a better choice in this Province, and I have therefore recommended Mr Neilson to Mr Turner, the Patentee of the Naval Office of this Colony (now residing in England) for his confirmation, and I beg leave to express my wishes that if it be proper and consistent your Lordship may be pleased to interpose your authority with himr Neilson, the Gentleman of my nomination, offers and will secure to Mr Turner in the most acceptable manner the same consideration of his Office that he received from Mr Johnston.
It has transpired but does not appear in the proceedings of the Provincial Congress held at Hillsborough printed in the enclosed Papers that it voted the sum of sixty thousand Pounds to be forthwith struck and issued in Paper Bills for the support of their military establishment and that ten thousand pounds more are to be lent from the Bank formed by the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. All of which is to be sunk by a Poll Tax to be levied hereafter on the Inhabitants of this Province which bids fair I think to create schism wherever the collection of it is set on foot.
It is possible also that the resentment of Mr John Ashe occasioned by his disappointment of the Chief command of the military establishment formed by the Provincial Congress will cause some division here for it seems he and his friends are raising men of their own authority in opposition to Mr James Moore his brother in Law who is appointed Military Chief under the Congress.
Cut off as I am from intercourse with the Country much of what I write to your Lordship is necessarily only from hear-say and report of the best authentication I can procure and compared and selected with the greatest caution, I am therefore to request that your Lordship will be pleased to consider what I write from information only with all proper allowance.
If I may hazard opinions of my own under these circumstances I must say that I think there is no present appearance or probability of the divisions arising in the Country turning to the advantage of Government For however some of the People are dissatisfied among themselves with regard to the distribution of power and command under their own new institutions of Government, they seem generally united on the points of opposition to Britain and if it is in contemplation to carry them against the now collected resistance of the Colonies which I may infer from your Lordship's letters is determined I am satisfied it can only be effected by the immediate and vigorous operations of a great army unless the Colonists in general can be made to understand and to consider more favorably the justice and equity and moderation of the claims and proportions of Parliament which will be impracticable while the clamours of opposition
Your Lordship will see under the New Bern Articles in the enclosed Papers to what malicious obloquy and reproach I am exposed here. These animadversions I apprehend are the overflowings of the patriotism and good nature of Mr Abner Nash whose name I have before had occasion to mention to your Lordship. I should not aim to draw your Lordship's attention for one moment to objects of so little consequence as myself and the unjust censure thrown out here against me (while even the sacredness of Majesty in the most virtuous & excellent Prince in Christendom does not exempt our most Gracious Sovereign from the violent and most opprobrious slanders) but to shew your Lordship how impotent and unavailing are the only means now in my power to resist the workings of sedition and rebellion. My proclamations not suffered to be published or circulated among the people are suppressed by the Committees who represent them to the public as best serves their own seditious purposes. This Mr Nash's commentary in the enclosed papers upon my lastr De Rosset (that was written in Council and unanimously approved by the Board) printed also in the enclosed papers will likewise shew your Lordship his skill and dexterity in misrepresentation and perversion of the truth and his premises and conclusions will sufficiently display his candour his charity and loyalty. The patriots here in general I am told speak with much respect of my character and conduct as Governor of this Province condemning only the too officious zeal which they say I have discovered in resisting their measures since the commencement of the present disorders in America and which they alledge has transported me beyond the bounds of my necessary duty. I am little hurt I confess My Lord by this condemnation having the entire approbation of my own conscience and I hope a reasonable confidence that my Royal Master and those to whom I am responsible will do me the justice to believe I have discharged my duty faithfully and to the utmost of my power the feebleness of which I am most to lament that has not permitted me to do more.
In cases of seizures made by the King's ships it is to be apprehended it will be very difficult if not impracticable to form Courts of Vice Admiralty for their Tryal in this Province as well as in other of the Colonies, for want of communication with the proper officers. In that event your Lordship knows that Officers of the navy will be exposed to prosecution for detaining beyond a short limitation of time vessels they may seize under the late act of Parliament restraining the Trade of some of the Colonies, which are thereby directed to be tried as other seizures, in the Courts of Admiralty, unless in their special cases, and when the proceedings of such Courts shall be opposed and obstructed, as will probably happen, some provision is made by Law for their indemnification.
Mr Alexander McGregor, late Master of the Snow Relief stranded here in the month of March last, gave me about a fortnight ago a detail of Captain Collet's proceedings with regard to his Cargo, upon which he laid in claim as a Salvager, and by this man's account, as well as from other circumstances that have come to my knowledge, I am bound to conclude that Mr Collet's conduct on the occasion was exceedingly injurious and unjustifiable. I recommendedr McGregor, I fear was formed more upon views to his own gain and interest than upon any principles of justice, equity and charity, all of which the nature of the case ought to have excited in the strongest manner. I much lament My Lord that I have so much reason in this affair and on other accounts to alter my favorable sentiments of Captain Collet, of whom and of his principles I was wont to think highly.
I hear that the thousand men now raised or raising here, called Regular Troops and formed into two Battalions, are to be disposed as follows: Three hundred men are to be encamped on the East Side of the River at a place called Barnard's Creek about three miles below Wilmington. One hundred on the West Side of this River about four Miles above Fort Johnston. Two hundred men are to be quartered at New Bern, the like number at Edenton, and the remaining two hundred in the back Country, where it is proposed, I understand, to raise the whole number.
In a North Carolina Gazette of the 29th of September your Lordship will see a most pompous display of discoveries of military stores in and about my house at New Bern, almost every article of which the author of this abuse, I am persuaded, well knows to be old stores deposited there by Governor Tryon after his expedition against the Regulators which it seems my servants in their abundant caution had buried as described in the News Papers to keep them out of the hands of the Mob. Of mine or of my provision there was nothing among them but two Kegs containing between forty and fifty pounds of Gunpowder (called quarter casks in the News Paper) which I had bought and intended for Saluting the King's last birthday and which on my previous and necessary departure from New Bern I directed to be put away in some place of security.
The same paper contains an advertisement of a set of people formerly mentioned by me to your Lordship who are, it appears, audaciously settling very rapidly a Colony which they have called Transilvania on the Frontier of this Province and Virginia where as I have before represented they have made a fraudalent and illegal
I have now and then My Lord the heart breaking pain to hear the murmurings and lamentations of a loyal subject who steals down here to unbosom his griefs to complain of the want of support from Government and to enquire when it may be expected, and while I labour to console and encourage him under his sufferings I am doubly sensible of the humiliation of my own impotent and disgracefull condition and circumstances, my feelings of which and for the dignity of his Majesty's Government it is impossible for me to express or describe to your Lordship.
I hope collecting Lordship will have been aware of the impossibility of my collecting in these times of distraction the necessary materials for making that full representation of the state of the Trade and circumstances of this Colony which your Lordship required by your circular letter so long ago and that your Lordship will accordingly have made every allowance for my delay to execute his Majesty's commands to me thereupon.
At the restoration of Peace and good order under the just authority of his Majestys Government in this Colony I consider it My Lord first most essentially and above all things necessary towards the improvement of that most desireable court to the stability of these blessings and to the utmost advantage for the welfare and happiness of this People to erect by authority of the King's Royal Prerogative a compleat and permanent system of Courts for the Administration of Justice not only upon the just and generous principle of imparting to his Majesty's subjects here those great securities of life, liberty and property that flow from this source to which they are entitled under the British Constitution and which are the grand ends and objects of all civil Government but as the only sure and effectual means of confirming to them its most inestimable rights, for late experience has manifested such strange and extravagant caprice in the Assembly of this Province with regard to these primary institutions of Jurisprudence that to
In this event and at the arrival of the happy period above mentioned, that is so sincerely the object of my wishes, I shall not only think myself authorized by your Lordship's sentiments heretofore communicated to me, but I shall consider myself called upon in the strongest manner by my duty to the King and the State, to his Majesty's people in this Colony and their most important interests, to embrace that critical moment to employ the means in my power to prevent as human prudence may the return of those great calamities and evils of which I here have been witness, that have proceeded from the want of some settled Plan for the Administration of Justice and which are and ever must be more or less incident to every State and Colony under like circumstances. For this great purpose for the reasons I have here enumerated to your Lordship, and because I am persuaded it will be the first and greatest improvement that can be made in the Civil Polity of this Province, I shall think it proper by Ordinances to be made with the advice of the Council, pursuant to the Powers granted to me in that behalf by his Majesty's Royal Commission, to erect Sufficient Courts of Justice throughout this
While I look forward and wonder in pleasing contemplation into times of Peace very different also from the present, I have a thousand speculations about the future Government of these Colonies. Among other regulations that have occurred to me to be proper I wish to submit to your Lordship's consideration the expediency of admitting well chosen Judges of the Law Courts to sit with the Provincial Councils in their Legislative Capacity without vote as the Judges of England do in the House of Lords for the purpose of giving their advice upon laws in their formation which I think may prevent much error and impropriety.
With all submission My Lord I most humbly conceive too that the appointment of Judges here during good behaviour may be a consideration worthy of Government not only as it is essentially necessary to compleat and give perfection to the system I have in view to establish for the administration of Justice, but as the certain effectual and perhaps only means to induce the Assembly to make honorable, suitable, permanent settlements upon those important Offices, and if such a measure shall be adopted I would humbly recommend that in aid of Mr Howard his Majesty's present Chief Justice of this Province, from [four] able and sufficient assistant Judges should be sent from England, a less number than which I do not think adequate to the business of this extensive Province.
Another most important object that I am bound to recommend to your Lordship's attention is the reform of the Court of Chancery here that can never answer the end of a remedial Court of Equity while the Council makes a part of it not only from the connection of its Members who are people of the Country with the suitors who come into that Court and the bias too naturally arising out of that circumstance, but from the difficulty if not impossibility of keeping open daily that source of redress owing to the wide dispersion of the Members of the Council and their reluctance to give their time and attention to that elemosynary business for which they have no sort of allowance or recompence. The Right or rather claim of the Council to sit in the Court of Chancery here has no other foundation that I have been able to discover (besides usuage that can hardly deserve any consideration in this infant and unformed Colony) than an implication of a Chancery Court then existing composed of the Governor and Council in a Provin [provisional] clause for cases where
As his Majesty has thought proper by his Royal Instructions to invest power in the Governor with the advice of the Council to settle fees for all Officers and that the Assembly in the Province hath taken upon itself to establish fees by laws that have most injuriously annexed fees to some services far exceeding their merit and value and alloted none to others of the highest dignity and that are of greatest profit and emolument in other parts of his Majesty's Dominions I submit to your Lordships consideration the expediency of disallowing all the Laws establishing fees in this province and omitting them to be settled upon a just and reasonable footing by the Governor and Council but this My Lord is a tender subject for me to touch and what I have here proposed I presume only to suggest as a salutary regulation and agreeable to his Majesty's Instructions without a sinister thought to my own advantage as I firmly trust and hope your Lordship will do me the justice to believe.
As it may be very material to his Majesty's service that I should know how far the Charters granted to the Lords Proprietors of this Province were affected by the Surrender of their rights to the Crown, and whether they were or not by that Act in legal continuation altogether and absolutely abrogated and annulled, I beg leave to entreat your Lordship's full information on this head.