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Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
November 12, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 321-328

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

No Carolina Cruizer Sloop of War in Cape Fear River,
November 12th, 1775.

My Lord,

I have the honour to inform your Lordship that I received on the 28th day of last month from the Post House in Wilmington a Packet from your Lordship's Office bearing the most palpable evidence of violation and no Post mark whatever but (Hampton 25 6) written on the upper corner of the cover. This being the name of the first Town within the Capes of Virginia I am led to conclude that the Packet I have received is part of what your Lordship taught me to expect by your last dispatches by a store ship that was about to sail for that Province which being there put on shore has fallen into the hands of the Committees who have transferred it from one to the other after purloining it of what they have thought meet until it has been finally deposited in the Post Office at Wilmington as it carries no marks of the intermediate Post Offices at Norfolk, Suffolk, Edenton and New Bern; I shall use my utmost endeavours to discover by what means and through what channel this Packet came to the Post Office at Wilmington, and if I am able

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to ascertain that point, of which I own I have no great hopes, it may be possible to trace back its whole progress to the first violation.

I am the more exceedingly to lament the violation of these Dispatches if they came by the store ship to Virginia, as your Lordship's letter No 18, by the South Carolina Packet, gave me room to expect that you would write to me fully on the state of this Province by that conveyance, for in that case if your Lordship executed your purpose the most material of your dispatches have been withheld from me by the violators of the Packet I have received, the contents of which that have come to my hands in this strange manner and condition being only your Lordship's circular letter notifying the death of the Queen of Denmark, No 17 of your Lordship's Dispatches with Extracts from the Journals of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations therein referred to (the Duplicate of which I have acknowledged to have received by the South Carolina Packet some time ago) and two circular letters from Mr Pownall bearing date the 5th of April and 27th of May (the last being a duplicate), enclosing printed copies of the King's Speech to both Houses of Parliament at the close of the preceding session and two acts of the same, the one for encouraging the Fisheries carried on from Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions in Europe, the other to restrain the Trade and Commerce of the Provinces of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire &c: to Great Britain, Ireland, &c., and to prohibit such Provinces and Colonies from carrying on any fishery on the banks of New Foundland &c: under certain conditions and limitations.

I flattered myself that my representations to your Lordship of the violences which had been done by Congresses and Committees throughout this continent would have arrived timely to prevent your Lordship trusting your dispatches to any other conveyances than the Packets to South Carolina, the ordinary channels of your Lordship's correspondance (whose letters for me are lodged by my discretion on board the King's ship there), or by his Majesty's ships bound thither, or to this Port.

The disaster I have now related to your Lordship will I trust however obviate accidents of the like nature in future, for your Lordship may depend that the post here is no safe conveyance at present for the most private and uninteresting letters to the Officers of Government, and that every letter to them more particularly such as I have lately received from your Lordship (violated as I

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have described) bearing all the usual official forms of address pass as certainly into the hands of Congresses and committees as if they were expressly directed to them.

With Virginia I have no communication at all the distance being too great to send thither such a Dispatch boat as I am able to procure here. I would therefore humbly recommend that your Lordship's Dispatches to me which shall not be sent hither directly by a King's ship should go by such conveyance or by the Packets to Charles Town (with direction that they be lodged on board his Majesty's ship stationed there) that is not a third part of the distance from hence and whence I am able to obtain them with safety and certainty by a boat though only at the monstrous expence of Twenty five pounds for each trip which I have already paid twice that I have sent there for your Lordship's dispatches and which might be saved to me if your Lordship shall think proper to direct the men of War to send a Tender here with such dispatches as may arrive from time to time, but if your Lordship shall on any emergency find it expedient to send your dispatches to me by the route of Virginia or any other channels, they should be expressly directed to be conveyed from thence by one of the King's ships and by no means to be committed to the Post.

Since my last letter to your Lordship I am informed by a person who has seen a Draft of the lands unlawfully and fraudulently purchased by Henderson and his associates from the Cherokee Indians and which they have called Transilvania comprehends, as they have laid it down, a Tract of no less than ninety miles in length and twelve miles in breadth within the bounds of Lord Granville's Proprietary in this Province and as my Informer says that they have not set off a full degree of Latitude to Lord Granville in this Draft, it is probable they have not extended his Proprietary to its due limits to the northward and that they have therefore trespassed beyond what they admit upon his Lordship's right. I learn further that a Mr James Hogg one of the Partners in this felonious undertaking is gone to treat with a body of Two thousand People who are coming from Connecticut to settle in this new forming Colony and that he is also the person intended to represent this Territory in the Continental Congress, these adventurers expecting by this piece of flattery and address and their Delegates' influence to engage that Assembly to make the ratification of their lawless invasion of the Indian lands under a fraudulent purpose a stipulation in any further

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proposition of accommodation with Great Britain. It is said this infamous Company of land Pyrates here [have] already sold large tracts of land at high prices.

The success of this enterprise, I understand, has given encouragement to another project of the like nature now carrying into execution by a company of people under the auspices of Mr Richard Caswell, who is at the head of it, and was late one of the Delegates from the Province to the Continental Congress. My information goes that he and his Confederates (whose names I have not heard) are fitting out a vessel at New Bern to be sent up the Mississippi with chosen persons, to regulate with the Indians a purchase of lands lying to the westward of the Territory of Richard Henderson and his Company, and I have no doubt if some effectual stop is not put to these daring usurpations that such Adventurers will possess themselves soon of all the Indian Country.

On the 21st of last month a body of 172 Highlanders, Men, Women and Children, arrived here in the ship George, from Scotland, and on the application to me for leave to occupy the vacant lands of the Crown in this Province, when they have all relations, and on the most solemn assurances of their firm and unalterable loyalty and attachment to the King, and of their readiness to lay down their lives in the support and defence of his Majesty's Government, I was induced to Grant their request on the Terms of their taking such lands in the proportions allowed by his Majesty's Royal Instructions, and subject to all the conditions prescribed by them whenever grants may be passed in due form, thinking it more advisable to attach these people to Government by granting as matter of favour and courtesy to them what I had not power to prevent than to leave them to possess themselves by violence of the King's lands, without owing or acknowledging any obligation for them, as it was not only the means of securing these People against the seditions of the Rebels, but gaining so much strength to Government that is equally important at this time, without making any concessions injurious to the rights and interests of the Crown, or that it has effectual power to withhold, and I therefore flatter myself I shall be justified in this step by his Majesty's approbation. I think my Lord, with submission, that the expediency of making some rule of favour and indulgence in granting lands to these emigrants not extending to the encouragement of future emigrations may be worthy his Majesty's Royal consideration.

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I have the satisfaction, I think on good information, to assure your Lordship that the Scotch Highlanders here are generally and almost without exception staunch to Government, and on the same authority I am persuaded to believe that loyal subjects yet abound and infinitely outnumber the seditious throughout all the very populous Western Counties of this Province. I am also told for a certainty that their indignation against the late Congress held at Hillsborough ran so high that they would have broke it up if they had been provided but with a small quantity of ammunition and had found themselves of defence to remit the vengeance they might have expected in consequence of so open and declared an opposition to Rebellion.

Captain Alexr McLeod, a Gentleman from the Highlands of Scotland and late an Officer in the Marines who has been settled in this Province about a year and is one of the Gentlemen I had the honor to recommend to your Lordship to be appointed a Captain in the Batallion of Highlanders, I proposed with his Majesty's permission to raise here found his way down to me at this place about three weeks ago and I learn from him that he as well as his father in law, Mr Allan McDonald, proposed by me for Major of the intended Corps moved by my encouragements have each raised a company of Highlanders since which a Major McDonald who came here some time ago from Boston under the orders of General Gage to raise Highlanders to form a Batallion to be commanded by Lieut Coll. Allan McLean has made them proposals of being appointed Captains in that Corps, which they have accepted on the Condition that his Majesty does not approve my proposal of raising a Batallion of Highlanders and reserving to themselves the choice of appointments therein in case it shall meet with his Majesty's approbation in support of that measure. I shall now only presume to add that the taking away those Gentlemen from this Province will in a great measure if not totally dissolve the union of the Highlanders in it now held together by their influence, that those people in their absence may fall under the guidance of some person not attached like them to Government and that such a Batallion as I have proposed to raise will not only be signally usefull and necessary to restore the authority of Government in this Colony at present but it will ever be maintained by such a regular military force as this established in it that will constantly reunite itself with the utmost facility and consequently

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may be always maintained upon the most respectable footing.

From Capt McLeod, who seems to be a man of observation and intelligence, I gather that the inconsistency of Farquhard Campbell's conduct (that I have formerly mentioned to your Lordship and of which I now exhibit to you the proofs in a Cape Fear Mercury of the 21st day of October herewith enclosed) has proceeded as much from jealousy of the Superior consequence of this Gentleman and his Father in law with the Highlanders here as from any other motive. This schism is to be lamented from whatsoever cause arising, but I have no doubt that I shall he able to reconcile the interests of the parties whenever I have power to act and can meet them together.

By the concurring Testimony of a variety of people it would appear that the spirit of opposition begins to droop and decline here and that some of the foremost promoters of sedition waver and seem ready to withdraw themselves from the combinations they have taken so much pains to form, nay indeed I have heard that one of the principal and most guilty of the Rebels here has lately declared he never expected to see matters in this present state, that the American's hopes of their opposition to the claims of Parliament proving successful were formed upon the belief that Britain would recede from her pretensions on some expediency arising out of the abridgement of her Commerce the clamours of her Manufacturers her aversion to rigour towards the Colonies or from the discontents excited in her own bosom by the Partisans of America or the prevalence of opposition in Parliament all of which had failed them, that America after all their boasting was in no condition to wage war against the Power of Britain and that he would gladly for his part sacrifice four fifths of his fortune to bring about an accommodation. This My Lord however was the language of a most unprincipled man of notorious and profound dissimulation and falsehood and held before an Officer in the King's service possibly only with design to beguile and deceive. But if I could believe that their system of opposition was tottering and ready to fall to pieces (which I really think the conviction of their impotence to remit successfully will only dissolve) I should still be of opinion that the first symptoms and appearances of return to obedience should be trusted with caution as arising more from fear than affection and a proper sense of duty; that no professions should be regarded or advances received other than unconditional submission

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and that any less certain presages of their desire of reconciliation should in no sort abate the vigor of Britain's resolutions and preparations to assert Her supreme authority but rather stimulated her exertions to establish her force here in such strength as may command the terms on which she may think it reasonable and proper to insist in firm assurance that the evidence of her superior power alone will effectually eradicate the principles of the present horrid Rebellion and give permanent peace to this continent.

It is confidently reported that the continental congress hath sent an Agent to the Court of France of the name of McIntoch the truth of which your Lordship will easily learn.

I have seen with great satisfaction in the Public Papers a Proclamation by the King for suppressing Rebellion and sedition bearing date the 23rd of August last which I hope will produce great and good effect; among others more momentous I expect it will give weight to a proclamation I have lately issued to prevent the circulation of the Paper Bills emitted here by the late Provincial Congress.

The Scorpion Sloop of War arrived here yesterday from Boston and brought me letters of old date from General Gage discouraging my expectations of any aids from him. This ship is come to relieve the Cruizer Sloop which is certainly in too bad condition to proceed to Boston at this season of the year and is necessary as well as the Scorpion and may be usefully employed here to guard against the introduction of military stores that I learn are very difficient among the Rebels here who are in constant expectation of supplies by vessels which have been sent for them. These circumstances I have represented to Captain Thornborough of Charles Town who is the commanding Officer of the King's Ships in the Southern Provinces at present, and I hope he will order things accordingly. I have also advised that a Transport which General Gage has sent here under convoy of the Scorpion to recover the Artillery from Fort Johnston should remain here till the Spring after receiving those stores on board as her return to Boston at this time of year will be very hazardous and uncertain.

A ship is this moment arrived from Scotland with upwards of one hundred and thirty Emigrants Men, Women and Children to whom I shall think it proper (after administering the Oath of Allegiance to the Men) to give permission to settle on the vacant lands of the Crown here on the same principles and conditions that I

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granted that indulgence to the Emigrants lately imported in the ship George.

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