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Letter from Josiah Martin to George Sackville Germain, Viscount Sackville
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
July 06, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 655-656


Snow Peggy, within Charles Town Bar,
July 6th, 1776.

My Lord,

As I consider it among the duties of my Office to lay before your Lordship the merits of His Majesty's faithful subjects of North Carolina, at this time, that loyalty so little characterises the people of this Continent in general, I have the honour to present to your Lordship Mr Thos Macknight, from whose intelligence and candor I persuade myself your Lordship will derive every information you can wish touching that Colony.

Mr Macknight my Lord is not less distinguished from the common herd of sufferers in North Carolina by the peculiar loyalty & fortitude of his conduct, than by the greatness of his losses, and the disinterested and noble principles, which from the beginning of the distraction on this continent, led him uniformly to set at nought every consideration in comparison of his duty as a subject. At the time of the holding the second Convention in the Province of North Carolina Mr Macknight My Lord appeared in it as a member chosen unanimously by the County in which he resided, and where he was held universally in the highest respect. He came thither provided with Instructions from his Constituents formed upon his own just sense of things, with intention to moderate the measures of that factious Assembly and to obviate if possible, the danger with which he saw it pregnant. A resolve passed that the Members of that Convention should sign the non exportation agreement of the General Congress, and declare at the same time their full approbation thereof, and resolution to recommend it to their Constituents. Upon this occasion Mr Macknight singly objected that it was inconsistent with his principles as an honest man to declare his approbation of a measure that was calculated to prevent his doing the common justice of paying debts he owed in Britain, & accordingly declined the declaration required of him absolutely. This honest revolting was followed immediately by the Convention's severest sentence of excommunication, but was not the real cause of it. It had become notorious My Lord that Mr Macknight had by his influence in the two Counties of Currituck and Pasquotank obtained peremptory instructions to their Delegates to move the Convention to express the highest disapprobation of the Suffolk resolves adopted by the Congress at Philadelphia, and to resort to legal & constitutional

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modes for obtaining redress of grievances, with injunction to them, failing in these points, to withdraw from the Convention.

Such my Lord were the true grounds of this meeting's hasty condemnation of Mr Macknight, of whose instructions they dreaded the Promulgation, as appears by their being refused when he tendered them to be read before he withdrew.

From the dissolution of this Convention in April, Mr Macknight, persevering in the same upright and spirited conduct, unmoved by the courtship of the most consequential Leaders in faction, or by the arguments & pressing instances of his dearest and most intimate friends, who were embarked on the side of rebellion, was persecuted and menaced with every species of terror, until the beginning of last October, when, threatened hourly with assassination, he fled for protection to Lord Dunmore, whose sanctuary was in his neighbourhood, and abandoned on the noblest and most disinterested principles, a property reasonably estimated at thirty thousand pounds sterling, exhibiting an example of loyalty and integrity and spirit that I think, my Lord I may be bold to say is without parallel in this hemisphere; and next to him I think may be ranked in merit his partners in Trade, Mr Aitchison and Mr Parker, two very considerable Merchants in Virginia, who, like Mr Macknight, so far have sacrificed all of a very great property to loyalty to their Sovereign.

Mr Macknight, seeking the first occasion to join me, came to Cape Fear in February last, bringing the most honorable testimonials to me from Lord Dunmore of his services. Assured that his knowledge of the Province and his personal influence would be most highly useful to me when the expected armament should arrive, I pressed his stay and he cheerfully yielded to my importunity while there was a prospect that he could render any service, nor resolved upon going to England untill the expedition was directed towards another object.

I flatter myself, my Lord, the detail I have given your Lordship of Mr Macknight's merits and sufferings cannot fail to engage for him your Lordship's powerful and generous protection, and I shall content myself with having commended him to your Lordship's jnstice, in full assurance that he will thence derive the favour of Government in measure proportioned to his very rare and uncommon deservings.

I have the honor to be, &c.,