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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Letter from William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn to Cornelius Harnett
Hooper, William, 1742-1790; Hewes, Joseph, 1730-1779; Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788
August 02, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 718-722

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Letter from the North Carolina Delegates in the Continental Congress to the Provincial Council of Safety.

Honoured Sir,

Permit us, thro' you, to address the honourable body in which you preside, and inform them that we were favoured with their two last letters by Mr Hooper, and have seized the earliest, and most probable method to carry the contents of them into execution. We have stated to the continental congress, with all the energy we are

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capable of, the present distressed and necessitous state of our Province, and the means which may tend most effectually to relieve it. We have been as fortunate as your most Sanguine expectations, and the inclosed Resolve will convince you, that North Carolina bears no inconsiderable weight in the favour of the Continental Congress. The readiness which they discover upon all occasions to comply with the just requisitions of our State, evince that they entertain a grateful sense of our patriotick exertion, & wish to furnish to us every inducement to persist in a conduct from which we have to expect liberty, peace and happiness.

In addition to the several articles which you recommended to our care, We have bestowed our Thoughts upon the subject of procuring Cloaths for our Troops. Men as prompt as they are, to encounter every difficulty and danger, deserve every comfort and convenience that from the present pittance of Stores can be procured for them in this part of the Continent. The Soldiers raised here not from any advantages which they derived from nature in point of appearance, but from being decently clad, and covered from the Inclemency of the Sun & Rain, shew themselves to great advantage, & rival regular Troops in decency and cleanliness, whilst ours with scarce a shirt to their Backs, feel forcibly the effects of poverty, they become dispirited from neglect, & feel an indifference to a service which so sparingly recompenses the exertions of those who fight for it, and brave every danger to protect the liberties of their Country. (Aware of the difficulty of procuring Cloathing in Carolina, We have prevailed upon the Congress to send a supply from this, & by their direction have this day employed one of the continental Commissaries to have made up for them as many Cloth Short Coats, Breeches, Stockings Shoes and Shirts as may tend to relieve their urgent wants & prepare them to meet the Weather when it becomes less favourable to their present destitute Situation. It will take some time to collect the materials & have them made up for use, but be assured nothing shall be wanting to urge to completion this necessary business, & to forward the articles as soon as they are in readiness.) We shall not omit to send Hats, if besides these you should think proper to order Canteens, Cartouch boxes or any other military appendage, (Arms excepted), We shall pay a punctual Obedience to such orders, Arms not being to be procured

The 4 Tons of Gunpowder mentioned in the resolve inclosed will be forwarded as soon as Waggons and Horses can be purchased. In

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this we have made some advances & we hope in a few days to have this necessary Article in motion.

The field pieces cannot at present be had. No pains have been spared to procure such as would answer our purpose, but we have not been able in the publick stores or in private hands to find any. We must wait the contingency of the arrival of Vessels with stores, & it will be among the first objects to minister in this respect to the defence of North Carolina.

Battering cannon cannot for some time be sent to you. Few are made but in Maryland & there only at one Work. Few Mechanicks can be found that are acquainted with the process, & like all new undertakings it goes on slowly, and its first efforts often prove unsuccessfull. The Works at Maryland and elsewhere are under contract to the Continent for what they make & you will of course come in for a share of what the attempts produce. With plenty of iron in our province, and the ground work of a foundery at deep river, could we possibly procure an able operator to carry on the manufactory of Guns, it would be an Object well worthy publick attention, & merit almost any expence that might attend the carrying so useful a design into execution. It would put us out of dependance upon others & furnish a necessary & profitable article for the supply of our neighbours.

We have consulted Doctor Franklin and others upon the subject of Salt pans. He has promised us his Assistance in preparing the plans, and directing the mode of making the pans. As soon as an operator can be found who will undertake them, We shall set him at work. Just now all manufacturies are at a stand here. The large draughts that have been made from this city for the defence of the Jersies & New York have scarce left enough behind to supply the necessary demands of cloathing for the Inhabitants. We shall find great difficulty to hire men to drive our Waggons. The exertions of this city are beyond comprehension, and all Ranks have rushed to New York as to the field where they soon expect to gather the fruits of their bravery, and secure liberty to these United States. May Heaven crown them with success.

The Books which you ordered, with some small alteration which we thought it prudent to make by adding a few others which have some reputation in the military way, and a few Pamphlets, the design of which will appear from the preface, not inapplicable to our province altogether, with Catridge & writing paper, will accompany or follow soon after the Gunpowder.

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We beg leave to press upon you as a matter of the most serious concern the manufactures of Saltpetre, common salt and Gunpowder. Should Britain spread her immense Navy along our coasts our supplies from abroad are at an end. Upon ourselves must we rely, and should we fall short in our attempts, the consequences are too alarming to predict & must be obvious to every one. The people here and at the Eastward have found it necessary to be at great expence in the commencement of these manufacturies, but the success has amply compensated them, & they will soon defy the endeavours of Britain to withhold these necessary supplies. You best know the policy of fitting out and loading one or more vessels for the purpose of procuring Salt for the present exigency. When the people feel the total want of that Article we fear it may drive them to some desperate resolutions.

We hear with extreme concern that the Currency of No Carolina has been counterfeited & the deceit so well executed as to endanger the property of the best Judges of our money. We humbly beg leave to hint that one expedient & one only can relieve us, the calling in all the circulating Currency of the Colony and emitting bills in lieu of it. This will put the old & new on a footing & prevent from a Comparison of the new with the old any discrimination being made (as by wicked men it at present is) in favor of the latter. Should you think with us & be confident that the Convention when it sits will adopt this expedient will it not be prudent to order the Bills to be struck here (rather printed) as the Continental bills are, and on paper of the same kind, this will Secure it from fraud after this, as far as human Invention can disappoint the ingenuity of Villains. Should this be resolved upon the sooner it is accomplished the better. If any great Quantity of the base Currency gets into Circulation and should reach the Soldiery the unavoidable consequences will be clamor mutiny and desertion.

By Capt Tool we inclosed you the late newspapers. We nows end those which are subsequent to which we refer you for any news which is stirring here. In hopes to hear from you by the first Opportunity, We offer our most respectful Compliments to the Gentlemen of your Honourable Board & Subscribe ourselves

With great respect Sir
Your most obedt Humble Servts
WILL. HOOPER
JOSEPH HEWES
JOHN PENN

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P. S. The Drums Colours & fifes will be sent as soon as the men return from the Army whose business it is to make them—we hope this will be in a few days.