The instrument authenticating my last Election, as a Delegate from the State of North Carolina, is dated May the fourth, 1777. Both my Colleagues have informed me that they believed that the Election was made on April 28th preceding. The Constitution of the State requires the election of delegates to be annual, and it is a fundamental principle, that there is a fixed rule of Conduct for all the powers of the State, which can not be dispensed with or
I request you, Sir, to lay the matter before them, for their opinion, that my absenting myself may not be deemed a contempt or breach of orders. I should have submitted my difficulty at a more early day, in my place, but that I was unwilling to interrupt the attention of Congress, which was employed on objects far more important.
The same cause kept me silent on another matter, which I shall now beg leave to mention in this, which is I suppose is the only way remaining, for I hope my County has yielded to my earnest request and excused me from the Delegation.
I feel myself under a sense of very respectful obligation to you and most of the gentlemen of Congress, for the solicitude which appeared for me on a late occasion, and am persuaded that nothing but my being so unhappy in my expressions, as not clearly to convey my ideas could have occasioned a mistake which is on your journals. I am there represented as attempting to justify withdrawing from Congress, without permission in an iustance, which interrupted very important business. Such justification, Sir, is what I never did attempt, nor do I think that or any other breach of order justifiable.
My attempt was only extended to excuse my departure under particular circumstances by alleging that the same thing had been usually done by other members without reprehension and that the time and occasion were not improper for using a liberty which had been denied to no other member. I am also charged with sending an indecent message to the House which I protest was never my intention.
The matter respecting the member from New York I never conceived myself called upon to answer. But it is not of consequence enough to trouble you with. I do not mean now, Sir, to withdraw the matter from the jurisdiction of my constituents. It is in the train I wish it to be. To them I hope I can show that the House entirely mistook my meaning and when it can be done without
If the language and manner in which I delivered my sentiments was not sufficiently respectful in the opinion of the House, I beg they will attribute it to inadvertence or imperfection of temper not to design. I beg they will believe that no man is more unwilling to give offence, no man more sincerely laments it when it happens through the warmth or earnestness of natural disposition.