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Letter from Thomas Burke to John Mathews
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
March 19, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 242-243

[From Executive Letter Book]

Halifax, March 19th, 1782.


I found amongst the papers delivered to me by the gentleman who administered the Government in my absence a letter from Governor Rutledge charging one Richard Sutton, who lately left this

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State with a number of negroes and Horses, a quantity of Indigo and several waggons and Teams of which he has plundered some of our inhabitants.

The Governor requested my assistance in having him secured and sent to South Carolina to be tried for his offences. General Jones, by an order from me, had him apprehended, and I now send him under the care of Captain Bleves and Arthur, two officers of the Division commanded by General St. Clair, who are on their march to camp, to be delivered to you or to General Greene’s orders, who will no doubt cause him to be sent to you.

He had with him two waggons and teams, which are now in the possession of Major Robert Peebles, who apprehended him, but nothing else was found in possession, except some cash which was restored to him.

I have reason to believe that many negroes from your State have been sold by this man, and some persons with whom he is connected to persons residing in Virginia and on the Northern border of this State, and that some villainous practices are now carried on by some of them who have been so depraved as to take advantage of the distress and derangement of your country. Major Peebles informs me that he can trace many of the negroes who say they were plundered, and probably through his vigilance much of the mischief might be unravelled and many good men restored to their property.

I should be very happy in having it in my power to give effectual assistance for preventing and punishing injuries of this ungenerous atrocious nature and for recovering the property of good men, who have surely suffered more than could be wished from the ravages of the Enemy, and I doubt not, that if in every State, a strict eye was kept upon the persons who deal in Negroes, the practice would stop through the despair of impunity.

I am, with Esteem and Regard,
Your Obt. Servant,