Near six months have expired since we had the pleasure of informing you that the preliminary articles of peace were signed and that hostilities had ceased with Great Britain. From that hour our Ministers have not been able to make any progress in their negotiations with the British Ministers. Perhaps you will be surprised when we
During this interval Congress have had a very difficult part to act. While there was no definitive Treaty and the British forces held one of our chief Cities & Several posts in our Country, we could not possibly disband our whole Army and leave our Military stores in their Power; unable however to borrow money abroad and the States beginning to make more scanty remittances into the Treasury than the small sums they had formerly contributed it was impossible for us to feed our Army, much less continue to feed the British prisoners. We began therefore by giving up the prisoners on their giving up our people who were in their hands.
The Merchants of Philadelphia, through the Delegates of that State, urged us with indecent importunity, by some Act of Congress to countenance the opening of our ports. By a Law of Pennsylvania trade with Great Britain was interdicted during the War; and a declaration of Congress that the War had terminated would restoreCessation of hostilities. The Merchants however, getting no satisfactory answer from Congress applied to the Judges on whose opinion vessels were permitted to enter from and clear for any British port: other States found other excuses for opening their ports and the disease soon became general.
Our troops who had been enlisted during the War became uneasy under the same plea of War being at an end: that argument however, was got over with without much trouble but one argument remained which we could not answer. They must eat and we could not feed them: nor could they be discharged without money. This was a crisis truly alarming: in the address of Congress to the States you have an account of a dangerous sedition, and in our letter of the first of August, on the subject of the meeting at Philadelphia, we have explained some of the subsequent troubles. Congress could only give one month’s pay in money to the Army & three month’s pay in notes by anticipation. Had we kept the whole body a few weeks longer in the field we could not have given them a shilling & perhaps might have seen them demanding justice from their Countrymen at the point of the bayonet. They have been told that the faithful veterans who had fought and conquered in defence of their Country would find no reward for their valour nor even a scanty subsistence for their families, and that the glorious war they had supported would consign them to ruin. An attempt to disband them without some money, and no attempts to establish funds for after payment would have induced them to credit those assertions. The Troops enlisted for the War were furloughed to be discharged whenever the definitive Treaty should arrive. They will probably be discharged soon, whether it arrives or not. Thus we have reduced our force to little more than a garrison for West Point & have been obliged to sell ships, Blankets and sundry other articles provided for the Army in order to raise money to discharge the contingent expences.
Whenever the definitive treaty does arrive, there is not the least reason to believe that it will contain a single explanation or provision
We have mentioned the address of Congress to the States which passed in April Last. We had forwarded several Copies of this address some months ago & the pamphlet being reprinted we have lately forwarded one hundred and forty more Copies for the use of the members of the General Assembly which we presume have come to hand. We flatter ourselves that no arguments in addition to those used by Congress will be needed to induce the General Assembly to adopt the measures therein recommended. The pride of every Citizen must be hurt when he looks over the accounts of payment No. 3 which have been made into the public Treasury for the support of the War and of Civil Government, and finds that North Carolina is one of the few States that has not contributed a farthing. If she had formerly refused to pay the 5 per cent duty, it would have been said that she not only paid nothing herself but was the means of defeating a system by which other States would have paid large sums. Happily this blame fell on Rhode Island though Georgia
It is not to be disputed that our State is in great danger of being impoverished and ruined unless a general impost, such as the one proposed should take place. For if we fail in the federal impost or a duty laid on for the general use and for the payment of the public debt, each State in the Union will immediately impose a duty for its own particular use. Massachusetts who imports for herself & New Hampshire would be pleased with the measure. The same argument applies to Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania and Deleware; and the measure would be ruinous to Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey. It is hardly necessary to say that Virginia & South Carolina imports for near half of our State. Hence it will follow that all the goods we consume will be loaded with the addition of 5 per cent in their price, the whole of which must go towards paying the taxes of Virginia or South Carolina. We observe that neither of these States are very solicitous about the imposts becoming general. The reason is too plain. They know without it they can lay a duty for State purposes, and that we, having very little foreign trade, shall become their prey.
On the 25th of October, 1782, the Delegates had the honor of informing your Excellency that the old Continental money was become a subject of serious debate in Congress. Some States, Massachusetts in particular, have collected their full quota of that money and there are large sums still in the hands of their Citizens for which they desire to be credited at the rate of 40 for one. We are told that it would be difficult, perhaps impracticable, to collect taxes in that
Having mentioned public accounts, we have to entreat that all possible aid may be given the Comptroller to enable him to perfect them, and wipe off the reproach of our State on that subject. The reputation of the State & certainly its interest requires that all public accounts be settled as soon as possible, while facts are recent. While the exertions and suffering of North Carolina are remembered by all the States difficulties may be more easily solved and justice the more easily obtained.
Excepting the Law for opening the land office and emitting some money we are altogether uninformed respecting the Laws passed at the last Session of the General Assembly. We have not heard whether the Resolves of the Assembly or even the Laws have been printed nor do we hear that the art of printing is in the State unless for the purpose of making money: This we mention because applications have been made to us by several printers to recommend them to be employed to print for the State. One of them is an excellent workman & extremely diligent. He is willing to print anything for you as reasonable as it is done in Philadelphia where there are so many rivals underbidding one another. If the State had not a printer and has not any intention to reprint the Laws that are in force or even to print the future Laws and resolves correctly & punctually and wishes to employ a workman for that purpose: we can
The Eyes of every State to the Northward are now turned towards the Carolinas and Georgia & expecting from them liberal Cessions. The Delegates not informed whether your reserved lands were for your officers & Soldiers only or for the army at large or whether the office is now open for sale of all lands on this side the Mississippi as far South as the Southern boundary of the State, have not been able to give any satisfactory information respecting the matter. At present however laying aside the justness of their claims, and our refusal
You may readily imagine that we are not a little embarrassed; we have accepted the cessions of two States from which it is expected North Carolina will receive advantages equally with the other States, and altho we have an extensive Western territory we have not ceded any. Our State we believe is in width one degree and a half, the one degree belonged to the late Earl of Granville & it cannot be doubted we had a right to confiscate his property; This we may sell and the United States cannot claim it, as heirs to the King of Great Britain, (if we may so express it) nor can they desire us to give it up, more than we desire Pennsylvania or Maryland to give up the lands confiscated in those States that did belong to the proprietors or other subjects of Great Britain. As for the remaining half a degree, it may seem to be in the same condition with the vacant lands in other States and if North Carolina should reserve two hundred miles long of it, more or less, on the Western and Southern boundary to be ceded hereafter to the United States, on certain conditions, perhaps she might prevent many complaints and save more by the conditions than the land will ever bring her. We are not able to determine when the British forces will be withdrawn from the United States. The General in Canada has informed our General that he has not received any orders on this head; and from New York we had not any thing since our last.