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Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
January 17, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 123-126

HON. A. MACLAINE TO GEORGE HOOPER.


17th Jany. 1784.

Dear Sir:

The post having been detained by the hard weather, I received only yesterday your letters of 29th Decr. and 6th instant. As Mr. Burgwin has not yet arrived, I have some hopes that he has got into Charleston, which I sincerely wish may be the case, as Mrs. Burgwin's situation is so very critical. You will by this time have received mine by Mr. Moore (a clerk to your sheriff) inclosed by Mr. Blount to Messrs. Scarborough & Cooke. In it there is a letter for my friend John which will be of service to him.

From what I have written to you and him, you will probably retract your opinions, “that the mobility has got the ascendant.” When a man in power discovers egregious folly, the foolish themselves will be ashamed of him.

I have had some account of my cousin Winter. Dr. Claypoole was his schoolfellow, & knows Jack perfectly well. He is, as he says, the son of a master of a vessel; but whom I never heard of before. As to their knowing me on my arrival in Philadelphia; it is possible; but I do not recollect a single circumstance of either of them nor did I ever know a man of the name. I am well assured that I never had any relations of the name of McLeron, or McLaurin, though I remember that there were some of the name of McLelland, one of whom (a very young man) I saw when I was a lad. I told this to the doctor, & he thinks that McLelland is her name. If so, she may be my relation, & in that case I think she is a first cousin to old Woods, whom if you do not recollect Kitty does. The doctor says

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she is a decent though a poor woman. Has kept a school for small children; that he was with her when he was little, and a young sister of his a few years ago. But the son it seems had been charged with stealing some clothes, which were drying, & which I suppose obliged him to decamp. Though this fellow may possibly have some drops of my blood in his veins, I do not wish to be of his acquaintance. I never had a letter from his mother. It is 33 years last June since my arrival in Philadelphia.

I do not know where Armstrong is just now; but I will write to him. In the meantime, I am preparing long letters for Cochran & Winslow, your brother and Mr. Hogg upon the subject of the negroes. To the former I am obliged to use some address, at the same time that I am very explicit; for it is better to draw them into what is proper, than to attempt to get redress by harsh means.

As you are liable for the whole debt there, I should think you might get the bond up upon giving another; or if that should not be advisable, you can get it proved before a Judge, and a copy of it sent under the great seal, with a power from the parties in S. Carolina who are liable. You may I suppose procure a power from those to whom the bond is payable against the debtors here. If the bill of sale is with Mr. Rose it should by all means be sent in. That and every other necessary proof must be certified under the seal of the State. If Rose has it not, perhaps it may be among Gillie's papers. You have one thing in your favour, that the Company at Fayetteville are not parties who signed the bond; and though they may be mentioned as purchasers with Gillies, yet not having paid any money, and their acting partner being dead, the survivros, especially those who have signed and are on the spot, being the majority in point of value (for I throw Gillies's part out) have a right to dispose of the property, & for that purpose to take it into possession. Your letter of attorney should go to take possession of the negroes, as well as to recover the value. As this case is circumstanced, possibly I may be obliged to file a bill in equity for a delivery of the property and to oblige them to give security, as well as to prevent a sale of any part of it. As to a division it is impossible to take place without consent of the parties, & that cannot be had till the debt is discharged. Can you tell me all the persons concerned with Cochran, Winslow & Co.?

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I rejoice as much in Tullon's (?) double disappointment as in the particular distinction with which you were honoured. If the fellow had any feeling, the last must gall him as much as the first. I have not lost sight of him. But what is become of Hugh Kelly? Has Tullon been able to huddle up matters with his cousin & country man?

I have just had a letter from your brother. He tells me that doctor Burke has by will given his wife one half during her widowhood. In case she marries it is lessened one half. Should his daughter die under 21 or before marriage, the whole goes to the children of Mr. Hogg and Willie Jones; & these gentlemen are executors and guardians. By this you may perceive that his wife's former conduct affected him deeply.

What you say with respect to the extinguishment of interest on British debts, will I apprehend be pretty general. Q. Will it not militate against the spirit of the treaty? Col. Stephen Moore is returned to Hillsborough from New York, and says that it is talked openly there that the carrying our negroes to Nova Scotia is an infraction of the treaty; and it certainly is unless they are paid for. The Virginians are so exasperated that they have passed a law not to pay any British debts. They should have added, till the property or the value of it should be restored. Possibly it may be so. Mr. Hogg says it is.

Congress have it in contemplation (as it is said) to recommend the with holding all trade from Britain till their ideas are more liberal; but I understand from the papers that negotiations are still on foot at Paris.

I am not a little delighted that you have got a good master for Archy; but I hope he has not recommended Lilly's grammar, &c. It was indeed taught a great many years ago, when you were a boy, and before wisdom had found out what is now evident to common sense that when any person attempts to acquire a knowledge in any unknown language, he should have it explained in one that he does understand. Do you not remember the vicar of Wakefield's son, who went to Holland, to learn the people English, without reflecting that it was previously necessary for him to understand Dutch?

My business is so urgent at present, that I cannot now leave home to go to a county court, & besides what I have to prepare for Wilmington

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& New Bern next terms, I have my accounts to adjust, which I have not done since the evacuation of this place. Very considerable sums are due to me, for which I have not the scrap of a pen, and money is more scarce if possible than before the paper emission. Yet it is in discredit. Let this be a warning to South Carolina. I will however see you as soon as I can; but I am not in the least solicitous for the privilege of appearing in your courts. As I grow old I grow indolent, and what is worse, I am so much engaged with my present business, with popular folly and the affairs of other people (of which I must rid myself) as well as with numberless trifling applications, which I shall always have in this town, that I cannot have a moment's leisure to think. There is no person more ardently pants for a retreat than I do.


19th Jany.

I have written to Cochran & Winslow very fully, & have made them three proposals, which I have communicated to Mr. Rowan as follows:

1. To send the negroes immediately to Charlestown, under the care of trusty persons, at the expence of the purchasers; or

2. To send an exact list of the negroes with their different ages, qualification and abilities, that a sale may be made in S. Carolina & a delivery at Fayetteville; or

3. (For which however I have no authority) to pay off the debt or take up the bond, by giving fresh security, & keep the negroes to themselves.

In this last case I am to communicate the acceptance to you for your approbation.

I have requested Mr. Rowan to procure, at all events, a descriptive list of the negroes. My intention is to let you try what you can get for them, if delivered in S. Carolina, in order to oblige the parties here to make up the loss, if they will not consent to send them in.

My love to Kitty & the children.

Yours very affectionately,
A. MACLAINE.