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Letter from the Franklin [state] General Assembly to Alexander Martin
Franklin. General Assembly
March 22, 1785
Volume 22, Pages 637-640

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WILLIAM CAGE AND OTHERS TO GOV. ALEX MARTIN.


Jonesborough, 22nd March, 1785.

Sir:

Your letter of the 27th of February, 1785, to his Excellency Governor Sevier, favored by Major Henderson, was laid before the Genl. Assembly of the State of Franklin by the Governor.

We think it our duty to communicate to you the sense of the people of this State. We observe your Excellency’s candour in informing us that the reason North Carolina repealed the Cession Act was because the Sense of Congress was to allow the State of North Carolina Nothing for the land Ceded. The truth of that assertion we will not undertake to determine; But we humbly Conceive the terms on which Congress was Impowered to accept the Cession was fully expressed in the Cession Act itself, consequently every reason existed for not passing the Cession act that could have existed for the repeal, Except that of doing Justice to the United States in General, who, upon every principal of Natural Justice, are equally intitled to the land that has been Conquered by our own Joint Efforts.

We humbly thank North Carolina for every sentiment of regard she has for us; but are sorry to observe that it is founded upon principles of Interest, as is apparent from the tenor of your Excellency’s letter; we are therefore doubtful when the cause ceases which is the basis of your affection we shall consequently loose your esteem.

Sir, Reflect upon the language of some of the most eminent members of the Genl. Assembly of North Carolina at the last Spring session, when the Members from the Western Country were supplicating to be continued a part of your State; were not these their epithets: The inhabitants of the Western Country are the off scourings of the Earth, fugitives from Justice, & we will be rid of them at any rate. The Members of the Western Country, upon hearing these unjust reproaches & being convinced it was the Sense of the Genl. Assembly to get rid of them, Consulted each other & Concluded it was best to appear reconciled with the Masses in order to obtain the best terms they could, & was much astonished to see North Carolina

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immediately on passing the Act of Cession, enter into resolve to Stop the Goods that they, by Act of the Genl. Assembly, had promised to give the Indians for the lands they had taken from them & sold for the Use of the State. The inadequate allowance made the Judges who were appointed to attend the Courts of Criminal Justice, and who had to travel over the Mountains, amounted to prohibition as to the administration of Justice in this quarter, and altho’ the Judge appointed on this Side the Mountains might, from the regard he had to the administration of Justice in the Cumberland Country, have held a Court there; yet, as your Excellency failed to grant him a Commission Agreeable to the Act of Assembly, he could not have performed that Service had he been ever so desirous of doing it. In Short, the Western Country found themselves taxed to support Government, while they were deprived of all the blessings of it. Not to Mention the injustice done them in taxing their lands which lie five hundred miles from trade equal to land of the same quallity on the sea shore. The frequent murders committed by the Indians on our frontiers have Compelled us to think on some plan for our defence. How far North Carolina have been accessary to these Murdours we will not pretend to say. We only know she took the lands the Indians claimed, promised to pay them for it & again resolved Not to do it, & that in consequence of that resolve, the goods Were Stoped.

You say it has been suggested that the Indian goods are to be Seized & the Commisioners arrested when they arrive on the business of the treaty. We are happy to inform you that that Suggestion is false, Groundless & Without the least foundation, & we are Certain you cannot pretend to fault us that the Goods are Stoped by a resolve of the Assembly of your State, and if your State are determined to evade their promise to the Indians, we intreat you not to lay the blame upon us, who are intirely innocent & determined to remain so. It is true, we have declared ourselves a free & Independent State & pledged our honours, confirmed by a Solemn Oath, to Support, Maintain & defend the same; But we had not the Most distant Idea that we should have incurred the least displeasure from North Carolina, who compelled us to the measure, & to convince her that we still retain our affection for her, the first law we enacted was to secure & confirm all the rights granted under the laws of North Carolina in the same manner as if we had not declared ourselves an

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Independent State, have patronized her Constitution & laws & hope her assistance & influence in Congress to precipitate our reception into the Federal Union. Should our sanguine hopes be blasted, we are determined never to desert that Independence which we are bound by every Sacred tie of honour & religion to support. We are induced to think North Carolina will not blame us for indeavouring to promote our own Interest & happiness, while we do not attempt to abridge hers, & appeal to the impartial World to determine whether we have deserted North Carolina or North Carolina deserted us.

You will please to lay these our Sentiments before the General Assembly, whome we beg leave to assure that should they ever need our assistance, we shall always be ready to render them every service in our powers, & hope to find the same Sentiments prevailing in them towards us, & we hereunto anex the reason that induced the Convention to a declaration of Independence, which are as follows:

1st. That the Constitution of North Carolina declare that it shall be Justifiable to erect New States Westward when ever the consent of the Legislature shall Countinance it, and this Consent is implied we conceive in the Cession Act, which has thrown us into such a situation that the Influence of the Law in Common Cases became almost a Nullity, & in criminal Jurisdiction had intirely ceased, which reduced us to the verge of Anarchy.

2nd. The Assembly of North Carolina have detained a Certain quantity of Goods which was promised to satisfy the Indians for the lands we possess, which detanure we fully conceive has so exasperated them that they have actually Committed hostilities upon us, & we are alone impeled to defend our selves from their raviges.

3rd. The resolutions of Congress held out from time to time incouraging the erection of New States have appeared to us ample incouragment.

4th. Our local Situation is such that we not only apprehend we should be separated from North Carolina, But almost every sensible disinterested traveler has declared it incompatibl with our Interest to belong in Union with the Eastern part of the State, For we are not only far removed from the Eastern parts of North Carolina, But Separated from them by high & almost impasable Mountains, which Naturally divide us from them; have proved to us that our

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Interest is also in many respects distinct from the inhabitants on the other Side & much injured by a Uunion with them.

5thly. We unanimously agree that our lives, liberties & Property Can be more secure & our happiness Much better propagated by our separation, & Consequently that it is our duty & unalianable right to form ourselves into a New Independent State.

We beg leave to Subscribe ourselves,
Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humbl Servt’s,
WILLIAM CAGE, S. C.
LANDON CARTER, S. S.
By order of the General Assembly.
THOMAS TALBOT, C. S.
THOMAS CHAPMAN, C. C.

Endorsement:

Legislature of the State of Franklin.
Dated, 22d March, 1785.
Registered & Examined.
No. 1. Tomorrow, 8th D.