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Address from Richard Caswell to the inhabitants of Sullivan, Greene, Washington, and Hawkins Counties
Caswell, Richard, 1729-1789
May 31, 1787
Volume 22, Pages 685-687

OPEN LETTER.


State of North Carolina.

Richard Caswell, Esq., Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the said State, to the Inhabitants of the Counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Hawkins—Greeting:

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

I have received information that the former convention between the citizens of those counties respecting the severing such counties from this State and erecting them into a separate, free and independent government, hath been again received, notwithstanding the lenient and salutary measures held out to them by the General Assembly in their last session, and some have been so far misled as openly and avowedly to oppose the due operation and execution of the laws of the State, menacing and threatening such as should adhere to the same with violence, and some outrages on such occasions have been actually committed, whereby sundry of the good citizens of the said counties have been induced to signify to government their apprehensions of being obliged to have recourse to arms in order to support the laws and constitution of this State; and, notwithstanding the conduct and behavior of some of the refractory might justify such a measure, yet I am willing to hope that upon reflection and due consideration of the dreadful consequences which must ensue in case of the shedding of blood among yourselves, a moment’s thought must evince the necessity of mutual friendship and the ties of brotherly love being strongly cemented among you. You have, or shortly will have, if my information is well grounded, enemies to deal with which may require this cement to be more strong than ever.

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Your whole force may become necessary to be exerted against the common enemy, as it is more than probable they may be assisted by the subjects of some foreign power; if not publicly, they will furnish arms and ammunition privately to the Indian tribes, to be made use of against you, and when your neighbors are so supported and assisted by the northern and southern Indians, if you should be so unhappy as to be divided among yourselves, what may you not then apprehend? I dread the event.

Let me entreat you to lay aside your party disputes. They have been, as I conceive, and yet believe will be if continued, of very great disadvantage to your public as well as private concerns. Whilst those disputes last, government will want that energy which is necessary to support her laws and civilize her citizens; in place of which anarchy and confusion will be too prevalent, and of course private interests must suffer.

It certainly would be sound policy in you for other reasons to unite. The General Assembly has told you that whenever your wealth and numbers so much increase as to make a separation necessary they are willing the same shall take place, upon friendly and reciprocal terms. Is there an individual in your country who does not look forward in expectation of such a day’s arriving? If that is the case, must not every thinking man believe that this separation will be soonest and most effectually obtained by unanimity? Let that carry you to the quiet submission to the laws of North Carolina, till your numbers will justify a general application, and then I have no doubt but the same may be obtained upon the principles held out by the Assembly. Nay, ’tis my opinion that it may be obtained at an earlier day than some imagine, if unanimity prevailed amongst you.

Altho’ this is an official letter, yet you will readily see that it is dictated by a friendly and pacific mind. Don’t neglect any advice on that account. If you do, you may repent it when ’tis too late; when the blood of some of your dearest and worthiest citizens may have been spilt and your country laid waste in an unnatural and cruel civil war. And you cannot suppose, if such an event should take place, that government will supinely look on and see you cutting each other’s throats without interfering and exerting her powers to reduce the disobedient.

I will conclude by once more entreating you to consider the dreadful calamities and consequences of a civil war. Humanity demands

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this of me; your own good sense will point out the propriety of it. At least, let all animosities and disputes subside till the next Assembly; even let things remain as they are, without pursuing compulsory measures until then, and I flatter myself that honorable body will be disposed to do what is just and right and what sound policy may dictate.

Given under my hand and seal at Kinston, the 31st day of May, 1787.
RICHARD CASWELL.

Endorsement:

Copy of a letter addressed to the inhabitants of the counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Hawkins.