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Letter from Hugh Williamson to Alexander Martin
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
March 20, 1790
Volume 22, Pages 792-794



New York, 20th March, 1790.

Dear Sir:—

Your favor of 27th ult. came to hand on the 18th inst. There would be much propriety in the Federal Court sitting at

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the place where the State Legislature sits or at the seat of government, if the government had any seat, which I hope it will have before long in North Carolina. In the meanwhile, I have doubts whether Fayetteville would be a proper seat for a Federal Court, because I am informed there is not any prison in the place, and the United States do not wish to be at the expense of building prisons; on the contrary, they have counted upon being allowed the use of those that are the property of the several States, for the use of which they make an allowance. Perhaps it may be proper to give the judges authority or instruction to hold courts at Fayetteville as soon as a good and sufficient prison shall have been erected. However, as maritime officers must chiefly engage the attention of that court, it must doubtless generally sit at some of the seaport towns.

I wrote you ten days ago requesting that you would be so good as endeavor to obtain from the Comptroller and forward the amount of certificates that have been sunk or called in by our State since the Peace by Taxes, the sales of confiscated property, of vacant lands or otherwise. The object of many of the States is to assume the payment of all the State securties, by which they mean of all those in circulation, and nothing is to be allowed for the mass that has been sunk. It is true, they talk of giving us a credit upon a general settlement, but if it is the interest of a majority to make the assumption, they also may so manage it as to prevent any settlement by eternal delays. I have two capital objections to the assumption, viz.: First, it will occasion national taxes much too large to be conveniently paid, for there is no variety of taxes that can equally fit both ends of the Union. Second, it will deprive North Carolina at least for many years of getting any advantage from the exertions in sinking part of the national debt, though she must endure taxes for sinking the very paper money, which is the medium by which part of the certificate debt has been sunk. Thus we should pay a double tax. Observe that I am speaking the opinion of the individual. My colleagues may happen to be of a different mind. When the subject is resumed in Congress you will hear the particulars on this subject.

I wrote you that, notwithstanding my appointment in Congress, I shall be able to give Colonel Thomas every assistance he may need in the settlement of our accounts during the session of Congress, not proposing in the meantime to charge the State anything for such service. Perhaps the settlement of accounts may be put into a new

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train before the adjournment. By the next session of our Legislature, we shall doubtless be able to inform them what or whether any other provision is to be made or other document brought forward in support of our claims.

I have the honor to be, dear sir, with the utmost respect,
Your obedient servant,
His Excellency Alexander Martin.