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Letter from Richard Cogdell to Richard Caswell
Cogdell, Richard, 1724-1787
May 29, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 142-143

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[From Executive Letter Book.]

New Bern 29th May 1778.

Dr Sir:

A disturbance has happened in this Town since you left us, which in its consequences tends greatly to obstruct the legal course of the civil powers for keeping peace and good order amongst us. You'll be more surprised to find that a justice of the peace has been the first mover in a most violent fit of passion, lost sight of his duty as a magistrate and made a Riot, on the following Occasion, to-wit:

Col. Chariol listed in the public service as a Soldier, a young fellow, a French sailor, which John Davis claimed as his servant. William Davis the father applied to justice Tisdale for a warrant to apprehend the man who was listed. Mr. Davis and his two sons went to the Barracks to take the men, which the French sergeant refused. They proceeded to Col. Chariol, and James Davis clapped his hands on the shoulder of the Col. and told him he was his prisoner, and should be sent to Gaol. 24 hours afterwards a parcel of sailors, Mr. Davis' sons and relatives and some others appeared armed with Guns, Clubs, &c., and the Esquire at their heads, coming to Dr. Gaston's for trial. Colo Chariol received from Mr. Davis and his sons much abuse, told him he had no right to enlist men, that he would cause his commission to be taken from him and alleged that the assembly had no right to appoint him and abused Dr. Gaston and the other Justices grossly, swore he would have justice done, or he would the night following head a party to put every Frenchman to death iu town, or drive them out of it. The French gentlemen were very much alarmed, and not understanding well the language, were not easily convinced, that the town in general did not approve of such proceedings. The arbitrary and scandalous behavour of that man, in many the like instances before has given this Town a name, such a name, as every inhabitant except himself and minions would blush at. We have magistrates in Town a Majority of them are ignorant, and the officers afraid to act, which is a curse that ought to be removed at any rate. Mr. Davis knows better and therefore

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he has no excuse. His prejudices and passion so govern him that he should not be intrusted with power. This affair happened yesterday, and I am informed this morning that about twenty sailors of Capt. Davis' and some other vessel, surrounded the school house last night armed with Cudgels, and beat and abused Chariol's men. Yesterday was seen men armed with guns in mid day running about the Town in quest of Chariol's sergeant and drove him out of the Town, and upon enquiring it appears that Mr. Davis had no Indenture or any thing to shew for his claim to the Frenchman as a servant, and the Magistrates notwithstanding has ordered the Col to have the man at the next Court, which was I think unnecessary as no Indenture or any other article or agreement was shewn to them to support any color of Right, in Davis, yet such is the wisdom of 3 Justices to detain and obstruct the service by such detention. The justices have forgot what the Rights of the people are, and their own powers, and I am sorry to say that in our County Court, it is not much better understood. I hope your Excellency will excuse this blotted scroll being hurried to send this by Mr. Green. I am Sir, most respectfully your Obedient servant,


N. B. I do not wish this letter to be made known to any other than friends, as you'll hear more of this matter, from other means. I will satisfy the French Gentlemen that the Town does not approve of this proceeding, and that a stop will soon be put to such usage. Have desired Mr. Chariol to get his sergeant back, he shall be safe.