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Letter from Samuel Johnston and Benjamin Hawkins to Alexander Martin
Johnston, Samuel, 1733-1816; Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816
April 11, 1790
Volume 22, Pages 794-795


New York, the 11th April, 1790.


In pursuance of the act of the Legislature of North Carolina for the purpose of ceding to the United States of America certain Western land “therein described,” we have executed a deed of cession to the United States, and the same has been accepted by an act of Congress, a copy published by authority you have herewith enclosed, and an authenticated one will be sent on as soon as we are able to provide for the government of the ceded lands conformably with the conditions specified in the cession. A committee of the Senate are appointed for this purpose.

Several of the States have sent up their ratification of the articles proposed to the Legislature as amendments to the Constitution of the United States. We know not whether the Legislature of North Carolina ratified them or not. In either case, however, it is proper that we should be informed of it officially. The usual conveyance to Congress is through the President.

We have been applied to and repeatedly by the Vice Consul General of France to inform him what measures our Legislature took to discharge the Martinique debt. He, in the course of conversation, remarked that counting on the repeated resolutions of North Carolina since the year 1784, he had taken on himself to inform the Marine Minister that payment would indutably be made within the last year, and that in consequence he was left to provide for the fleet that arrived from the West Indies into our ports out of the monies arising from those promises and some others as ineffectual, amounting

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in the whole to a sum nearly equal to their exigencies. His embarrassments were particularly great, as the revolution in France had caused so great a distrust among the commercial characters here as to render a supply by the sale of bills too uncertain and expensive to be depended on. We may add that we felt considerable emotion at the delicate manner in which he mentioned his embarrassments, and insinuated that probably we meant promises only instead of payment, and that although the last General Assembly had taken upon them to correct former errors, yet he was apprehensive when the fleet arrived in the autumn season he should be again disappointed. If the executive have power to do anything in this business, we request your Excellency to inform us what assurancy we may give?

The report of the Secretary of the Treasury is still before the House of Representatives in committee of the whole, uncertain as to the issue; the proposition for the assumption of the State debt, which had passed 31 vs. 26, is re-committed 29 vs. 27, and it is conjectured that it will be negatived if the Representatives from North Carolina should be opposed to it. Messrs. Williamson, Ashe and Bloodworth are here, and as far as we can judge, are decidedly opposed.

The judicial power will very soon be extended to our State. A committee is appointed to bring in the bill.

We are, with due respect, sir,
Your Excellency’s most obedient servants,
His Excellency Alexander Martin, Esq., Governor of the State of North Carolina.