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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Alexander Spotswood to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth [Extract]
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
October 15, 1711
Volume 01, Page 814

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[From Spotswood Letters. Vol. 1. P. 120.]

Virginia, 15th October, 1711.

To my Lord Dartmouth:

My Lord:

* * * * * * *

I endeavoured to make our last Assembly sensible of the naked Condition of their Country, but the expence appearing to them much more imediate than the danger, they were Easily influence by their Low Circumstances to defer the condition thereof; however I prevailed on them to reyive in the meanwhile a former Law made for the defence of the Country in times of danger, and by virtue of that Law, I have carried on the above-mentioned Works during the late Alarm, Notwithstanding I have been mightily Embarrassed by a sett of Quakers who broach Doctrines so monstrous as their Brethren in England have never owned, nor, indeed, can be suffered in any Government. They have not only refused to work themselves, or suffer any of their Servants to be employed in the Fortifications, but affirm that their Consciences will not permit them to contribute in any manner of way to the defence of the Country even so much as trusting the Government with provisions to support those that do work, tho' at the same time they say that being obliged by their Religion to feed the Enemys, if the French should come hither and want provisions, they must, in conscience, Supply them. As this Opinion of theirs is quite different from their practice in Carolina, where they were the most active in taking arms to pull down the Government, tho' they now fly again to the pretence of Conscience to be excused from assisting against the Indians, I have thought it necessary to put the Laws of this country in execution against that Sect of people, which impowed to employ all persons as I shall see fitt for the defence of the Country in times of danger, and impose fines and penaltys upon their disobedience. I doubt not they will sufficiently exclaim against me on this Occasion, and perhaps their Brethren in England, who keep a joint Stock to preserve the quarrells of all the Sect [who] may think fitt to attack me, but I'm persuaded I shall not incur my Sovereign's displeasure so long as I act by the Rule of Law, and it is absolutely necessary to discourage such dangerous Opinions as would render the safety of the Government precarious. Since every one that is either lazy or Cowardly would make use of the pretence of Conscience to excuse himself from working or fighting when there is greatest need of his service, and I fear the Quakers would find too many proselytes on such Occasions.