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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from James Glen to Arthur Dobbs
Glen, James, 1701-1777
February 20, 1755
Volume 05, Pages 376-380

Letter from Governor Glen to Governor Dobbs.

So Carolina. Febry 20th 1755.


Some months ago I wrote to you concerning the Boundary Line between this & your Government a subject of great consequence to the welfare and even to the peace of this Province I acquainted you of several outrages that had been committed by some of the Inhabitants of North Carolina upon His Majesties Subjects of this Province which having been committed under the colour of authority by persons pretending to be officers of your Government the offence was the more intolerable but that tho' I had written to Mr. President Roan to complain of those injuries, yet I had taken no other stop, being in daily expectation of your arrival. That I had embraced the earlyest opportunity after the first certain Accounts of your being in North Carolina, of proposing to have the Boundary Line settled, and for that one I enclose a Copy of his Majesties Instructions under his sign Manuel to me upon that head dated in 1739.

I was not favoured with any answer till the 10th of this Instant, you acquaint me that the very morning you received my Letter, you had prepared one to me upon the same point, & to let me know what your Instructions were upon fixing the Boundary and you say that your instruction with regard to the Boundary is, “To inquire into the state of the proceedings with respect to the Boundary Line between North and South Carolina, and to consult with the Governor of South Carolina upon what

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will be a proper line and to report your opinion fully to the Board of Trade.”

Had any other Person sent me this Paragraph, and said it was one of your Instructions, I should not have given credit to it, I should have thought it some Memorandum or minute copied from your Copy book, for it has more the air of the advice of a friend, or of a verbal direction from some private Person than of a written Instruction from his Majesty to one of his Governors, however as you acquaint me that this is your Instruction I can entertain no doubt of it, but I can have as little doubt that this cannot be the whole of the Instruction, I think this clear from the first words of it “To inquire into,” and I am the more confirmed in this opinion by your not paying that Deference and regard to it that is due to all his Majesties Instructions from his Governors, and that I am persuaded will be always paid to them by Mr. Dobbs, for in the next line you tell me that being sensible that nothing could be settled between the Governors in any reasonable time (for what reason I know not you never made the least attempt towards it) to proposed to prevent all delay, to send over to the Lords of Trade, to be laid before his Majesty, what you think would be a reasonable and proper Boundary, and you are pleased to add, that you send me that timely notice, and hope I will loose no time in doing the same, telling me also that your Province will cheerfully submit to his Majesties Determination and Com̄ands upon it without further delay.

I hope you do not think that I am capable of harbouring an opinion so injurious of the People of North Carolina, as that they will not comply with the Kings Commands, but at the same time I confess that I cannot think that his Majesties pleasure can be expressed in plainer or more positive words than those of the Instruction that I sent you, & therefore it would be unpardonable in me to contradict them, and follow the advice that you have been pleased to give me, such conduct would not only be a deviation but departure from my Instructions in that particular, indeed it would be worse, it would be setting up my own sentiments against the Kings positive Commands. And therefore in obedience to that Command, I acquaint you, that I am ready to appoint Commissioners for this Province to join such Gentleman as may be appointed Commissioners by you to carry the same into execution, and I hope you will appoint them without loss of time, I also renew my request to you to send me the entire Instruction or instructions that you have relating to the Boundary Line, it would also be kind in you to send me a Copy of your letter to the Lords of Trade upon the subject.

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You acquaint me that the Assembly of your Province have granted a supply of £8000 to raise and send two Companys to the assistance of Virginia, I beg you may favour me with a Copy of the Act, for I am extremely desirous to know what Funds have been established for that supply, or in other words what are the ways and means of supplying his Majesty with that money, what are the Taxes, & how are they laid on, and in what manner to be levied, that are to raise this sum, is it by a Pole Tax or a land tax, or tax upon personal Estates, is it by Duties in the Nature of Excises, or is it by Customs, are the Taxes to be levied within the year, or do you Mortgage and anticipate your Funds, and so prolong, perhaps perpetuate the Taxes, for this short and temporary Service?

I hope you will forgive this Minute inquiry for it is surmised here that it has been done by an Emission of Paper Currency, which I cannot give credit to.

I send for your perusal a Bill entituled an Act for granting to his Majesty the sum of £40,000 towards defraying the Expence of defending his Majesties Dominions in North America, and appointing Commissioners for stamping and signing Public orders etc, and providing a Fund for sinking the said public orders, to which I refused my Assent for many reasons, some few of which I shall now touch upon.

Because I am restrained from giving my assent to any Bill for creating or issuing any Paper Currency by a strong and positive Instruction from his Majesty.

Because tho' Sr Thomas Robinson's letter be pressing, yet he is perfectly silent with regard to that Instruction, there is not the least hint that the King is willing to dispense with his orders, and therefore the letter can never be deemed a Provocation of the Instruction, but must be understood consistently with it and a Governor could with a very bad grace say, That to show his zeal for the King's service he had complyed with the letter, but had violated his express Command under his sign Manuel.

Because the Lords of Trade, who may be allowed to be the best Interpreters of Instructions, have lately explained that Instruction in so clear a manner that no Governor can pretend ignorance, and they say that the intention of the Instruction is, to restrain Governors from giving their Assent to any Act for emitting any Additional Bills of Credit.

Because the Lords of Trade declare it is their opinion that paper currency naturally has the Effect, wherever it prevails, to drive away the Currency of Gold and silver, and by my own observation and experience I can confirm the truth and justness of their opinion, for since this Province

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has sunk so many of their paper Bills or Public Orders (near £150,000 having been called in and sunk since my arrival) gold and silver begin to take up their abode with us, two thirds of all Payments being now made in those Metals.

Because it would be particularly inexcusable in me to transgress the King's Orders, for when I refused my assent to a Bill for emitting £40,000 in public Orders, upon a former occasion, his Majesty approved of my behaviour, & I received a letter from the Lords of Trade telling me that while I continued stedfastly to adhere to my Instructions I might assure myself of the support of the Government in England.

I may in some subsequent letter give you the reasons more at large why I refused my assent to this Bill, at present I must decline it. I am really afraid of hurting a Province of which I have been so long Governor, I rather chose to suffer myself in the Opinion of some who may think I have done wrong upon this Occasion, tho' no Governor can think so, and I have not the least apprehension of incurring his Majesties displeasure for refusing to disobey his Commands.

But were I really of the Opinion with some Gentlemen of this Province, that the money could not be raised in any other manner than by stamping Public orders, and did I look upon the present situation of affairs to be such a sudden and extraordinary emergency of Government, as would justify a Governor of one of the Northern Provinces to assent to an Act for emitting paper Bills of Credit, and did I also think it safe for me to put myself in the place of one of those Governors yet I could not have possibly given my Assent to this Bill for they are restrained from assenting to such Acts, even in case of a war or actual invasion, unless due care be taken to ascertain the real value of the Principal Sum for which the paper Bills were issued, and also the interest to be paid thereon, but in this Bill there is not the least care taken nor any clause ascertaining the value of the money there is indeed an assertion that £40,000 is equal in value to £5714 58d sterling, how long it would have continued so nobody can tell, it is certain that any considerable issue of Paper Bills will alter the value. But there is also another thing wanting, notwithstanding the specious title of the Bill, which the Act of Parliament, to regulate and restrain paper Bills of Credit, makes an essential requisite, that is there is no fund whatever provided in the Bill for sinking the said Public orders in five years, or in any other period of time, it is indeed said that those Orders shall be called in and sunk by the Tax Laws to be passed for 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757 & 1758, and tho' I as a private person would trust to the promise of an Assembly, especially of the present, yet as Governor it is out of my power, I must also acknowledge

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that several Instances can be given that no Tax Bill has passed tho' I must observe to you that the Taxes in this Province are not laid on for the current service of the year but for paying the salaries & just Accounts of such persons as have trusted to the Public Faith for the past year.

In a word a Governor is a Trustee for the Crown if he breaks through his Instructions he betrays the Trust reposed in him by the Crown and deserves what is denounced against him in that Act of Parliament immediately to be dismissed from his Government and for ever after rendered incapable of any Public Office or place of Trust.

I am with much truth, sir, &c.,