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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Ralph McNair to Hermon Husbands
McNair, Ralph, 1742-1784
May 1768
Volume 07, Pages 767-770

Marked C.
Mr Ralph McNair to Mr Hermon HusbandsDear Sir,

I now according to my promise send you the Petition which I think ought to be sent to the Governor nor can any Man who has the least sense of the Danger these inconsiderate men have run themselves into say it is in the smallest degree too submissive—You Mr Husbands to whom I have opened my thoughts on this subject more than to any other man I expect will use your utmost influence to prevail on all you see to choose it, for you may assure yourself from my knowledge of things that one couched in any other Terms will not, cannot, go down with the Governor. I'm afraid many of the People who are to become Subscribers would object to it imagining they have been only doing their Duty in opposing the Publick Collectors in the execution of their Offices and from this principle that a man once exacted upon may with a safe conscience take any measures however unlawful for redress, or this that not being satisfied as to the legality of the Collectors demand a man may oppose the measures of Government till his scruples are removed, but if these unfortunate misguided People had the same opportunity of perusing and examining the Statutes of England & making the same impartial use of them that I have done since the late disturbance they would plainly see that their maxims however plausible they may seem to them at first sight, are diametrically opposite to the law of nature and nations which always were, are, and ever will be, the same—That their method of redress is wrong according to the opinion of all preceding Ages I need only put you in mind of

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the ancient Fable ascribed to Esop of the Hands and Feet running in mutiny against the Head.

The truth of the Fable and its having been made use of to a good purpose We may easily credit whether we believe there ever was such a man as Esop or not. As I have your good Mr Husbands and the good of the whole County at heart, I shall unbosom myself to you in a manner I would to very few concerned, I shall therefore impart to you some of the knowledge I have gained by a perusal of the Law Books. For writing, copying, carrying about or dispersing a Libel (and anything tending to stir up a People to a dislike of a Government or even to a single Person is a Libel) the Sentence is Confiscation of goods and chattels: Painful Punishment—Public shame and perpetual Imprisonment—Mobs and Riots (that is where a number rise without Arms and only murmuring) are treated generally with Lenity as to the multitude tho' where the Offence is against Government and ringleaders are to suffer death without the King's pardon. But where they take up Arms to remove a Grievance or to alter the form of Government it is Treason of which there are four sorts 1. against the King's Person—2. Against the Administration of His Laws—3. That which concerns His Seal and 4. Counterfeiting His Coin—Speaking of the second sort it is expressly said that whether it be to remove a real or a pretended Grievance it is deemed High Treason and the punishment is the forfeiture of goods and chattels, lands & Tenements and the Guilty to suffer the most horrid death allow'd by the English Laws, something of this kind I mentioned to you when at your House but with some degree of uncertainty, but since my return I have examined more particularly and am now convinced beyond the possibility of a doubt that the above Account is Truth—However Sir, I can assure [you] with the utmost confidence that this affair if it stops here will never be represented by Colo Fanning any otherwise than as a Mob.

I have now to inform you that I have been often in Colonel Fanning's Company since I saw you and have had an opportunity of knowing His mind in almost every particular respecting this affair and I find him most cordially disposed to give any who will come to his house, all the satisfaction they can ask or is in his power to give—He says he never was applied to by any man that was wronged to prosecute a Sheriff but that he cheerfully undertook it, where he found the complaint just, and that he always would be ready to do it whenever required, that he wishes for nothing so much

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as that some of the principal men of the Regulators would call upon him for information in any particular they are in doubt about and that he expects the new Laws up this week together with the Journals of the House of Assembly a sight whereof would silence every murmur dispel every fear, banish all distrust and convince the whole county how much he has been our friend, our Patron, our Benefactor—it is impossible Sir, in the small compass of a letter (already longer than I expected) to answer particularly all the charges that I have heard against him such as his receiving £1500 for his trip with the Governor, his receiving £40 of the Vestry for a dinner &c &c &c, let it suffice to say, that he has convinced me of the falsehood of these, and many other lies that are spread abroad to his prejudice and I shall inform you at full upon sight. And since he so much desires to see some of the principal men your way let me beg, let me entreat you to come this way tho' a little round about as you are going to George Sally's and bring with you Mr Wm Butler, Mr John Lowe and Mr James Hunter and any two or three candid discerning men in your Neighborhood, I'm sure 'twill add much to your satisfaction and greatly to the Peace, Quiet, Ease and happiness of the Country. For my own part I would rather you should come on Thursday evening than on Friday morning for as I could find provision for your Horses and beds for yourselves I should by that means have an opportunity in some measure to return that kind and hospitable treatment which I so lately received on Sandy Creek—I assure you my dear Sir you will find Coll: Fanning quite different from what he has been represented and I'm certain he would find you very different from the accounts he has heard of you. The stories that have been told backwards and forwards are really amazing and I am now convinced that nothing but downright mistake has been the cause of all the late disturbances I therefore beg leave to return my request nay I conjure you as you love yoursel as you love the peace and happiness of your country to come down before you go down to the meeting. For until the Coll: and some of the Principal men meet face to face nothing much to the purpose can be done this I am sure of that the Governor's reception of the Petition will depend greatly upon the Colls: account of the situation of things for as he is the Chief Officer appointed by His Excellency as he is the Representative of the County chosen by ourselves to watch over our interests and as the Governor himself knows and was an eye witness how he labored for our Good at the last Assembly
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(as the Laws and Minutes of the House I'm sure will shew us when they arrive) he undoubtedly will not attend to complaints against him till he hears what he has to say in his own vindication—but of this no more as I expect to see you so soon & have the pleasure of seeing you in Town. This must also serve for an excuse for my not sending you the Laws by this opportunity however if it will afford you satisfaction you shall carry the book home with you—The book I spoke of borrowing for your perusal is too bulky and cumbersome for transportation I have not therefore spoke of it. You see Sir by my taking no pains in writing to you that I treat you like my best Friend, you have my thoughts just as they occurred and every word I assure you, is warm from my heart. My best wishes are for the welfare of you and your Family, and you may rest assured that no man more ardently wishes the real good, peace, happiness and prosperity of this County or would do more to serve it according to his abilities than Dear Sir,

Your most obedt Servant