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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Report by the South Carolina Governor's Council concerning the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary, including cover letter from Charles Greville Montagu to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
South Carolina. Council; Montagu, Charles Grevill, 1741-1784
Volume 08, Pages 554-561

Copy of a Letter from Lord Charles Greville Montagu to the Earl
of Hillsborough, Dated Charles Town 19th April 1769.

My Lord,

The Boundary Line between this Province and North Carolina

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not being settled creates great Disorder and confusion upon the Borders of each Province, and Governor Tryon having informed me that he had applied to your Lordship for a Line to be run in a part of the Country that appeared to me would be a great Injury to this Province; I referred this matter to the consideration of the Gentlemen of the Council, whose committee drew up a Report upon it, which I transmit to you for your consideration, together with a survey taken upon the occasion.

I am etc

The Committee to whom it was referred to prepare and report such reasons as may be proper to be urged on behalf of this Province against the Boundary Line between this Province and North Carolina being continued as proposed by Governor Tryon in a letter to his Excellency Lord Charles Montagu dated the 11th day of December last and also to delineate such a line as would be reasonable and equitable between both Provinces,


In order to proceed in the most deliberate manner in the examination of the important matter referred to their consideration they beg leave to state and hope to answer the objections made by Governor Tryon against making a branch of the Catawba River the Line of Jurisdiction between North and South Carolina and then to offer some arguments from the principles of policy in general and others founded on Equity arising from the particular circumstances and conduct of this Province in support thereof.

Governor Tryon represents the making a branch of the Catawba River the Boundary as injurious to North Carolina “first by shutting out all its communication of commerce with the Western Indians having only impassible mountains as was experienced when the Western Frontier was run last year as the Boundary between the Indians and North Carolina.”

Secondly, as the whole of the Western Frontier Line ran at the Expence of £2,000 would fall into South Carolina.

Thirdly for that by an act of the last Session of Assembly all that Tract of Land to the Westward of the Catawba River and to the South of Rowan County is formed into a County by the name of

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Tryon County an inferior Court established and provision ordered for erecting a Court House Jails &c: Add to this commissions issued for Justices of the Peace and Militia Officers and that the plan his Lordship transmitted with his letter is prodigiously erroneous with respect to the South Branch of the Catawba River as its direction is not more by Mr Churtons Map and every other creditable information than two or three points to Westward of North; its branches run far into Rowan County and is cut off from the Cherokee Mountains by the meanders of the Catawba River and the head branches of the Broad River, and that his Excellency Governor Tryon proposed a Line to be continued due west course from the point where the line run in 1764 left off.

To the first of these three objections the Committee answer that the line of partition cannot preclude the people of North Carolina from passing with Goods to traffick with the Indians wherever they may think proper to begin that Trade. The people of South Carolina in their very large trade with the Creeks, Chickesaws and Choctaws have constantly and freely passed through the Province of Georgia for these 38 years which liberty has lately been further secured to them by his Majesty's Royal proclamation in 1763 relating to the freedom of Trade with all Indians.

To the second objection it is answered that great part of the expence therein mentioned was occasioned by the jealousy of the then Governor of North Carolina least the line between the Province of South Carolina and the Cherokees in 1765 should be carried into the Province of North Carolina and the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from a respectful attention which he was willing to shew to Governor Dobbs' remonstrance on the matter ordered the Commissioners employed on that service not to proceed in running the Cherokee Line beyond Reedy River, a natural Boundary that was far within the undoubted jurisdiction of South Carolina, rather than give umbrage to a neighbouring Governor or the least pretext to complain of any trespass or incroachment even tho' the jurisdiction of the Lands lying to the Westward of the Catawba River near which the line of 1764 ended were not settled by any Royal Instruction.

The Committee take leave to annex a copy of the paragraph of the Lieutenant Governor's Letter to the Lords of Trade on this matter Dated March 15th 1765.

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The third objection founded on an Act of Assembly of North Carolina lately passed and other Acts in consequence thereof it is conceived can have but little weight to the prejudice of South Carolina as this Province being sensible that the actual ascertaining the bounds of Jurisdiction of his Majestys Provinces was solely an exercise of Royal Prerogative accordingly forbore any attempts towards it without the Royal command notwithstanding the Trespasses committed by several of the North Carolina Deputy Surveyors against whose proceedings complaints were made by our back settlers to the Governor and Council of South Carolina for coming very far beyond even the pretended continuation of the West Line of 1764 besides many other inconveniences sustained in Civil as well as Criminal matters and as to any inconveniency mentioned by Governor Tryon to arise from the course of the South Branch of the Catawba River supposed to be erroneously laid down the weight of such objection we conceive may be better judged of by a view of the Map of the Course of the South and of the North Branch of that River surveyed by your Lordship's direction, expressly to clear up this matter and we further observe on the view thereof that as the North Branch inclosing the head of the Broad River by its Eastern Course from its source in the mountains appears to us to be the most proper Boundary as thereby the necessity of running any line will be prevented but if the South Branch is adopted there is a small space of Ground from its source where the latitude 35° 37' was taken to the Cherokee Boundary thro' which it will be necessary to mark the Line.

The Committee now beg leave to offer a few reasons why it will be improper to make the Continuation in a due west Course of the line of 1764 to be the line of Jurisdiction.

By repeated observation of Latitude made by Mr Cook employed by this Province to make a general survey and map at the expence of near £3,000 sterling it appears that the line run in 1764 which ends at the Salisbury Road near the Catawba River is eleven Miles South of what his Majesty intended by some mistake in the observation of Latitude taken by the Commissioners in 1764 by which error this Province looses about 660 square miles or 422,000 acres of Land equal to one of the smaller Counties in England and as the length of the line proposed by Governor Tryon to be continued due West through the woods is greater than the West line already run in 1764 and intended by the King's Instruction to be run in the latitude

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35° but was erroneously run in 34° 49' there will be a loss to this Province of near 600,000 Acres of Land more by the continued west line both together containing more land than two not the least Counties in England.

If the line is to be marked thro' the Woods the lands of many private people will be cut in two, part will lye in one province and the house in another which will be very inconvenient in payment of Taxes and Quit Rents in levying Executions upon Lands and many other matters which will be avoided by a natural Boundary.

If the line of 1764 is continued due West which is now found to be eleven miles South of the 35° of a North Latitude it will run several miles South of Fort Prince George and lately thoroughly repaired at a great expence to this Province which Fort has been and may be of great use to this Province as a place of Arms in case of a Cherokee War and Savannah River to the South Boundary of Carolina running a N. N. West course, this continued West Line will contract the Western parts of this Province to a small compass reducing the shape of this Province almost to a Triangle, And thereby this Province will have but a small proportion of these rich lands which are the most suitable for the raising of Hemp which has by the Bounties given by this Province been so happily introduced in the North West back settlements.

The Committee now proceed to adduce some reasons for including in South Carolina the Lands lying West of the natural Boundary of the Catawba River founded on the principles of general policy.

The staple commodities of South Carolina being Rice, Indico and Naval Stores and lately hemp not rivelling or interfering with the produce of Great Britain but being very advantageous to the trade thereof it is humbly hoped whatever may tend to secure and promote the rising such beneficial Staples must merit the Royal attention. These kinds of produce cannot be raised and extended but by the labour of Slaves supplied by the African Trade, is also very beneficial to Great Britain but the number of such labourers, their condition of Slavery being apt to raise in them Ideas of an interest opposite to their master becomes dangerous to the public safety where the number of White Men is over balanced by a superior number of Negroes wherefore it has been the policy of South Carolina at Great Charge to give encouragement to the importation of Europeans as a Counterpoise thereto, this measure tho' very constantly pursued has not been adequate to the growing evil which is

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the natural consequence of the growing prosperity of the Province. It is therefore very expedient to include in this Province all those settlers who live on Rivers whose streams arise to the Westward of the line of 1764, down which the hemp, Flour and Lumber begin to be brought to Market at Charles Town at a less expensive carriage than the present general means of waggons. Bounties are given by South Carolina to Hemp raised in this Province and many living North of where the West Line proposed by Governor Tryon have received our Bounties accordingly and it is but Justice to mention the readiness which many of the back settlers expressed to have marched down to assist in suppressing the general Insurrection of our Negroes which was apprehended in 1766 and here let it be remembered that North Carolina is secure from this danger of Negroes the white men are vastly superior to the number of Slaves in that Province.

It may be further observed that the opening an easy way down those Rivers to a market where South Carolina produce may be bartered for European Goods is the most likely way to prevent establishing manufactures in those Inland parts of home materials for home consumption.

We humbly conceive that there are also many reasons why this Province should be strengthened by alloting this Body of Lands now pretty well settled with White Men to South Carolina because during the Cherokee War in 1760 & 1761 many of the Inhabitants near those parts at the first consternation and ravages of the Indian Incursions fled into the Northern Provinces but several who ventured to defend themselves in stockaded Forts were enabled to maintain their posts by the assistance of the arms Ammunitions Provisions and cloathing received from this Province which the Journals of the Assembly making provision for the Expence thereof abundantly prove and it is more than probable that a derelict County would not have been so soon or so well repeopled if these Forts had not been thus supported. These Forts were also covered by very large patroles of horse rangers in the pay of this Province traversing the Country from the Catawba to the Savannah River.

As the Settlers imported at the Expence of this Province are not now confined to Townships but are allowed to chose Lands where they are most suitable to their minds may have settled up the Broad River whose upper Branches will be cut off from this Province by this continuation of the Line of 1764 in a west course and several

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Settlers imported at the expence of this Province thrown into North Carolina.

It would be convenient and reasonable that the Catawba Indians should be comprehended in the proposed Boundary as a very useful Body of Men to keep our numerous Negroes in some awe. The year 1766 afforded a very strong proof of their utility on such services for about the Christmas of 1765, many negroes having fled into large swamps and other circumstances concurring there was great room to apprehend that some dangerous Conspiracy and Insurrection was intended and though the Militia was ordered on duty and were very alert on this occasion the Governor thought it proper also to invite a number of the Catawba Indians to come down and hunt the negroes in their different recesses almost impervious to White Men at that season of the year. The Indians immediately came and partly by the Terror of their name and diligence and singular sagacity in pursuing enemies thro' such Thickets soon dispersed the runaway negroes apprehended several and most of the rest of them chose to surrender themselves to their Masters and return to their duty rather than expose themselves to the attacks of an enemy so dreaded and so difficult to be resisted or evaded for which good service the Indians were amply rewarded. It is not improper to mention that this province hath acquired a powerful Influence over this Tribe of Indians now our Inmates by a long train of acts of Friendship protection and liberality. Their complaints when injured by any White men have been attended to and redressed by the Governor and in 1760 they consented to contract their claim of Lands where their numerous ancestors had long resided to a spot of 15 miles square on condition that this province would be at the expense of building a stockaded Fort (which was immediately complied with) to secure their women and children while their men accompanied the Kings troops and the troops in the two Cherokee Expeditions during which their men were in the pay of and their Women and children were fed and cloathed by this Province for proof of which we refer to the Journals of the Council and Assembly.

The Committee having thus as they hope impartially stated and maturely considered the matters referred to them upon the whole humbly are of opinion and propose that the limits of Jurisdiction between the provinces of North and South Carolina run in 1764, ending at the Salisbury Road near the Catawba River should be

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continued Northerly along the said Lands to the Catawba Lands and then Easterly Northerly and Westerly around and along the line bounding the Catawba Lands surveyed in 1763 till it intersects the Catawba River and then to proceed along the North or main Branch of the Catawba River to its source in the Cherokee Mountains.