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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from "the People" to Josiah Martin
No Author
July 16, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 102-103

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Letter from “The People” to Governor Martin.

Brunswick, July 16th 1775.


As the Establishment of Fort Johnston was intended to protect the Inhabitants of Cape Fear River from all invasions of a foreign Enemy in times of War, and during the Peace has been supported at a very great expence to this Province, and not only to prevent contagious and infectious disorders, but to aid and support the Trade and Navigation thereof, and where as by the conduct of the Captain of the said Fort most of these salutary ends have been entirely defeated, and added to this as by incontestible proof, we can make appear that not only the private property of individuals has been cruelly and illegally invaded and detained by the most atrocious injuries, were by the said Captain intended and in some degree carried into execution contrary to every principle of justice and humanity, and dangerous to the lives and property of the Inhabitants of this Province, we herewith beg leave to lay before your Excellency a state of some of those facts which have come to our knowledge, Viz his wanton detention of Vessels applying for Bills of health, his threats of vengeance against Magistrates whose opinion in the execution of their office he happened to disapprove, his sitting at defiance the High Sheriff of the County in the execution of his office, and treating the King's Writs served on him for just debts (which both as a Subject and a Soldier it was his duty to obey) with the shamefull contempt of wiping his backside with them, His unparalleled Injustice in detaining and Embezzleing a large

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quantity of goods which having been unfortunately wrecked near the Fort, had from every principle of humanity the highest claims to his attention and care for the benefit of the unhappy sufferers, who legally demanded and frequently solicited in their behalf, his base encouragement of Slaves eloped from their Masters, feeding and employing them, and his atrocious and horrid declaration that he would excite them to an Insurrection.

These circumstances Sir, and many others too tedious to enumerate, could not but excite the indignation and resentment of the publick, but grievous as they were we would for a time still have submitted to them in firm reliance, that the first meeting of an Assembly would have relieved us, but upon being informed of Captain Collet's intention of dismantleing the Fort, erected and supported at the real expence of this Colony for its Protection and Defence, we collected ourselves together in order to prevent it, but finding upon enquiry that he had already dismantled it nothing more is left us than to recover the Cannon thrown over the walls and left in a situation which must entirely ruin them, to a place where attention and care shall preserve them for His Majesty when His service shall require them, because with that we conceive the safety of this Province is intimately connected, with this intention we shall proceed to Fort Johnston and that our conduct may not be misunderstood by your Excellency we have thought proper to give you this information and persuade ourselves we shall not meet obstruction from any person or persons whatsoever in the execution of a design so essential to His Majesty's Service and the Publick utility.

N. B. A Fresh instance of his violence in Captain Collet has now come to our knowledge, a glaring invasion of private property in unwarrantably seizing a Quantity of Corn, the more inexcusable as provisions have never been withheld from him whenever he would pay for them, which provisions so seized we beg your Excellency would order him to restore to the proper owner, as also any Slave or Slaves the property of other persons which he now harbours and detains.

We are your Excellency's
Most obedient Humble Servants,

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: Vernon Stumpf, in his biography "Josiah Martin: The Last Royal Governor of North Carolina," suggests that this letter may have been chiefly authored by John Ashe (page 137).