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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Minutes of the Wilmington Committee of Safety
Wilmington (N.C.). Committee of Safety
July 20, 1775 - July 21, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 112-115

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Proceedings of the Safety Committee at Wilmington.

Thursday, July 20th, 1775.

At a monthly meeting of the Committee of the town of Wilmington, and county of New Hanover.

Present: Cornelius Harnett, Chairman; Francis Clayton, Deputy Chairman; Fred'k Jones, Sr., Alexander Lillington, Wm. Wilkinson, John Forster, Jno. Colvin, Jno. Hollingsworth, Thos. Devane, Jno. Devane, Henry Toomer, Jno. Ashe, Sam'l Ashe, James Geekie, Jno. Ancrum, James Moore, Wm. Perviance, Francis Brice, Adam Boyd, Archibald McLaine, James Tate, Wm. Campbell, And'w Ronaldson, Peter Mallett, John Robeson, James Blythe, Sam. Swann, Wm. Jones, W. T., Wm. Jones, L. C., Joel Parrish, James Walker, Wm. Ewins, Thos. Bloodworth.

Visiting Members.

From Cumberland County—Farquier Campbell, Rob. Cochran.

From Duplin County—James Moore, Jno. James, Alex. Outlaw.

From Onslow County—Jno. Ashe, and Jno. Gibbs.

From Bladen County—Thos. Robeson, Thos. Owen, Walter Gibson, Wm. Salter, James Council, Evan Ellis, Peter Robeson, Rob. Stewart, James Richardson, Jno. King, James White, Rob. Wells, Thomas Brown, Wm. Stewart.

Joseph Preston being brought before the Committee and examined declared on oath, that it was in common report that John Collet, commander at Fort Johnston, had given encouragement to negroes to elope from their Masters and promised to protect them.

The Committee then adjourned until 7 o'clock to morrow.


Friday, July 21st, 1775.

The Committee met according to adjournment.

Present as before.

On motion, ordered, That the Committee of Intelligence of this town, write to the Committee of Cumberland, and congratulate them

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on the favorable disposition of their Committee and county to support the common cause of America.

On motion, Resolved, That application be made to Mr. Samuel Campbell for the Muskets he has in his possession, the property of the public, in order that they may be lodged with the Secretary of this committee, to be distributed to those who may be in want of arms.

This Committee having taken into consideration an act of the British Parliament for restraining the trade of the Colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex, on the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, to Great Britain, Ireland and the British West Indies, which is to take place this day [see page ante, 109.—Editor]; it is

Resolved, unanimously, that the exception of this colony, and some others, out of the said act, is a base and mean artifice, to seduce them into a desertion of the common cause of America.

Resolved, that we will not accept of the advantages insidiously thrown out by the said act, but will adhere strictly to such plans as have been, and shall be, entered into by the honorable continental Congress; so as to keep up a perfect unanimity with our sister colonies.

The inhabitants of Poole (a seaport in the British channel) having manifested themselves, not only inimical to America; but lost to every sense of honor and humanity, by petitioning Parliament to restrain the New England fisheries; by which iniquitous act, the virtuous inhabitants of those colonies, are cruelly deprived of the means of procuring a subsistence; and rendered almost dependent on the bounty of their neighbors; in testimony of our resentment of a conduct so injurious to our fellow-citizens, and so disgraceful to human nature; we unanimously Resolve, not to freight, or in any manner employ any shipping, belonging to that town; and that we will not carry on any commercial intercourse or communication with the selfish people of Poole.

Whereas, it appeared, upon incontestible evidence, that John Collett, commander of Fort Johnston, was preparing the said fort [under the auspices of Governor Martin] for the reception of a promised reinforcement, which was to be employed in reducing the good people of this province, to a slavish submission to the will of a wicked and tyrannic Minister; and for this diabolical purpose, had collected several abandoned profligates, whose crimes had rendered them unworthy of civil society; and that the said commander, had wantonly detained vessels, applying for Bills of Health, thereby defeating

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the salutary purposes for which the Fort had been established and continued—had threatened vengeance against magistrates, whose official opinion he chose to disapprove—had set at defiance the high sheriff of the county, in the execution of his office, and treated the King's writs, when served on him for just debts, (which both as a soldier and a subject, it was his duty to obey) with the shameful contempt of wiping his b—k s—de with them—had with the most unparalleled injustice, detained and embezzled a large quantity of goods, which having been wrecked near the Fort, had the highest claim to his attention and care, for the benefit of the sufferers; in whose behalf, many and repeated applications had been legally made, in vain, to the said commander—had contrary to every principle of honor and honesty, most unwarrantably seized, by force, a quantity of corn, the private property of an individual; an act of robbery the more inexcusable, as provisions were never withheld from him, whenever he would pay for them—had basely encouraged slaves from their masters, paid and employed them, and declared openly, that he would excite them to an insurrection: It also appeared that the said John Collett, had further declared, that, as soon as the expected reinforcement should arrive, the King's standard would be erected, and that, to it should be invited all those (as well slaves as others) who were base enough to take up arms against their country.

The Committee of New Hanover and Wilmington, having taken these things into consideration, judged it might be of the most pernicious consequences to the people at large, if the said John Collett should be suffered to remain in the Fort, as he might thereby have opportunity of carrying his iniquitous schemes into execution. This opinion having been communicated to the officers, and the committees of some neighboring counties, a great many volunteers were immediately collected; a party of whom reached Brunswick, when accounts were received, that the said commander had carried off all the small arms, ammunition, and part of the Artillery, (the property of the Province) together with his furniture, on board a Transport, hired for that purpose, there to remain until the reinforcement should arrive, and then again take possession of the Fort: the original design being thus frustrated, but the different detachments having met at Brunswick, about 500 men marched to the Fort, and burnt and destroyed all the Houses, &c., in and about the same; demolished, as far as they could, the back part of the Fortification, and effectually dislodged that atrocious Freebooter.

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Resolved, therefore, that the thanks of the Committee be given to the officers and soldiers who, with such ready alacrity, gave their attendance to effect a matter of so much real importance to the public.

The Committee then adjourned to the next meeting.