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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to Richard Caswell
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
February 22, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 394-396

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Wilmington 22nd Feby 1777


I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency a letter from Mr. Rowan, one of the Commissioners of the Iron works with an account of the purchase made from Messrs. Wilcox & England on act. of the public. I am apprehensive the purchase may be thought

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high, especially as Mr. Mills, the manager seemed to be of opinion that £3000 would be a sufficient consideration; but as money must have been advanced to the proprietors much more liberally than was hither-to done– As the expense of the metal from the Furnace, for the exigencies of the state, must have been great before new works could have been erected—and as there was little probability that the proprietors and the manager would agree well together– it was thought most prudent to take the works out of their hands– when there was so fair an opportunity offered. Tho' the Commissioners considered the works could be erected for a much less sum than was given, and tho' Wilcox and England had no legal title to the Ore, or the wood lands adjacent to the furnace, yet they had made such claim, as has been usual in that part of the Country, since Lord Granville's office has been shut up– and it would have had a bad appearance, and probably a bad effect, in a part of the state, where there are so many disaffected people had these lands been refused to claimants.

Besides in my own opinion, the works with the ore and woodland adjoining, are almost invaluable to any person who possessed a sufficient fund to carry them on with spirit– Had they been mine, I should have thought double the purchase money an inadequate consideration for them The sum of money ordered by Congress to the Commissioners, is a mere trifle compared to the expense they must be at considering the number of hands that must be constantly employed, & the additional works that must necessarily be erected; and as a purchase was ordered to be made, (tho' the resolves make no provisions for the payment of it.) I conclude that the Treasurers will of course pay the money– and I hope your Excellency and the Council will be of that opinion– and add your weight to it, if necessary– In truth Sir, the public, as far as I am able to judge must be a gainer by the purchase– for I cannot conceive an article, where Iron is necessary that may not in a short time, be manufactured among ourselves; and by contributing liberally for the present, the Legislature will soon reap the advantage of it; not only in a present supply of ordinance and Ball– but a very great profit from the sale of wrought Iron– and utensils in cast metal– Mr. Mills, the manager informed me that he expected a quantity of German still, which was to have been purchased, and forwarded by our Delegates– I hope it is arrived, as it is absolutely

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necessary for the boring-Mill without which cannon cannot be finished– I beg your Excellency will take the trouble of causing an enquiry to be made about it, and order intelligence to be given to the Commissioners or myself, that if it is not to be had immediately, such as is to be purchased may be secured in time. Mr. Mills hopes to have a few Guns ready by the time the General Assembly is to sit.

There is one Angus Campbell in Cumberland County– who was with the Tory Army– He gave the Congress last Spring, security for his good behaviour, and was ordered to reside in some other County– but the Council of safety permitted him to go back to Cumberland– I have been credibly informed, that he has not been called upon to go with the other prisoners, and in truth I was applied to, to know whether it was possible for him to remain where he is– I think it my duty to mention these circumstances, as Mr. Campbell has great influence among his countrymen– and if there is any omission– the blame may possibly be laid your Excellency's door–

I am, with great respect-– Sir your Excellency's humbl.
& ob. Serv't.