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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
January 31, 1778 - February 03, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 20-22

[From Executive Letter Book.]

York Town Janry 31st 1778.

Dear Sir:

I take the liberty to enclose to your Excellency the last papers, to which I refer you for news. I am glad to find our Assembly have opened the Courts as well as the Land Office. I wish this measure had taken place sooner. The Taxes also I hope will be

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soon collected, this measure of taxation unless entered into with spirit by the Legislatures of the several States, must end in the ruin of the prodigious quantity of paper money now in circulation.

The Grand Army still remains encamped at Valley Forge, unless a large body of the Militia of the adjacent States immediately reinforce them, I have little reason to expect anything decisive can possibly be done this winter, as we are told Genl. Howe's lines are exceedingly strong, and should Genl. Howe be reinforced in the Spring, by a strong body of Troops, I suppose we shall have warm work, unless France and Spain declare War, and this, notwithstanding the great preparation made by those powers, is very uncertain, France finds her account in engrossing the whole Trade of these States, without entering into a war with so formidable a power as Great Britain.

I could have wished our General Assembly had fallen upon the means of calling in all our paper money issued under the sanction of the crown, great distinction has been made by the disaffected in this and many other States, an evil universally complained of, and has been remedied in several very effectually, by calling it all in, at a certain day, after which it is not redeemable by any future tax, neither is it to be taken as a tender. In some States, Treasurer's notes bearing interest are given in lieu of this kind of money, redeemable in one year.

Congress have a high sense of the offer made by our Country, of marching 5000 Militia to the assistance of the Grand Army, and greatly applaud their spirit, whether they will be called for, is not yet known. I suppose they will not, (having so great a distance to march,) unless in case of emergency. But this is no more than my private opinion and not to be mentioned. I take the liberty to enclose a memorandum which Mr. R. Henry Lee put into my hands a few weeks ago, which has been mislaid. I shall be happy in receiving a line from your Excellency when you can find leisure, and am with great respect, your Excellency's mo. ob. & very humbl. Servt.


Febry 3d.

Being disappointed in sending this forward at the time expected, I cannot help mentioning to your Excellency very shortly a

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matter which hangs heavy at my heart, whilst all the States are fortifying every creek and inlet where vessels can possibly enter, I fear our State have neglected Cape Look Out Bay and Cape Fear River. The latter is such a harbor as may at all times be safe for the enemy to enter, and ravage the country at will, more especially at this time when all our Continental Troops are at the distance of 600 miles from that place. Cape Look Out is one of the finest harbors on the American coast, and would be a noble Asylum for the Continental and private ships of war, to wood and water, as also a place of security for trading vessels chased by the enemy. I am distressed beyond measure to find our sea coast so much neglected to please (I fear) a few individuals who may be interested in the matter, I am as before your Excellency's most &c. &c.


I am confined in my room by the gout, and therefore cannot with the accuracy I could wish answer your Quere's in regard to Major Genl. Pay &c. I shall do myself the honor of writing you in a short time on that head.

I could wish your Excellency, would fall upon ways and means to procure all the salted pork in your State, for the use of the Continental Army, which Congress have every reason to believe will be greatly distressed for that article, I hope none will be suffered to be exported. Your Bills will be answered.

C. H.