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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Penn to Richard Caswell
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788
July 15, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 196-197

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, July 15th 1778.

Dear Sir:

Col. Williams never gave me the certificate of our appointment until a few days ago when we parted, he choosing to be inoculated for the small pox at Alexandria. I was then hurried and did not examine it, not having the least reason to doubt but that the powers given to the Delegates were the same as usual, however on producing the commission it was so worded as to make it absolutely necessary that all the Members should be present, to give us a right to vote. As it may be a long time before Mr. Harnett arrives or Col. Williams gets over the small Pox, I have thought it my duty to write to you by express, requesting that your Excellency would be pleased to mention whether one Gentleman by the design of the General Assembly cannot vote, if so you will be pleased to send a Commission for that purpose, but if no alteration can be made, pray inform Mr. Harnett that it is absolutely necessary for him to repair to Philadelphia without delay. I find myself in a disagreeable situation which is the reason of my application to you. I was told that the Assembly expected that the Delegates were upon the same terms as formerly.

-------------------- page 197 --------------------

Mr. Gerard a French Minister is here. He is to reside in America. War is declared by France against England. A large Fleet from that Nation arrived at Sandy Hook several days ago and are gone to New York to take possession of the British Fleet there. We expect to hear of an action every hour.

General Washington crossed the North River, and General Gates is in the Neighborhood of King's Bridge with a considerable body. Our force will be upwards of 20,000. The French have 3 or 4000 men more than they want to man their ships, who may be disposed of as General Washington thinks proper, so that most Gentlemen are of opinion we shall soon be in possession of New York; in short, our affairs seem to be in as good a way as we could wish.

Mr. Deane is in Town. He is highly recommended by the King of France. I beg your Excellency will let me hear from you as soon as possible. I had almost forgot to tell you that General Lee is under an arrest. What the sentence will be is not known. However, he has made it a quarrel with Genl Washington, and of course you know he must fail. I shall write you by every opportunity.

I am with due respect your Excellency's
mo. ob. huml Servt.

P. S. Some matters of very great importance will soon come in. It is the wish of the Southern States that North Carolina should vote, as I am confident that it was not the design of the General Assembly to alter our old mode of one Delegate representing the State. I hope your Excellency will send a Commission for that purpose. However the Clerks may have expressed the resolution of the Assembly, and we shall have nothing to do or say this year. Enclosed is a Newspaper.

J. P.