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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
November 28, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 304-306

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia Nov. 28th 1778.

Dear Sir:

The President before any of the members could be supplied with the printed Treaties with France sent them to all the Governors of the several States; I take the liberty (fearing some accident may have prevented your receiving one) to enclose one to your Excellency. These Treaties ought to have been thrown out to the public immediately, but Congress out of their great wisdom thought otherwise. This business was done after the return of the North Carolina Delegates. Mr. Burke and

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myself stayed and sat in Congress as long as we were authorized by the State to give a vote. Your Excellency must also have been informed by Mr. Blount, when the requisition was made for 500,000 Dollars. No Delegate of North Carolina was or could be present with propriety.

We have however patched up this business; 400,000 dols. have been sent on to accomplish the first business, and 150,000 to Mr. Blount exclusive of the other sum towards forwarding the Southern expedition. The President has no doubt informed you of the views of Congress, should the enemy not think proper to make an attack on Charles Town. I am not at liberty at present to communicate it, as the injunction of secrecy is not yet taken off. I should imagine your Excellency would have influence sufficient to induce the late Levies to march forward this winter, and that so early as possible, with some Volunteers from the Militia. I am one of those old Politicians who had much rather see my neighbour's house on fire than my own, but at the same time would lend every assistance in my power to quench the flame. St Augustine, during the continuance of this War (from her situation) will constantly have it in her power, not only to destroy our poor frontier State of Georgia by land but to embarrass and almost ruin the trade of the four Southern States by their Privateers. Genl. Lincoln whom I had not the pleasure to see, will communicate to you the views of Congress, and I hope may inform them of what may be expected from our State, after consulting with you.

Genl. Howe is ordered to Head Quarters. The little ridiculous matter he has been concerned in in South Carolina, with regard to a female, has induced the Delegates of Georgia and South Carolina to desire his recall. Congress complied with their request, but do not intend to enter into the private amours of their Generals. I hope our friend (should the War continue) will have an opportunity of displaying his abilities (which Congress acknowledge) in the field of Mars; as well as of Venus.

I have mentioned several times to your Excellency my desire of remaining at home. I am too old to be sent here; it behooves the State to send men of much greater abilities than myself. I am now not many years from 60. The other States have fallen upon a method of keeping some of their Delegates here who have

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served from the beginning, viz: Massachusetts, New York, Virginia &c. But should the States think proper to change their Delegates they ought at least to send forward their first men (I mean as to their abilities) in the State. New York has invariably pursued this plan, and has profited by it.

I would not be thought to derogate from the Gentlemen who are with me. I have experienced on every occasion their good sense, Honesty and integrity of heart. But by changing your members often you must of course know, as I am convinced every man of sense must, that it will take a young man of Genius, ability and application, three months at least to make himself well acquainted with the business of Congress and after he has accomplished it, in a few months, another is appointed, who has the same process to go through before he can be made useful to his State, let his abilities be ever so great and uncommon. I have taken the liberty to give your Excellency my opinion on this great subject, with an intention never more to return in the character my Country has been pleased to honor me with, unless I am forced in to it. This letter has been written with a violent pain in my stomach, which I suppose a symptom of the Gout, (my old companion). I have neither time nor inclination to correct either the Diction or Grammar, it is intended for yourself. If I have in my incoherent manner, thrown out any hint that may strike you and be useful to my Country, I shall be happy indeed. I send the last papers. I expect Mr. Burke and Mr. Hill every hour to relieve me. I have the honor to be with great respect,

Your Excellency's Mo. ob. and very humble Servt.