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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
November 02, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 215-216

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, Nov. 2d, 1779.

Dear Sir:

This part of the Continent has been for many weeks past anxiously expecting the Count De Estaing on their Coast.

I hope the business will be completely ended to the Southward. In the first place, it is believed by some that the Enemy have Evacuated R. Island. Appearances seem to indicate this, but no authentic accounts have as yet been rec'd by Congress.

I take the liberty to enclose the last papers, which contain very little news. A packet or two are hourly expected from Europe, which, very probably, may inform us of the operations in that Quarter of the world.

It is feared the season is, or will be, too far advanced by the time the Count completes his operations to the Southward for him to proceed Northward, but he has still eight weeks before him.

A Resolution of Congress passed yesterday will be transmitted to your Excellency to be laid before Our General Assembly, to put a stop to the further granting of Vacant Lands until the Conclusion of the War. The reason held forth for the adopting this measure is the very great Emigration of people which will naturally follow the measure, which I must acknowledge has some weight. But it is a well-known fact that the Ostensible

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reason is that the States, at the end of the War, may appropriate such vacant lands to the benefit of all the States in the Union to enable them to pay the public debt. Virginia and No. Carolina opposed this measure, and it is left to the wisdom of the Legislalatures of the States similarly circumstanced with Virginia to agree or not with this proposal. I have to request that your Excellency will be pleased to send forward the Delegates to relieve us. It is impossible for you, Sir, to conjecture how disagreeable it must be to the State to pay the extravagant expenses we are at here, and how much more disagreeable it will be for us to require it. I have called out of the Treasury more than the half of my Salary, and shall be obliged to call for more to enable me to return to my family, where I hope I shall have the happiness to spend the remainder of my days in retirement; my time of life requires it.

Gen'l Washington is advancing by degrees towards New York, to be ready to lend his aid to the Count De Estaing, should he come thus far. Mr. Laurens, our former President, will call on your Excellency on his way to So. Carolina, from thence he proceeds to Holland on public business. To him I beg leave to refer you for News, and am certain you will profit much by his acquaintance.

I have the honor to be,
Your Excellency's Mo. ob. & very hum. Serv't,
Gov. Caswell.

P. S. Your Excellency will perceive this letter is not intended for the perusal of the public, as I have not copied it fair.

C. H.