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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter to George Miller
No Author
May 17, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 303-305

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]

London, May 17th, 1779.

Mr. George Miller:
Dear Sir:

Since my arrival in England I have taken the advantage of two opportunities to write to you. The first was dated the 18th of September last, by Mr. Bryce; the second, of the 20th Novem., by a Gentleman from Virginia, who, with his wife, was on his return to that Country.

In both of them I pointed out, as far as local circumstances would permit, the several misfortunes that had befallen me since a determination, too rashly resolved on, made me leave Carolina; I also made you acquainted with my present disagreeable situation here, in a Country where, out of my own Family, I have no Friends, & where without Money it is impossible to make any. The same Opinions which I then used the Freedom to convey to you have gained greater force by time, and at present I own I have not a wish equal to that of spending the remainder of my days in North Carolina. I have acknowledged, and now again acknowledge, that my determination to leave the State was precipitate & rash. Further blame I am not willing to take upon myself. You and some other Gentlemen who are well acquainted with my political principles know that a trifling pique, unworthy of thought in a cause of consequence, as was the general cause, influenced me entirely. I thought that the act on which I left Carolina was too general; I had flattered myself that, considering the part I had taken, there ought to have been some exceptions.

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A small tincture of pride, with an opinion that none but natives of America would be countenanced—& which I now confess was injurious to the People of Carolina—acted so strongly on me as to make me forego every happiness which I enjoyed there.

Like most others who have erred, I have discovered my error too late; nothing tells me so more plainly than the difference I find between this Country & that which I have left. Twenty years' residence there had given me a pretty general acquaintance, & I was happy enough to think myself in some degree of general estimation. Here, where I had not lived Ffteen years before I went to America, I find myself not only a stranger, but even looked down upon by all those who hold a different political creed from mine. You will easily perceive from what I have already written that it is my earnest wish to be permitted to return to America—to North Carolina. It is so; it is the only thing I look forward to with anxious hope. How happy should I be to meet once more with my Friends in that Country! Friends here I have but few; the Conduct which I held in America, & which I shall always look back on with pleasure, has lost me their good opinion. Be it so, if I can retrieve that of those who I find myself, tho' late, more interested in. I am much afraid that it may be deemed that interest has swayed me most in what I have written. I assure you, Sir, it is not the case. The property I had by industry acquired in Carolina, tho' in my present destitute situation it might be deemed considerable, yet at present I do not think of it. That will be determined on by judges whose candour (especially considering the present application) I need not, I hope, say I have the most implicit confidence in. But, setting that totally aside, & admitting it were appropriated in such a manner as I individually never could be benefited by, I still desire & hope to be allowed to return to my Friends in America, to be received by them as a man who had not been prudent, but who still deserved their good opinion, & that could not be prevailed on to attempt to injure them in any capacity. And in the meantime, should it be the matter of questioning, I would desire & request that my property should be taxed for its proportion of the public revenue from the time I left Carolina. I still hope I have Friends there who would so far advance for me.

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After this full disclosure of my hopes & wishes, may I still persist in requesting your good offices in my behalf? Permit me to do so, & let me hope that you will still be the same generous Friend I have so often found you to be, & and that you will, as far as is consistent with your duty as first Magistrate, interest the Legislature in my favor. If you will so far oblige me, & should succeed in it, I would not lose a moment in returning to you, & a line by way of Holland, or even France, to me, to the care of Mr. John Hyndman, Mercht., London, will probably come safe to my hands.

Perhaps I am all this time requesting what neither you nor the Assembly will be willing to grant; but I hope not. It is a dreadful case to be acknowledged of no Country; that is my present situation, & I would gladly hope that I shall be again received, after so explicit an acknowledgement of my error, where my heart most earnestly wishes.

I have had much conversation with several Gentlemen here whose opinion is worthy of my regard, & who tell me they think I shall not be denied my request; their Tenets I beg leave to submit to your own Judgment; perhaps this may be under the care of one of them; however, of that I am uncertain. And at any rate, in these times, when the utmost caution is necessary, as names must not be mentioned, I hope you will excuse me, critically circumstanced as we are, for neither putting down either theirs or my own.

Knowing You can be at no loss about the Author of this, I rest the whole matter entirely with you, after again assuring of what I have a thousand times with much sincerity done, that I have the most perfect esteem, respect & regard for you, & begging you to believe that they will continue as long as I have existence.

Yours entirely.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: Although the author of this letter has tentatively been identified as John Burgwin, Burgwin, who had been in England earlier, was back in North Carolina by the time this letter was written. See, for instance, the entry for John Burgwin in the "Dictionary of North Carolina Biography."