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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Tazewell to Thomas Burke
Tazewell, John
June 04, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 308-309

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Williamsburg, June 4th, 1779.

Dear Sir:

I know not which of us ought to apologize for the long Interruption of that friendly Correspondence which there was formerly between us; however that be, I will make none for renewing it by this Letter.

You have no Doubt heard of the visit the Enemy have lately paid us. They landed about 2,000 Men at Portsmouth and proceeding to Suffolk, soon laid it in ashes. Hearing, however, that the Militia were gathering in large Bodies to oppose them, they quickly returned to Portsmouth, from whence they embarked (as we suppose) for New York, about eight Days ago. While they remained at Portsmouth they destroyed the Fort & a number of vessels, plundered the Inhabitants of Norfolk County, & treated Numbers with great Cruelty. Large quantities of provisions & Continental Stores were carried off and destroyed by them. They got about 500 Negroes, & 100 whites were found base enough to enlist with them as Soldiers. This part of the County was in a defenseless Situation, and, I fear, contained many disaffected Inhabitants; but you are well acquainted with those parts.

The Time limited by our Constitution for the Continuance of our Governor in Office being nearly expired, the Assembly on

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Monday last proceeded to the choice of a person to succeed Gov. Henry in that Office. The Votes were: For T. Jefferson, 54; J. Page, 43; & T. Nelson, (Gen'l,) 34. Upon the second Ballot they stood, for T. Jefferson, 66; J. Page, 60; so that the former is elected. I should not have troubled you with so minute an account of those Matters had not your former residence among us made me almost consider you as a Virginian. Indeed, I am still unwilling to give up our Claim to so valuable a Citizen.

Having given you the News of this place, I am to request in Return what you have. By this I know I shall be greatly gainer, for we are told Congress are in Possession of great and important News; but if it is to forever continue a Secret, I know you too well to desire you would violate any injunction of secrecy to gratify my Curiosity. The Reports, however, which prevail throughout this County seem to make it necessary that something should be published.

It is currently said that the Independence of the Thirteen United States has been offered Congress by G. Britain, and that peace on those has been rejected by them, they demanding Canada and Nova Scotia. I can hardly think this possible, when I consider the thousand urgent Reasons for accepting those Terms. Indeed, the amazing depreciation of our Paper Currency seems to threaten us with speedy Ruin. The Terms are such as, I believe, every one in this State would accept with Joy, and so unaccountable seems the Rejection of them by Congress that some make no Scruple to say that many Members of that Body have private Views of Gain to gratify which they prefer to the freedom, happiness & Independence of the Country. If there be such men, you, I know, are not one of the Number. You have a Soul which scorns & is incapable of being influenced by such Considerations. I fear you will think my Letter too long, but Mrs. Tazewell wishes I shall make it longer, by desiring her best Respects to you. A Letter from you, if it only acquaints us that you are well, will not be unwelcomed by one who is,

With great Esteem, Yr. friend & St,