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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Memorandum from Thomas Burke to the North Carolina General Assembly concerning instructions to the Continental Congress delegates
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
October 31, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 349-351


To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina.

Thomas Burke, one of the Delegates of the said State to the Congress of the United States, (his Colleagues being absent,) most respectfully represents:

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That, by the articles of Confederation, Nine States are required to consent to every affirmative vote for Peace, for War, and for borrowing and emitting money—and five States, consequently, have a Negative.

That, being now in a state of War, this negative might prevent a peace, tho' offered on reasonable Terms.

That even a smaller number would be invested with this dangerous power, should any one or more of the States be absent, which has happened with respect to Georgia for many months, and may also happen with respect to any which may be overrun by the enemy.

That for every purpose of common defence and common Exertions in the progress of the present War and for the conclusion thereof, the States are unquestionably, united by former acts of the Several States, nor can this union derive strength from a partial Confederacy for the same or other purposes; on the contrary, such partial confederacy may lay the foundation of disunion, or, by seeming to do so, may have such Effect on the hopes of the British Ministry as to induce them to a longer Continuation of Hostilities. The present times are critical, and it seems prudent to decline every thing which may occasion, even an appearance of divided councils; a partial Confederacy must be followed by confusion, the states so confederated, and such as are now so Confederated, could no longer form one Common Council; and separately they could not form or Execute any Common resolutions; in a word, it would destroy the old union.

It is Evident that the Confederacy, formed for thirteen, will not fit a smaller number, and that if a partial Confederacy be found Necessary, the articles thereof must be previously adjusted. The said Thomas Burke, for these reasons and many others, most respectfully submits to the Consideration of the honorable Assembly whether it be Expedient that the Delegates from this State be peremptorily required to recommend or enter into any partial Confederacy, pursuant to the instructions and resolutions of the 28th instant? or whether it be more Expedient to impower them to Act as Circumstances may require in a matter of

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so much Delicacy and Importance whose Consequences cannot now be actually foreseen.


Halifax, October 31st, 1779.