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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Proclamation by Thomas Burke the purchase of tobacco for the state, including related instructions
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
July 29, 1781
Volume 15, Pages 582-584

State of North Carolina,
July 29th, 1781.

Whereas by Act of Assembly passed in the last Session I am impowered by and with the advice of the Council of State to procure Arms and other Warlike Necessaries for the Use of this State, and for that purpose to purchase, borrow, or if absolutely Necessary to Impress Tobacco or other exportable produce of this State and the Council of State have advised that the said powers be carried into Execution without delay.

Pursuant to the Promises I have appointed Colonel Robert Burton of the County of Granville, Richard Buchanan, Esquire, of the County of Orange, John Atkinson, Esquire, of the County of Caswell, William Brickle, Esquire, of the County of Franklin, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., Esquire, of the County of Warren, Henry Montford, Esq., of the County of Halifax, Robert Bignall, Esqr., of the County of Edgecomb, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., Esqr., of the County of Nash, . . . . . . . .. . . .. . . ., Esqur., of the County of Northampton,

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to purchase or borrow Tobacco from the Inhabitants of this State and I do hereby authorise and impower him the said . . . . . . . . . . . . to give to every person from whom he shall purchase Tobacco a Certificate for the amount of the price which Shall be agreed on for the Quantity purchased, which Certificates Shall be free from Taxes and bear an interest of Six per cent per annum and be redeemable on or before the first day of December one thousand Seven hundred and Eighty Three in Specie, or the Value thereof in the Currency of this State.

And where it shall be more agreeable to the owner to lend Tobacco the said . . . . . . . . . . . . is hereby empowered and authorised to borrow the same and to pledge the Faith of this State pursuant to the Authority by the said act to me given, for the faithfully replacing at a future day all Such Tobacco as he shall so borrow.

As I have great hopes that the good People of this State, Sensible of the Necessity for procuring arms and Warlike Necessaries for enabling them to oppose the Enemy and defend their Country from plunder and Conquest will willingly furnish to their Country all of this Necessary Commodity which they can possibly Spare, I Suspend for the present the power of Imprisonment and shall be extremely happy if the Supplies which can be procured by purchasing and borrowing shall make it entirely unnecessary for me to exercise a power which, tho' Justified by urgent public Necessity is extremely disagreeable to me and which if I must exercise it will be with the greatest reluctance, but if a Sufficient Quantity cannot be purchased by the last of August I must have recourse to Impressment and if any should refuse to Sell or Lend, or will not Sell or Lend in proportion to their respective abilities I shall deem them the proper persons from whom to Impress.


You will endeavour by every means to induce the people to part with as much Tobacco as possible and having well informed yourself of the highest market price give Such price unless you find you can purchase it at a Cheaper rate. It is the best to induce the people to part with it by a generous price than to leave them dissatisfied at furnishing the public.

Take Notes from all Such as have them in readiness, and take

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Engagements for the delivery on demand at some public Inspection for all Tobacco for which Notes are not delivered giving Certificates as well for the one as the other; in order to make the obligation Serve you may agree to a Stipulation for a reasonable time of Notice before demand.

You are to keep a day book in which you will enter Tobacco Account Dr. to the Several persons from whom you shall buy or borrow, and in your Entries distinguish the purchase from the loan. To this Book make two marginal Lines, in which you will insert the Numbers of the Certificates, opposite the Entry, and you will give distinct Certificates for purchases and loans, beginning each Species with No. 1, and proceeding by Squaring each figure as you advance and deducting from the Square the Actual Number of Certificates you have Issued thus:

1st, 2d, 3rd, 4th.

1, 2, 6, 12, &c.

Make very particular Enquiry and obtain the best information you can of the Quantity of Tobacco each man has on hand and usually makes, and keep a private book in which this is to be entered. Make as much dispatch as possible and depend on my allowing you a liberal reward out of the Commodity itself in proportion to the Quantity you will procure.

The Clerk of the Council will extract the 1st, 2d, 3rd, 5th, 8th Sections of the propositions on Military Arrangements and make a Copy for each County in the State.

Also the 10th, 13th Sections under the Same head for the Quarter Master General.

And the 11th Section under the same head of which two Copies are to be made, Vizt: for the Quartmaster and Commissary General.

Also the 1st, 2d, 3rd Sections of the propositions on Civil arrangements and make thereof a Copy for every County in the State.

And also one Copy of the 1st, 2d, for each Judge of the Superior Court and for the Attorney General.