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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Hugh Williamson to Alexander Martin
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
September 02, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 406-407

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, 2nd September, 1782.


“You know that the eighth article of the Confederation says that the quota of each State in bearing the expence of the War shall be fixed according to the value of all located Lands and their improvements in those States respectively. The small States whose lands are valuable and much improved with Towns, &c., wish to throw the expences of the War on lands at large by the hundred Acres without regarding the quality or buildings. They would lay this beside the 5 per cent. Tax & an excise on Spirits & a Poll Tax. Many pretty reasons are given for this kind of Land Tax as that it will prevent frauds & perjury in valuing Lands & improvements & save a great deal of trouble. That it will operate as an agrarian Law in making large Land holders dispose of their Lands & occasion the Country to be well settled.

All these arguments which are not without force we are obliged to answer for by one short argument, viz: considering the smallness of our Towns & the great tracts of broken barren and piney Lands in North Carolina, we should, on this plan, be charged with near double the quota of public Debt that should in Justice fall to our share.

Therefore we are not bound in Justice to consent, nor are we bound in honor, because the Confederation expressly fixes another mode.

In our public Letter you are informed by Mr. Blount and myself that we should certainly oppose the report of the Committee with this explanation. I hope you will approve our determination. Should we, supported as we shall be by the Southern States, be able to carry a Recommendation for Taxes, to fund and pay our Quota of the National Debt according to the Confederation, it would certainly give you and every lover of the State great pleasure to find

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that our State was among the first in adopting an honorable & just measure. Most States in the Union have their annual Elections in the Autumn & of course their Session for the more weighty business of Government is on the beginning of Winter.

Congress will doubtless fix their plan and send on their recommendations before that time, and as this scheme is to comprehend the payment of all past and future debts, you will not wonder that we are solicitous that the Assembly should meet, especially when you add the separate consideration, that it may be proper for our State to determine what is best to be done with the vacant Lands.

I have the honor to be, &c.,