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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Alexander Martin to John Walker
Martin, Alexander, 1740-1807
October 03, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 421-423

[From Executive Letter Book.]

October 3rd, 1782.


I am favoured with your Letter of the 19th ultimo, and I am sorry that the indulgencies you mention should be general. ’Tis

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the proving of the Courts of Law to decide on cases of that nature, and should they be deemed wrong in their decisions they must still be supported as they give life and existence to Civil Government. Remonstrances and impeachments are open against them in the Legislature, should they persist in error or be guilty of malpractice. Too much has the Spirit of robbery prevailed in Wilmington District. I beg you, Sir, and every Gentleman of influence, to discountenance and suppress everything of the like nature, otherwise our boasted liberties are no more, and we shall sink into a worse Tyranny than what we have escaped. Whatever Lawyers may do or say they are under the Control of the Court—the Court is responsible for their own adjudications. Council is as necessary for the accused under our free Government as the very Court who decide, and should Magistrates be misled by a designing Lawyer the Lawyer ought to be impeached before the Legislature as a public nuisance and the Magistrates superceeded for ignorance in office. Civil Government must be supported in the Courts of Justice as well as without, otherwise the State is lost.

These things I beg leave to suggest to you (not that I have heard you have countenanced disorder, but the contrary) as a Gentleman, who has stood foremost in the Cause of your Country through all opposition, and to whom, for your firmness and fortitude your Neighbors, may look up for support in Constitutional Liberty.

Major Maclaine’s Flag Vessel appears not to be the object of seizure. The Flag protects the Vessel, but Merchandise imported and traffic made thereof, it is a lawful prize, being a business improper for Flags.

You will, therefore, please, as a Naval Officer, to liberate the Vessel, as I consider her under the protection of the State, and put Major Maclaine in possession of her, who has my orders, on obtaining the same, immediately to leave Wilmington, taking with him all the British subjects he has imported, whose admission into this State I can by no means consent to.

I have written several times to General Lillington as to the reception of Flags, which directions I am sorry are not attended to. As Naval Officer I must entrust you with this business—that no Flag Vessel be permitted to come up to Wilmington; that they continue at the Flats until they have their answer; that no persons belonging

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to the same be permitted to go at large in Wilmington without a proper Officer attending them, and in general, no permission be granted but on special and urgent occasions.

I am, Sir, &c.,