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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Nathanael Greene to Thomas Burke
Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786
October 20, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 445-446

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Head Quarters, 29th October, 1782.

Dear Sir:

I had the pleasure to receive your Letter of the 6th of July a few days since.

That you can retire from public life with honor I never had a doubt, but I am by no means satisfied that you should. Your State, and indeed all the Southern States, require many regulations and improvements to render Civil Government perfect. Few men have the necessary abilities and still fewer a proper degree of industry to effect it. Many improvements are also wanting in the plan of confederation and National Government.

Those characters who have been long in Congress, and have had their views and ideas enlarged, and their minds unfettered from local attachments and directed to National policy are the only men fit for this undertaking. Unless our Governments are rendered more perfect and our Union more complete, I fear we shall not feel but in a negative way the blessings we expected from Independence. Think not, therefore, of retiring too soon. Private interest has its advantages, and domestic ease its charms, but the glory of establishing a great Empire is a noble object and worthy of great sacrifices, and that you may think on the matter with perfect freedom and independence, I have the pleasure to inform you of your exchange. The mode will be published in the papers. It was with difficulty we got you included, but as the Enemy could not get the other advantages which I held up to them, without consenting to that, they at last agreed, after many shifts and evasions. Major Burnett conducted the business with great address.

The enlargement of the Militia and Citizens in the Southern Department I consider as a great object, as it leaves every character free to give his aid in that way in which he can be most useful. It would have been a great clog to the wheels of Government to have had many of the best Citizens fettered with Military paroles.

Another reason induced me to go into this exchange, which was

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to convince the Militia and the Citizens that no less attention is paid to them than to the Army. This is twice I have set them all at liberty since I have been in the Southern Department, while a very considerable part of our Continental Officers remain in captivity.

If in effecting your exchange I have done you a service, I am happy and have only to wish that you may find it more consistent with your feeling, though not with your interest, still to lend your aid to accomplish the freedom and Independence of the United States rather than to retire into private life. But whatever may be your determination, to pursue either private walks or public stations, I wish you all imaginable happiness and prosperity.

The Enemy have not yet left Charlestown, but will very shortly, which will give me great pleasure and relief.

I am, Dear Sir,
Your most ob. H’ble. Serv’t.,

P. S.—I have some curiosity to see the paper you mention in your last. If it is convenient should be glad of a Copy.

N. G.