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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Martin Armstrong to the North Carolina officers in the Continental Army
Armstrong, Martin, d. 1808
February 26, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 524-526


February 26th, 1782.


I was present in Salem last January when it was I imagined a Number of Members sufficient to make a House of Assembly would have met—it was a Considerable time before they broke up, which gave me an Opportunity of Conversing with several Gentlemen from the Western side of the Mountains whose business with the Assembly was to present a petition for opening the Land Office on Cumberland River, &c., West of the Boundary line between the Indians & Whites. I heard many Opinions in favour of it and have reason to Judge had there been a House, the Prayer of their Petition would have been Granted.

I am further Credibly informed that people from almost every part of the United States are daily moving towards that Country, & Cumberland is their Object.

Mr. James Robinson, who lives at the French Lick, told me he had a Petition from the People Settled on that Part of the River to have a New County laid off and that there was a sufficient Number of Men there to Guard them against the Indians without any Assistance from the Government—they only wanted rights to their Lands and the Benefit of the Laws, and told me further that even those Indulgences were granted or not, he doubted the Country would be settled in a Short time. By this Gentlemen you may plainly discover that the lands designed by Government for the Officers and Soldiers (by the late Act of Assembly) is Just on the Eve of being entirely lost, for if such Numbers Settles the Country the prime lands will be all claimed and improved, and perhaps at a future day it may Indanger the Peace of the State to attempt to Disposses them. My reasons for giving you these few hints are because I think it is your right to have such a Part of that Country laid off as would be sufficient to Answer the purpose of the Act of Assembly afsd.

But if once lost, Pray what has Government to give you that would be an Object worthy your former or future Services, and

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Surely rewards as lasting as time itself is due to those Men who, under God, have been the Saviours of our Country, and through a long and tedious War have Virtuously assisted in laying the Basis on which our Independence is Established, and as your Services have hitherto been slightly rewarded, I presume it is high time for you to lay aside Modesty and Address the Legislature in such a Manner as to let them know that your Rights to those lands should be Secured on some more sure and Permanent footing than at present they appear to be; the Act should be amended in such a manner as to impower Agents to lay off by natural Boundaries or Otherwise such a tract or Territory Sufficient, and in case the lands so laid off were more than at a future day would be wanting for you. Government might Sell it to others, for as Worthy Citizens you ought to have the preference. There are many Worthy Gentlemen in the House that will be in your favour, and the next Assembly would be a suitable time to have this business Compleated—Government knows very well that they forever would be Stigmatised with Infamy, would they deny such Just and Reasonable Requisitions. I can assure you that if you neglect it there are Numbers who never have Rendered their Country any Service in the field and have made fortunes when you were Spending yours & will, in a Short time, like Vultures preying on a Dead Carcass leave you only the Bones to pick.

Gentlemen by these lines I do not presume to Dictate to you the method that should be pursued knowing you to be better Judges of those Cases than what I pretend to, but take it for Granted that something should Shortly be done to secure your Rights to those Lands. Otherwise it will be difficult for you, at a future Day, to have that Justice done you that your long but much Neglected Services desserve. And its the desire of the Settlers in that Country that the Land Reserved for the Soldiery should be laid off immediately, Distinguished as afsd. Every good Man would zealously assist in having it affected. The small scope of Country Prayed for by the before mentioned petition would not Effect your Claims, there being Millions of Acres both above and below the small Settlement that are as good, if not Preferable. The River extending through such a large fertile Country, from Ohio, with its Meanders and Gentle Streams for Seven or Eight Hundred Miles, makes it an

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Object Worthy your Immediate Notice, and the small Settlement made will rather be a Benefit than a Disadvantage to your settling the Country. Beleave me, Gentlemen, I heartily wish to see Justice done you, and am willing to Render you Exceptable Service.

I am, Gentleman,
Your most obedient,
Humble Servt.,
The Honble. Brigr. Genl.
Jethro Sumner & Officers
of the North Carolina Line.