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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Thomas Burke to Van Schellebeck & Mailhol
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
March 03, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 530-531


Halifax, March 3rd, 1782.


A Letter under your Signature without date reached me on the fifteenth of last month. It was addressed to Col. Martin, Speaker of the Senate, and refers to a previous Correspondence with him on the affairs entrusted by the General Assembly to the Agency of the Marquis de Bretigny and contained also a proposition for making remittances to Martinique, which would involve this State in a train of Commercial engagements and Operations.

This latter is not within the power of the Executive Department of Government, nor do I deem it expedient for the State to engage in such Operations.

I have Carefully examined the Letters from the Marquis De Bretigny and those from you of the 25th of November, 1781, and the 4th of January, 1782, and cannot, from any of them, learn the precise Quantity and kinds of Stores procured by him on account of this State or the amount of the Debt contracted for them. These are essential to be known in order that provision may be made for payment, nor is it all agreeable to the method of Business to be making payments in Commodities without prices ascertained and a knowledge of our Engagements.

As I am not furnished with copies of Letters written by the Speaker of the Senate on this Subject I cannot have precise Ideas of the arrangements made by him relatively thereto, and I doubt not they were proper and Judicious, I shall make no Interposition that may prevent his Intentions. But as I do not know that any of the Funds provided by the General Assembly at their last Session were appropriated to the Discharge of the Debt which the Marquis might Contract on account of the State, I do not know that it is in my power to apply them to that Object without previous directions from the Legislature.

To the next Session of the General Assembly, therefore, must this Matter be referred, and the precise Information relative to the Stores and their amount which I have mentioned above, ought to

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be in readiness to be laid before them. My Opinion is that they expected to make payments here of a precise amount to the Agents of the Creditors, whether public or private, but were very far from intending to engage in the speculations of trade, to which our Government is not adapted.

I have not any Letter of Marque Commissions, otherwise I should have sent that which you request. Your particular account shall be laid before the General Assembly, who will doubtless take proper order thereon.

I am Gentm.,
Your very Obt. Servt.,