Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Address by Alexander Martin to the North Carolina General Assembly
Martin, Alexander, 1740-1807
April 19, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 773-776

[From Executive Letter Book.]

April 19th, 1783.

Gentlemen of the General Assembly:

Since the last meeting of the Legislature, a train of great and interesting events have intervened in our political system, which, added to those of the preceeding year, have under Almighty God led at length the power of United America to the summit of her wishes. With the highest pleasure I present you with those communications I have been honored with, for your information, announcing this important event, and the progressive causes previous thereto.

The enemy, after reiterated attempts to subjugate the Southern States, baffled and defeated in almost every enterprise, compelled to retire into the circumscribed limits of the Garrison of Charlestown and Savannah, in despair of continuing a fruitless war, have successively abandoned those posts, and withdrawn their Army, thereby yielding to the States of South Carolina and Georgia the full possession and Sovereignty of all their territories.

The States General of the United Netherlands, viewing with sympathetic eyes the American struggle congenial with their own, after receiving many insults from British pride for this their friendly disposition, concluded a treaty of Amity and commerce with the United States of America, by their respective plenipotentiaries at the Hague, on the eighth day of October last. From the alliance, friendship, commerce with this Nation, whose origin, religion and Government are so similar to our own, we have the highest expectations great reciprocal advantages will be derived, and a harmony of interest cultivated, that will frustrate all the efforts of our enemies from disturbing our union & repose. A copy of the ratification of that Treaty by Congress, as transmitted to me by his Excellency the President, I do myself the honor to lay before you, and with the highest satisfaction congratulate you thereon.

With impatience I hasten to communicate the most important intelligence that has yet arrived in the American era. His Britannic

-------------------- page 774 --------------------
Majesty having acknowledged the United States of America free sovereign and independent, and for himself his Heirs and Successors, relinquished all claims to the Government, with proprietary & territorial rights over the same, at Paris, the 30th of November last, by his Commissioners appointed to treat of peace with the Commissioners of the United States, though not to be concluded until terms of peace shall be agreed upon between Great Britain & France a treaty was signed the 20th Day of January last, that renders the former conclusive, as certified by the papers now before you, transmitted to me from the Minister of foreign affairs and our Delegates in Congress. For this happy and auspicious event, which involves in it a precious inheritance for ages, and all the blessings that can flow from Independent empire, with the most lively, fervent & heart-felt joy I congratulate you, and through you all my fellow Citizens of the State of North Carolina.

Eternal gratitude is due to the generosity and magnanimity of the most Christian King our illustrious Ally, and the brave and mighty Nation over whom he Reigns; for whose prosperity our prayers to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe should not be wanting, for shielding in the hour of distress, a people from oppression, and supporting the rights of humanity, by which and the persevering fortitude of General Washington, the brave and virtuous struggles of the Officers and Soldiers of the American Army, this glorious acquisition was gained; as also a period accelerated which the vicissitudes of Nations, and all human affairs in the old world, long evinced, was travelling fast to the new, which once was wished to have been far distant.

On the causes of this great dismemberment of the Empire of Britain, by which her great pillar has been removed, and her late mighty fabrick shaken to the center, may States and Kingdoms look with awe and tremble for themselves.

Nothing now remains but to enjoy the fruits of uninterrupted Constitutional freedom, the more sweet and precious, as the Tree was planted by virtue; raised by the toil and nurtured by the blood of Heroes.

To you Gentlemen, the representatives of this free & Sovereign Independent State, belongs the task, that in sheathing the sword, you soften the horrors, & repair those ravages which war has made,

-------------------- page 775 --------------------
with a skillful hand, and hereby heal the wounds of your bleeding Country. Our late revolted Citizens who through ignorance & delusion have forfeited their lives, but are endeavouring to expatiate their crimes by new proofs of their fidelity, have fresh claims to your clemency on this happy occasion. No longer distress the Judicial and Executive powers of Government with the trial and execution of wretches beneath the notice of the State; the majesty of the Treason Law should look down only on principal offenders. I therefore recommend that an Act of pardon & oblivion be passed for this class of Men, with certain exceptions of those who have committed crimes out of the Military lines; at the same time that you protect and guard our worthy & deserving Officers, from the prosecutions of malevolence and revenge who in the path of duty for the public defence were compelled to act not strictly justifiable by the rules of war.

In pursuance of a Resolution of the last General Assembly, recommending to me to negotiate with the British Commander in Charlestown exchanges of our Militia and other citizens of the State, in captivity with the enemy late at that place for such of the disaffected of our Inhabitants guilty of Military offences only, I am happy to inform you that some have been effected; and our late suffering people restored to their friends and families.

I present you with a talk which has been addressed to me from one of the Chiefs of the Cherokees, in behalf of himself and all the warriors of the friendly Towns, praying that their lands be ascertained by proper bounds, & protected from intrusion; and that a lasting peace & intercourse be established between them and us. Also two Letters from his Excellency, the Governor of Virginia, on this subject, enclosing two talks from the Cherokees and Chickasaws, requesting the same favour from that State, and his interposition in their behalf to procure them peace & amity with us and our Inhabitants. His Excellency of Virginia and myself have agreed to submit the transactions of Indian affairs to the General Assemblies of our respective States, that whatever Treaty be held, or compact formed the same be conducted under Legislative Authority.

-------------------- page 776 --------------------

Gentlemen of the Honorable the Commons.

Your public accounts remaining yet unsettled, your quotas of the Continental Debt unpaid, and no provision made to discharge the same, demand your serious attention. The requsition of Congress, & the importunities of the Financier on this interesting subject I lay before you. However on this fortunate change of our affairs, new arrangements & plans of finance no doubt, will be adopted by Congress, that may greatly alleviate our burthen. The provision made for the support of the Civil List of Government, has not yet answered the expectations of the Legislature; some collections of the Tax not being made by reasons of some of the persons appointed not accepting the trust, & those who have accepted not accounting for their collections. Your further interposition on this business will be absolutely necessary.


Gentlemen of the General Assembly:

Several of your Laws late passed in hurry, tumult and confusion; call for immediate revision and amendment. General and vague expressions have often embarrassed & led the Courts of Law into error, by which the public as well as Individuals, have been greatly injured. By adjusting your Laws into some regular system of Jurisprudence, you give stability to the Government, and to the Citizen greater protection & Security of his life and property. Let the Laws henceforth be our Sovereign, when stamped with prudence and wisdom, let them be revered and held sacred next to those of Deity.

I scarce need to mention that a General reform in wanting in almost all the Offices of the State at this crisis. Neglect of duty, abuse of power, disobedience of Laws, your monies unaccounted for & public credit almost sunk, all call for your authority and correction; these have weakened the springs of Government, and relaxed their vigor. Ways and means, must be devised by your wisdom to quicken the movements into regularity, and firmly combine the powers, that they all act together for the General good. Happy will be the people, & happy the administration, when all concerned therein contribute to this great end.