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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Benjamin Hawkins to Alexander Martin
Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816
June 24, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 836-837

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, June 24th, 1783.


We have long since wished to be able to give your Excellency some certain information respecting the definitive Treaty; and the more so, as it has never been in our power to explain the provisional one, which we observed in a former Letter. Congress were for some time in uncertainty whether to ratify or not, but finally they did ratify it and sent it to be exchanged if necessary. Since which til this week we have not had any dispatches from our Ministers, and now we have not any assurances that the definitive Treaty will be speedily compleated or that the posts in the United States will be evacuated sooner than “with all convenient speed” of which the British seem to be the judges. In April Mr. Fox told Mr. Laurens who complained of their tardiness that orders should be sent immediately to Sir Guy Carlton to evacuate New York and he would furnish a Copy of the order to our Ministers at Paris.

Congress have received a Copy of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce entered into on the 3rd day of April with the King of Sweden, it is in French, and as far as I could judge at first reading agreeably to our instructions in every point, a perfect equality and reciprocity. As soon as it is ratified a Copy will be sent on to you.

On Saturday about 12 o’clock two hundred and eighty armed Soldiers led by Serjeants marched to and surrounded the State House while six States were there and several other members and the President and Council of this State. They sent in a very indecent letter to the latter, demanding an answer in fifteen minutes or they would let in an enraged Soldiery on them, about three o’clock the members of Congress returned to their respective Houses without meeting any personal insult, and a short time after the Soldiers returned to the Barracks. Congress have expressed their sense of this mutiny and insult, to the Executive who are either too timid or

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undecisive to quell the mutiny and bring the heads of the mutineers to punishment, and what is more surprising and perhaps fatal to the Union, it is said that there could not be a force collected in this City to effect it. In this State of things what can Congress do, without the means of paying those Debts they Constitutionally contracted for the safety of the United States, responsible for every thing, and unable to do any thing, hated by the public creditors, insulted by the Soldiery and unsupported by the citizens?

There are but seven States in Congress now and altho’ we have repeatedly written to the States to send up Delegates, yet we cannot get enough to ratify the Treaty of Commerce with Sweden, and to fix the Peace establishment or in short to do any business pending before Congress.

I am now living on Credit, and if it should not be in the power of your Excellency to furnish money for us, I shall be in a very disagreeable as well as disgraceful situation in a short time.

I have the honor to be, &c.,
His Excellency Governor Martin.