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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
February 09, 1783 - February 12, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 932-936


Sunday, 9th Febry., 1783.

My Dear Sir:

On my arrival at home last Thursday, I found your letter of 30th Jany. the anniversary of a martyr who is no longer memorable; from whence I conclude that the church of England, as well as the church of Rome is on the decline. I hope however that is not the case with all her sons.

What you heard of our Assembly not meeting is true. And notwithstanding the suspence it occasions, I think it a happy circumstance upon the whole. However I have little doubt but an act of pardon would have passed, clogged however with too many exceptions. You would have had nothing to fear, nor, in my opinion, Mr. London, though some are so foolish as to trump up his former admission which in fact amounts to little or nothing. I do not think the other gentlemen in Charleston have so much to fear as a few who are with us. ’Tis true, that having refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the State, they are confessedly British subjects; and under the resolve of Congress that recommends an exclusion of them during the war, they may at present meet with some difficulties; but that will be soon over. It is past a doubt that a Congress of ministers from the belligerent powers are now sitting at Paris (if they have not already finished their work) and that the plenipotentiaries from America are acknowledged as the representatives of free and independent States.

I am wonderfully pleased with the plain good sense of Judge Burke’s pamphlet, and I ardently wish we could have a cargo of them distributed in this State; particularly the back country. It seems to be a hasty, and, as to the style and diction, an unfinished piece but the humanity, good policy, and sound reason with which it abounds amply make amends for these trivial defects, which will not even be observed by the people in general. I have been long convinced of the necessity of such a performance among ourselves, and however unequal to the task, if I had any leisure, and there

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was a printing press at hand, I believe I should endeavor to hammer out something of the kind, suited more particularly to our own transactions. One principal difficulty would be to conceal my indignation from breaking out into virulence.

I am now engaged in an admiralty suit. Tomorrow I expect a libel will be exhibited against a ship and a large cargo of rum & sugar, the property (late) of John Cruden & others. You have no doubt heard of her arrival here with Lord Charles Montague & others. This piece of treachery is one of the blessed effects of the present war, wherein both parties seemed to have combined in driving all morals out of society.

Let Mr. London know that I have not a moment’s leisure after writing to you, to acknowledge his several favors. He and the other gentlemen who wish to return here, may depend upon my attentions to their interests; for though my politics and theirs have clashed greviously, I would much rather have them among us in this stage of the war, than many that shall be nameless. Besides, in religion & politics, there is no accounting for opinion, & I only now act by them in the manner I could have wished that they should have done by me, if the late British ministry had had common sense.

I think it a good omen, if true, that the Assembly of S. Carolina have chosen Mr. Bee for their Governor. When he was here, he breathed nothing but moderation and I am told that the Assembly of Georgia, sensible of their former errors, have done everything that could be expected. If the former should adopt maxims of sound policy, it must add to the soreness which Mr. R—— must have felt from the Judge’s lash. Considering him as a man of understanding and a lawyer, he has got a most damnable flagellation.

I am truly concerned that I cannot advise you what to do with your goods. The winter season here, as well as with you, is nearly over. You could not have waggons to Georgetown in any time for a sale of your coarse articles; & if they were on the spot, you could not now expect to sell them for cash or tobacco. Had you removed with them, or sent them here as soon as the garrison left Charlestown, you might have had some chance; but it is too late to think of it for such pay as you wish to receive. Your tradesmens and plantation tools, linens and probably some woolens would sell by

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retail; but little money could be expected, & tobacco only in small quantities.

I shall endeavor and am preparing to supply your wants; but Gaillard is now busy bringing up the prize cargo from below so that I do not yet know when he will think of returning, but it will be all up in two or three days. I have received the several articles which you were kind enough to send by him, and only lament that there were so few; but the reason for not sending more is a good one. I also lament that there is no snuff. I want two pieces more of negroe cloth for the Marsh plantation; the tools I formerly mentioned; a few of the most common carpenter’s tools, another piece of sheeting (this is much too fine) some table cloths; plates and dishes, basons (some pewter ones) and utensils for chambers, and a a box of glass 10 by 8. I also want two or three kegs of paint, a piece of middling linen for shirts, long lawn for a dozen stocks, two or three reams of writing paper; a dozen of pocket handkerchiefs, red ground, silk or linen, half a dozen pair of silk stockings, and a pair of buckskin gloves. These are my wants; but remember I do not wish you to supply them with loss or inconvenience to yourself. While I think of it, what had Bradley to pay for the negroes confined in the sugar house? And how long were they there? Was there anything beside 11 (?) Sterl. pr. day? The rascal charges £10 for cash. He bought one of Genl. Howe’s, & one of J. Sampson’s. The latter I have bought.

Since my return home, I have heard that that foolish creature Jack Moore has wrote to you and your brother that this State would claim its fugitives. Where he got this, I do not know. I am sure it is not generally adopted. Perhaps some fiery and avaricious spirits may think of such a scheme; but if it is ever proposed in earnest, I am persuaded the intention will be to get your property not your persons. However I have every reason to believe it will not succeed.

I was a week and better with your brother Will at Hillsborough. The weather detained me part of the time. He does not now throw out any thing violent before me; but I sometimes hear of him in that way. He is proposed as a candidate for the place; but the mechanics are caballing against him. Col. Clark has been at the point of

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death; but I left him so far recovered as to walk about his chamber, & even to come out of it.

Kitty seems to be gaining strength and spirits. Her looks are much improved since my return; & Poll is as hearty as a buck, & begins to be acquainted with me. My love to Archy, and tell him I say he must mind his book. I hear he says that he has changed sides as well as you, & that he knows that I will love him for it. I suppose Peg has tutored him.

What becomes now of your partiality to that worthless scoundrel Jupiter? I hope however that you will be able to get him back, & sell him and his blinking sister, which I suppose you may do to advantage. At least I would get rid of her.

I forgot glasses, decanters, tea ware & china bowls, as well as half a dozen stock locks, & a large barn door lock. A leathern portmanteau trunk.

While I was at Hillsborough the Governor informed me that he had given your friend, J. W. (the present member for Wilmington) a power to demand and receive all the confiscated property belonging to this State in S. Carolina & Georgia, upon a suggestion that there were in those States 50 or 60 negroes. I suppose he has letters addressed to the Governors. I could not recollect, and I told the Governor so, any such property, unless Gordon’s negroes should be looked upon as such; & besides that his estate could not be legally forfeited, I knew that those negroes were claimed by others; our chief magistrate is daily doing imprudent things, to say no worse. Sometimes, perhaps, contrary to his own judgement. He takes infinite pains not to offend any one in whose power it is to contribute to his continuance in office. I did not imagine that this manœvure of the major’s was of consequence enough to require a moment’s thought; but it has been conjectured and I think with great probability, that he proposes to claim all the property of persons in your situation. He cannot have in view any thing of the tenth part of the consequence. At present he is busy about the prize, having purchased some shares. This may perhaps detain him here some time; perhaps prevent his going. Possibly he may write, and send his credentials. I wish you to be prepared for him, so that he may have a reception suitable to his merits. If Mr. Bee

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is your Governor I will prevail upon B. Smith to prepare him for this patriotic business.

There is in this neighbourhood (and he was here before the arrival of the British at Wilmington) a negroe fellow who calls himself Jack. He is a stout able negroe nearly if not altogether six feet high. He says he belonged to a Mrs. Francis Edwards of Georgia, & was taken and carried into Charleston with his master, who died on board a prison ship. His mistress’ name Ann. If this is true you can readily hear of the owner.

Mrs. Maclaine desires me to add to my long list, something for a summer gown, & some kenting handkerchiefs. Articles perhaps more necessary than many which I have enumerated. Possibly it may come in your way to send me some Cassimer for a suit of clothes, some worsted patterns for breeches, & some kind of dark silk for summer wastecoats. You will perceive how readily I have taken the hint for a summer dress.

It is now Wednesday the 12th February when I finish my letter, though I began so many days ago.

I am with great truth, Yours,

My compliments to your brother.