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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
April 29, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 956-958


Hillsborough, 29th April, 1783.

My Dear Sir:

I take the earliest opportunity to inform you of our proceedings here, as I know you will be anxious to hear what tone we assume.

Before I proceed on what is most material, let me acquaint you that Governor Martin is once more chosen to become chief Magistrate, though opposed by General Caswell, Speaker of the Senate, with all his interest and address. The majority consisted of seventeen. Among others I interested myself warmly for the present Governor, not only from principle, but in opposition to a man who had basely abandoned his important trusts, and deserted his colors in the hour of distress. The man we have chosen is full as well disposed as his competitor, & neither will have any power but what is given them by the Assembly. From my conduct on this occasion I have however made a friend who will do all he can to serve me. I have been not a little instrumental in assembling the two houses to receive his Excellency’s address at the beginning of the session, and in preparing an address to be presented him on his instalment tomorrow. These things have the weight I could wish.

We have a world of business to do; half of which will not be done; at least as it ought. However I believe we shall sit so long, that I shall be detained from New Bern court, which sits the 15th of May. I am one of a grand committee appointed to report and prepare bills of a public nature. One of pardon and oblivion is reported by the committee; and is now in preparation; but I am told by many that it will not pass this Session, unless it is too much clogged with exceptions. However it shall be tried. It cannot well be known what its fate may be until the subject is debated. Allen Jones is warm for it, and indeed every man of common understanding, except those who are interested; of which there are too many. An assessment bill, in which a tax upon stock in trade was proposed, was within one of having that article thrown out; entirely contrary to my expectations; and some members that we are sure of were

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absent. What is remarkable, I got two provisos inserted which will greatly lessen the evil tendency of the bill, should it pass into a law; but I hope to have it thrown out on the third reading. How the Senate will be disposed I cannot say. There are numbers of them strongly against the measure. These circumstances tend to shew that good sense and sound policy will at length prevail, however slow its advance. To my utter mortification Messrs. Johnston & Burke do not attend. They are now on the circuit. The latter indeed has some apology. His finances are greatly deranged. The former has none but the interests of his clients. I will insist that they attend in the future, & I have great hopes of altering the time of the annual assembly. None are against it but those who wish to keep the lawyers away, and these are a small minority.

Whatever may be done at this session with persons in your situation, I think you have nothing to apprehend. I have not heard a whisper of an act of banishment; and there is nothing else that can injure you: The treaty of peace puts a stop to all prosecutions and the principal questions will be, whether the State will pay any regard to those articles which Congress must recommend. Those who have profited or expect to profit by confiscations, are for holding what we have got. The Cape Fear people will not be affected by this if the violent party should succeed. There have been no confiscations but in Bladen county (except such as are named in the act) and that does not affect any but Mr. Burgwin’s property in the county. I have however no doubt but I shall set it aside; as it was in every respect illegal. All who went away at the evacuation of Wilmington may return in safety unless they may have done something to exasperate the people; in which case, there is no answering what violences may be committed.

From what I have said, you will of course make preparations for your return; and I wish to know how soon your affairs would permit that event to take place. Kitty seems to despair of conquering her complaint, and actually informed her mother the day on which I left home, that she would write to you to send for her, as she was persuaded she should not live a month. This distressed and astonished me beyond expression; for she did not look ill, and in company was chatty, and often chearful. When I talked to her in private on that subject, I found that her terrors arose from dreams, which she said

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were dreadful. I endeavoured to persuade her of the folly of her conduct, and told her she ought to consider how many people she would render unhappy by giving way to despondency. She at last promised that she would not mention this subject to you, & at my earnest entreaty, promised to consult Doctor Claypoole. I wrote to her and the doctor from Sampson Hall, and though I have had no letter, heard since that she was as well as usual. I leave you to guess at what I felt at parting from her, and which nothing but the present occasion should have compelled me to.

I am not yet recovered entirely from my complaint, and the constant attention to business is of no service to me.

Yours very sincerely,

Col. Thackston will be able to give you many particulars which my time will not permit.

Edw. Starkey is Speaker of the commons.

Love to Archy. Your brother’s family are well.

I believe we shall have a district court and the seat of Government at Cross Creek.