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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Richard Dobbs Spaight to Alexander Martin
Spaight, Richard Dobbs, 1758-1802
March 12, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 20-21

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[From Executive Letter Book.]

Annapolis, 12th March, 1784.


Your letter of the 21st of January to the Delegation was received ten or twelve days ago. The ratification of the definitive Treaty was forwarded to you by the Secretary of Congress. Congress have not as yet passed any resolve or recommendation in consequence of our trade to the British West Indies being prohibited in other than British bottoms. I have not seen the Virginia Law you mentioned, respecting the British trade; the Assembly of this State at their last Session past an Act laying a duty of 5 p. Cent. over and above the duties paid by other nations, upon all British goods imported in British bottoms, and five Shillings per Ton on all British Shipping—and have also authorised their Delegates in Congress to agree to and ratify an additional article or articles to the confederation for vesting the United States in Congress assembled with sufficient power to regulate the trade of the United States; which shall be in force and binding on them as soon as the other States have ratified the same.

On Saturday last arrived the Washington Capt. Barney from France, by her we received letters from Doctor Franklin as late as the 25th December of which the following are extracts. “The affairs “of Ireland are unsettled; the Parliament and volunteers at variance; “the latter are uneasy, that in the late negotiation for a treaty of “Commerce between England and America, the British Ministry “had made no mention of Ireland, and they seem to desire a separate treaty between America and that Kingdom.

“With respect to the British Court we should I think be constantly on our guard, and impress strongly on our minds, that tho' “it has made peace with us, it is not in truth reconciled either to “us, or the loss of us; but still flatters itself with hopes, that some “change in the affairs of Europe, or some division among ourselves “may afford them an opportunity of recovering their dominion, punishing those who have most offended, and securing our future dependence. It is easy to see by the general turn of the ministerial “newspapers; (light things indeed, as straws and feathers but like

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“them they shew which way the wind blows) and by the malignant “improvements their ministers make in the foreign Courts of every “little accident or dissension among us; the riot of a few soldiers in “Philadelphia, the resolves of some Town meetings, the reluctance “to pay taxes, &c., &c., all which are exaggerated to represent our “Governments as so many anarchies, of which the people themselves are weary, the Congress as having lost its influence being no “longer respected; I say it is easy to see from this conduct that they “bear us no good will, and that they wish the reality of what they “are pleased to imagine. They have too a numerous royal progeny “to provide for, some of whom are educated in the Military line. In “these circumstances we cannot be too careful to preserve the friend “ship we have acquired abroad and the union we have established “at home to secure our credit by a punctual discharge of our obligations of every kind, and our reputation by the wisdom of our “Councils since we know not how soon we may have a fresh occasion “for friends, for credit and for reputation.”

As I make no doubt but that the attention of the General Assembly has been called to the restoration of the property of the refugees, in consequence of the 5th article of the definitive Treaty; I think it my duty to transmit to your Excellency Copies of two Letters which passed between our Commissioners & the British Commissioner previous to the signing of the provisional articles: It plainly appears from these that the restoration of the property of the refugees, or compensation for the same was never intended to be made by our Commissioners nor expected by the British.

I am your Excellency's most obedient, &c.,