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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Hugh Williamson to Alexander Martin
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
July 05, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 80-83

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Edenton, 5th July, 1784.


On the third of June Congress adjourned leaving a Committee of the States to set during the recess. My Colleague was desirous of being on the Committee, and I had many reasons for wishing to

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visit the State. Inclosed are two sheets of the journals which I believe by some accident had not been forwarded.

The Journals on the third of June were printed up to the 26th of May. By this time I presume they are finished. From them you will learn that Congress have left some things undone which I presume the bulk of mankind will think ought to have been done. You will find that some of the Eastern States would not admit that Congress are authorized in time of peace to raise any troops for any purpose whatever, while some of us would not on any account suffer this power to be called in question. You will also find in such haste were the Eastern members to adjourn that they have taken no measures for making peace with the Southern Indians, though a plan for negotiating with those Indians was reported and ready to be passed upon.

I have not seen the act for making a cession of Western Territory but am told to my surprise that no provision is made for passing the Indian expeditions to the credit of the State in its account with the United States. When the State reconsiders this Subject and finds that no attention has been paid to the Southern Indians, and little done for securing the Western frontier, I presume they will at least suspend certain conditions in the Cession. They are certainly too wise to give the power of negotiating good terms out of their own hands. Several very extraordinary claims have lately been made by the Eastern States. Massachusetts claims to be paid for the privateering Penobscot expedition in which they lost 20 or 30 Ships. Connecticut claims to be allowed for defending Greenwich, Groton and New London. New Hampshire and Massachusetts claim to be paid for extra bounties which they gave to troops enlisted towards the end of the War. Some of them received 100 dollars per annum above the usual pay. A grand Committee has reported on all these subjects, but Congress has not passed on the report, for several members, of which number I was, disliked the report throughout. For myself I wished to consult with gentlemen in the State, who are well acquainted with the condition of our accounts and extent of our claims. These being cases in which the Nation is not already bound, I think we may and should consult the particular interest of our State. I would readily indulge those frugal and watchful States provided North Carolina can gain by

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such indulgence. By some future conveyance I shall state my particular objections to the report of the Committee and hope to be favored with your sentiments on the sundry Resolutions. As some millions of dollars are involved in the issue, it should not be passed over lightly.

Are you not possessed of muster rolls or other materials from which we may discover what number of militia of this State have been in service at different periods from the beginning of the revolution? The length of their several tours of duty and the Command under which they served? If other States have raised more Continental troops, perhaps we shall fully balance the acct. by militia in Continental service. Are there any Letters from General Washington, General Gates, or any other Continental officer, calling for militia to defend the Eastern part of this State, on the invasions of Philips and Arnold, 1781, by which the troops under the command of General Gregory at the North East may be passed to Continental acct. As General Gates ws at Hillsborough and the Executive Committee there in October, 1780, when an account of the first invasion came to hand, I presume he may have proposed the turning out of the militia in the Eastern quarter. Are there any orders or requisitions under which the State Regiment or the troops who served separate from General Greene's army viz, near Wilmington or Halifax may be charged to the United States. If we have a right to charge any or all of those tours of duty we shall not accept the credit as a matter of favour; else we must consider whether we can negotiate for them to advantage. An extract from all the Letters from different Continental officers to the Executive of the State from the beginning of the revolution requiring troops of any kind would be of great use to the Delegates. Can such extracts be obtained? The plan for laying off and settling the Western Territory you will find on the Journals. It has not been agreed to in Congress; but is put on the Journals that the public may consider of it before the next meeting. This being our sheet anchor is to be carefully managed. I think the plan proposed will prevent innumerable frauds and enable us to save millions. The general object is to oblige the Surveyors to account for the land by parallels, dotts & meridians. However as I happen to have suggested the plan to the Committee it is more than probable that I may have parental prejudices in its favour. It has at least the merit of being original.

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I am informed that it is the desire of the State that three of the Delegates chosen shall attend together in Congress. Circumstanced as matters are, Several interesting questions depending, to which I have already given some degree of attention, perhaps my services may be as acceptable, and as useful to the State in the next Winter as those of a member perfectly new though his abilities are otherwise greater. On this supposition, and with the utmost desire of discharging the full of my duty to the State, I propose to attend Congress from the first of November till the time of the delegation expires. It may happen that the Committee will be obliged to convene Congress before the time to which they stand adjourned. In such case I propose instantly to attend.

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