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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Richard Dobbs Spaight to Richard Caswell
Spaight, Richard Dobbs, 1758-1802
June 05, 1785
Volume 17, Pages 464-466

[From Executive Letter Book.]

New York, 5th June, 1785.


On the 15th of May Mr. Cocke arrived here in the Character of Agent, for the inhabitants of the Counties of Washington, Greene & Sullivan whom it appears have declared themselves an Independent State by the Title of “The State of Franklin.” The day following he presented to the President of Congress a Memorial from the Assembly of That State praying Congress to accept the cession of North Carolina and to admit them into the Union. The Memorial was laid before Congress, and read but no order either moved or taken, on it; a Copy of the Memorial I enclose to your Excellency.

A Day or two after a motion was made by a Delegate from Massachusetts, that the Acts of the General Assembly of the State of No. Carolina, granting and repealing the Cession, should be referred to a Committee in order that they might report whether it had, or had not a right to accept the Cession or whether it was not still binding upon the State, notwithstanding the repealing Act. They were accordingly committed and a report made on

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the 20th May. Contrary to the established rule, the report was taken up, and acted on, the same day, without allowing any time for Consideration or giving any notice to the Members from this State. As I had been indisposed for some time before and was at that time far from being well, I was not in Congres, tho' if I had known that that subject would have been before the House I should certainly have been there. Notwithstanding I think that Congress have in this instance treated the State and myself with a great degree of indelicacy, I shall only observe upon their proceedings, that in my opinion too great an avidity, in a part of Congress, for Western Territory has hurried them into a measure, the consequences of which they have not considered, and I am sure in their cooler moments and abstracted from Interested Motives they would condemn. A copy of the report and proceedings thereon I enclose to your Excellency. The Report does not do much Credit to the abilities of the Gentlemen who drew it, tho' it convinces me that my opinion is right “that they are willing to have the Lands on any terms,” as the latter clause, which is the only one agreed to, is an absolute contradiction to every other part of it.

I enclose your Excellency a note I received from Mr. de Marbois respecting the debt due by the State to the Government of Martinique.

I forward to your Excellency the Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of the Lands in the Western Territory. In my opinion it never will aswer the end proposed for before this formal and hitherto unheard of plan can be carried into execution the Lands will be possessed by persons who have already and are daily crossing the Ohio in great numbers, so as to put the United States to more expence to dispossess them than the soil will afterwards sell for.

The State of South Carolina have applied to Congress, for a Fœderal Court to determine the dispute about Jurisdiction and Territory subsisting between them and the State of Georgia. They claim all the Territory lying to the Northward of a due west line to be drawn from what they call the head of the River Savannah (that is where the Tugelo and Kiowee join, where it takes the name of Savannah) to the Mississippi and to the South of our line: and all the territory lying to the South of the Altamaha and a due West line to

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be drawn from the head of that River to the Mississippi and to the north of the Floridas as bounded by the treaty.

North Carolina has not been represented since Dr. Williamson's time expired nor do I hear any acco'ts of the other delegates coming. I shall leave this city in a few days to return home.

The requisition from the present year is not made, and several other important matters remain to be acted on from which I am led to believe that Congress will not have a recess this summer.

I have the honour to be your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Serv't.,