Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Address from Alexander Martin to the North Carolina General Assembly
Martin, Alexander, 1740-1807
October 26, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 551-554

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Oct. 26th, 1875.

Gentlemen of the Honorable the General Assembly:

The dispatches of a public nature which I received in the late recess of the Legislature, I do myself the honor to lay before you; the most important matters they announce are the following:

That the ratification of the definitive Treaty between the United States of America & his Britannic Majesty, was exchanged in due form upon the 12th day of May last.

That his most Christian Majesty has been pleased to give the

-------------------- page 552 --------------------
United States fresh assurances and proofs of his affection, by making L'Orient & Bayonne free ports, with equal privileges as that of Dunkirk, for the reception of the Ships and Merchandize of all Nations, but more particularly calculated for the encouragement of the American commerce. His Majesty has also signified his intentions of opening the ports of his Islands of France & Bourbon to our Ships in order to facilitate their long voyages to the East Indies. The Resolutions of Congress, the Letters from his Excellency the President and Secretary of that Honbl. Body, from the Financier, and from our Delegates in particular, contain certain matters of interesting information, which call for your attention and deliberation suitable to their importance. As several great objects of Legislation were left undetermined the last Session of Assembly, which concern the peace establishment of the United republic & this State, I shall again submit to the Legislature those papers containing subjects, which for their importance were deemed more expedient to be postponed to a future day, that may be now proper for your discussion. Since the declaration of peace our Militia have generally relaxed from all kind of discipline, judging that as the late storm is over, the danger is past, and the necessity of Military regulations ceases. But in Peace or War, to be always ready is a maxim in the polity of all well regulated States, and as our Militia must now be our only defence & security in cases of invasion & insurrection, were they properly arranged, they might produce a very respectable force, and answer all the purposes of a standing army, without the inconvenience & expence. The Militia Law, as it now stands, being calculated for the times of the late war, becomes in a great measure obsolete, and in applicable to the peace establishment of the State. I beg leave to recommend that our Militia be new arranged & organized in such form as will give us security at home, and bid defiance to our enemies abroad.

Permit me to remind you of the necessity of having the boundary with our sister State of South Carolina, claimed in our Bill of Rights ascertained with some precision the earliest opportunity; that the Inhabitants of the disputed territory may know to what State they owe allegiance, from whom they are to derive titles to their lands, and whose revenue they are bound to support.

I submit to your consideration the Inspection and Impost Laws.

-------------------- page 553 --------------------
Some amendments seem to be necessary fully to effect the beneficial intentions of the Legislature, that by the first, bad commodities may be prevented from being transported to foreign markets, and by the latter a smuggling trade detected & checked, should the same be attempted; which in the present style of the Law may be carried on with impunity. An enquiry into the state of your revenue becomes greatly necessary at this crisis, as a considerable part of the last, and the preceding years collection of the taxes hath not reached the purposes intended by the Legislature. The indulgences given, the abuses of public trust, in some of the districts, by those conducting the public money business, call for your interposition & correction.

As Religion by the powerful arguments of future rewards and punishments, is a great incitement to virtue and restraint upon vice, by whose solemnities the heart is searched, truth discovered, and integrity in office guarded; which ever hath been deemed the first great pillar in Government, and on which the Laws rest their chief support, let me again urge to the Legislature the propriety of making some provision for the support of men of abilities, of pious and orderly life, regularly called to minister in the affairs of religion, in such a manner that no preference be given to any denomination, or be contradictory to the principles of the Constitution.

Your Schools of learning, your produce, your trade and navigation, are objects of Legislative attention, which cannot be too often repeated and held up to your view; that the mist of ignorance be dissipated and good morals cultivated, that the planter, Mechanic and fair trader be encouraged to prosecute their different plans of industry and traffic, to their reciprocal profit and satisfaction; that the several improvements which kind nature seems to point out may be made in the different parts of the State, be undertaken and accelerated for the general good.

The above with other National and Internal concerns, I submit to your wisdom to discuss, as they appear more or less interesting, and as time and leisure will give you opportunity.

Let it not be deemed dictating to the Legislature, or officiously obtruding sentiments on them, from ostentation or pride of office, when the importance of the above subjects is urged to them from one in whom they have placed the high confidence of the management

-------------------- page 554 --------------------
of their public affairs for war three years past, who feels himself too much interested in the welfare of his Country as a Citizen to be silent on those great concerns which he conceives affects the ease and honor of the future administration, and on which the happiness and prosperity of the State depend. As he considers it the most fortunate circumstance in his life, that the greatest event that ever took place in the new world, The Revolution of those States, was gloriously completed during his administration over one in importance by no means the least in the Union whose arms have borne a conspicuous part in this great enterprise, whose Citizens have been and ever will be dear to him, whom he hath seen with pleasure emerge from tumult nnd confusion into order and regularity, he cannot therefore be indifferent in their future Government, but ardently wishes, now near the close of office, to see some of those establishments formed, which may tend to give greater dignity to the State, to secure to the latest period the rights and privileges of a free people, and the enjoyment of those blessings which contribute to their happiness.

Yours, &c.,