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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from the Franklin [state] General Assembly to Alexander Martin
Franklin. General Assembly
February 22, 1785
Volume 17, Pages 601-604


Jonesboro, 22nd February, 1785.


Your Letter of the 27th February, 1785, to His Excellency Governor Sevier, favored by Major Henderson, was laid before the General Assembly of the State of Franklin by the Governor.

We think it our duty to communicate to you the sense of the people of this State. We observe your Excellency's candour in informing us that the reason North Carolina repealed the Cession Act was because the sense of Congress was to allow the State of North Carolina nothing for the land ceded. The truth of that assertion we will not undertake to determine; but we humbly conceive the terms on which Congress was impowered to accept the cession was fully expressed in the Cession Act itself, consequently every reason existed for it not passing the Cession Act that could have existed for the repeal, except that of doing justice to the United States in general, who upon every principle of natural justice are equally entitled to the lands that have been conquered by our joint efforts.

We humbly thank North Carolina for every sentiment of regard she has for us; but are sorry to observe that it is founded upon principles of interest, as is apparent from the tenor of your Excellency's Letter. We are therefore doubtful when the cause ceases which is the basis of your affection, we shall consequently lose your esteem.

Sir, reflect upon the language of some of the most eminent members in the General Assembly of North Carolina at the last Spring Session, when the members from the Western Country were supplicating

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to be continued a part of your State. Were not these their epithets? “The Inhabitants of the Western Country are the offscourings of the Earth, fugitives from justice, and we will be rid of them at any rate.” The members of the Western Country upon hearing these unjust reproaches, and being convinced that it was the sense of the General Assembly to get rid of them, consulted each other and concluded it was best to appear reconciled with the measures in order to obtain the best terms they could, and were much astonished to see North Carolina immediately on passing the act of Cession enter into a resolve to stop the goods that they by act of the General Assembly had promised to give the Indians for the lands they had taken from them and sold for the use of the State. The inadequate allowance made the judges who were appointed to attend the Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction, and who had to travel over the Mountains, amounted to a prohibition as to the administration of Justice in this quarter, and although the Judge appointed on this side the Mountains might from the regard he had for the administration of Justice in the Cumberland Country have held a Court there, yet as your Excellency failed to grant him a Commission agreeable to the act of Assembly, he could not have performed that service had he been ever so desirous of doing it; in short, the Western Country found themselves taxed to support the Government, while they were deprived of all the Blessings of it, not to mention the injustice done them in taxing their lands, which lie five hundred miles from trade, equal to land of the same quality on the Seashore. The frequent murders committed by the Indians on our frontiers have compelled us to think on some plan of defence. How far North Carolina has been accessory to these murders we will not pretend to say. We know she took the lands the Indians claimed, promised to pay them for it, and again resolved not to do it, and that in consequence of that resolve the goods were stopped. You say it has been suggested that the Indian goods are to be seized and the Commissioners arrested when they arrive on the business of the treaty.

We are happy to inform you that that suggestion is false, groundless and without the least foundation.

We are certain you cannot pretend to fault us that the goods are stopped by a Resolve of the Assembly of your State. And if your

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State are determined to evade their promise to the Indians we entreat you not to lay the blame upon us who are entirely innocent and determined to remain so. It is true we have declared ourselves a free and Independent State, and pledged our honors, confirmed by a Solemn Oath, to Support, maintain and defend the Same. But we had not the most distant Idea that we should have incurred the least displeasure from North Carolina, who compelled us to the measure; and to convince her that we still retain our affection for her, the first Law we enacted was to secure and confirm all the rights granted under the Laws of North Carolina in the same manner as if we had not declared ourselves an Independent State; have patternized her Constitution and Laws, and hope her assistance and influence in Congress to precipitate our reception into the federal union. Should our sanguine hopes be blasted we are determined never to desert that independence which we are bound by every sacred tie of honor and religion to Support. We are induced to think North Carolina will not blame us for endeavoring to promote our own Interest and happiness, while we do not attempt to abridge hers, and appeal to the impartial World to determine whether we have deserted North Carolina, or North Carolina deserted us.

You will be pleased to lay these our Sentiments before the General Assembly, whom we beg leave to assure that should they ever need our assistance, we shall always be ready to render them any service in our power, and hope to find the same sentiments prevailing in them towards us; and we hereinto annex the reasons that induced the Convention to a declaration of Independence, which are as follows:

1st. That the Constitution of North Carolina declared that it shall be justifiable to erect New States Westward whenever the consent of the Legislature shall countenance it, and this consent is implied, we conceive, in the Cession Act, which has thrown us into such a situation that the influence of the Law in common cases became almost a nullity, and in criminal jurisdiction had entirely ceased, which reduced us to the verge of anarchy.

2nd. The Assembly of North Carolina have detained a certain quantity of goods, which was procured to satisfy the Indians for the lands we possess, which detinue we fully conceive has so exasperated

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them that they have actually committed hostilities upon us, and we are alone impelled to defend ourselves from their ravages.

3rd. The resolutions of Congress have held out from time to time encouraging the erection of new States have appeared to us ample encouragement.

4th. Our local situation is such that we not only apprehend we should be separated from North Carolina, but almost every sensible disinterested traveler has declared it incompatible with our interest to belong in union with the Eastern part of the State, for we are not only far removed from the Eastern parts of North Carolina, but separated from them by high and almost impassable Mountains, which naturally divide us from them, have proved to us that our interest is also in many respects distinct from the Inhabitants on the other side, and much injured by an union with them.

5th. We unanimously agree that our lives, liberties and property can be more secure and our happiness much better propagated by our Separation, and consequently that it is our duty and unalienable right to form ourselves into a new Independent State.

We beg leave to subscribe ourselves,
Your Excellency's, &c.,
By order of the General Assembly.