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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Blount, Benjamin Hawkins, and John Baptist Ashe to Richard Caswell
Ashe, John Baptista, 1748-1802; Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816; Blount, William, 1749-1800
April 18, 1787
Volume 20, Pages 676-679

(From Executive Letter Book.)

New York, April 18th, 1787.

Dear Sir:

We have laid the papers respecting the seizure and Confiscation of the Property of Mr. Amis before Congress in Obedience to the Commands

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of the Legislature, and it will probably be productive of some good to our Western Citizens, thereupon such a representation will be made in this business Comprising in a General point of view our entire claim to the Navigation of the Mississippi and the prospects of the citizens there founded on this their right, as will eventually lead, we trust, Congress to the adoption of some uniform decisive line of policy with Spain. The State of this business as Communicated by our predecessors to the Legislature is highly reprehensible, and those active therein in some Measure desirous of finding a means to extricate themselves from their embarrassment; we shall do every thing in our power to facilitate it, as we foresee consequences serious & alarming to the peace & happiness of our Western citizens and eventually of all the United States. Virginia and New Jersey have instructed their Delegates in terms similar to ours, & the Gentlemen now in Congress independent in their instructions are in opinion with us. We have received some Resolutions, or rather a report of a committee concurred with by our Legislature on the propriety of keeping up some Troops in Davidson County to prevent the Indians from taking any hostile resolutions in aid of the Northern tribes, and we are instructed to lay before the United States of America in ConCitizens it would be presumed to have been proper so to have to continue the same in service while the necessity exist. Your Excellency will readily see an ambiguity here which is very embarrassing to us, for if Congress are to judge of the necessity their Troops are not Necessary as the Necessity does not exist, Congress having lately thought proper to discharge all the Troops raised under the Resolution of October last except two Companies of Artillery as Guards for the Magazine at Springfield and at West Point and on the other hand if the Legislature have views of their own & are of opinion that Troops are necessary for the protection of our western Citizens it would be presumed to say to have been proper so to hvae instructed that we could bring forward the measure and obtain if practicable the Concurrence of Congress with the State. We have to request that if any other resolutions or Acts of the Assembly will throw any light on this business they may be sent forward as early as practicable. Congress have been necessitated to examine the infractions of the Treaty of peace with Great Britain and to express themselves after a dispassionate & deliberate examination in a firm, decisive and unequivocal manner. The Resolutions thereon & letter
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of Congress Accompanying the same, will be forwarded this post to your Excellency from the Office of the Secretary of Congress. To add any thing on our parts to a subject so properly treated would be improper because unnecessary. We have no information from Great Britain that gives room except a Commercial Treaty with them, our disunion in grand National points has induced Britain to suppose she can avail herself of any advantages which can be derived from us in the way of Commerce without a reciprocity on her part, and we doubt not she will continue her nefarious Schemes until she discovers that we are capable of seeing and feeling as a Nation. When this most desirable period will arise is a question incapable of solution from present Prospects, although the present are more bright and promising than we did believe they would be for some time past.

France is invariably and unchangeably our friend, they have already made several alterations favourable to us & a Committee is appointed to report other favourable regulations as may be most beneficial to our Commerce; of these you shall be informed from time to time as they Occur.

The present period is a very important one for France. The King has called a Convention of the Notables and they will have met some time early in February, and in addition she has lost the Comte de Vergennes, which is the greater loss as it happened during this critical poise of European politics. He was the friend of America and a very dear one to us, we lost a man who dared to espouse the cause of freedom in opposition to the bigotry of the Clergy and the Tyranny of the Rulers of the Earth. His successor is not yet announced, but we have hopes it will be M. de Montmorin, who is of very great abilities and firm in his friendly disposition towards us. Mr. Barclay has concluded a Treaty with the Emperor of Morocco and as soon as it is ratified it will be sent forward to you. Our Negotiator has through the whole of this transaction discovered much good sense and a pointed attention, to the Rights & interest of the United States. At Algiers we have not been so fortunate and various are the causes ascribed to the failure, three of which only we subscribe to the unskillfulness of the Negotiator, the poverty of the United States, and the very unfriendly opposition given by the British there. They have Twenty-one prisoners, several of whom are

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actually employed as slaves in the Marine, and the Remainder variously employed, some in the household of the Dey, &c.

We have the honor to be with great and sincere esteem, Dear Sir,
Your Excellency’s
Obedient Servants,