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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Address from Richard Caswell to the inhabitants of Sullivan, Greene, Washington, and Hawkins Counties, including circular letter from Caswell to the commanding officers of the counties
Caswell, Richard, 1729-1789
May 31, 1787
Volume 20, Pages 707-709


To the Inhabitants of the Counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Hawkins:

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

I have received information that the former Contention between the Citizens of those Counties respecting the severing such Counties from this State & erecting them into a separate, Free and Independent Government, hath been again revived notwithstanding the lenient & salutary measures held out to them by the General Assembly in their last Session, & some have been so far misled as openly & avowedly to oppose the due operation & execution of the Laws of the State, menacing & threatening such as should adhere to the same with violence; and some outrages on such occasions have been actually Committed whereby sundry of the good Citizens of the said Counties have been induced to signify to Government their apprehensions of being obliged to have recourse to arms in order to support the Laws and Constitution of this State.

And notwithstanding the conduct and Behaviour of some of the refractory might Justify such a measure, yet I am willing to hope that upon reflection and due consideration of the Consequences which must issue in case of the shedding of blood among yourselves, a moment’s thought must evince the necessity of Mutual Friendship and the Ties of Brotherly love being strongly cemented among you. You have, or shortly will have if my information is well grounded, enemies to deal with which may require this cement to be more strong than ever; your whole force may become necessary to be exerted against the common enemy as ’tis more than probable they may be assisted by the subjects of some foreign power, if not publicly they

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will furnish arms and ammunition privately to the Indian tribes to be made use of against you, and when your neighbors are so supported and assisted by the Northern and Southern Indians, if you should be so unhappy as to be divided among yourselves what may you not then apprehend? I dread the event.

Let me entreat you to lay aside your party disputes, they have been as I conceive and yet believe will be if continued, of very great disadvantage to your public as well as private concerns whilst those disputes last. Government will want that energy which is necessary to support her Laws & Civilization in place of which anarchy and confusion will be prevalent & of course private interest must suffer.

It certainly would be sound policy in you for other reasons to unite. The General Assembly have told you whenever your wealth and numbers so much increase as to make a separation necessary they will be willing the same shall take place upon Friendly & reciprocal Terms; is there an individual in your Country who does not look forward in expectation of such a day’s arriving. If that is the case must not every thinking man believe that this separation will be soonest and most effectually obtained by unanimity. Let that carry you to the quiet submission to the Laws of No. Carolina, till your numbers will justify a General application & then I have no doubt but the same may be obtained upon the principles held out by the Assembly, nay ’tis my opinion that it may be obtained at an earlier day than some imagine, if unanimity prevailed amongst you.

Altho’ this is an official Letter, yet you will readily see that it is dictated by a friendly and pacific mind, don’t neglect my advice on that account, if you do you may repent it when ’tis too late, when the Blood of some of your dearest and worthiest Citizens may have been spilt and your Country laid waste in an unnatural and Cruel Civil War, and you Cannot suppose, if such an event should take place, that Government will supinely look on and see you Cutting each other’s throats without interfering and exerting her powers to reduce the disobedient.

I will conclude by once more entreating you to Consider the dreadful Calamities and Consequences of a Cruel War. Humanity demands this of me, your own good sence will point out the propriety of it; at least let all animosities & disputes subside till the next Assembly, even let things remain as they are without pursuing Compulsory measures until then. I flatter myself that Honorable body

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will be disposed to do what is just and right and what sound policy may dictate.

Given under my hand & seal at Kinston, the 31st day of May, 1787.


(From Executive Letter Book.)

Kinston, May 31st, 1787.



Enclosed is a Letter by me addressed to the Inhabitants of the Counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Hawkins which I request you will be pleased to make public in your County, the design is to Conciliate the minds of the people, if possible.

I am very respectfully Sir,
Your most obedt. Servant,