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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Richard Caswell to Evan Shelby
Caswell, Richard, 1729-1789
May 31, 1787
Volume 20, Pages 710-712

(From Executive Letter Book.)

Kinston, May 31st, 1787.


Your Letter of the 4th Current came to my hands the 19th; the Superior Court was to set the 21st at New Bern, I therefore tho’t that place the most suitable & convenient for the meeting of the Council and accordingly summoned them there the 22d, but it was the 28th before a Board was formed, which has occasioned the detaining

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of your Express to whom I have advanced twenty-four pounds.

I stated the situation of your Country to the Council and laid your Letter & every other information I possessed respecting the same before them for advice, the result of their deliberations I had the honor of enclosing you a Copy of, they may not answer your Expectation but I hope will prove satisfactory when I inform you upon what principles they acted. They think it would be very imprudent to add to the dissatisfaction of the people there by shewing a wish to encourage the shedding of blood as thereby a Civil War would eventually be brought on, which ought at all times to be avoided if possible, but more especially at the present, as we have great reason to apprehend a general Indian War; in such case there is no doubt but they will meet with support from the subjects of Foreign powers, at least they will be furnished with Arms and ammunition, & if the Northern and Southern Tribes should unite with your neighbors you will stand in need, they think, of all your force & therefore recommend unanimity amongst you if it can by any means be effected, as you will thereby be much more able to defend yourselves than you possibly can be when divided, let alone the circumstances of Cutting each others throats. Besides these it would be impracticable to raise an arm’d force here to be sent to your assistance at this Time if we come ever so much disposed thereto, for the following reasons, the people in general are now ingaged in their farming business and if bro’t out would very reluctantly march. There is no money in the Treasury to defray the Expences of such as might be called out, nor in fact, have we arms or ammunition, under such circumstances it would be unnecessary to attempt it.

I must therefore recommend to you the using every means in your power to Conciliate the minds of the people, as well as those who call themselves Franklinites as the friends and supporters of Government by the Measures you took with Mr. Sevier and his party of which you first acquainted me. Under the situation that things now are, if things could be dormant as it were till the next Assembly and each man’s mind be employed in considering your common defence against the savage Enemy I should suppose it best. Wherever unanimity prevails among your people & their strength and numbers will justify an application for a separation, if it is general, I have no doubt of its taking place upon reciprocal and friendly Terms.

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I have written a Letter to the inhabitants of the Counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Hawkins, stating matters in such a point of view as the opinion of the Council, a Copy of which I have the honor to enclose you. Your Express also Carries a Letter for the Commanding officer of each of the Counties which you will be pleased to forward to them.

I have the honor to be, with
Great respect & Esteem, Dear Sir,
Your most Obedt. Servt.,