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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from James White to Samuel Johnston
White, James, 1749-1809
April 21, 1788
Volume 21, Pages 465-467

(From Executive Letter Book.)

New York, April 21st, 1788.


In consequence of the letter received from your Excellency enclosing representations from the Western Country I urged the subject to the minister of Spain.

Tho’ on the part of his Country he absolutely disavows that what happened could have been through the investigations of their Subjects; He promises to write to their Governor recommending their influence particularly with respect to our Frontier.

I do myself the honor to enclose a letter from him which I take to be upon this subject.

It gives me pleasure to hear from Doctor Williamson that he and Mr. Swann mean to attend here on the part of our State. But people in general seem to despair of effecting anything with a sick and worn out Political Constitution. Scarcely has there been a competent number of the States the whole winter. Even the Delegation for New York has neglected attendance while in the mean time business both of a private & public Nature is waiting disappointed.

That two Gentlemen and not one singly are coming from the State of North Carolina relieves me from an embarrassment I should otherwise feel at being under the necessity of leaving this for a time, tho’

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my wish and design is to return as soon as I can arrange the necessary means of support.

The difficulty of procuring Gold as well as the very advanced rate of it, had induced me to trust to my salary as Superintendent of Southern Indians. But in the present State of their Treasury no services to the United States can be rewarded. This apology therefore I have to make for quitting tho’ reluctantly & but for a time an appointment to which my Country had done me the honor to name me. Shortly I shall be enable to return to it.

I presume you are acquainted of the Cession of Territory made by Georgia. But it is conditional—when nine States accede to the new Government. The Boundary Line is to be drawn from the head of Chatahouchi River North. This Claim may one day or other involve the United States in difficulties with the Spaniards who hold it to be no part of the United States; however it is very easy to see the Government of the Catholic King is relaxing in its policy in this respect. They begin to be convinced these States especially the Western Country are rather to be restrained by benevolence than violence. On almost the only occasion where Nine States have assembled in this Congress a Petition from the people of Kentuckey, with the approbation of Virginia for admitting the former into the Union has been debated. The Eastern States seem much at a loss to decide, they are jealous of any additional influence in the Southward. But if their partial views are indulged tramontane people, whom if not affection, fear or interest will not long hold dependent, on the Atlantic States.

It is whispered that whenever there are States sufficient to take up that Business, Mons. le Compte de Moustier means to present a Memorial to them on the subject of the French Debt. But I cannot think that he will make such a representation as in the present condition of these States can only serve to disgust. Tho’ indeed this Minister is remarked not to be so Courtly in his attentions to Congress as his predecessor the Chevalier de la Lucerne.

The French Consul Mons. de la Forest frequently reminds me of a Debt which he is instructed to demand and which he says is due to the Marine of France from our State, he says he hopes we shall no longer delay to pay attention to it. Upon my assuring him that our Legislature had taken up the business in such a manner as was

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thought a sufficient provision; he answered me the proceedings were quite inadequate.

I am sorry to inform you that in a late furious commotion of this populace five of them were mortally wounded. The Minister of Foreign Affairs & others much bruised; the Clamour was raised in consequence of indiscreet dissections of some Surgeons.

I have the honor to be,