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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Samuel Johnston to Daniel Smith
Johnston, Samuel, 1733-1816
August 31, 1789
Volume 21, Pages 561-562

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Edenton, 31st August, 1789.


Your Letter of the 24th of July last came to me the 27th of this month, enclosing a Letter from Colonel Robertson to you, dated the 7th of July.

I have long felt very sensibly for the misfortunes and sufferings of the Inhabitants of the Western Waters of this State, and sincerely lamented that it was so little in the power of this Government to extend its exertions so as to give effectual support & Security to that part of the Country. The difficulties arise from a combination of Circumstances, particularly your distant Situation from the most populous parts of the Country, the Nature of the assaults made upon you and the great extent of your Frontier, which would acquire a considerable Army to form a line of Post in such manner, as to afford you any considerable degree of Security. I hope a Treaty will take place this Fall. If it should not & this State thinks proper to adopt the Constitution, I will lay a full state of your case before the President of the United States, who I doubt not will pursue such measures as will make the Indians see it their Interest to desist from hostilities. This I fear can only be done by carrying the War into their own Country with a sufficient force to bring them to reason. This is a dreadful alternative, which nothing could justify but the necessity at all Hazards, of securing protection to the Inhabitants.

The Idea, which some hold forth of putting themselves under the protection of Spain, or in other words, becoming a Spanish Colony, is so monstrous and absurd that it will not bear a moment’s reflection, how could Americans among whom, the Rights of Mankind are so well understood, submit to be under the Dominion of Laws dictated by any one man upon Earth, varied occasionally according to the whim & caprice of an ambitious Monarch, or to gratify the avaricious or arbitrary views of a wicked Minister? Will men who have

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so bravely defended themselves against the encroachments of one of the most formidable powers in Europe, sink under the assaults of a few undisciplined Barbarians? It can never be the case. I think more honourably of the Inhabitants of the Western Waters than to suffer the smallest degree of pain on that account.

I hope your prospects will soon brighten, recommend patience and perseverance to the people under your Command, I hope their sufferings will not have a much longer duration.

I shall expect to have the pleasure of meeting you at the Assembly, when we can have an opportunity of mutually communicating our Sentiments on this subject, more at large. You may rely that nothing within the compass of my power, which can in any manner tend to the happiness and Security of the People with you, shall be left undone, and I shall consider it my greatest happiness to effect any measure which may tend to restore to that distressed people that peace & security which they so greatly stand in need.

Be pleased to present my best respects to Col. Robertson & Believe me &c., &c.,


P. S.—Since writing the above, I am informed by Letters from New York that Genl. Lincoln, Cyrus Griffin, Esqr., late President of Congress, and Col. Humphreys are appointed to treat with the Southern Indians, and that there is a considerable sum of Money Voted by Congress to defray all expences that may attend the negotiations. This I flatter myself will have a happy effect upon your affairs, as I doubt not but that the Interest of this State will be attended to in any Treaty which may be made, as far as Circumstances will admit, though the Commissioners cannot undertake to stipulate anything which will bind us, in our present situation.

I remain as above,