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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Joseph Martin to Samuel Johnston
Martin, Joseph, 1740-1808
March 24, 1788
Volume 22, Pages 716-718


Long Island, 24th March, 1788.


The confusion of this country induces me to lay before your Excellency by express our present situation, which is truly alarming. I must beg in part to refer to the different papers accompanying this, also the bearer, Capt. Ervin. I sent on Saturday last to Sevier and his party, requiring them to lay down their arms and submit to the laws of North Carolina, but can get no answer, only from Colonel Joseph Hardin, which I forward; though I know that on Friday last they met in convention to concert some plan. The bearer of my express to them informs me that he understood Sevier had gone towards French Broad River since the 10th instant; that Colonel Canaday,

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with several others, had gone the same way to carry on an expedition against the Cherokee Indians, which I am well assured wishes to be at peace, except the Chickamauga party, which could easily be drove out of that county, if your excellency should recommend it. I am somewhat doubtful that Sevier and his party are embodying under the color of an Indian expedition to amuse us, and that their object is to make another attack on the citizens of this State, to prevent which I have ordered the different Colonels to have their men in good order until I can hear from your Excellency, at which time I hope you will send instructions how to proceed in this uncommon and critical situation, which I shall wait until the return of bearer without taking any decisive steps. Private papers are in circulation through many parts for people to sign in opposition to the laws of this State, setting forth that the taxes are heavier than they can bear; that the poll tax is four dollars, etc. I must beg that you will furnish me with the acts of Assembly for the years 1787 and 1788, also to order matters so that the bearer of this be paid for his services, as I find it a very difficult matter to employ men of candor in such business, owing to payment, etc. Should the Franks still persist to oppose the laws of this State, would it not be well to order General McDowell to give some assistance, as a few men from there would convince them that North Carolina is determined to protect her citizens, which the leaders of the rebel party assure the people that North Carolina will not interfere; that we are to settle the dispute among ourselves. My opinion is that if a few men from Burke were to come over, that they would then be convinced and give up without further opposition.

I find that South Carolina and Georgia have appointed commissioners to treat with the Creeks and Cherokees, and intend to apply to the executive of this State to appoint also. If you have not yet proceeded to the choice of one, and should think me adequate to the task, shall endeavor to deserve your good opinion. I can say nothing in favor of my abilities, only experience, having that honor conferred upon me at four different treaties, and have been Indian agent for ten years. If a commissioner is already chosen, perhaps you may think proper to direct me to attend as agent, as I now fill that commission. I cannot think the Cherokees can be drawn out in treaty without my assistance, as I flatter myself I have more influence with

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them than any other person. All which I submit to your Excellency.

I am, sir, with great respect,
Your Excellency’s friend and most obedient servant,
His Excellency Samuel Johnson, Esq.