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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Penn to Richard Caswell
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788
July 21, 1778
Volume 22, Pages 975-976


Philadelphia, July 21st, 1778.

Dear Sir:—

I wrote to you the 15th inst., by express, informing you that by the commission Colonel Williams detained it would require the three Delegates to be present before the State could have a vote, and then indeed we must be all of one opinion, as there are several gentlemn here that represent the State they belong to singly, and as I proposed to our Assembly that they would choose four Delegates, confining two to be here at a time, which was not done, the members saying they would proceed the old way. I am induced to wish that your Excellency would send a commission, giving all or either of us a right to vote until November 3, when I think the Confederation directs two. I mention this again lest some accident should happen to the express.

Monsieur Girard, the French minister, is here. He is a very polite, well-loved man. Mr. Dean says he has been our first friend in France. The French fleet cannot get nearer New York than Sandy Hook, on account of their size. They have lately taken thirteen transports, loaded with provisions, going to Lord Howe.

We had a curious letter from the Commissioners lately, calling upon us to know by what authority we presume to make treaties with the King of France, or any other foreign power, declaring we had no authority delegated to us for that purpose by the Assemblies of the different States before or since the supposed Confederation. The answer was short—“That the British fleet and army not being sent away nor the independence of America acknowledged, no answer be given.” Enclosed is a newspaper. I hope, sir, you will forward a commission by the first opportunity as desired, unless you

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find some express resolution to the contrary of the Assembly. Indeed, I am perfectly satisfied from what I heard when at New Bern that no alteration was intended. I feel myself in an awkward situation, not having a right to vote. Matters of importance will soon be debated. I have the honor to be, with due respect,

Your Excellency’s most obedient servant,
His Excellency Richard Caswell, Esq.