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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Message from Thomas Burke to the North Carolina General Assembly
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
July 05, 1781
Volume 22, Page 1038

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State of North Carolina,
July 5th, 1781.

To the honourable the General Assembly.


The last section of an act passed this session entitled, An Act for draughting the Militia to re-enforce the Southern Army, involves some ambiguities that will render the execution thereof very precarious. The act restrains the number of Militia to be called out for the use of the Southern Department to four thousand which comprehends all that can be called out for the peculiar defense of the State, and for aids to the Sister State. The peculiar defense of the State may require a much greater number and the Governor is bound to defend the State to the utmost of his powers. Should he find it necessary to embody a greater force, and conceive himself authorized by the Constitution, others might be of a different opinion, and a dispute between Constitutional and legislative power might delay the execution of necessary orders and destroy all vigor and energy.

Also the act section makes the advice of Council necessary for the disposition of Troops. Dispositions must be often made and altered when counsel cannot be consulted, and will often depend on the dispositions of the enemy which a Council can neither foresee nor control and which may render the least delay fatal. The Constitution makes the Governor Commander in Chief of the Militia and necessarily gives him the power of making dispositions.

A restraint so inconvenient and dangerous could not be intended, and must be the effect of mistake or Inadvertence. I presume the General Assembly will explain this section so as to prevent the Inconveniences I have suggested and to enable the Governor with the advice of the Council, to send aids to the Sister States without weakening the power of Internal defense.

As my conduct must be greatly influenced by the deliberations of the General Assembly on this matter, I request that I may be favored with the result thereof before the rising of the Session

I have the honor to be with great respect
Your very obedient servant,