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Dorchester County (Maryland) Committee to the Council of Safety



In Committee of Observation, Dorchester County,
November 15th, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: In obedience to an order received from the late Convention, we had several evidences before us, whom we examined concerning certain depredations and outrages committed by Captain Richard Andrew, of Caroline County, and a number of people whom he headed, part of them inhabitants of that County, and others inhabitants of this County; and on evidence it appeared that they searched the dwelling-house and out-houses of Mr˙ James Sulivane for salt; that finding only five or six bushels there, they took none of that, but proceeded to Colonel James Murray' s, on Hunting-Creek, which is also in this County, and there got from Mr˙ Murray the key of a house in which some salt was, and took from thence, by their account, fourteen and a half bushels of salt, for which they offered to pay Mrs˙ Murray fourteen and one-half dollars; that she refused to take the money, on which they left that sum in the house, and went off with the salt.

On receiving this information we ordered the evidence to appear again on a certain day, to which day we summoned those of the aforesaid company who reside in this County, and appeared to have been the most active in the outrage, to appear to answer. Some of them appeared agreeably to summons, and behaved orderly, and offered some excuses for the non-attendance of the others; under these circumstances, and as some of the most material witnesses did not attend, we postponed the hearing of the matter till Wednesday next, when we ordered the parties charged and witnesses to attend us, which they promised to do. The parties charged came on Wednesday, but, contrary to our expectation, they came headed by Captain Andrew, and upwards of one hundred armed men to support them; and the company behaved so riotous and disorderly that it was out of our power to proceed in the business, and their coming so unexpectedly it was impossible for us to collect a force sufficient to stop them before they returned in the evening. Many of the men swear they will support what they have done at the hazard of their lives, as it seems they have associated to do, and by their declarations against the present measures of the country, and in favour of the King, show themselves entirely disaffected to our cause.

If these men were all we had to contend with, it is


probable our Militia might be sufficient, but from the best information we can obtain, we are of opinion they have a very formidable number to protect them from Caroline, Worcester, and Sussex in Delaware; and as (since these outrages) several companies in this County have taken salt nearly in the same way, which will of course stop them from opposing them, if they do not join them, we are unanimously of the opinion that it is very improbable there can be in General Hooper' s brigade a sufficient number of the Militia raised, who would on the present occasion take up arms to suppress and stop the progress of these rioters and their adherents, and bring the offenders to justice; and we therefore think it most prudent to decline making the attempt, as a failure would be very detrimental to our cause, and give strength and spirits to their party and friends. And have sent this by our express hired for the purpose, to inform your Honours of what we have done, and what we apprehend is our real situation; and we would beg leave to submit to your judgment whether it would not be proper, under our present circumstances, to send men to bring these offenders to justice; who, having neither connexions or acquaintance with them, may be relied on, and will probably much better go through the business. It is becoming a matter of great importance, and we are apprehensive if it is not soon checked, will probably go a great way towards destroying the peace and good order of the greatest part of this Shore.

We cannot omit the opportunity (in behalf of those people of our County who have yet remained quiet under their great distress for salt) to inform your Honours that the want of that absolute necessary of life is so great in this County that many families for months past have not had a spoonful of salt. Others have got a quart or a few handfuls by begging from those who could badly spare any.

The people hearing of quantities of salt going to Baltimore, have some of them applied there for relief, but have very few of them got any, it being generally taken for the inhabitants of the Western Shore, before those this way can get there to apply. Under these circumstances they are much distressed, and if these unhappy people find they have no chance of being supplied equally with those on the other Shore, we know not what may be the consequence; perhaps they may at length grow desperate rather than perish. We therefore are moved in pity towards our distressed County men to apply to your Honours for such relief as may be in your power to grant them; and as we hear there has lately arrived vessels at Baltimore with quantities of salt, if your Honours would be pleased to order that a part of that or any other salt that may arrive be bought and sent to us for the relief of the inhabitants of this County, we will engage to be answerable for the price set on it, and will undertake to have it delivered at the same price as far as it will go in small quantities to the distressed people; this being done we are persuaded it will not only be of great advantage to the people, but that they, seeing measures are taken to relieve their wants, will have their minds made easy and will go on much more spirited and cheerful in doing their duty in their respective stations than they now do.

We shall be obliged to your Honours for an answer by the return of our express, and are, with great esteem, gentlemen, your very obedient servants.

Signed by order of the Committee:

John Dickinson, Chairman.

The honourable Council of Safety, Annapolis.