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Declaration published by the Congress to quiet the minds of the misguided people in the back country


In Congress, Sunday, November 19, 1775.

The Congress met according to adjournment. And yesterday' s Journal was read.

The Rev˙ Mr˙ Paul Turquand, by desire of Congress, performed Divine Service before them.

Mr˙ President delivered in a draft of the Declaration which he had been directed to prepare, to quiet the minds of the misguided people in the back country.

And the said draft being taken into immediate consideration, was amended, and agreed to in the words following:

SOUTH-CAROLINA. By authority of Congress.A DECLARATION.

It has ever been the policy of America in general, and of this Colony in particular, to endeavour to cultivate a good correspondence with the neighbouring Indians; and especially so, since the commencement of the present unhappy disputes with the British Administration. This policy originated from a view of preserving, at the cheapest rate, our borders from savage inroads, pushed on by French or Spanish management, or Indian avidity or ferocity. Of late this policy has been persevered in; and our endeavours have been redoubled, in order to oppose and to frustrate the design of the British Administration, by the hands of Indians, to deluge our frontiers with the blood of our fellow-citizens. Experience has taught us, that occasional presents to the Indians has been the great means of acquiring their friendship. In this necessary service, Government every year has expended large sums of money; and the Continental Congress having divided the management of the Indian affairs into three departments, have allotted for-the expenses of this Southern Department the sum of ten thousand dollars, in order to preserve the friendship of the Indians on the back of our settlements.


The late Council of Safety spared no pains to confirm them in their pacifick inclinations; but, from the repeated, constant and uniform accounts they received from the Council of Safety in Georgia, the Indian traders in that and in this Colony, and among the Creeks and Cherokees, and the persons there employed by the two Colonies to superintend the Indian affairs, it clearly and unfortunately appeared, that a general Indian war was inevitable, unless the Indians were furnished with some small supplies of ammunition, to enable them to procure deer skins for their support and maintenance.

Rather than draw on an Indian war, by an ill-timed frugality in withholding ammunition, our friends in Georgia resolved to supply the Creeks with such a quantity as might, in some degree, satisfy their urgent wants, but could not incite by enabling them to commit hostilities. They sent on that service two thousand weight of powder, and a proportionable weight of lead; they also strongly pressed the late Council of Safety to supply the Cherokees. About the end of September, the Hon˙ William Henry Drayton, a member of the late Council of Safety, met several of the Cherokee head men at the Congarees. Nothing could in the least degree satisfy them but a promise of some ammunition. At length the late Council, in October last, issued a supply of ammunition, consisting of only one thousand weight of powder, and two thousand pounds weight of lead, for the use of the Cherokees, as the only probable means of preserving the frontiers from the inroads of the Indians; and the Council the more readily agreed to this measure, because, as they almost daily expected that the British arms would attack the Colony in front on the sea coast, they thought they would be inexcusable, if they did not, as much as in them lay, remove every cause to apprehend an attack at the same time from the Indians upon the back settlements.

But this measure, entered into by the Council upon principles of the soundest policy, of Christianity, breathing equal benevolence to the associators and non-associators in this Colony, and arising only from necessity, unfortunately has been, by some non-associators, made an instrument for the most diabolical purposes.

These wicked men, to the astonishment of common sense, have made many of their deluded followers believe that this ammunition was sent to the Indians, with orders for them to fall upon the frontiers and to massacre the non-associators; and taking advantage from the scarcity of ammunition among individuals, arising from the necessity of filling the publick magazines, they have invidiously represented that ammunition ought not to be sent to the Indians, while the inhabitants of the Colony, individually, are in a great degree destitute of that article; industriously endeavouring to inculcate this doctrine even in the minds of the associators.

Wherefore, in compassion to those who are deluded by such representations, the Congress have taken these things into their consideration, which otherwise would have been below their notice; and they desire their deceived fellow colonists to reflect, that the story of the ammunition being sent to the Indians with orders for them to massacre the non-associators, is absurd in its very nature:

First, Because the whole tenor of the conduct of the Council of Safety demonstrates, that they were incapable of such inhumanity as a body; the character of each individual shields him against a charge of so cruel a nature; and Mr˙ Drayton' s conduct at Ninety-Six, at the head of the army, fully showed, that the blood of the non-associators was not the object of his policy.

Secondly, Because, also, if men will but call reason to their aid, they must plainly see, that if the Indians were let loose upon the frontiers, they must indiscriminately massacre associators and non-associators, since there is no mark to distinguish either to the Indians; and therefore no associator, of but common sense, could think of promoting the interest of his party, by executing a measure which must equally ruin friend and foe.

However, in order to clear up all difficulties on this head, and for the ease of the minds of pur deceived friends, the Congress in a body, and also individually, declare, in the most solemn manner, before almighty God, that they do not believe any order was ever issued, or any idea was ever entertained, by the late Council of Safety, or any


member of it, or by any person under authority of Congress, to cause the Indians to commence hostilities upon the frontiers, or any part thereof. On the contrary, they do believe, that they, and each of them, have used every endeavour to inculcate in the Indians sentiments friendly to the inhabitants without any distinction.

It is greatly to be regretted, that our fellow-colonists, individually, are not so well supplied with ammunition as would be adequate to their private convenience. But is not the situation of publick affairs, which renders it absolutely necessary to guide the channels through which ammunition is brought to the Colony into the publick magazines, before any part of them can be permitted to reach the publick individually, also to be lamented? Ought not, nay, this unhappy situation of publick affairs does justify the filling the publick magazines; thereby securing the welfare, and forming the defence of the state, at the risk of the convenience or safety of individuals. And if out of the publick stock a quantity of ammunition is given to the Indians, which may be sufficient to keep them quiet, by in some degree supplying their urgent occasions, yet not sufficient to enable them to make war; ought our people, nay, they cannot have any reasonable ground, to arraign that policy by which they are and may be preserved from savage hostility; or to complain, that because the whole Colony, the publick and individuals, cannot be supplied with ammunition, therefore a small quantity ought not to be sent to the Indians. Men should reflect that this small quantity is given in order to render it unnecessary to supply the publick individually on the score of a defence against Indians, a service that would consume very large quantities of an article that experience teaches will be diminished when individually distributed. Men should also reflect, that while the publick magazines are well stored, supplies can be instantly, plentifully, and regularly poured upon those parts where the publick service may require them. And the publick are hereby informed, that although, when the present disturbances began, there were not in the Colony more than five hundred pounds weight of publick powder, yet by the vigilance of the late Council of Safety, the publick stock has been so much increased, as to induce the present Congress, to make an allotment of five thousand pounds weight for the defence of the interior parts of the Colony, besides several considerable quantities already disposed of on that service.

Men ought likewise to take into their consideration, that as the Council of Safety, by various, and a multitude of means, procure a constant, speedy, and authentick information of the state of all parts of the Colony, and of the Indians; so, by being much better informed upon those points than the publick individually, therefore the Council are the most competent judges where ammunition ought to be sent; whether a small quantity to the Indians, with a view and probability of keeping them quiet, or a large quantity to the inhabitants necessarily to arm them against the Indians.

Common sense and common honesty dictate that if there is a probability that by a present of a small quantity of ammunition the Indians can be kept in peace that present ought not to be withheld at the hazard of inducing an Indian war, thereby of expending not only a much larger quantity of ammunition, but of involving the Colony in an immense expense, breaking up whole settlements, and unnecessarily sacrificing a number of lives.


Charlestown, November 19, 1775.

Ordered, That the Secretary do cause a sufficient number of copies of the foregoing Declaration to be forthwith printed, in order to be distributed among the inhabitants of the back country.