Primary tabs

Answer to the Governour' s Speech


Friday, 7th April, 1775.

The House met according to adjournment.

Mr˙ Howe, from the Committee appointed to prepare an Answer to his Excellency' s Speech, informed the House they had prepared the same, which was read.

On motion, Ordered, The same stand as the Address of this House: and is as follows, to wit:

To His Excellency JOSIAH MARTIN, Esqiure, Captain-General, Governour, &c˙, &c.

SIR: We, His Majesty' s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Members of the Assembly of North-Carolina, have taken into consideration your Excellency' s Speech at the opening of this Session.

We met in General Assembly with minds superiour to private dissension, determined calmly, unitedly, and faithfully to discharge the sacred trust reposed in us by our Constituents. Actuated by sentiments like these, it behooves us to declare that the Assembly of this Colony have the highest sense of their allegiance to the King of Great-Britain, to whom alone, as our constitutional Sovereign, we acknowledge allegiance to be due, and to whom we so cheerfully, and repeatedly have sworn it, that to remind us of the Oath was unnecessary; this allegiance all past, Assemblies have, upon every occasion, amply expressed, and we, the present Representatives of the people, shall be always ready by our actions with pleasure to testify; sensible, however, that the same Constitution which establishes that allegiance and enjoins the oath in consequence of it, hath bound Majesty under as solemn obligations to protect subjects inviolate in all their just rights and privileges, wisely intending, by reciprocal dependance to secure the happiness of both.


We contemplate with a degree of horrour the unhappy state of America, involved in the most embarrassing difficulties and distresses, by a number of unconstitutional invasions of their just rights and privileges, by which the inhabitants of the Continent in general, and this Province in particular, have been precipitated into measures extraordinary, perhaps, in their nature, but warranted by necessity, from whence, among many other measures, the appointment of Committees in the several Towns and Counties took its birth, to prevent, as much as in them lay, the operation of such unconstitutional encroachments; and the Assembly remain unconvinced of any steps taken by these Committees but such as they were compelled to take for that salutary purpose.

It is not to be controverted, that His Majesty' s subjects have a right to petition for a redress of grievances, or to remonstrate against them; and as it is only a meeting of the people, that their sense respecting such petition and remonstrance can be obtained, that the right of assembling is as undoubted. To attempt, therefore, under the mask of authority to prevent or forbid a meeting of the people for such purposes, or to interrupt their proceedings when met, would be a vain effort unduly to exercise power in direct opposition to the Constitution.

Far be it from us, then, Sir, even to wish to prevent the operations of the Convention now held, at Newbern, or to agree with your Excellency in bestowing upon them the injurious epithet of an illegal meeting. They are, Sir, the respectable Representatives of the people, appointed for a special and important purpose, to which, though our constituents might have thought us adequate, yet, as our meeting depended upon the pleasure of the Crown, they would have been unwise to have trusted to so precarious a contingency, especially as the frequent and unexpected prorogations of the Assembly (one of them in particular, as if all respect and attention to the convenience of their Representatives had been lost, was proclaimed but two or three days before the time which had been appointed for their meeting) gave the people not the least reason to expect that their Assembly would have been permitted to sit till it was too late to appoint Delegates to attend the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, a measure which they joined the rest of America in thinking essential to its interest.

The House, Sir, neither know nor believe that any base arts have been practised upon the people, in order to lead them from their duty; but we know with certainty that the steps they have taken proceeded from a full conviction that the Parliament of Great Britain had, by a variety of oppressive and unconstitutional proceedings, made those steps absolutely necessary.

We think it, therefore, a duty we owe the people, to assert that their conduct has not been owing to base arts, practised upon them by wicked and designing men; and have it much to lament that your Excellency should add your sanction to such groundless imputations, as it has a manifest tendency to weaken the influence which the united petition of His Majesty' s American subjects might otherwise have upon their Sovereign, for a redress of those grievances of which they so justly complain.

We should feel inexpressible concern at the information given us by your Excellency, of your being authorized to say, that the appointment of Delegates to attend the Congress at Philadelphia, now in agitation, will be highly offensive to the King, had we not recently been informed, from the best authority, that His Majesty has been pleased to receive very graciously the united Petition of his American subjects, addressed to him by the Continental Delegates lately convened at Philadelphia. We have not, therefore, the least reason to suppose that a similar application to the Throne will give offence to His Majesty, or prevent his receiving a petition for the redress of grievances, which his American subjects have a right to present, either separately or unitedly.

We shall always receive with pleasure the information of any marks of loyalty to the King, given to your Excellency by the inhabitants of this Colony, but are greatly concerned, lest the manner, in which you have thought proper to convey that information should excite a belief that a great number of the people of this Province are disaffected to their Sovereign; to prevent which it is incumbent


upon us in this manner solemnly to testify to the world, that His Majesty has no subjects more faithful than the inhabitants of North-Carolina, or more ready, at the expense of their lives and fortunes, to protect and support his person, crown, and dignity. If, however, by the signal proofs your Excellency speaks of, you mean those Addresses lately published in the North-Carolina Gazette, and said to be presented to you, the Assembly can receive no pleasure from your congratulations thereupon, but what results from the consideration, that so few have been found in so populous a Province weak enough to be seduced from their duty, and prevailed upon by the base arts of wicked and designing men to adopt principles so contrary to the sense of all America, and so destructive of those just rights any privileges it was their duty to maintain. We take this opportunity, Sir, the first that has been given us, to express the Warm attachment we have to our sister Colonies in general, and the heartfelt compassion we entertain, for the deplorable state of the Town of Boston in particular, and also to declare the fixed and determined resolution of this Colony to unite with the other Colonies in every effort to retain those just rights and liberties which, as subjects to a British King, we possess, and which it is our absolute and indispensable duty to hand down to posterity unimpaired.

The exhausted state of the publick funds, of which your Excellency complains, we contemplate with great concern, alleviated, however, by the reflection that it has not been owing to any misconduct in the Assembly. We were withheld from passing any inferiour Court Law, but upon such terms as our duty rendered it impossible to accept; by which means no list of taxables could be taken for the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, and consequently no money collected to defray the charges of Government for that year; and as your Excellency did not think proper to meet the Assembly at their usual time of rneeting in the fall, no Act could be passed to defray the contingent charges of Government for the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four. The Treasury, by these means, deprived of two years' collection of taxes, must consequently be unable to answer the great demands upon it till an Act of Assembly can be passed to enable it to discharge them.

The House, convinced of the necessity of Courts of Justice, would willingly adopt any plan for the establishment of them, which, in their opinion, is consistent with the circumstances of this Colony; and for independent Judges, of capacity and integrity, they would, with the greatest pleasure, very liberally provide.

We are sorry, Sir, the impoverished state of the publick finances will not permit us to provide for the, usual establishment of Fort Johnston.

The advanced season of the year, which, of all other times, made it most inconvenient for us to attend publick business, will, your Excellency may assure yourself, induce us to forward it with all possible expedition.