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Proclamation by Governour Martin




By His Excellency JOSIAH MARTIN, Esq˙, His Majesty' s Captain-General, Governour, and Commander-in-Chief, in and over the said Province:


Whereas, I have seen a publication in the Cape Fear Mercury, which appears to be Proceedings of a general meeting of people styling themselves Committees of the District of Wilmington, signed Richard Quince, Sen˙, Chairman, in which the well known and incontestible facts set forth in my Proclamation, bearing date the 16th day of June last, are most daringly and impudently contradicted, and the basest and most scandalous falsehoods are asserted, evidently calculated to impose upon and mislead the people of this Province, and to alienate their affections from His Majesty and his Government, and concluding, in the true spirit of licentiousness and malignity that characterises the productions of these seditious combinations, with a Resolve declaring me an enemy to the interests of this Province in particular, and of America in general — an impotent and stale device that the malice and falsehood of these unprincipled censors have suggested, and which is their last contemptible artifice constantly resorted to and employed to calumniate and traduce every man in every rank and station of life, who oppose their infamous and traitorous proceedings:

And whereas, by the evil, pernicious, and traitorous counsels and influence of the well known leaders of these seditious committees, a body of men was assembled in arms at Wilmington, on the 16th or 17th of July last, for the purpose, as was professed in a letter sent me on the night of the 18th of the same month, (signed The People) by a certain John Ashe, (who presumed insidiously to employ the more respectable name of the people to cover his own flagitious designs,) of removing the King' s artillery from Fort Johnston, under pretence of preserving and securing the same for the use and service of His Majesty; and prefacing this declaration with sundry complaints of violence and misbehaviour on the part of John Collet, Esq˙, Governour and Captain of the said Fort Johnston, many of which it was in my power, and it would have been my duty to have redressed, if they had been represented to me, which letter, signed The People, I thought it proper to answer, and dissuade the deluded multitude from involving themselves in the criminal enterprise of removing the King' s artillery, which had been dismounted by my authority and not by Captain Collet' s, as had been pretended in order to deceive the people into a violence so dangerous and unwarrantable; and I am to lament that my said letter, in answer to The People, produced no better or other effect than to prevent the execution of their criminal intention of removing the King' s artillery, which was all that their letter to me avowed; and that they proceeded under the lead of the said John Ashe, and the other evil-minded conspirators against the peace and welfare of this Province, to the said Fort Johnston, and wantonly, in the dead hour of the night, set on


fire and reduced to ashes the houses and buildings within His Majesty' s said Fort, that had been evacuated and disarmed, and was entirely defenceless; and that they returned next day and completed, before my face, the destruction of the wooden defences of the Fort, to which the fire of the night had not extended, burning the houses and desolating every thing in the neighbourhood of the place, with a degree of wanton barbarity that would disgrace human nature in the most savage state, and was an overt act of high treason against His Majesty, which justified my immediate vengeance, restrained by pity for the innocent, misguided, and deluded people, whom I considered as the blind instruments of their atrocious leaders; who, defeated in the still more flagitious designs they meditated, (of which I have the fullest evidence,) and already involved in guilt of the blackest dye themselves, it might be presumed urged on the people to every enormity that might make them appear principals in their own treasons, instead of blind instruments thereof, and by extending the guilt among many, screen themselves from the penalties which they had wantonly incurred; nothing doubting at the same time, that cool and sober reflection would justly turn the resentment and indignation of the people against the wicked contrivers and promoters of the violences into which they have been betrayed, to the disgrace of their Country and humanity; and that they would expiate their own guilt by delivering up their leaders to receive the condign punishment that the laws inflict on such atrocious offenders. But having seen with astonishment a publication in the Cape-Fear Mercury, of the 28th day of last month, in which a set of people styling themselves a Committee for the Town of Wilmington, and County of New-Hanover, have, to obviate the just effects that I expected from the return of reason and reflection to the people, most falsely, seditiously, and traitorously asserted, "that Captain Collet was, under my auspices, preparing Fort Johnston for the reception of a promised re-enforcement, which was to be employed in reducing the good people of this Province to a slavish submission to the will of a wicked and tyrannick Minister, and for this diabolical purpose had collected several abandoned profligates, whose crimes had rendered them unworthy of civil society," &c˙, intending by various false pretences therein set forth, to justify the enormities into which they had plunged the innocent people, who I am confident were for the most part strangers to all the ostensible motives to the outrages they were hurried on to commit, and which, according to the acknowledgment of this despicable seditious meeting, had no better foundation than resentment to Captain Collet, an individual whose offences the law' s powers, and that which I derive from His Majesty, were competent to correct in a legal way; and seeing that the said Committee, as it is called, have artfully, by insidious compliments and flattery, and by their contemptible applause of the outrages and violences perpetrated in and about Fort Johnston, endeavoured to reconcile the minds of the people to treason and rebellion, in order to avert from their own heads the just wrath with which, a due sense of those crimes would naturally inspire the people against the infamous persons who had basely betrayed them into offences of so dangerous and heinous a nature.

And whereas, I have also seen a most infamous publication in the Cape-Fear Mercury, importing to be Resolves of a set of people styling themselves a Committee for the County of Mecklenburgh, most traitorously declaring the entire dissolution of the Laws, Government, and Constitution of this Country, and setting up a system of rule and regulation repugnant to the laws, and subversive of His Majesty' s Government; and another publication in the Cape-Fear Mercury of the fourteenth of last month, addressed "To the Committees of the several Towns and Counties of North-Carolina, appointed for the purpose of carrying into execution the Resolves of the Continental Congress," bearing date at Philadelphia, June 19th, 1775, and signed William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and Richard Caswell, the preposterous enormity of which cannot be adequately described and abhorred. It marks the Assembly, from whose members it comes, to be the genuine source of those foul streams of sedition which, through the channels of Committees, have overflowed this once happy land, and at this moment threaten it with every species of misery, ruin, and destruction. This publication begins with a


recital of the most unparalleled falsehoods that ever disgraced a sheet of paper; witness the infamous misrepresentation of the affair of Lexington, (which must be also wilful,) and the notoriously false position, that Britain cannot support her Navy without the aid of North-Carolina commodities, calculated to gull the people into a surrender of all the benefits of Commerce to the idle and absurd simulations and decrees of the affectedly omnipotent Congress at Philadelphia. It proceeds upon these false and infamous assertions and forgeries to excite the people of North-Carolina to usurp the prerogative of the Crown, by forming a Militia, and appointing officers thereto, and finally to take up arms against the King and his Government; impudently apprehending the people of this Colony for their inactivity in treason and rebellion; and concluding with a most contradictory, insidious, and nonsensical jargon of exhortation to the people, affronting to and inconsistent with reason and common sense, to exert themselves for the preservation of Britain; to strengthen the hands of Civil Government; to preserve the liberty of the Constitution; to look up to the reigning Monarch of Britain as their lawful and rightful Sovereign, and to dare every difficulty and danger in support of his person, crown, and dignity, after monstrously, in the same breath, urging the people to the distress and ruin of Britain; to the subversion of all Civil Government; to open rebellion against the King and his authority, and in the most pointed terms prompting them to arms and resistance; thus insidiously attempting to reconcile allegiance and revolt, and inviting the people to actual rebellion under the mask and guise and profession of duty and respect — a shallow concealment of horrid treason, that I have no doubt every honest man will explode and treat with its merited contempt and abhorrence; while no man can wonder at the absurdity of the Address, as it must invariably attend every like attempt to reconcile things in reason and nature inconsistent.

The treasonable proceedings of an infamous Committee at Newbern, at the head of a body of armed men, in seizing and carrying off six pieces of artillery, the property of the King, that lay behind the Palace at that place; repeated insults and violences offered to His Majesty' s subjects by these little tyrannical and arbitrary combinations, and, among others, to some of my own servants, who have been stopped when employed on my business, and forcibly detained and searched; the unremitted assiduity of those engines of sedition to sow discontent and disaffection, and the base artifices they employ to alienate and prejudice the minds of His Majesty' s subjects, by confidently and traitorously propagating the most base, scandalous, and monstrous falsehoods of the King' s religious and political principles, and of ill designs of His Majesty' s Ministers, daring thus to defame and traduce even the sacred character of the best of Princes, whose eminent and distinguished virtues, by universal acknowledgment, irradiate with unexampled lustre his imperial diadem, and whose piety and strict and inviolable regard to the happy Constitution of his Kingdoms, in Church and State, and to the welfare and happiness of all his people, stand confessed and admired throughout the world, and confound and reprobate the infamous, traitorous, and flagitious falsehoods and forgeries to which faction hath upon every occasion resorted to prop and support the most unprincipled and unnatural rebellion that was ever excited in any part of the world upon which the light of civilization had once dawned; the dangerous, unconstitutional, and illegal measure to which the people are invited by an advertisement I have seen, signed Samuel Johnston, of electing Delegates to meet in Convention, on the twentieth instant, at Hillsborough, that is subversive of the whole Constitution of this Country, and evidently calculated to seduce and alienate His Majesty' s faithful and loyal subjects in the interiour and western Counties of this Province, whose steadfast duty to their King and Country, that hath hitherto resisted all the black artifices of falsehood, sedition, and treason, and hath already, on my representation, received the King' s most gracious approbation and acceptance, which I am authorized and have now the high satisfaction to signify to His Majesty' s subjects throughout this Province, and particularly to those in the Counties of Dobbs, Cumberland, Anson, Orange, Guilford, Chatham, Rowan, and Surry, who have given me more especial


and publick testimonials of their loyalty, fidelity, and duty, and to give them assurance of His Majesty' s most firm support, which I am confident will not only confirm the good dispositions of this faithful people, and strengthen them to baffle and defeat every effort of sedition and treason, but prompt them also to resist their first approaches, by withstanding the now meditated insidious attempt of the intended Provincial Convention to steal in upon them the spirit, and erect among them the standard of rebellion, under the cloak and pretence of meeting for solemn deliberation on the publick welfare.

And I have no doubt that they will convince the traitorous contrivers and abetters of this plot of the vainness of their treacherous devices to sow sedition and disaffection in that land of loyalty, by indignantly spurning from them the said intended Congress, or Provincial Convention, and not suffering its corrupted breath to pollute the air of their Country, now the pure region of good faith and incorruptible loyalty; to whose virtuous inhabitants, I trust, is yet reserved the glorious achievement of crushing unnatural rebellion; of delivering their Country from lawless power and wide-spreading anarchy; of restoring and preserving in it the free and happy Constitution of Britain, with all that train of envied rights and blessings which belong to that great and admired system of true and genuine liberty, now most alarmingly threatened with overthrow by rebellious, republican, and tyrannical factions throughout America.

To the end, therefore, that the people of this Province at large may be acquainted with the enormities, violences, and disorders herein before recited, which manifestly tend to the destruction of their peace and welfare, and to the utter subversion of His Majesty' s Government, and the Laws and Constitution of this Country; and that I may faithfully discharge my duty to the King and His Majesty' s people in this Province, (whose welfare and prosperity have ever been my constant study,) and in order fully to forewarn the people of the dangers and calamities to which the men who have set themselves up for leaders in sedition and treason are courting them, to support them in their flagitious enormities, or to screen themselves from the penalties to which they know they are become liable, by extending their crime among numbers of their innocent fellow-subjects, for whom I have every tender feeling of pity, compassion, and forgiveness, I have thought it proper to issue this Proclamation, hereby to exhort His Majesty' s subjects, the people of this Province, as they tender the invaluable rights and privileges of British subjects, that they do seriously reflect upon and consider the outrages and violences into which the innocent inhabitants of many parts of this Province, and in the Counties of Duplin, New-Hanover, Craven, and Brunswick, in particular, have been betrayed by the seditious artifices of certain traitorous persons, who have presumed to take the lead among them; and to attend to the obvious and ruinous consequences of following the wicked and flagitious counsels of men, who, intent only upon romantick schemes and their own mistaken interest and aggrandizement, are cajoling the people by the most false assertions and insinuations of oppression, on the part of His Majesty and his Government, to become instruments to their base views of establishing themselves in tyranny over them, treacherously aiming, by specious pretences of regard to their rights and liberties, (that have never been invaded, or intended to be invaded,) to delude the people to work their own destruction, in older to gratify, for a moment, their own lust of power and lawless ambition, that would undoubtedly carry them, if they could possibly succeed, to reduce the people, upon whom they now call and rely for support in their criminal designs, to the most slavish submission to that very arbitrary power to which they would now climb upon the shoulders, and by the assistance of the people. Let the people but consider coolly and dispassionately the cause in which their infamous leaders would engage them, they will see it, from the beginning of the discontents in America, founded in erroneous principles, and to this day supported by every art of falsehood and misrepresentation; their best coloured and most specious argument, fraught with sophistry and illusion, have shrunk back from the light of truth, and vanished confounded before the standard of right reason; yet still unabashed, the tools of sedition have impudently and unremittingly imposed falsehood upon


falsehood on the innocent people, extravagantly profaning even the most sacred name of the Almighty, to promote their flagitious purpose of exciting rebellion, until they have shaken the allegiance and duty of great numbers, and actually involved some of the people in the most horrid crimes against their Sovereign, and the Laws and Constitution of their Country. And I do hereby next especially admonish His Majesty' s faithful subjects in this Colony, that the holding what is called a Provincial Convention at Hillsborough, in the heart of this Province, is calculated to extend more widely the traitorous and rebellious designs of the enemies of His Majesty and his Government, and the Constitution of this Province, and particularly to influence, intimidate, and seduce His Majesty' s faithful and loyal subjects in that neighbourhood from their King and Country, which they have hitherto so faithfully maintained; for the furtherance of which purposes, a certain Richard Caswell, one of the three persons deputed by a former illegal Convention, in this Colony, to attend a Congress, no less illegal, at Philadelphia, is sent an emissary from that Assembly, that hath already denounced ruin and destruction to America, to forward and superintend this meeting at Hillsborough, and to inflame it with the fatal example of said Philadelphia Congress — a part which he has entered upon with the most active zeal, after having often declared his principles averse to the cause in which he is engaged, thus exhibiting himself to the world a monstrous engine of double treason against his own conscience, and his King and Country. And whereas, I consider this is a most open and daring attempt to stir up unnatural rebellion in this Colony against His Majesty and his Government, I do hereby advise, forewarn, and exhort all His Majesty' s subjects within this Province to forbear making any choice of Delegates to represent them in the proposed Convention at Hillsborough, as they would avoid the guilt of giving sanction to an illegal assembly, acting upon principles subversive of the happy Constitution of their Country, and that they, by every means in their power, oppose that dangerous and unconstitutional assembly, and resist its baneful influence. And whereas, to encourage the people to proceed in the treasons to which they have been blindly influenced and misled by the persons who have set themselves up for leaders among them, it has been represented, in order to inflame and render the people desperate, that they have offended past forgiveness, and that having no mercy to hope for from the King, their better chance is to prosecute their treasons to open rebellion and resistance of His Majesty and his Government, I think it proper, in tenderness and pity to the poor misguided multitude, and to obviate this abominable design of engaging them more deeply in transgression, hereby to offer, promise, and declare to all, each, and every of them, His Majesty' s most gracious pardon for all violences done and committed to the date hereof, on their return to their duty to the King, and obedience to lawful Government, and renouncing their seditious and treasonable proceedings; and thereby offer ample reward and recompense to the people, or any of them, who shall yield and deliver up to me the few principal persons who seduced them to the treasonable outrages herein beforementioned, to be dealt with according to law.

And whereas, the people in many places have been seduced to the choice and appointment of military officers among themselves, which is an usurpation and invasion of His Majesty' s just and lawful prerogative; and whereas, no person whatever is entitled to hold, exercise, or enjoy any commission or authority over the Militia of this Colony, but such as are commissioned by His Majesty, or his Governour of this Province; and whereas, a certain John Ashe, herein before-named, who lately resigned to me his commission of Colonel in the Militia of the County of New-Hanover, has presumed to influence and conduct a body of armed men of the said County, and of other adjacent Counties, to the most daring and treasonable outrages; and a certain Robert Howes, alias Howe, hath also presumed, without commission from me, or any lawful authority, to take upon himself the style and title of Colonel, and to advertise and summon the Militia of the County of Brunswick to meet, in order to be trained to arms, I do hereby forewarn the people against any and every such election of officers to which they are or may be invited, and caution them against any obedience and regard to any persons who have been


or may be so appointed and chosen, hereby declaring every such election illegal, unconstitutional, and null and void to all intents and purposes; and that the said John Ashe and Robert Howes, alias Howe, before-mentioned, and both of them, and every other person and persons who hath or have presumed to array the Militia, and to assemble them in arms within this Province, without any commission or authority, have invaded His Majesty' s just and royal prerogative, and violated the laws of their Country, to which they will be answerable for the same.

And whereas, it is out of doubt that a majority of the people of this Colony, left to follow the impulses of their own hearts and understandings, are loyal and faithful subjects to His Majesty, and true and firm friends to the Constitution and Laws of their Country; and whereas, it appears that the assembling a Convention at Hillsborough will bring the affairs of this Country to a crisis which will make it necessary for every man to assert his principles, I do hereby conjure the good people of this Province, as they tender and regard the blessings of British subjects, that they do firmly persist and persevere in their duty and allegiance to His Majesty, hereby assuring them, in the King' s name, and by His Majesty' s authority, of his firm and determined resolution to maintain his faithful subjects in the full and free enjoyment of all their religious and civil rights, liberties, and privileges, and of His Majesty' s utmost encouragement to them in the defence and support thereof against all enemies, rebels, and traitors whatsoever.

And I do hereby strictly require and command all His Majesty' s Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, and other officers, and all His Majesty' s liege subjects, to exert themselves in the discovery of all seditious treasons and traitorous conspiracies, and of bringing to justice the principals and accomplices therein. And I do further strictly enjoin them to give all, and all manner of aid, countenance, assistance, and protection to all His Majesty' s loyal and faithful people; and all persons are hereby required to take notice and govern themselves accordingly.

Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the said Province, on board His Majesty' s Ship Cruiser, in Cape Fear River, this eighth day of August, Anno Domini 1775, and in the fifteenth year of His Majesty' s reign.


By his Excellency' s command:


GOD save the King.