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Proceedings in Charlestown


Charlestown, South-Carolina, March 20, 1775.

Last Tuesday, March 14th, Mr˙ Robert Smyth, Merchant, Master Smyth, his son, and Master Ward, son of John Ward, Esquire, returned here from London, in the Snow Proteus, Captain Papley, having touched at Falmouth and St˙ Christopher' s by the way.

The said vessel having on board, (besides seven cases of merchandise, said to be Globes and Mathematical Instruments, consigned to Mr˙ Robert Wells, one hogshead, one puncheon, seven casks, thirteen cases, five crates, and one bottle, said to contain Drugs and Medicines, consigned to Mr˙ Edward Gunter,) two puncheons, one box, one tierce, forty bundles, nine cases, and seven hampers, said to contain Household Furniture, and two Horses, belonging to Mr˙ Smyth, all which he declared were brought out by him on the supposition that it was not meant by the Continental Association to prohibit the importation of such articles, and had been in use in his family in England. The Committee of Observation requested the sense of the General Committee respecting said Horses and Furniture, This matter accordingly came under the consideration of the General Committee on Wednesday evening, thirty-three members present; when, after a long debate whether the landing the said Horses and Furniture might not be construed a violation of the Association, there appeared to be an equal number for and against that opinion. And the question being put, whether Mr˙ Smyth' s Horses, under the circumstances they had been represented, might be landed, it was carried in the affirmative by the Chairman' s casting vote. It was at the same time resolved, without a division upon the question, that such part of Mr˙ Smyth' s Furniture as, upon inspection by the Committee of Observation, should appear to them to have been in use in his family, (but no other,) might also be landed.

The next morning a great number of the inhabitants appeared extremely uneasy, lest, from the admission of the Horses, it should be suggested that there was an inclination in this Colony to depart, from the Association; they feared that the conduct of the people, which had always been consistent, and who continued remarkably strict in their adherence to the Resolves and recommendations of the Congress, might, in this instance, be misrepresented abroad. Their zeal for the reputation of their Country threw them into great agitation; none meant the least reflection on the conduct of their Committee, but all wished that the Horses might not be landed; yet they were then at a loss what measure might be most proper to pursue. On Friday morning, however, a Petition was agreed on, and, after having two hundred and fifty-six names subscribed thereto, presented to the Chairman of the General Committee, in the following word:

"We, a number of the inhabitants of Charlestown, conceive that our liberties at this time depend on our unanimity and confidence in our Committee, who, we doubt not, in all things will act according to the best of their judgment for the publick good. But your Petitioners are informed that, by a vote carried by a very small majority, divers Horses and Furniture are permitted to be landed, which many persons, who have the liberty of America much at heart, think an infringement of the Association entered into by the General Congress. In order, therefore, to quiet the minds of the people, we pray that there may be a reconsideration of the said matter in a full Committee."


In consequence of this Petition, the said Committee was summoned to meet that evening; but no more than forty-two members then attending, it was thought advisable to adjourn till Monday morning, nine o' clock, in order that, if it should be thought necessary to reconsider the matter, it might be done at a very full meeting. Accordingly this morning a very full Committee met, not less than seventy members being present, when the above Petition was taken into consideration; the Resolves of Wednesday, respecting the Horses, rescinded, by a majority of one vote; and a Resolution entered into, that they should be sent back, with the Merchandise and Furniture (if any) that should appear not to have been in use. A general satisfaction was expressed upon this occasion, and the quiet of the community seems to be perfectly restored.