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Newbern (North-Carolina) Committee




Committee Chamber, August 2, 1775,

The following Letter was wrote by his Excellency Governour Martin, to the Honourable Lewis Henry De Rosseit, Esq˙, in answer to an information given him of his being charged with giving encouragement to the slaves to revolt from their masters. As the substance of this Letter is very alarming, his Excellency therein publickly avowing the measure of arming the slaves against their masters, when every other thing to preserve the King' s Government should prove ineffectual, the Committee have ordered the said Letter to be published as an alarm to the people of this Province against the horrid and barbarous designs of the enemies, not only to their internal peace and safety, but to their lives, liberties, properties, and every other human blessing.

Letter from Governour Martin to Lewis Henry De Rossett

"Fort Johnston, June 24, 1775.

"SIR: I beg leave to make you my acknowledgments for your communication of the false, malicious, and scandalous report that has been propagated of me in this part of the Province, of my having given encouragement to the negroes to revolt against their masters; and as I persuade myself you kindly intended thereby to give me an opportunity to refute so infamous a charge, I eagerly embrace this occasion, most solemnly to assure you that I never conceived a thought of that nature. And I will further add my opinion, that nothing could ever justify the design, falsely imputed to me, of giving encouragement to the negroes, ‘but the actual and declared rebellion of the King' s subjects, and the failure of all other means to maintain the King' s Government.’

"Permit me, therefore, Sir, to request the favour of you to take the most effectual means to prevent the circulation of this most cruel slander, and to assure, every body with whom you shall communicate on this subject, that so far from entertaining so horrid a design, I shall be ever ready, and heartily disposed to concur in any measures ‘that may be consistent with prudence,’ to keep the negroes in order and subjection, and for the maintenance of peace and good order throughout the Province.

"I am, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,

"The Hon˙ Lewis H˙ De Rossett, Esq˙"


Resolved unanimously, That his Excellency Governour Martin, by the whole tenour of his conduct since the unhappy


differences between Great Britain and her Colonies, has manifested himself an enemy to American liberty, and the rights and blessings of a free people; and that by his many wanton exertions of power as Governour of this Province, his hostile and dangerous Letters to the Ministry and General Gage, replete with falsities and misrepresentations of the true state of the Province, he has proved himself to hold principles abhorrent to the rights of humanity, and justly forfeited all confidence with the people of this Government.

Resolved unanimously, That notwithstanding the very great pains that have been taken by those who call themselves friends to Government, and their favourable explanations of the emphatical words between turned commas in the body of the above Letter, to make them speak a language different from their true Import, they contain, in plain English, and in every construction of language, a justification of the design of encouraging the slaves to revolt, when every other means should fail to preserve the King' s Government from open and declared rebellion: and the publick avowal of a crime of so horrid and truly black a complexion, could only originate in a soul lost to every sense of the feelings of humanity, and long hackneyed in the detestable and wicked purpose of subjugating these Colonies to the most abject slavery. By order,

R˙ COGDELL, Chairman.