Primary tabs

Vindication of Thomas Macknight and Others



At a Convention of Delegates for the respective Counties and Towns within this Province, held at Newbern the 6th day of April 1775:

Mr˙ Thomas Macknight, a Delegate for the County of Currituck, having been called upon to sign (with the other Members of this Convention) the Association approved of by the Continental Congress, thereupon refused, and with drew himself:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Convention, that from the disingenuous and equivocal behaviour of the said Thomas Macknight, it is manifest his, intentions are inimical to the cause of American Liberty; and we do


hold him up as a proper object of contempt to this Continent, and recommend that every person break off all connection, and have no future commercial, intercourse or dealing with him.

Resolved, That the above Resolve be published in the Gazettes of this and the neighbouring Colonies.

A true copy from the minutes.

Attested by


We, the subscribers, Samuel Jurvis, Solomon Perkins, and Nathan Poyner, late Representatives for the County of Currituck, in a Convention of Deputies for the Province of North-Carolina, held at Newbern, on the 3d day of April, 1775, and Jonathan Hearring and Isaac Gregory, Representatives in the said Convention for the County of Pasquotank, having found ourselves under the disagreeable necessity of withdrawing from the said meeting, and being denied the justice of having our reasons entered on the Journals of their Proceedings, (that is, by an express refusal to the Representatives for Currituck, which was the only cause that those for Pasquotank did not apply,) have only this resource left for vindicating our conduct to the world, and rescuing the character of a gentleman we greatly esteem from undeserved obloquy and reproach.

The facts, upon which the necessity we were unhappily reduced to was founded, are simply these: Upon its being moved and seconded, in the course of the business of the said Convention, that a vote should pass expressing a high approbation of the Continental Association, Mr˙ Thomas Macknight, a Representative for the County of Currituck aforesaid, got up and declared, that he was greatly concerned he could not heartily concur in the vote proposed to be passed, on account of particular circumstances in his situation, which obliged him to dislike some part of the Association; that he owed a debt in Britain, which the operation of the Non-Exportation Agreement would disable him to pay, and that he could not approve of a conduct in a collective capacity, which, as an individual, he should blush to acknowledge; that he thought it a duty he owed to his own sincerity to mention this sentiment, but did not mean to obstruct the good purposes proposed by an union of measures; that he would cheerfully comply with the Non-Consumption and Non-Importation Agreements, and should give a passive obedience to the nonexportation article; that an individual, as a member of society, ought to conform his actions to the general will of it, but that opinions could not be altered without conviction, or insincerely expressed without dishonesty.

In consequence, however, of this declaration, notwithstanding Mr˙ Macknight expressly said, that he desired not any disapprobation of the measure to be expressed by that body, and was only willing to acquit himself of his duty, by declaring in Convention his own sentiments of it, it was proposed and carried, that a declaration to the purport above-mentioned should be signed by all the members. All of them accordingly subscribed their names to the Resolve, highly approving, &c˙, as entered on the Journal, except Mr˙ Macknight, who desired he might have leave to reduce his reasons to writing, that they might be entered on the Journals, together with his refusal, which was agreed to; but on his presenting them the next day, when called upon again to subscribe, they would not suffer them even to be read; but the question being proposed, whether his signing that "he would conform" to the Contienntal Association would be satisfactory, they divided, fourteen Counties to fourteen, and the Moderator declined giving the casting vote.

While the Convention was waiting till the Representative of a Town, who was sent for on purpose to decide the question, should come in, Mr˙ Macknight was informed that it would give general satisfaction if he would insert in the declaration the word "accede;" which on his agreeing to do, two, members immediately voted in his favour, who had before given their votes against him, and this, now carried the question for him; but the minority being greatly discontented, several of them declared, that if any subscription, different from theirs, was accepted from him, they would withdraw from the Contention; upon which he declared immediately, (being, as we conceive, heated by the violence and arbitrariness of his opponents' conduct,) that to cut the matter short, and prevent further


dissensions in the Convention on his account, he would withdraw himself from them, thinking, as he has since assured us, (and we have never had any reason to doubt his veracity,) that such a step in one individual, who still left his constituents represented in Convention, would not he so prejudicial to the purpose of the meeting, as if it was taken by the many who threatened it. Upon which, the vote of censure and civil excommunication was proposed and passed by a majority, declaredly on account of his intentions, which we, however, believe always to have been friendly to the cause of ,American liberty; his actions evidently showing to us, who are his neighbours, the uprightness of his intentions. Nor did we observe any disingenuous or equivocal behaviour in Mr˙ Macknight, to warrant the censure of the Convention in the smallest degree; but some of those who were with him before being now offended by his withdrawing from amongst them, joined the other party.

The members for Currituck, on the last day of the Convention, offered the reasons of their dissept and withdrawing; but no kind of attention being paid to them by the Convention, two of the three Pasquotank members being also ready to present theirs, thought it useless, more especially as the Moderator was hastening to sign the Journals; the majority ordering him to do so, as we believe, lest the dissentients should appear on the Journals; and we know that many were determined to dissent from so unjust a censure. We, however; withdrew; and declare that we do not consider ourselves or our constituentd bound by the Proceedings of this Convention; because, in other respects relative to the publick, this Convention have acted contrary to the sentiments of our constituents, expressly declared to us, and have gone beyond the powers with which we are invested to act in their behalf.

The above being a true statement, in substance, of the proceedings we complain of, we appeal to the world, whether the violence of insisting on a consistency of opinion in every individual instance, of all the Representatives of a Province present, or an insincere declaration to be subscribed contrary to a man' s own conviction, at a time when he would most expressly have agreed to regulate his conduct by the general voice, (the greatest submission ever exacted, as the subscribers believe, except in despotick and tyrannical Governments,) the unjustifiable precipitation of a great number of the minority, when defeated in their, purposes, which made Mr˙ Macknight, upon principles of affection to the cause they were nominated to support, offer to withdraw rather than occasional total schism in their proceedings; their refusing to receive reasons themselves had called for, and agreed to enter on their Journals, and others which members had ready, and as we conceive had a right to present, and were entitied to notice, as they were calculated to show the world their motives for withdrawing from this Convention.

Whether, these extraordinary, rash, and unwarrantable proceedings, together with the other reasons we have assigned, do not leave us justified for withdrawing from this Convention, inasmuch as they have done more than our constituents warranted us to engage for, and a great number of the members would not confine themselves to the rules laid down by the Congress, but required and insisted upon other terms of union than that respectable body, whose directions they have all promised to obey, deemed necessary, or could themselves individually assent to.






N˙ B˙ The Convention having omitted to publish the vote which Mr˙ Macknight refused to subscribe, for the information of such as have not an opportunity of seeing the Journals, it is inserted here:

"Resolved, That this Convention do highly approve of the said Association, and do, for themselves, firmly agree to adhere by the said Association, and recommend it to their constituents that they likewise adhere firmly to the same; in full approbation and testimony whereof the members of this Convention subscribed their names."

The Continental Association was not signed by the members in this Convention, as might be presumed from the publication of their Clerk.