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Account of the Seizure of the Mail in Charlestown


The Swallow Packet being just arrived from England, William Henry Drayton, Chairman of the Secret Committee, resolved to seize the mail, and, on his way to the Post-Office, on the 2d day of July, he met John Neufville and Thomas Corbet, two members of the Committee of Intelligence, who were proceeding thither on the same errand. On their arriving at the Post-Office, then kept by Jervis Henry Stevens, on the Bay, at the corner of Longitude-Alley, as Secretary to George Roupell, the Deputy Postmaster, they demanded the mail which had just arrived in the Packet; to which a peremptory refusal was given. They then informed Stevens they would take it by force, if not speedily delivered; to which he answered he should not deliver it. They then took possession of it, and carried the publick letters to the State-House, where the Secret Committee were immediately summoned to meet; and upon examining them, they found the despatches which had been for Lord William Campbell, Governour of South-Carolina, and John Stuart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, had been already forwarded to them; but their enterprise was rewarded, by obtaining despatches from the Ministry to the Southern Governours, regulating their conduct upon Lord North' s conciliatory motion, and to Governour Martin, of North-Carolina, encouraging his plans of raising the people of the four Counties of Guilford, Dobbs, Rowan, and Surry, whom he had reported to "breathe a spirit of loyalty to the King, and attachment to the authority of Great Britain." All these letters were signed by Lord Dartmouth, five of which were for James Wright, Governour of Georgia; one for the Lieutenant-Governour of South-Carolina; and one for Governour Martin, of North-Carolina. The Resolution of Parliament, also, upon Lord North' s conciliatory motion, was forwarded to the Governours by Lord Dartmouth, in the same Packet.

These despatches were deemed of so much consequence, that copies of them were immediately forwarded to our Delegates in the Continental Congress, and to the Committees at Newbern, in North-Carolina, and Savannah, in Georgia; but the originals were never sent to the Continental Congress, as the publick has been led to believe; for they are now in the possession of the author of these Memoirs, having been in that of his family ever since his father, William Henry Drayton, left South-Carolina, in March, 1778, as a Delegate to the Continental Congress, then sitting at Little-Yorktown, in the State of Pennsylvania,

About the same time the mail was seized, the Secret Committee were also fortunate in intercepting two letters from Sir James Wright, Governour of Georgia, each of them dated 27th of June, 1775; one of them directed to Admiral Graves, and the other to General Gage. — Drayton.