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Letter from Maryland Council of Safety to their Delegates in Congress: They have been treated improperly by the Baltimore Committee the Virginia Council of Safety and the Congress; they look up to the Congress with reverence and esteem as having the supreme authority over the Continent, but that body cannot interfere with uncontrollable power in the internal polity of any of the Provinces



[No˙ 125.]
Annapolis, April 19, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: We received the Honourable Mr˙ Hancock' s letter of the 16th instant yesterday afternoon, enclosing a recommendation of Congress that we should immediately cause the person and papers of Governour Eden to be seized and secured, and convey such of the papers as related to the American dispute safely to Congress; and, also, the person and papers of A˙ Ross, and to transmit the latter likewise to Congress.

Previous to our receipt of the above, we had fully investigated the charge that the intercepted letters imported, in which we conducted ourselves agreeable to what we wrote you by Mr˙ Green, and finally concluded the affair with our answer, a copy of which we now enclose you. The extraordinary manner of communicating the intelligence by the Council of Safety of Virginia to us, with the behaviour of the Committee of Observation for Baltimore, give us cause to complain of the indignity offered our Board; and we cannot suppress our suspicion that matters have been concerted so as to prevent all information which might otherwise have been laid before you from hence. The letter from the Council of Safety of Virginia is dated the 7th instant, and was conveyed through Baltimore to us on the 15th, about three o' clock, P˙ M˙, by four gentlemen deputed by that body to wait on us with it, (whose conduct was very disingenuous and exceptionable,) and the resolves passed on the 16th. We are at a loss otherwise to account for the length of time the letter was passing from Williamsburgh to us, and the expedition with which the despatch appears to have been transmitted from Baltimore to Philadelphia, the instructions given Captain Samuel Smith by the Committee of Baltimore, and those given by Captain Nicholson to his Lieutenant, copies of which we likewise send you. The originals came into our hands accidentally, and the whole of the proceedings of the Baltimore Committee were kept from us.

Whence this unmerited treatment has sprung, we cannot conceive, as we ever most cheerfully co-operated with and assisted the Colony of Virginia in such measures as we could justify, from our situation, and have always considered the interest and security of Baltimore as essential to this Province, and acted correspondently. With these ideas, and reflecting upon these circumstances, and being fully persuaded the Congress would have determined differently if they had been furnished with the same evidence upon which we proceeded, we cannot but hope they will rest satisfied with what we have done, more especially as a Convention is shortly to be held, and we are firmly persuaded the Govornour will not stir from his station, or do anything to disturb the peace of the Province between this time and the meeting of that body. We consider the Congress as having the supreme authority over the Continent, and look up to them with reverence and esteem, but that they cannot interfere, with uncontrollable power, in the internal polity of this, or any other Province; and herein we are supported by the resolves of the late Convention. If unhappily, however, they do not approve our conduct, we are determined to call a Convention with all convenient speed, and lay our whole transactions before them, that they may judge of the propriety of what we have done.

We omitted informing you before that the Governour assured us, on his honour, that he had received no letters from the Ministry at home but those he delivered to us, and of which we have heretofore sent you copies. He has also given us leave to search all his papers, if we think proper. We are not convinced that he has carried on any correspondence with the Ministry unfriendly to America. If on suspicion only we seize the head of the civil Government, all commissions of Magistrates, Sheriffs, and other officers flowing from him must be at an end, and the Council of Safety have no power to fill up the vacancy. The Convention have this power inherent in them, as Representatives of the people; they have not communicated it to us


that we can find. On seizing the Governour, therefore, the Convention ought to be Immediately called, to take the state and condition of the Province into their consideration, and make provision for the civil department. If you recommend calling it earlier than the 27th, we shall pay due attention to the day you fix on. We have done everything in our power to promote the interest and peace of the Province, and are firmly persuaded that, if this storm blows over, we shall continue to enjoy quiet some time longer, if not the whole campaign, and, perhaps, before another, all will be settled happily. We write to the President by this opportunity, and we think ourselves fortunate in having William Paca with us, and approving of all we have done; and we doubt not you would have acted, in substance, as we have done, had you been here on the spot. Our Council, consisting of Daniel of St˙ Thomas Jenifer, Charles Carroll, Barrister, Benjamin Rumsey, and James Tilghman; were unanimous in their opinion, and if we are suffered to go on our own way, all will end as It should do. If, on the other hand, the Governour is treated with ignominy and rigour, and laid under arrest, and guarded, &c˙, we cannot tell what will be the consequence. This we are certain of, our Government will be shaken to its very foundations, and in what form it would be setted again, we know not.

A˙ Ross was taken by our orders last Monday, and brought before us yesterday; but as we had not then time to inquire particularly into his offence, we deferred it until we had a little more leisure, and committed him to the custody of a guard. If, upon examination, he should discover anything which we may apprehend will be of service, we will immediately disclose it to you. We should have been glad to have had a line from you by the express. We have received the money-plates, &c.

And are yours, &c˙,

To the Deputies for Maryland in Congress.

N˙ B. A˙ Ross was represented in the letter to the Baltimore Committee as inimical to America, but not a word said of him in that addressed to us. We enclose you copies of a letter from J˙ Rogers and R˙ Alexander, and our passport In consequence thereof.