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Declaration by the Provincial Congress of South-Carolina



Charlestown, November 19, 1775.

It has ever been the policy of America in general, and of this Colony in particular, to endeavour to cultivate a good correspondence with the neighbouring Indians, and especially since the commencement of these present disputes with the British Administration. This policy originated from a view of preserving, at the cheapest rate, our borders from savage incursions. Of late this policy has been persevered in, and our endeavours have been redoubled in order to oppose and to frustrate the designs of the British Administration, by the hands of Indians, to deluge our frontiers with the blood of our fellow-citizens.


Experience has taught us that occasional presents to the Indians have been the great means of acquiring their friendship. In this necessary service, Government every year expended large sums of money. The late Council of Safety spared no pains to confirm them in their pacifick inclinations; but, from repeated, constant, and uniform accounts, it clearly appeared that a general Indian war was inevitable, unless the Indians were furnished with some small supplies of ammunition, to enable them to procure deer skins for their support and maintenance. Rather than draw on an Indian war, by an ill-timed frugality in withholding ammunition, the late Council of Safety, in October, issued a supply of ammunition, consisting of one thousand weight of powder and two thousand weight of lead, for the use of the Cherokees, as the only probable means of preserving the frontiers from the inroads of the Indians.

The Council more readily agreed to this measure, because, as they almost daily expected the British arms would attack the Colony in front, on the sea-coast, they would be inexcusable if they did not, as much as in them lay, remove every cause to apprehend an attack at the same time from the Indians upon the back settlements.

But this measure, entered into by the Council' s principles of the soundest policy of Christianity, breathing equal benevolence to the associators and non-associators, and arising only from necessity, unfortunately, has been made, by some non-associators, an instrument for the most diabolical purposes. These weak men, to the astonishment of common sense, have made many of their deluded followers believe that this ammunition was sent to the Indians with orders for them to fall upon the non-associators, and taking advantage from the scarcity of ammunition among the individuals, arising from the necessity of filling the publick magazines, they invidiously represented that this ammunition ought not to have been sent to the Indians, while the inhabitants of the Colony, individually, are, in a great measure, destitute of that article.

Wherefore, in compassion to those who are deluded by such representations, the Congress have taken these things into their consideration, and they desire our deceived fellow-Colonists to reflect that the story of the ammunition being sent to the Indians with orders for them to massacre the non-associators, is absurd in its very nature: First, because the whole tenour of the Council of Safety demonstrates that they were incapable of such inhumanity, as a body, and the character of each individual shields him against a charge of so cruel a nature.

Second, because, also, if men will but call reason to their aid, they must plainly see, that if the Indians were let loose upon the frontiers, they must indiscriminately massacre associators and non-associators, since there is no mark to distinguish either to the Indians. However, in order to clear up all difficulties on this head, and ease the minds of our deceived friends, the Congress, in a body, and also individually, declare, in the most solemn manner, before Almighty God, that they do not believe that any order was ever issued, or any idea entertained by the late Council of Safety, or any member of it, or by any person under authority of Congress, to cause the Indians to commence hostilities upon the frontiers, or any part thereof. On the contrary, they do believe that they, and each of them, have used every endeavour to inculcate in the Indians sentiments friendly to the inhabitants, without distinction. It is greatly to be regretted that fellow-Colonists, individually, are not so well supplied with ammunition as would be adequate to their private convenience. But does not the unhappy situation of publick affairs justify the filling the publick magazines, thereby securing the welfare and forming the defence of the State, at the risk of inconvenience or safety of individuals, and out of the publick stock is given to the Indians, which may be sufficient to keep them quiet, by, in some degree, supplying their urgent occasions, yet not sufficient to enable them to make war? Ought our people, nay, they cannot have any reasonable ground to arraign the policy by which they are and may be preserved from savage hostility; or to complain that, because the whole Colony or the publick, individually, cannot be, supplied with ammunition, that a small quantity ought not to be sent to the Indians? Men ought also to reflect that this small quantity is given in order to render


it unnecessary to supply the publick, individually, on the score of defence against Indians. Men ought also to reflect, that when the publick magazines are well stored, supplies can be instantly, plentifully, and regularly poured upon those parts where the publick service may require them. Common sense and common honesty dictate that there is a probability that by a present of a small quantity of ammunition to the Indians they can be kept in peace. This present ought not to be held back, at the hazard of inducing an Indian war, involving the Colony in immense expense, breaking settlements, and unnecessarily sacrificing a number of lives.