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Chapter 46:

Georgia and the Carolinas.

July—October, 1775.

‘God grant conciliatory measures may take place;
Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July. to Oct.
there is not an hour to be lost; the state of affairs will not admit of the least delay:’ such was the frank to message sent to the ministry in July by the able Sir James Wright, of Georgia; and from a province in which ‘a king's governor had little or no business,’ he pressed for leave to return to England and explain and enforce his advice. The people met in congress; a council of safety maintained an executive supervision; local affairs were left to parochial committees; but the crown officers were not molested, and but for sympathy with South Carolina, and rumors of attempts to excite slaves to desolate the heart of the colony, Indians to lay waste the frontier, some good appearance of authority would have been kept up. When in Savannah the chief justice refused to accept [84] bail for a South Carolina recruiting officer, a crowd
Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
broke open the gaol and set the prisoner free; and on the fifth of August he beat up for men at the door of to the chief justice himself and hard by the house of the governor. The militia officers were compelled to sign the association; and navigation was so effectually regulated, that a ship which arrived with two hundred and four slaves, was compelled to go away without landing them. In September two hundred and fifty barrels of powder were taken by the ‘liberty’ people from a vessel at Tybee.

South Carolina needed more than ever a man of prudence at the head of the administration; and its new governor owed his place only to his birth. The younger son of a noble family, Lord William Campbell knew nothing of the people whom he was to govern, and he put himself under the direction of the passionate and violent among his irresponsible subordinates. The more temperate, especially Bull, the lieutenant governor, kept aloof, and had no part in his superciliousness and mistakes. The planters were disposed to loyalty from affection and every motive of interest; but he would not notice the elements for conciliation, nor listen to the advice of the considerate and best informed. The council of safety, composed of seventeen men, elected by the convention in June, proved its dislike of independence by choosing Henry Laurens for its president; but the governor wrote home, that ‘the people of the best sense and the greatest authority, as well as the rabble, had been gradually led into the most violent measures by a set of desperate and designing men;’ and he planned the reduction of the province by arms. [85]

He delayed calling an assembly, in the hope of hear-

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
ing ‘favorable news from the Northward’ to ‘moderate the frenzy with which all ranks seemed possessed;’ but while intercepted letters revealed the tampering of British agents with Indians, on the eighth of July news arrived from Boston of the battle of Bunker Hill. On the tenth, Campbell met his first legislature; and in his opening speech, refusing to discuss the questions that had arisen, he denied by implication the existence of grievances. ‘I warn you,’ said he, ‘of the danger you are in; the violent measures adopted cannot fail of drawing down inevitable ruin on this flourishing colony.’ These criminations and menaces left little hope of escaping war; the assembly lingered inactive through the summer, and asked in vain to be adjourned.

The patriot party was composed chiefly of residents in the low country; and hardly formed a majority of the inhabitants of the colony. The best educated were so unanimous, that when Campbell needed one more member of the council, to make up the quorum which required but three, he was under a necessity to appoint an Englishman who was collector of the port; for, said he, ‘there is not another person in the province whom I can recommend, who would accept of that honor, in so low an estimation is it at present held.’ But in the districts of Camden and Ninety-six he was assured that thousands were animated by affection to the king. In the region from the line of the Catawba and Wateree to the Congaree and Saluda, and all the way to Georgia, embracing the part of South Carolina where there were the fewest slaves, the rude settlers had no close sympathy with the [86] planters. Instead of raising indigo or rice, they were

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
chiefly herdsmen; below, the Protestant Episcopal church was predominant; the land above tide water thronged with various Christian sects. They had no common family recollections or ancestry, no ties by frequent intermarriages; a body of Germans who occupied Saxe Gotha on the Congaree, looked to the king as their landlord, and would not risk an ejectment from their farms; others, recently escaped from poverty in Europe, sought only subsistence and quiet in America. Still less did the two populations blend in political affinities; legislative power under the provincial government rested exclusively in the hands of men of the Church of England; delegates were elected only from the parishes, near the sea; west of Orangeburgh there had been no representation; and the occupants of the land, as a class, were too newly arrived, and too ignorant of the questions at issue, and too little trained to a participation in public life, to have fixed opinions. The planters were in constant connection with England; enough of them had been bred there to give a tone to society, and a direction to opinion; they looked down upon the boors of the interior as ‘men of low degree, though of eminence in that new country; totally illiterate, though of common natural parts;’ and there were not wanting agents or partisans of the crown—Fletchall, the very active and spirited Robert Cunningham, Patrick Cunningham and others—to fill the minds of these rude husbandmen with bitterness against ‘the gentlemen.’ The summer was passed in indecisive struggles for superiority; the crown had its emissaries, whom the Council of safety sent William Henry Drayton and [87] a clergyman, William Tennent, to counteract. The
Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
opposing parties prepared for war; Fort Augusta in Georgia was taken and held by the Americans; the possession of the fort at Ninety-six was disputed to Quiet was restored by a truce rather than by the submission of the royalists. It was on this occasion that Andrew Pickens was first heard of as a captain in arms; a puritan in religion; a patriot in thought and deed. On the other hand, Moses Kirkland, who had accepted a commission from the council of safety, changed sides, came down to Campbell with the assurance, that on the appearance of a British force, it would be joined by four thousand men, and was sent to the commander in chief at Boston for the purpose of discussing an expedition against the South. The inhabitants of the interior desired to be let alone; if compelled to take sides, a large body of them, probably a majority, inclined to the royal standard.

This deep and seemingly irreconcilable division was a fearful embarrassment to the patriots; the danger from the savages was more terrible; and the discovery that a large body of them stood ready to seize the hatchet and the scalping knife at the king's behest, set the community in a blaze. Stuart, the Indian agent for the Southern department, knew the Red Men too well to advise calling them down; but he loved his office, and had withdrawn from Charleston to St. Augustine, where he was open to the worst suggestions of the most reckless underlings, who yet were always clamoring at his dilatoriness and inefficiency. The quickening authority of Gage was invoked; and one of the last acts of that commander was to write to him from Boston: ‘The people of [88] Carolina in turning rebels to their king have lost all

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
faith; improve a correspondence with the Indians to the greatest advantage, and even when opportunity to offers, make them take arms against his majesty's enemies, and distress them all in their power; for no terms are now to be kept with them; they have brought down all the savages they could against us here, who, with their riflemen, are continually firing upon our advanced sentries; in short, no time should be lost to distress a set of people so wantonly rebellious; supply the Indians with what they want, be the expense what it will, as every exertion must now be made on the side of government.’ On receiving this order, in which Indians and riflemen of the backwoods were purposely confounded, Stuart promised the strictest obedience; he sent by way of Pensacola to the Lower Creeks and even to the Chickasaws; he looked with impatience for answers to his messages to the different nations. To the Upper Creeks he despatched his own brother as confidential envoy, ‘to say publicly, that the want of trade and ammunition was entirely owing to the rebels;’ that, ‘if they would attach themselves to the king's interest, they should find plenty pouring in upon them;’ and he was also to bribe Emistisico, the great chief of the Upper Creeks, by promising him ‘in private the greatest honor and favor, if he would exert himself to bring the king's rebellious white subjects to reason and a sense of their duty.’ The same method was pursued with the Second Man of the Little Tallassees, and with the Overhill Cherokees and their assembled chiefs; to whom, as well as to the Upper Creeks, ammunition was distributed, that they might be ready ‘to act in the execution of [89] any concerted plan for distressing the rebels.’ Cam-
Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
eron, the deputy agent, shrunk from the thought, saying: ‘I pray God there may be no intention to involve the Cherokees in the dispute; for should the to Indians be prompted to take up the hatchet against the colonies, they could not be restrained from committing the most inhuman barbarities on women and children. I am averse to acts of this nature, though my duty to my sovereign exceeds all other considerations.’

But the greatest danger to the planters was from the sea, and the council of safety slowly and reluctantly admitted the necessity of defending the harbor of Charleston. During the summer, ships were boarded off Savannah river, and near St. Augustine, and more than twenty thousand pounds of gunpowder were obtained. The export of rice was allowed on no other terms than that it should be exchanged for arms and ammunition, which were obtained from Hispaniola and from the French and Dutch islands. The governor was all the while urging the ministry to employ force against the three southernmost provinces; and the patriots were conscious of his importunities. A free negro man of property, charged with the intention of piloting British ships up the channel to the city, perished on the gallows, though protesting his innocence. All who refused the association were disarmed, even though they were in the service of the crown. On the thirteenth of September, just after a full discovery of the intrigues of the governor with the country people, his arrest was proposed; yet, on the opposition of Rawlins Lowndes, the motion was defeated in the general committee by a vote of twenty [90] three against sixteen; but the council of safety order

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
ed William Moultrie, colonel of the second regiment, to take possession of Fort Johnson on James Island. Aware of the design, the governor sent a party to throw the guns and carriages from the platform; and on the fifteenth of September, having suddenly dissolved the last royal assembly ever held in South Carolina, he fled for refuge to comfortless quarters on board the small man-of-war, the Tamer. During the previous night, three companies commanded by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Bernard Elliott, and Francis Marion, under Lieutenant Colonel Motte, dropped down with the ebb tide from Gadsden's wharf, landed on James Island and entered the fort, in which but three or four men remained. Lord William Campbell sent Innis, his secretary, in the boat of the Tamer, to demand ‘by what authority they had taken possession of his Majesty's fort;’ and an officer appeared and answered: ‘We are American troops, under Lieutenant Colonel Motte; we hold the fort by the express command of the council of safety.’ ‘By whom is this message given?’ Without hesitation the officer replied: ‘I am Charles Cotesworth Pinckney;’ and the names of Motte and Pinckney figured in the next despatches of the governor. Moultrie was desired to devise a banner; and as the uniform of the colony was blue, and the first and second regiments wore on the front of their caps a silver crescent, he gave directions for a large blue flag with a crescent in the right-hand corner. A schooner was stationed between Fort Johnson and the town, to intercept the manof-war's boats. A post was established at Haddrell's Point, and a fort on Sullivan's Island was proposed. [91] The tents on James Island contained at least five hun-
Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
dred men well armed and clad, soldier-like in theirdeportment, and strictly disciplined. They were taught not merely the use of the musket but the ex-to ercise of the great guns. The king's arsenal supplied cannon and balls. New gun carriages were soon constructed, for the mechanics, almost to a man, were hearty in the cause. Hundreds of negro laborers were brought in from the country to assist in work. None stopped to calculate expense.

The heroic courage of the Carolinians, who, from a generous sympathy with Massachusetts, went forward to meet greater danger than any other province, was scoffed at by the representatives of the king as an infatuation. Martin, of North Carolina, making himself busy with the affairs of his neighbors, wrote in midsummer: ‘The people of South Carolina forget entirely their own weakness and are blustering treason, while Charleston, that is the head and heart of their boasted province, might be destroyed by a single frigate, and the country thereby reduced to the last distress. In charity to them and in duty to my king and country, I give it as my sincere opinion, that the rod of correction cannot be spared.’ A few weeks later, Lord William Campbell chimed in with him, reckoning up the many deadly perils by which they were environed; ‘the Indians;’ ‘the disaffected back country people;’ their own social condition, ‘where their slaves were five to one;’ and the power of Britain from the sea. Before the world they offered their fortunes, the safety of their families, and their own lives in witness to their love of freedom. From Charleston harbor Campbell wrote in October: ‘Let [92] it not be entirely forgot, that the king has dominions in

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
this part of America. What defence can they make? Three regiments, a proper detachment of artillery, to with a couple of good frigates, some small craft, and a bomb-ketch, would do the whole business here, and go a great way to reduce Georgia and North Carolina to a sense of their duty. Charleston is the fountainhead from whence all violence flows; stop that, and the rebellion in this part of the continent will soon be at an end.’

North Carolina, fourth among the thirteen colonies in importance, ranking next to Pennsylvania, was happy in the natural security of its position, and its comparative unanimity. In the low country, for the distance of a hundred miles from the sea, all classes were penetrated with the enthusiasm for liberty. Men whom the royalists revered as of ‘the first order of people in the country,’ of unblemished integrity and earnest character, loyal by nature, gave thoughtful consideration to the political questions in issue, and decided irrevocably against the right of the British parliament to tax the colonies. In Brunswick county, Robert Howe, formerly captain of Fort Johnston, employed himself in training the people to arms; though Martin, the royal governor, held his military talents in light esteem. At Newbern, the capital, whose name kept in memory that its founders were emigrants from the highlands of Switzerland, volunteers openly formed themselves into independent companies. Afraid of being seized, Martin, suddenly shipping his family to New York, retreated to Fort Johnston on Cape Fear river. He had repeatedly offered to raise a battalion from the Scottish Highlanders [93] in Carolina, and declared himself sure of the

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
allegiance of the Regulators, who were weary of insurrection and scrupulous about their oaths. Again and again he importuned to be restored to his old rank in the army as lieutenant colonel, promising the greatest consequences from such an appointment. He could not conceal that ‘the frenzy’ had taken possession of all classes of men around him, and that the news of the affair at Lexington had universally wrought a great change, confirming the seditious, and bringing over to them vast numbers of the fickle, wavering, and unsteady multitude. Being absolutely alone, at the mercy of any handful of insurgents who should take the trouble to come after him, his braggart garrulity increased with his impotence; and having formerly called for three thousand stand of arms, he now wrote for fourfold that number, ten thousand at least, to be sent immediately from England, with artillery, ammunition, money, some pairs of colors, and a military commission for himself; promising, with the aid of two regiments, to force a connection with the interior, and raise not the Highlanders alone, but the people of the upper country in such overwhelming numbers, as to restore order in the two Carolinas, ‘hold Virginia in awe,’ and recover every colony south of Pennsylvania.

After the termination of the seven years war, very few of the Highland regiment returned home; soldiers and officers choosing rather to accept grants of land in America for settlement. Many also of the inhabitants of North Western Scotland, especially of the clans of Macdonald and Macleod, listened to overtures from those who had obtained concessions of vast domains, and migrated to Middle Carolina; tearing themselves, [94] with bitterest grief, from kindred whose sorrow at

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
parting admitted no consolation. Those who went first, reported favorably of the clear, sunny clime, to where every man might have land of his own; the distance and the voyage lost their terrors; and from the isles of Rasay and Skye whole neighborhoods formed parties for removal, sweetening their exile by carrying with them their costume and opinions, their old Celtic language and songs.

Distinguished above them all was Allan Macdonald of Kingsborough, and his wife Flora Macdonald, the same who in the midsummer of 1746, yielding to a womanly sympathy for distress, had rescued Prince Charles Edward from his pursuers, with a self-possession, fertility of resources, courage, and fidelity, that are never mentioned but to her honor. Compelled by poverty, they had removed to North Carolina in 1774, and made their new home in the west of Cumberland county. She was now about fifty-five, mother of many children, of middle stature, soft features, ‘uncommonly mild and gentle manners, and elegant presence.’ Her husband had the graceful mien and manly looks of a gallant Highlander, aged, but still with hair jet black, a stately figure, and a countenance that expressed intelligence and steadfastness. On the third of July he came down to Fort Johnston, and concerted with Martin the raising a battalion of ‘the good and faithful Highlanders,’ in which he was himself to be major, and Alexander Macleod, an officer of marines on halfpay, was to be the first captain. They were to wait the proper moment to take the field; but the design, though secretly devised, did not remain concealed; [95] and rumor added a purpose of inviting the negroes

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
to rise.

The spirit of resistance, quickened by the tidings which came in from Bunker Hill, extended itself more to and more widely and deeply. On the waters of Albermarle Sound, over which the adventurous skiffs of the first settlers of Carolina had glided before the waters of the Chesapeake were known to Englishmen, the movement was assisted by the writings of young James Iredell, from England; by the letters and counsels of Joseph Hewes; and by the calm wisdom of Samuel Johnston of Edenton, a native of Dundee in Scotland, a man revered for his integrity, thoroughly opposed to disorder and to revolution, if revolution could be avoided without yielding to oppression. The last provincial congress had invested him contingently with power to call a new one; on the tenth of July he issued his summons to the people of North Carolina to elect their delegates. But two days later, Dartmouth wrote from the king: ‘I hope that in North Carolina the governor may not be reduced to the disgraceful necessity of seeking protection on board the king's ships;’ and just then Martin slunk away from land, and took refuge on board the Cruiser. On the eighteenth a party came down, and, encouraged by the presence of John Ashe and Cornelius Harnett, set the fort on fire before his face, and within reach of the guns of the man-of-war.

As soon as the deliberations at Philadelphia would permit, Richard Caswell, a delegate to the general congress, hastened home to recommend and promote a convention, and to quicken the daring spirit of his constituents. He had with reluctance admitted the [96] necessity of American resistance; but having once

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
chosen his part, he advocated the most resolute conduct, and even censured the Newbern committee for to allowing the governor to escape.

On Monday, the twenty-first of August, the people of North Carolina assembled at Hillsborough in a congress, composed of more than one hundred and eighty members. A spirit of moderation controlled and guided their zeal; Caswell proposed Samuel Johnston as president, and he was unanimously elected. In a vituperative, incoherent, interminable proclamation, Martin had warned the people against the convention, as tending to unnatural rebellion; that body, in reply, voted his proclamation ‘a false and seditious libel,’ and ordered it to be burnt by the common hangman. They professed allegiance to the king, but in the plainest words avowed the purpose to resist parliamentary taxation ‘to the utmost.’ They resolved, that the people of the province, singly and collectively, were bound by the acts of the continental and provincial congresses, because in both they were represented by persons chosen by themselves. A conference was had with the Regulators, whose religious and political scruples were thus removed. The intrigue of Martin with the Highlanders was divulged by Farquhard Campbell, and a committee, on which were many Scots, urged them, not wholly without success, to unite with the other inhabitants of America in defence of rights derived from God and the constitution. The meditated resistance involved the institution of government; a treasury, which for the time was supplied by an emission of paper money; the purchase of ammunition and arms; an embodying of a [97] regular force of one thousand men; an organization

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
of the militia of the colony; an annual provincial congress to be elected by all freeholders; a committee of safety for each of the six districts into which the to province was divided; a provincial council, consisting of the president of the convention and two members from each of the six divisions, as the great executive power. Richard Caswell, who, for the combined powers of wisdom and action, stands out as the foremost patriot of North Carolina, efficient in building up society on its new foundation, a financier of skill and integrity, a courageous statesman and a man of capacity for war, was detained by the people in their immediate service; and John Penn, a Virginian by birth, became his successor in the general congress.

The most remarkable subject brought before the convention was Franklin's plan of a confederacy, which, on the twenty fourth of August, was introduced by William Hooper; like Franklin, a native of Boston; trained under James Otis to the profession of the law; now a resident in Wilmington, ‘the region of politeness and hospitality,’ of commerce, wealth, and culture. North Carolina was always prompt to respond to the call of her sister Colonies; her convention listened with ready sympathy to the proposition, though it included a system of independence and government, and it was about to be adopted. But in the committee of the whole house, the moderating prudence of Johnston interposed; and, by his persuasion, North Carolina consented to forego the honor of being the first to declare for a permanent federal union. On Monday, the fourth of September, it was voted, but not unanimously, that a general confederation [98] was not at present eligible; that a further

Chap. XLVI.} 1775. July to Oct.
confederacy ought only to he adopted in case of the last necessity, and then only after consultation with to the provincial congress. Hooper acquiesced, and the house adopted unanimously his draft of an address to the inhabitants of the British empire, most solemnly disavowing the desire of independence, consenting to the continuance of the old injurious and oppressive regulation of trade, and asking only to be restored to the state existing before 1763.

On the eighteenth of October the provincial council held its first meeting. Among its members were Samuel Johnston; Samuel Ashe, a man whose integrity even his enemies never questioned, whose name a mountain county and the fairest town in the western part of the commonwealth keep in memory; Abner Nash, an eminent lawyer, described by Martin as ‘the oracle of the committee of Newbern, and a principal promoter of sedition;’ but on neither of these three did the choice of president fall; that office of peril and power was bestowed unanimously on Cornelius Harnett, of New Hanover, whose earnestness of purpose and disinterested, unquenchable zeal had made him honored as the Samuel Adams of North Carolina. Thus prepared, the people of that colony looked towards the future with dignity and fearlessness. The continent, still refusing to perceive the impending necessity of independence, awaited the answer to its last petition to the king.

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