Skip to main content

Letter to Arthur Dobbs Esqr. Governr. of North Carolina respecting the Disputes between the different Branches of the Legislature and the ill Consequences resulting therefrom.


It is great concern to Us to find by the Duplicate of a Letter from you, dated the 12th. of Decemr. last (the Original of which has not been received) that His Majesty's Service in general has been so greatly Obstructed and the Province of South Carolina in particular deprived of that Aid and Assistance, which, in its present distressfull Situation, it had a right to expect of its Neighbours, from the unfortunate and ill timed Disputes amongst the different Branches of the Legislature in North Carolina, upon Questions of meer speculative Polity, too trivial in almost any times to deserve Consideration, and which have been very improperly drawn into Discussion at a time when the united Efforts of all His Majesty's Subjects are so essentially necessary to their own Security and to the promoting the general Interest of the Community.

As the Bills for granting an Aid to His Majesty, which you say you have rejected are not sent with the Duplicate of your Letter, it is not possible for us to determine how far you are justified from the Motives upon which you acted, in witholding your Assent to Bills of this Nature in time of such Necessity, but it is Our Duty to acquaint you with Our Sentiments, upon such reasons as are suggested in your Letter, so far as We are enabled to form a Judgment upon them, from the general Manner in which you have thought proper to explain yourself upon this Occasion.

It is not, in Our Opinion, the part of the Crown or it's Officers, either in point of Right or Propriety, to interfere in the Nomination of an Agent, so far as regards the Choice of the person, in this respect the Representatives of the People are and ought to be free to chuse whom they think proper to act, in whatever concerns the Affairs and Interest of the Colony here, and with whom they and the Council only can correspond, the Governor being very properly restrained by his Instructions, from corresponding upon Matters of a publick Nature relative to his Government, with any other persons than those Servants of the Crown here, in whose Department the Affairs of America are placed.

The only point therefore in which a Governor can with propriety interfere, is in the Mode of the Appointment of the Agent, and tho' We think, that the Attempt of the House of Representatives to name the Agent in the Aid Bill, was irregular and inconsistent, with what the Crown has approved of, in other Colonies; yet when We consider the Necessity there was of some Supply to answer the exigency of the Service in the present calamitous State of His Majesty's Southern Provinces, We cannot but think that it was too trivial an Objection to have been admitted, as a reason for rejecting that Supply, and at the same time, obstructing that mutual benefit which both the Crown and the Subject in North Carolina would derive from the Province having an Agent here duly authorized to answer upon all such Matters as should occurr relative to it's Affairs.

As to the Refusal of the Assembly to enter upon Business without a Majority of the whole House being present, founded upon what they conceive to have been the antient Constitution of Carolina, under the original Charter, it does appear to Us to be a most unreasonable and indecent Opposition to the Will of the Crown, declared in His late Majesty's Instructions to you, after the most impartial and candid examination by His Majesty's Attorney and Sollicitor General, of every fact and principle, upon which their Question depended, and after a full Consideration, by the Lords of His Majesty's Council, and by this Board of every Circumstance of Benefit and Convenience to the Province.

The Inconveniency of such a Constitution, as the Assembly contends for, is obvious upon the slightest View of it, but when it is considered, how inconsistent it is with the Practice and Constitution of the Mother Country, and how favourable an Opportunity it may afford to ill designing Men, to obstruct the Publick Service, it surely is not to be defended, either in Justice or Reason, upon principles laid down in Charters granted in times to which of all others one would least appeal for true constitutional principles and therefore We hope, that when you shall have fairly stated this Matter to the Assembly, with Our Sentiments upon it, they will no longer persevere in so ill founded and inconsistent a Claim.

As to the Claims of the Assembly, in reference to the Mode of passing the publick Accounts, it does appear to Us, from the manner in which you state it, to be a practice not only derogatory to the honour of the Crown, but subversive of every principle of Policy, which the wisdom of the Legislature here has prescribed, by numberless Laws, for the Security of the Subject, in a Matter so essential to his Interest, His Majesty's Instructions by which the Mod of passing Accounts is directed, is founded upon the principle and practice of the Mother Country, to which the Constitution of the Colonies is to assimilate, as near as different Circumstances will admit, and there is certainly no part of the British Constitution, more closely adapted to the Situation of its Colonies, than those Forms which take place in granting and issuing publick Money, and passing the publick Accounts.

Under the exact observance of these forms, the Subject has that Security, which he cannot have under any other, that the Taxes levied upon him by the Authority of the Legislature, are equally and justly levied, and that the Money is faithfully applied to the Service, for which it is granted; But if these forms and the Checks attendant upon them are once set aside; that Security ceases, and a Door is opened to every Species of Fraud and Corruption, in those who are intrusted with publick Money.

It is great concern to Us upon this Occasion to observe, that the Colonies have been too long indulged in Methods of granting, issuing and Accounting for publick Money, very different from the practice of the Mother Country; what the proper remedy may be, for the many Evils consequential of such a practice, it is not now for Us to determine; but We have thought it Our Duty to take this Opportunity of stating to you Our Sentiments in general, upon this Subject, and We sincerely wish, that it may have the good Effect to convince the Assembly of the unreasonableness of their Claim, and induce them to show a proper regard to their determinations of the Royal Will, which are so apparently founded in considerations of a publick benefit and convenience and the tenderest regard to the Right, Interest and Welfare of the Subject.

We are

Sir your most obedient

humble Servants