"I am sorry the Lords Proprietors have been induced (by a necessity, to defend and support their just prerogatives) at this juncture to disannul some of your laws; if they had not thought the letting those acts subsist might have rendered their right of repeal precarious, they would have suffered them still to continue. I hope from you, therefore, a respectable behaviour towards them, that we may not feel any more their displeasure in so sensible a manner, as the loss (in this time of need) of our duty-law, and which has also occasioned an injunction to me and the council, from acting with an assembly who shall dispute their Lordships undoubted right of repealing laws, and appointing officers civil and military.
"I find some are jealous and uneasy on account of rumours spread, that you design to alter the tax-act, for sinking your paper currency. Public credit ought to be sacred, and it is a standing maxim, That no state can subsist longer than their credit is maintained: I hope therefore you have no such intentions, which would put me under a necessity of doing what I have never yet done; I mean, disagreeing with you. I expect therefore you will make good what the public is answerable for, and proceed to such farther methods for paying our debts, as shall be both honourable and proper, and best adapted to our circumstances.
"The alarm from the southward, about five months since, obliged me to be in a posture of defence, and occasioned some charges, the accounts of which shall be laid before you; and I desire you will provide for the discharge of them: I think also the militia-acts want some amendments; and that you should contrive to keep a good watch in Charlestown.
"This is what I intended to have recommended to you: but Mr. Middleton's telling me, in the name of the rest, that you would not act with, and your surprising message since, that you will not receive any thing from me, in conjunction with my council, has made it necessary for me to take this occasion of talking with that plainness and freedom so extraordinary a proceeding of yours requires. And, first, I must take notice of your message, wherein you say, you own me as Governor, because I am approved of by the King; but that you disown the council to be a legal one, nor will act with them on any account whatsoever; and this is subscribed by all your members: but, upon examining, I find it to be pretty dark and evasive, and seems as if you would avoid expressing in plain terms, what I have too much cause to fear is your design, I mean, to renounce all obedience to the Lords Proprietors: and this I cannot but think you propose from all your words and actions. You say, you acknowledge me, because I am approved of by the King; but you take no notice of my commission from the Proprietors, which is what makes me Governor. The confirmation of the King, only signifies his majesty's approbation of the person the Lords Proprietors have constituted; but it is my commission and instruction from them, that not only grants, but limits my power, and contains the rules by which I must act, and are to warrant and vouch my actions; therefore, to avoid declaring in express terms your renouncing the Lords power, and at the same time doing it in effect, is to create perpetual doubts and disputes, and is not acting with that sincerity and plainness which ought to be used in all public debates, and especially in matters of so great concern as this is, and upon which so great consequences depend.
"I do require and demand of you, therefore, and expect you will answer me in plain and positive terms, whether you own the authority of the Lords Proprietors as Lords of this province, and having authority to administer or authorise others to administer the government thereof; saving the allegiance of them and the people to his most sacred majesty King George? Or, whether you absolutely renounce all obedience to them, and those commissioned and authorised by them? Or, whether you admit their general power, and only dispute that particular branch of their authority, in constituting a council after the manner they have now done? If you deny their general power and authority in this province, and say, that their Lordships have forfeited their charter, as Mr. Berrisford asserted, and you all acquiesced in; then I demand of you, that you signify wherein the Lords have forfeited their charter, and what particular branch thereof they have broken: and I demand of you, that supposing (not granting) they have made a forfeiture of their charter, by what power do you presume to renounce their authority, and to model a government out of your own heads, before such time as that, by a court having lawful jurisdiction of the same, it shall be adjudged that the Lords have made a forfeiture of their charter, and that the powers granted them are null and void? If the King is of opinion, that any corporation or society have made a forfeiture of the rights and powers granted by their charter, although his majesty may have the advice of his Attorney and Solicitor-general, and his Judges and Council learned in the law, that such a forfeiture has been made, (and this he may more reasonably depend on than any advice or assurance you can have); yet, notwithstanding this, and his supreme authority as King, he never dispossessed the persons of the powers granted them, before a quo warranto or some other process had been brought, and judgment obtained against the same. And if the King doth not assume such a power, by what authority do you assume it?
"I desire you further to consider the consequence that attends that assertion, Of the charter being forfeited, before judgment is given upon the same. For if it be so, then the forfeiture must be from the time that the fact was committed that caused the forfeiture; and then you must remember, that, by the charter, the Lords have granted to them, not only the power of ordering the government, but also the lands are granted to them by the said charter; so that if there is a forfeiture of the rights and prerogatives of the government, there is also a forfeiture of their rights to the lands; and so all grants made by their authority of any lands, since the fact committed that caused the forfeiture, according to your own doctrine and assertion, must be null and void; and therefore, how many persons titles to their lands will become void, I leave you to consider. And though, it may be, you will assign some new late fact, that you say will cause such a forfeiture, by which you may think to avoid the ill consequence that attends the titles to the lands; yet know, that the facts that you assign may not be the only ones that may be thought to have made the forfeiture of their charter. And if your present assertion is true, that they may be dispossessed before a judgment; it may be, other persons may assign other causes of the forfeiture, besides those which you assign, which may have been committed many years ago: for you cannot but know there have been persons in the province, that, for several years past, have publicly asserted, that the Lords have done facts, for which their charter was become forfeited. Which if so, I leave you to consider what a gate you will leave open to call in question, nay, utterly destroy, several hundreds of peoples titles to their lands. And though you have most unjustly and untruly suggested to the people, to create a prejudice in them to the Lords Proprietors, that their Lordships designed to dispute their titles to their lands; yet, by this assertion and practice, you are the persons that will not only call in question, but effectually destroy their titles.
"And if you persist in disowning the council as now authorised, then I desire you further to consider, in what capacity I can act with you, and to what purpose you pretend to sit and transact the public business of the province. You know very well I am not able to join with you in passing any law without the consent of my council; and surely you cannot pretend to pass laws without me: and what an absolute occasion there is now to pass some laws, that the province may be put in a posture of defence, and the contingent charges thereof defrayed, I leave you seriously to consider, and hope you will not lose the whole province to the enemy, for your own humours.
"But I am further to tell you, that, in case you continue to deny the authority of the council, you cannot properly style yourselves the representatives of the people; for you know very well you were chosen members of assembly, pursuant to and by virtue of the writs signed by myself and council; for it is not the peoples voting for you that makes you become their representatives; the liege people of this, or any other province, have no power to convene and chuse their representatives, without being authorised so to do by some writ or order coming from authority lawfully empowered. And if you pretend that the writs signed by me, as Governor, were sufficient: to that I answer, that I do not pretend to any such authority, but jointly, and with the consent of my council, it being the express words of my commission; nor did I sign the writs in any other capacity than in conjunction with my council, who also signed the same. But if my signing the writs were sufficient authority for the people to chuse you, then you must allow, that as the power lies solely in me to call you, it lies also solely in me to dissolve you; and therefore, if by your actions you will force me to make use of that power, I do hereby publicly protest and declare, you only must be answerable for the ill consequences that may attend such a dissolution, and for the loss of the lives and estates of the King's subjects in this province, by any attack that may be made upon them by our public enemies the Spaniards, or from the Indians, by reason of the province's not being put into such a posture of defence as it ought, and would, if you proceeded to transact the public business under a lawful authority; and this I would have you seriously to consider of.
"Notwithstanding stories that have been industriously spread to prepossess the people, that you are the only persons who stand up for their rights and privileges; by which, it may be, you have so far engaged them in your favour, that you may have their assistance to enable you to commit any act of force or violence upon the government, and the authority of the Lords Proprietors; yet know, and be assured, that the matters in dispute are of that consequence, that they must and will be decided by an authority in England, having lawful jurisdiction of the same; and that there it must be law and right that must justify your claims, and not the consent and approbation of the people of Carolina, who will have no weight there, but the right and merit of the cause.
"I must farther mention to you, that it is notoriously known, you have promoted two forms of associations, and have persuaded the people to sign them. How far you can be justified at home, behoves you to consider: but as I am satisfied no matter of such public concern ought to be carried on without my knowledge, so I do hereby require and demand of you, an attested copy of both associations; and though it may not concern me to have the names of every individual person that has signed them, yet I do insist upon it that you do acquaint me which of your own members have signed both, or either of them, as also the names of such persons who have commissions, or hold any places civil or military under their Lordships, or of such persons who practise the law in their Lordships courts, and have signed them.
"To what is here demanded of you I do require your plain and positive answer in express terms, and that you do in writing give me the same in a body, and under your hands."
[Sidenote] Their message in answer to it.
This long and elaborate speech, which was also given them in writing, they were not long considering of, but soon returned with the following message; and shewed him that they were neither to be shaken by persuasion, nor intimidated by threats, from their firm purpose. "We have already acquainted you, that we would not receive any message or paper from your honour, in conjunction with the gentlemen you are pleased to call your council; therefore we must now again repeat the same, and beg leave to tell you, that the paper your honour read and delivered to us, we take no notice of, nor shall we give any farther answer to it but in Great Britain."
Immediately after this they came with the following address to the Governor, publicly avowing their resolution to cast off all obedience to the proprietary government, and urging and intreating him to comply with their desire, and take upon him the government of the province in the name of the King. "It is with no small concern that we find ourselves obliged to address your honour, in a matter which nothing but the absolute necessity of self-preservation could at this juncture have prevailed on us to do. The reasons are already by us made known to your honour and the world, therefore we forbear to rehearse them; bur proceed to take leave to assure you, that it is the greatest satisfaction imaginable to us, to find throughout the whole country, that universal affection, deference and respect the inhabitants bear to your honour's person, and with what passionate desire they wish for a continuance of your gentle and good administration; and since we, who are instructed with, and are the assertors of their rights and liberties, are unanimously of opinion, that no person is fitter to govern so loyal and obedient a people to his sacred majesty King George, so we most earnestly desire and intreat your honour, to take upon you the government of this province, in his majesty's name, till his pleasure shall be known; by which means, we are convinced, that this (at present) unfortunate colony may flourish, as well as those who feel the happy influence of his majesty's immediate care.
"As the well-being and preservation of this province depends greatly on your honour's complying with our requests, so we flatter ourselves, that you, who have expressed so tender a regard for it on all occasions, and particularly in hazarding your own person in an expedition against the pirates, for its defence, an example seldom found in governors; so we hope, Sir, that you will exert yourself at this juncture for its support; and we promise your honour, on our parts, the most faithful assistance of persons duly sensible of your honour's great goodness, and big with the hopes and expectation of his majesty's countenance and protection. And we farther beg leave to assure your honour, that we will, in the most dutiful manner, address his most sacred majesty King George, for the continuance of your government over us, under whom we doubt not to be a happy people."
[Sidenote] The Governor's answer.
To this flattering address the Governor returned the following answer; such as became his honour and trust. "I am obliged to you for your good opinion of me; but I hold my commission from the true and absolute Lords and Proprietors of this province, who recommended me to his majesty, and I have his approbation; it is by that commission and power I act, and I know of no power or authority can dispossess me of the same, but those only who gave me those authorities. In subordination to them I shall always act, and to my utmost maintain their Lordships just power and prerogatives, without encroaching on the people's rights and privileges. I do not expect or desire any favour from you, only that of seriously taking into your consideration the approaching danger of a foreign enemy, and the steps you are taking to involve yourselves and this province in anarchy and confusion."
 This is the term the charter gives them.
[Sidenote] The assembly dissolved, and the proceedings of the people.
The representatives having now fully declared their intentions, and finding it impossible by all their art and address to win over the Governor to a compliance with their measures, and to accept of the government only from his having the King's approbation, began to treat him with indifference and neglect. He, on the other hand, perceiving that neither harsh nor gentle means could recal them to their duty and allegiance, and that they became the more outrageous and ungovernable by his endeavours to this purpose, issued a proclamation for dissolving the house, and retired to the country. The representatives ordered his proclamation to be torn from the marshal's hands, and proceeded next to avowed usurpation. They met upon their own authority, and in direct opposition to that of the Proprietors, and chose Colonel James Moore their Governor; who was a man of a bold and turbulent disposition, and excellently qualified for being a popular leader in perilous adventures. To Governor Johnson he was no friend, having been by him removed from his command of the militia, for warmly espousing the cause of the people: to the Proprietors he was an inveterate enemy. In every new enterprize he had been a volunteer, and in whatever he engaged he continued to his purpose steady and inflexible. A day was fixed by the Convention for proclaiming him, in name of the King, Governor of the province, and orders were issued for directing all officers civil and military to continue in their different places and employments, till they shall hear farther from them.
Governor Johnson, some time before this, had appointed a day for a general review of the provincial militia; and the Convention, that they might have the opportunity of the people being under arms, and ready to forward their scheme, fixed on the same day for publicly proclaiming Moore. The Governor, however, having intelligence of their design, sent orders to Colonel Parris, the commander of the militia, to postpone the review to a future day. Parris, though a zealous friend to the revolution, in answer assured him his orders should be obeyed. Notwithstanding this assurance, on the day fixed, when Governor Johnson came to town, he found to his surprise the militia drawn up in the market square, colours flying at the forts, and on board all the ships in the harbour, and great preparations making for the proclamation. Exasperated at the insults offered to his person and authority, he could scarcely command his temper and restrain his resentment. Some he threatened to chastise for flying in the face of government, to which they had sworn allegiance and fidelity. With others he coolly reasoned, and endeavoured to recal them by representing the fatal consequences that would certainly attend such rash proceedings. But advancing to Parris, who had betrayed him, he asked him, how he durst appear in arms contrary to his orders? and commanded him, in the King's name, instantly to disperse his men. Colonel Parris insolently replied, he was obeying the orders of the Convention. The Governor in great rage walked up towards him; upon which Parris immediately commanded his men to present, and bid him at the peril of life advance no nearer. The Governor expected, during this struggle, that some friends would have stood by him, especially such as held offices of profit and trust under the Proprietors, or that the militia would have laid down their arms at his command: but he was disappointed; for all either stood silent, or kept firm to the standard of the Convention. However, to amuse him, and prevent his taking any rash step in the heat of passion, John Lloyd, one of their party, was sent, out of pretence of friendship, to walk and converse with the Governor. Vain indeed were the efforts of a single arm, in so general a defection. Even Trott and Rhett, in this extremity, forsook him, and kept at a distance, the silent and inactive spectators of their masters ruined authority.
[Sidenote] James Moore proclaimed Governor. [Sidenote] The declaration of the Convention.
After this the members of Convention attended, and, escorted by the militia, publicly marched to the fort, and there declared James Moore governor of the province in name of the King, which was followed by the loudest acclamations of the populace. Upon their return, they next proceeded to the election of twelve counsellors, of whom Sir Hovenden Walker was made president. In this, however, it is remarkable, that they assumed a right and power to themselves which they had refused to the Proprietors, and made one of the principal articles of complaint against them. So that the revolutioners had now their Governor, Council and Convention, and all of their own free election. In consequence of which the delegates met, and, in the first place, resolved to publish their declaration, to the following effect: "Whereas the Proprietors of this province have of late assumed to themselves an arbitrary and illegal power, of repealing such laws as the General Assembly of this settlement have thought fit to make for the preservation and defence thereof, and acted in many other things contrary to the laws of England, and the charter to them and us, freemen, granted; whereby we are deprived of those measures we had taken for the defence of the settlement, being the south-west frontier of his majesty's territories in America, and thereby left naked to the attacks of our inveterate enemies and next-door neighbors the Spaniards, from whom, through the divine Providence, we have had a miraculous deliverance, and daily expect to be invaded by them, according to the repeated advices we have from time to time received from several places: And whereas, pursuant to the instructions and authorities to us given, and trust in us reposed by the inhabitants of this settlement, and in execution of the resolutions by us made, we did in due form apply ourselves in a whole body, by an address, to the honourable Robert Johnson, appointed governor of this province by the Lords Proprietors, and desired him, in name of the inhabitants of this province, to take upon him the government of the same, and in behalf of his majesty the King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, until his majesty's pleasure had been known, which the said Governor refusing to do, exclusive of the pretended power of the Lords Proprietors over the settlement, has put us under the necessity of applying to some other person, to take upon him, as Governor, the administration of all the affairs civil and military within the settlement, in the name and for the service of his most sacred majesty, as well as making treaties, alliances and leagues with any nation of Indians, until his majesty's pleasure herein be further known: And whereas James Moore, a person well affected to his present majesty, and also zealous for the interest of the settlement, now in a sinking condition, has been prevailed with, pursuant to such our application, to take upon him, in the King's name, and for the King's service and safety of the settlement, the above-mentioned charge and trust: We therefore, whose names are hereunto published, the representatives and delegates of his majesty's liege people and free-born subjects of the said settlement, now met in convention at Charlestown, in their names, and in behalf of his sacred Majesty George, by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, in consideration of his former and many great services, having great confidence in his firm loyalty to our most gracious King George, as well as in his conduct, courage, and other great abilities; do hereby declare the said James Moore his majesty's Governor of this settlement, invested with all the powers and authorities belonging and appertaining to any of his majesty's governors in America, till his majesty's pleasure herein shall be further known. And we do hereby for ourselves, in the name and on the behalf of the inhabitants of the said settlement, as their representatives and delegates, promise and oblige ourselves most solemnly to obey, maintain, assist and support the said James Moore, in the administration of all affairs civil and military within this settlement, as well as in the execution of all his functions aforesaid, as Governor for his sacred majesty King George. And further, we do expect and command, that all officers both civil and military within the settlement, do pay him all duty and obedience as his majesty's Governor, as they shall answer to the contrary at their utmost peril. Given under our hand, at the Convention, this 21st day of December, 1719."
Governor Johnson, after this public and solemn declaration, perceiving his power totally overthrown, and the current too violent and strong for him to withstand, had little hopes of recalling them to the obedience of proprietary authority. Still, however, he flattered himself, that such men as had usurped the government in opposition to lawful authority would not long remain in a state of union, harmony and peace among themselves. The first unpopular step of their Governor might create disturbance and disaffection; the first difference among the leading men might divide them into parties: he determined to wait for such occurrences, and to improve them towards recovering his power and command. In the mean time he called together the civil officers of the Proprietors, and ordered them to secure the public records, and shut up all offices against the revolutioners and their adherents.
[Sidenote] The Governor transmits an account of the whole proceedings to the Proprietors.
That the proprietors in England might have notice of what had happened though a proper channel, Governor Johnson drew up a slate of the whole proceedings, and transmitted it them. He told them that the colonists had long laboured under difficulties and hardships, by debts contracted in the Indian war, and in protecting their trade against pirates; that an unhappy difference had broke out between their Lordships and the people, about the privileges of their charter; that some of the richest of the inhabitants had persuaded the rest, that neither they themselves nor their posterity could ever be safe in their persons, or secure in their properties, without the protection of the crown: that they had therefore with one accord disclaimed and renounced all obedience to their Lordships, and put themselves under the care and government of the King; that he, though earnestly solicited by them, had refused to govern them in any other way, than as commissioned and appointed by the Lords proprietors; that the people for that reason had shaken off his authority and chosen another Governor for themselves in name and behalf of the Kind: In short, that the revolution was in no way occasioned by his imprudence or mal-administration, and therefore he hoped, whatever might be the issue, that their Lordships would use their interest to continue him in the government of the province. To the same purpose he wrote to the Lords Commissioners of trade and plantations, who were no friends to the proprietary governments in America, and waited for such a favourable season as now offered in Carolina to purchase every one of them for the crown.
[Sidenote] The Revolutioners appoint new officers, and establish their authority.
In the mean time the members of the popular legislature were going on, and with all their diligence and skill regulating public affairs. The representatives of the people took a dislike to the name of a Convention, as different from that of the other regal governments in America, and therefore voted themselves an Assembly, and assumed the power of appointing all public officers. In place of Nicholas Trott, they made Richard Allein Chief Justice. Another person was appointed Provincial Secretary, in the room of Charles Hart. But William Rhett and Francis Yonge, by becoming obsequious to the humours of the revolutioners, secured to themselves the same offices they held from the Proprietors. Colonel Barnwell was chosen agent for the province, and embarked for England, with instructions and orders to apply only to the King, to lay a slate of their public proceedings before him, praying him to take the province under his immediate care and protection. A new duty-law and others for raising money to defray the various expences of government were passed. The fortifications at Charlestown they ordered to be immediately repaired, and William Rhett, whom every one esteemed a friend to the revolution, was nominated Inspector-general of the Repairs. To their new Governor they voted two thousand five hundred pounds, and to their Chief Justice eight hundred current money, as yearly salaries. To their agent in England one thousand pounds sterling was transmitted: and to defray those and the other expences of government, a law was passed for laying a tax on lands and negroes, to raise thirty thousand pounds Carolina-money, for the service of the current year. In short, this popular assembly imposed such burdens on their constituents, as under the proprietary government would have been deemed intolerable grievances.
In consequence of the tax-act, when they began to levy those heavy tales, Governor Johnson and some of his party refused to pay, giving for reason that the act was not made by lawful authority. On account of his particular circumstances, Mr. Johnson was exempted; but they resolved to compel every other person to submit to their jurisdiction, and yield implicit obedience to their laws. They forcibly seized the effects or negroes of such as refused, sold them at public auction, and applyed the money for the payment of their taxes. Thus, in spite of all opposition, they established themselves in the full possession of government, both in their legislative and executive capacities.
[Sidenote] In vain the Governor attempts to disconcert them. [Sidenote] Rhett refuses obedience to his orders.
Governor Johnson, though obliged to stand at a distance, carefully observed their progress, and was not a little mortified by their great success. He however still persisted in throwing every obstacle possible in their way: he wrote to William Rhett, who was not only the Proprietors Receiver-general, but also Comptroller of the customs, a letter to the following effect; informing him, That "as the people had found means to hinder all masters of ships from coming to him as the Governor clearances, and from clearing in the lawful secretary's offices, notwithstanding the laws of trade made such neglects the forfeiture of ship and cargo, and the naval officer, by his orders, did all he could to induce them to act according to law: and as he was sensible that the defection was so general, and his authority so depressed, that he had no power left to punish them for disobedience; he therefore could think of no other way to oblige them to their duty but by stopping their obtaining clearances from the custom-house officers, until they paid their duty to him as the lawful governor of the province. He therefore desired Mr. Rhett would consult his powers and instructions as Surveyor and Comptroller of the customs, and act in this affair as he should think agreeable to them, to the laws of trade, and to the service of his majesty, and of the Lords Proprietors." Indeed it must be acknowledged, had Rhett so far consulted the interest of the Proprietors, as to have commanded the officers of the customs to do their duty, according to the Governor's project, it would have given the revolutioners no small trouble. They would have had the mortification to see the masters of ships disowning their authority, and going only to that office where they could obtain authentic and legal clearances. The fees due to the Governor and Secretary would also have gone in their usual channel, which otherwise were transferred to such persons as had no just right, nor even the smallest pretensions to them. But Rhett's enmity to the Governor, and his prospects of profit from the prevailing party, induced him to neglect the duties of his station. He had already joined, or at least seemed to join, the revolutioners, being determined to retain at all events his places of profit and emolument. The countenance and encouragement he had given the people, they considered as a justification of their measures; and though they had passed a vote, that no person who held an office under the Proprietors should be permitted to continue in it, yet, as they found Rhett so obsequious to their views, they thought proper to dispense with it for an acquisition of such importance. They not only allowed him to continue in his former offices, but also made him Lieutenant-General of the militia, and Overseer to the works in repairing the fortifications. So that, instead of giving assistance to Governor Johnson for supporting the interest and power of the proprietary government, he shamefully deserted him, betrayed his trust, and joined the revolutioners.
[Sidenote] And preserves the confidence of the Proprietors.
Rhett, nevertheless, to the astonishment of every one, still maintained his credit with the Proprietors, and had the art to persuade them he had done done all out of zeal for the service of his majesty, and for the good of the province. He wrote them two letters, giving them an account of all that had happened, and assuring them he had accepted of a commission from Mr. Moore, in order the more effectually to promote their interest, by giving him an opportunity of conversing freely with the people, and persuading them to return to their duty and allegiance. He represented the inflexibility of Governor Johnson as one source of the discontent and defection of the people, and utterly inconsistent with good policy. He told them, that there are times when the minds of men will not bend to authority, when the rigid exertion of power defeats its end, and when lenity becomes a more efficacious remedy against disaffection to government than severity. The Proprietors believed him, and such was their confidence in his honour and fidelity, that they sent him a letter expressing their approbation of his conduct, in the following words: "We have received your letters, wherein you give us a melancholy account of the present confused government of our province, and of the great consternation of the inhabitants, from the dreadful apprehension they have of a foreign invasion. But since they have been so unfortunate as to bring themselves into so much confusion, we are not a little pleased that your zeal for the service of his majesty, and the safety of the province, has engaged you to take upon you the command of the forces; for as, by your command of the said forces, you formerly defended and saved the country from the insults of an invading enemy, so we doubt not but you will again use your utmost skill to free your same fellow-subjects from the imminent danger they at present labour under. And since you have taken upon you the same command, we earnestly intreat you, that, with the greatest application, you will continue your endeavours in that command for the safety and preservation of the province, until you shall hear farther from us: We wish you all imaginable success, and bid you heartily farewell."
[Sidenote] Further attempts of the Governor to recal the people.
In the mean time Governor Johnson received certain advice, that the Spaniards had sailed from the Havanna with a fleet of fourteen ships, and a force consisting of twelve hundred men, against South Carolina and Providence Island, and it was uncertain which of the two they would first attack. At this time of imminent danger the Governor again attempted to recal the people to subjection and obedience, and sent the following letter to the Convention. "I flatter myself that the invasion which at present threatens the province, has awakened a thought in you of the necessity there is of the forces acting under lawful authority and commission. The inconveniences and confusion of not admitting it are so obvious, I need not mention them. I have hitherto borne the indignities put upon me, and the loss I sustain by being out of my government, with as much temper as the nature of the thing will admit of, till such time as his majesty's pleasure shall be known. But to have another man to assume my authority when danger threatens the province and action is expected, and to be deprived of the opportunity of serving the public in my station, as I am indispensibly bound to do upon such occasions, I being answerable to the King for any neglect regarding the welfare of the province, is what I cannot patiently endure. I am willing with my council to consult and advise with you for the good and safety of the country in this time of imminent danger, as a Convention of the people, as you first called yourselves; nor do I see, in this present juncture of affairs, any occasion for formality in our proceedings, or that I explain by whose authority I act in grants of commissions or other public orders. Mr. Moore's commission you have given him does not pretend to say that it is derived from the King. You have already confessed I am invested with some authority of which you approve, and that is enough. What I insist upon is, to be allowed to act as Governor, because I have been approved of by the King. I do not apprehend there is any necessity of doing any thing at present but what relates to military affairs; and I do believe people will be better satisfied, more ready to advance necessaries, to trust the public, and obey my commands, by virtue of the King's authority which I have, if left to their liberty, than the orders of any other person in the province; and in a short time we may expect his majesty's pleasure will be known. If my reasons have not the weight with you I expect they should, you ought at least to put it to the vote, that, if a majority should be against it, I may have that to justify myself to the King and the world, who ought to be satisfied that I have done all I can for serving the country, and discharging the duty of my station."
By this letter Governor Johnson thought to alarm and terrify the people, by representing the dangerous consequences of military operations under unlawful authority; but they remained firm to their purpose, and the Convention, without taking any notice of it, continued to do business with Mr. Moore as they had begun. Sir Hovenden Walker, the President of their Council, being disgusted at their proceedings, left them and retired to his plantation; but they chose Richard Allein in his stead, and proceeded to concert measures for the public defence. They pronounced the martial law, and ordered all the inhabitants of the province to Charlestown for its defence. All the officers of the militia accepted their commissions from Mr. Moore, and engaged to stand by him against all foreign enemies. For two weeks the Provincial militia were kept under arms at Charlestown every day expecting the appearance of the Spanish fleet; which they were informed had sailed from the Havanna. Happily for them, to acquire possession of both sides of the Gulf of Florida, and secure the navigation through this stream, the Spaniards had resolved first to attack Providence, and then to proceed against Carolina: but by the conduct and courage of Captain Rogers, at that time Governor of the island, they met with a sharp repulse at Providence, and soon after they lost the greatest part of their fleet in a storm.
[Sidenote] The Governor's last attempt to recover his authority.
The Spanish expedition having thus proved abortive, the Flamborough man of war, commanded by Captain Hildesley, returned to her station at Charlestown from Providence island. About the same time his Majesty's ship Phoenix, commanded by Captain Pierce, arrived from a cruize. The commanders of these two men of war were carressed by both parties, but they publicly declared for Governor Johnson as the magistrate invested with legal authority. Charles Hart, secretary of the province, by orders from the Governor and Council, had secreted and secured the public records, so that the revolutioners could not obtain possession of them. The clergy refused to marry without a licence from Governor Johnson, as the only legal Ordinary of the province. These inconveniencies having begun to operate, rendered several of the people more cool in their affection for the popular government. At this juncture Governor Johnson, with the assistance of the captain and crews of the ships of war, made his last and boldest effort for subjecting the colonists to his authority. He brought up the ships of war in front of Charlestown, and threatened their capital with immediate destruction, if they any longer refused obedience to legal authority. But the people having both arms in their hands for defence, and forts in their possession to which they could retreat, bid defiance to his power, and shewed him plainly that they were neither to be won by flattery, nor terrified by threats, to submit their necks any more to the proprietary yoke; and therefore for the future Governor Johnson dropt all thoughts of making any more attempts for that purpose.
[Sidenote] Injurious suspicions with regard to the conduct of the Governor.
Nicholas Trott now observing the frame of the proprietary government totally unhinged, and a rival Judge planted in his room, resolved to return to England. But before he embarked he wrote to Governor Johnson, acquainting him with his resolution, and promising, if he would contribute towards defraying his expences, he would give the Proprietors each a favourable account of his conduct and services, as would ensure to him the continuance of his office. But the Governor being no stranger to the character of the Judge, and being convinced that both the revolt of the people, and subversion of government, were in a great measure to be ascribed his pernicious policy and secret correspondence with his friend the secretary to the Proprietors, disdainfully rejected his interest and friendship. To which disrespect for the Judge, however, Mr. Johnson attributed many of the injurious suspicions the Proprietors entertained of his honour and fidelity, and that shameful neglect with which he was afterwards treated by them. They had wrote him no answer to his letters respecting the violent steps the people had taken, or ever informed him whether his conduct during those popular commotions had met with their approbation or disapprobation. Some of them even alledged that he was privy to the designs of the malecontents; and gave them too much countenance and indulgence. But every principle of honour, duty and interest forbade such a connivance, and the upright and respectable character he maintained, rendered such suspicions groundless and unmerited. That he should join with a disaffected multitude in schemes of opposition, to divest himself of his government, was a thing scarcely to be supposed. That he should first wink at the subversion of the proprietary government, and afterwards refuse to govern them for the King, when solicited so to do by the representatives and whole body of the people, was a thing very improbable. When he arrived in the province, he found the inhabitants discontented and unhappy; but little suspected then they had any views of renouncing their allegiance to the Proprietors; and the various arts the people used to conceal from him their designs, were proofs they had every thing to fear, and nothing to hope for from their Governor. The many attempts made to defeat their measures were also evidences of his fidelity to their Lordships, and firmness in support of their government. He indeed differed with Trott and Rhett, the two favourites of the Proprietors, and perhaps to this, among other causes, the neglect with which he was treated by their Lordships may be ascribed. For as they discovered on all occasions such a partial regard to these men, and placed such unlimited confidence in them, the person who differed from them, however fair and unblemished his character, however firmly attached to their interest, was not likely, in such circumstances of trouble and difficulty, to escape all injurious suspicions. We have blamed the Proprietors in many respects with regard to the management of their colony, and we cannot think them worthy of praise in withdrawing their countenance and friendship from a Governor, who manifested such zeal and resolution in support of their authority. Being equally subject to the laws of their country with the Carolineans over whom they ruled, their power was likely to be feeble, even when exercised in the most prudent and gentle manner; but more especially when executed with rigour. British subjects in general abhor oppression, even from a supreme, and it could scarcely be expected they would tamely submit to it, from a subordinate jurisdiction.
[Sidenote] Francis Nicolson appointed Governor by the regency.
In the mean time the agent for Carolina had procured a hearing from the Lords of the regency and council in England, the King being at that time in Hanover; who gave it as their opinion, that the Proprietors had forfeited their charter, and ordered the Attorney-general to take out a scire facias against it. In consequence of which, in September 1720, they appointed General Francis Nicolson provisional Governor of the province, with a commission from the King. Nicolson was a man possessed of all the honourable principles of a good soldier. He was generous, bold, and steady. He had been Governor of several different colonies, and it was thought his knowledge and experience in provincial affairs would render him well qualified for the important trust. He knew his duty as commander and chief, and was afraid of neither dangers nor difficulties in the execution of it; a warm friend to the King, and deeply concerned for the prosperity of his country: scarcely could they have pitched upon a man more fit to govern the province in such a confused and miserable state.
[Sidenote] General reflections on the whole transactions.
Upon a review of those past transactions, and the various causes which concurred for bringing about this event, which I have narrated the more fully and circumstantially on account of the interesting nature and important consequences of the change, we may observe, that although the conduct of the Carolineans during this violent struggle cannot, strictly speaking, be deemed legal, equitable and just, yet necessity, which has no law, and self-preservation, the most powerful principle of action, both strongly plead in their vindication. When the Proprietors first applied to the King for a grant of this large territory, at that time occupied by heathens, it is said they were excited thereto by their zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith; yet it is now plain that they have either used no endeavours for that purpose, or they have been utterly ineffectual. The Society for the propagation of the Gospel have indeed employed and supported missionaries for the conversion of those heathens; yet it is a lamentable truth, that their best endeavours have been vastly inadequate to the extent of the work, and therefore their success has proved small and inconsiderable. The Proprietors by their charter were empowered to build churches and chapels within the bounds of their province for divine worship; yet they have left the burden of this work entirely to the inhabitants, who have received no encouragement nor assistance, except from the incorporated Society, towards its accomplishment. They were impowered by their charter to erect castles and forts for the protection and defence of the colony; but all those the people have also been obliged to raise at their own expence. By the charter his Majesty saved to himself, his heirs and successors, the sovereign dominion of the province, and the faith and allegiance of his subjects, the inhabitants of it, declaring them to be the liege people of the crown of England, yet the Proprietors have assumed to themselves a despotic authority in repealing and abrogating, by themselves alone, laws made by the Assembly, and ratified by their deputies in Carolina. They not only tyrannized over the poor colony, but also employed and protected officers ten times more tyrannical than themselves. When the whole legislature complained of Chief Justice Trott, they paid no regard to their complaints, and absolutely refused to circumscribe his jurisdiction, or remove him from the bench. In times of imminent danger, when the colony applied to them for assistance, they were either unable or unwilling to bear the expence of its protection. When the Assembly allotted the Indian lands obtained by conquest for the encouragement of settlers, to strengthen the Provincial frontiers, the Proprietors claimed the sole right of disposing of those lands, and frustrated their plans of public security. When the trade of the province was infested and ruined by pirates, they could neither obtain a force sufficient to extirpate them, nor a confirmation of their laws made for defraying the expense of such expeditions as the colony fitted out against them. The current money of the province, stamped for answering its public exigences, was, at the request of the merchants of London, cried down and cancelled. In short the people saw no end of troubles and dangers. Sad exigence dictated the necessity of some remedy against their political evils. No remedy under heaven appeared to them so proper and effectual as that of throwing themselves under the immediate care and protection of the crown of Great Britain. For under the excellent constitution of England, where the supreme power was both able and willing to protect them against every enemy, they evidently perceived they could only live happy and secure; therefore, sick of the feeble proprietary government, the people, after many violent struggles and convulsions, by one bold and irregular effort entirely shook off the yoke, and a revolution, fruitful of happy consequences, took place, to their great relief and unspeakable satisfaction.
The Proprietors, after long trial and frequent amendments, now finding that fine-spun system, by which they flattered themselves with having avoided the inconveniencies and supplied the defects of the English form of government, useless and impracticable, were at length convinced, that it was a much easier thing to find fault with the constitution of Old England than to mend it. They now perceived that all forms of government must be made for men as they really are, and not for them as they ought to be, and that it was impossible for the wisest legislators upon earth to mould men into any form they pleased by laws and regulations. From the first settlement of this colony, one perpetual struggle has subsisted between the Proprietors and possessors of the province. A division somewhat similar to that of the court and country parties in England, early sprung up in the settlement, and kept it in continual ferment and agitation. The exertions of proprietary power and prerogative, the people considered as inconsistent with their rights and privileges; hence they became turbulent and seditious, and were seldom satisfied with their governors in their public capacity, however esteemed and beloved as private men. The hands of government were always weak, and the instructions and regulations received from England were, for the most part, ill adapted to the local circumstances of the people, and the first state of colonization. The palatines in England and Germany, whose jurisdiction and authority have been established by time, and whose governments have acquired firmness and stability, would probably have deemed this usurpation illegal and rebellious, and punished the authors and abettors of it. No doubt a firm yet moderate opposition to the measures of government in defence of the rights and liberties of the people, differs as much from usurpation, as a wholesome remedy to a disordered constitution differs from deadly poison. But the great distance, dangerous circumstances, and complicated hardships of the Carolineans; the negligence, bad policy and tyranny of the Proprietors; all concurred to render their usurpation not only excuseable, but absolutely necessary. The Revolution in England had exemplified and confirmed the doctrine of resistance, when the executive magistrate presumes to violate the fundamental laws, and subvert the constitution of the nation. The Proprietors had done acts, which the Lords in regency had declared amounted to a forfeiture of their charter, and had ordered a writ of scire facias to be taken out, for repealing their patent and rendering the grant void and null. By which means all political connection between the Proprietors and people of Carolina was now entirely dissolved, and a new relation formed, the King having taken the province under his immediate care and protection, and made it a part of the British empire.
[Sidenote] Nicolson's arrival occasions uncommon joy.
About the beginning of the year 1721, Francis Nicolson arrived in Carolina, and having the sanction of the British government for his appointment, Mr. Johnson acquiesced in his authority, and made no more efforts in behalf of the Lords Proprietors. The people in general congratulated one another on the happy change, and received General Nicolson with the most uncommon and extravagant demonstrations of joy. The voice of murmur and discontent, together with the fears of danger and oppression, were now banished from the province. Happy under the royal care, they resolved to forget all former animosities and divisions, and bury all past offences in eternal oblivion. The only contention now remaining was, who should be the most faithful subjects of his majesty, and the most zealous in promoting the union, peace and prosperity of the settlement. From a confused and distracted state they now looked upon themselves as happily delivered, and anticipated in imagination all the blessings of freedom and security, followed by industry and plenty, approaching, and as it were ready to diffuse their happy influence over the country.
[Sidenote] The people recognize King George as their lawful sovereign.
Soon after his arrival, Governor Nicholson issued writs for the election of a new assembly, who now entered with great temper and cheerfulness on the regulation of provincial affairs. They chose James Moore, their late popular governor, speaker of the house, of whom the Governor declared his entire approbation. The first business they engaged in, was to make an act, declaring they recognized and acknowledged his sacred majesty King George to be the rightful Sovereign of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, and of all the dominions and provinces belonging to the empire, and in particular his undoubted right to the province of Carolina. All actions and suits at law commenced on account of the late administration of James Moore by particular persons, creating misunderstandings and animosities among the people, were declared void and null, till his majesty's pleasure touching such administration shall be known; but all judicial proceedings under the same administration were confirmed; which acts were at this time judged proper and necessary for establishing harmony and tranquillity among the inhabitants. The two parties formerly subsisting, the one composed of a few adherents to Governor Johnson, and the other of the followers of James Moore, Nicolson had the good fortune to unite, and, by the wisdom and equity of his administration, to render both equally happy and contented under the royal government and protection.
[Sidenote] The Governor regulates Indian affairs.
Before Governor Nicolson left England, a suspension of arms between Great Britain and Spain had been published, and by the treaty of peace which afterwards took place, it was stipulated and agreed, that all subjects and Indians living under their different jurisdictions should cease from acts of hostility. Orders were sent out to Don Antonio Navidez, governor of Florida, to forbear molesting the Carolineans; and the British governor had also instructions to cultivate the friendship and good-will of the Spanish subjects and Indians of Florida. In consequence of which, Governor Nicolson, who was no stranger to the manners of savages, resolved to apply himself with great zeal and spirit to the regulation of Indian affairs, and to enter into treaties of friendship and alliance with the different tribes around the settlement. As most of their troubles from Indians had been occasioned by Europeans taking possession of lands claimed by them, without their permission or consent; to prevent quarrels and mischief, the first object that demanded his attention was to fix the limits and extent of their territories, and then to forbid encroachments on their hunting grounds. With these views he sent a message to the Cherokees, (a powerful nation, computed at this time to consist of no less than six thousand bowmen), acquainting them, that he had presents to make them, and would meet them at the borders of their territories, to hold a general congress with them, in order to treat of mutual friendship and commerce. They rejoiced at a proposal which plainly implied they were a free and respectable people, and immediately the chiefs of thirty-seven different towns set out to meet him.
At this congress the Governor having made them several presents, and smoked the pipe of peace with them, marked the boundaries of the lands between them and the English settlers. He regulated all weights and measures, that justice might be done them in the way of traffic. He appointed an agent to superintend their affairs, and, to unite them under a common head, proposed to nominate one warrior as commander and chief of the whole nation, before whom all complaints were to be laid, and who was to acquaint the Governor with every injury done them. With the consent of all present Wrosetasatow was declared chief warrior of the Cherokee nation, with full power to punish all guilty of depredations and murders, and to obtain satisfaction for every injury done to Indians from the British settlers. After which the Indians returned to their towns, highly pleased with their generous brother and new ally. The Governor then proceeded to conclude another treaty of commerce and peace with the Creeks, who were also at that time a numerous and formidable nation. He likewise appointed an agent to reside among them, whose business was to regulate Indian affairs in a friendly and equitable manner, and fixed on Savanna river as the boundary of their hunting lands, beyond which no settlements were to extend. Such negotiations were in many respects useful and important; for when Europeans take possession of lands contrary to the inclination, and without the permission and consent of these free and independent nations who claimed them as their property, it would puzzle a wise man to vindicate their tenure on any principles of equity and justice.
[Sidenote] And promotes religious institutions.
Having now secured the province as well as possible against external foes, Governor Nicolson turned his attention next to internal regulations, particularly to such as respected the religious instruction of the people. For though he mas bred a soldier, and was profane, passionate and headstrong himself, yet he was not insensible of the great advantage of religion to society, and contributed not a little to its interest in Carolina, both by his public influence and private generosity. The number of inhabitants in each parish being considerably increased, it was found necessary to enlarge several churches for their accommodation. The inhabitants of Sr. Paul's parish, many of whom having had their houses burnt, and otherwise suffered heavy losses in the Yamassee war, were obliged to apply to the public for assistance in this laudable design. The parish of St. George was separated and taken out of that of St. Andrews by an act of assembly, and a new church was built at a small village called Dorchester, by public allowance and private contributions. The inhabitants in and about Georgetown, who had long lived without the benefit of public worship, insomuch that the appearance of religion among them had almost entirely vanished, claimed particular attention. To erect a church in this quarter the Governor proposed a private subscription, and set the example by largely contributing towards the public institution. He made application to the Society in England for propagating the Gospel, and they supplied the province with clergymen, giving each of them an yearly allowance over and above the provincial salary. As no public schools had yet been instituted for the instruction of youth in the principles of virtue and religion, the Governor urged also the usefulness and necessity of such provincial establishments. It was alledged, that the want of early instruction was one of the chief sources of impiety and immorality, and if they continued any longer to neglect the rising generation, piety and Christianity would insensibly decay, and they would soon have a race of white people in the country equally ignorant as the brown Indians. Animated by the example, and assisted by the generosity of their Governor, the colonials therefore in good earnest engaged in providing seminaries for the religious education of youth. Besides general contributions, several particular legacies were also left for this purpose. Mr. Whitmarsh left five hundred pounds to St. Paul's parish, for founding a free school in it. Mr. Ludlam, the Society's missionary at Goose-creek, bequeathed all his estate, which was computed to amount to two thousand pounds Carolina currency, for the same purpose. Richard Beresfords, by his will, bequeathed the annual profits of his estate to be paid to the vestry of St. Thomas parish in trust, until his son, then eight years of age, should arrive at the age of twenty-one years; directing them to apply one third of the yearly profits of this estate for the support of one or more schoolmasters, who should teach reading, accounts, mathematics, and other liberal learning; and the other two thirds for the support maintenance, and education of the poor of that parish. The vestry accordingly received from this estate six thousand five hundred pounds Carolina money, for promoting those pious and charitable purposes. The Society in England sent out teachers, money and books, and assisted greatly, by their zeal and bounty, towards the religious instruction of the people. So much must be said for the honour of Governor Nicolson, whose liberality was conspicuously displayed in behalf of those religious institutions, and whose example excited that spirit of emulation among the people for promoting them. In Charlestown, and in several other parishes in the country, public schools were built and endowed during his government, and every friend to knowledge and virtue, every well-wisher to posterity, seemed to promise themselves the greatest advantages from such wise and public-spirited designs.
Though religion, rightly understood and generally practiced, is productive of the most salutary and beneficial consequences to society, yet nothing has a more pernicious influence than mistaken notions of it. Of all kinds of delusion, religious enthusiasm is the most deplorable, and has often been attended with the most melancholy and dismal effects. By abusing the best things, they may be made the innocent occasion of the worst. Many calamities have happened in the world, even on account of religion, yet the fatal consequences ought not to be charged to that divine institution which naturally breathes benevolence, gentleness and peace, but to the ignorance and corruption of human nature, which pervert and abuse it. Enthusiasts generally agree in two articles: they disclaim the power and authority of the civil magistrate, and mistake their own wild fancies, the fruits of a distempered brain, for the impulses of the Divine Spirit, both of which are big with the most fatal consequences to society. The desperate fanatic Venner, in the reign of Charles the second, was not more transported with religious phrenzy and madness, than an unfortunate family in Carolina at this time happened to be. For the credit of the province, it were to be wished that such an incident lay buried in eternal oblivion; but history claims the privilege of exhibiting examples of different kinds for public instruction. If good examples serve as a spur to stimulate men to virtue and religion, bad ones, on the contrary, may also serve, like beacons upon a rock, to warn men of danger and delusion.
[Sidenote] The enthusiasm of the family of Dutartre.
"The family of Dutartres consisting of four sons and four daughters, were descendents of French refugees, who came into Carolina after the revocation of the edict of Nantz. They lived in Orange-quarter and though in low circumstances, always maintained an honest character, and were esteemed by their neighbours persons of blameless and irreproachable lives. But at this time a strolling Moravian preacher happening to come to that quarter where they lived, insinuated himself into their family, and partly by conversation, and partly by the writings of Jacob Behman, which he put into their hands, filled their heads with wild and fantastic ideas. Unhappily for the poor family those strange notions gained ground on them, insomuch that in one year they began to withdraw themselves from the ordinances of public worship, and all conversation with the world around them, and strongly to imagine they were the only family upon earth who had the knowledge of the true God, and whom he vouchsafed to instruct, either by the immediate impulses of his Spirit, or by signs and tokens from heaven. At length it came to open visions and revelations. God raised up a prophet among them, like unto Moses, to whom he taught them to hearken. This prophet was Peter Rombert, who had married the eldest daughter of the family when a widow. To this man the Author and Governor of the world deigned to reveal, in the plainest manner, that the wickedness of man was again so great in the world, that as in the days of Noah he was determined to destroy all men from off the face of it, except one family whom he would save for raising up a godly seed upon earth. This revelation Peter Rombert was sure of, and felt it as plain as the wind blowing on his body, and the rest of the family, with equal confidence and presumption, firmly believed it.
"A few days after this, God was pleased to reveal himself a second time to the prophet, saying, Put away the woman whom thou hast for thy wife, and when I have destroyed this wicked generation, I will raise up her first husband from the dead, and they shall be man and wife as before, and go thou and take to wife her youngest sister, who is a virgin, so shall the chosen family be restored entire, and the holy seed preserved pure and undefiled in it. At first the father, when he heard of this revelation, was staggered at so extraordinary a command from heaven; but the prophet assured him that God would give him a sign, which accordingly happened; upon which the old man took his youngest daughter by the hand, and gave her to the wise prophet immediately for his wife, who without further ceremony took the damsel and deflowered her. Thus for some time they continued in acts of incest and adultery, until that period which made the fatal discovery, and introduced the bloody scene of blind fanaticism and madness.
"Those deluded wretches were so far possessed with the false conceit of their own righteousness and holiness, and of the horrid wickedness of all others, that they refused obedience to the civil magistrate, and all laws and ordinances of men. Upon pretence that God commanded them to bear no arms, they not only refused to comply with the militia law, but also the law for repairing the high-ways. After long forbearance, Mr. Simmons, a worthy magistrate, and the officer of the militia in that quarter, found it necessary to issue his warrants for levying the penalty of the laws upon them. But by this time Judith Dutartre, the wife the prophet obtained by revelation, proving with child, another warrant was issued for bringing her before the Justice to be examined, and bound over to the general sessions, in consequence of a law of the province, framed for preventing bastardy. The constable having received his warrants, and being jealous of meeting with no good usage in the execution of his office, prevailed on two or three of his neighbours to go along with him. The family observing the constable coming, and being apprized of his errand, consulted their prophet, who soon told them that God commanded them to arm and defend themselves against persecution, and their substance against the robberies of ungodly men; assuring them at the same time that no weapon formed against them should prosper. Accordingly they did so, and laying hold of their arms, fired on the constable and his followers, and drove them out of their plantation. Such behaviour was not to be tolerated, and therefore Captain Simmons gathered a party of militia, and went to protect the constable in the execution of his office. When the deluded family saw the Justice and his party approaching, they shut themselves up in their house, and firing from it like furies, shot Captain Simmons dead on the spot, and wounded several of his party. The militia returned the fire, killed one woman within the house, and afterwards forcibly entering it, took the rest prisoners, six in number, and brought them to Charlestown.
[Sidenote] Their trial and condemnation.
"At the Court of general sessions, held in September 1724, three of them were brought to trial, found guilty and condemned. Alas! miserable creatures, what amazing infatuation possessed them! They pretended they had the Spirit of God leading them to all truth, they knew it and felt it: but this spirit, instead of influencing them to obedience, purity and peace, commanded them to commit rebellion, incest, and murder. What is still more astonishing, the principal persons among them, I mean the prophet, the father of the family, and Michel Boneau, never were convinced of their delusion, but persisted in it until their last breath. During their trial they appeared altogether unconcerned and secure, affirming that God was on their side, and therefore they feared not what man could do unto them. They freely told the incestuous story in open court in all its circumstances and aggravations, with a good countenance, and very readily confessed the facts respecting their rebellion and murder, with which they stood charged, but pled their authority from God in vindication of themselves, and insisted they had done nothing in either case but by his express command.
"As it is commonly the duty of clergymen to visit persons under sentence of death, both to convince them of their error and danger, and prepare them for death by bringing them to a penitent disposition; Alexander Garden, the episcopal minister of Charlestown, to whom we are indebted for this account, attended those condemned persons with great diligence and concern. What they had affirmed in the court of justice, they repeated and confessed to him in like manner in the prison. When he began to reason with them and to explain the heinous nature of their crimes, they treated him with disdain. Their motto was, Answer him not a word; who is he that should presume to teach them, who had the Spirit of God speaking inwardly to their souls. In all they had done, they said they had obeyed the voice of God, and were now about to suffer martyrdom for his religion. But God had assured them, that he would either work a deliverance for them, or raise them up from the dead on the third day. These things the three men continued confidently to believe, and notwithstanding all the means used to convince them of their mistake, persisted in the same belief until the moment they expired. At their execution they told the spectators with seeming triumph, they should soon see them again, for they were certain they should rise from the dead on the third day. With respect to the other three, the daughter Judith being with child, was not tried, and the two sons, David and John Dutartre, about eighteen and twenty years of age, having been also tried and condemned, continued sullen and reserved, in hopes of seeing those that were executed rise from the dead, but being disappointed, they became, or at least seemed to become, sensible of their error, and were both pardoned. Yet not long afterwards one of them relapsed into the same snare, and murdered an innocent person, without either provocation or previous quarrel, and for no other reason, as he confessed, but that God had commanded him so to do. Being a second time brought to trial, he was found guilty of murder and condemned. Mr. Garden attended him again under the second sentence, and acknowledged, with great appearance of success. No man could appear more deeply sensible of his error and delusion, or could die a more sincere and hearty penitent on account of his horrid crimes. With great attention he listened to Mr. Garden, while he explained to him the terms of pardon and salvation proposed in the Gospel, and seemed to die in the humble hopes of mercy, through the all-sufficient merits of a Redeemer."
Thus ended that tragical scene of fanaticism, in which seven persons lost their lives, one was killed, two were murdered, and four executed for the murders. A signal and melancholy instance of the weakness and frailty of human nature, and to what giddy heights of extravagance and madness, an inflamed imagination will carry unfortunate mortals. It is hard for the wisdom of men to conceive a remedy for a distemper such as religious infatuation. Severity and persecution commonly add strength to the contagion, and render it more furious. Indulgence and lenity might perhaps prove more efficacious, as the swellings of phrenzy would in time subside, in proportion as they exceed the bounds of nature. Had they given this unhappy family time for cool thought and reflection, it is not improbable that those clouds of delusion which overspread their minds might have dispersed, and they might have returned to a sense of their frailty and error. But it belongs to the civil power to prohibit wild enthusiasts and mad visionaries from spreading doctrines among vulgar people, destructive of civil order and public peace. The majority of mankind every where are ignorant and credulous, and therefore are objects of compassion, and ought to be protected against the baleful influence of such men as seduce them from their duty and subjection to legal authority, by poisoning their minds with notions hurtful to themselves and others.
[Sidenote] Progress of the colony.
About this time the number of white inhabitants, including men, women, and children, was computed to amount to fourteen thousand, an increase, in the space of fifty-four years after the arrival of first colony, very small and inconsiderable, and occasioned, no doubt, both by the unhealthiness of the climate and by the discouragements and troubles which prevailed during the proprietary government. The province now furnished the inhabitants with provisions in abundance, and exported what it could spare to the West Indies. The white inhabitants lived frugally, as luxury had not yet crept in among them, and, except a little rum and sugar, tea and coffee, were contented with what their plantations afforded. Maize and Indian pease seemed congenial with the soil and climate: and as they had been cultivated by the savages for provision, they were found also to be excellent food for European labourers, and more wholesome and nourishing than rice. Maize delights not to grow on a watry soil, but on dry and loose land, such as the higher spots on the maritime parts of the province. As the use of the plow could not be introduced until the lands were cleared of the roots of trees, to prepare a field for planting it great labour was requisite. They commonly made ridges with the hoe about five feet asunder, upon the top of which they planted the seed three inches deep. One gallon of maize will sow an acre, which, with skilful management on good lands, will yield in favourable seasons from thirty to fifty bushels. While it grows it requires to be frequently weeded, and the earth carefully thrown up about the root of the plant, to facilitate its progress. As it rises high, at the root of it the Indian pease are usually planted, which climb up its stalk like a vine, so that the lands yield a double crop. From the stem of maize large blades spring, which the planters carefully gather, and which, when properly cured, the horses or cattle will prefer before the finest hay. These two articles, maize, Indian pease, together with the Spanish potatoes, are the chief subsistence of their slaves, consisting chiefly of negroes and a few Indians, and who, at this time, men, women, and children, amounted to between sixteen and twenty thousand.
In the year 1724, four hundred and thirty-nine slaves, as also British goods and manufactures of different kinds, to the amount of between fifty and sixty thousand pounds sterling, were imported into the province. In exchange for these slaves and commodities, eighteen thousand barrels of rice, and about fifty-two thousand barrels of pitch, tar and turpentine, together with deer-skins, furs, and raw silk, were exported to England. This trade was carried on almost entirely in British ships, and employed a number of hands. The Carolineans also traded to the West Indies, and several small ships and sloops were employed in carrying provisions, lumber, slaves and naval stores to these islands, which they bartered for sugar, rum, molasses, coffee, cotton, and Spanish gold and silver. To New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, they sent some rice, hides, deer-skins, tar and pitch, which they exchanged for flour, salt fish, fruit, beer, and cyder.
All gold and silver that came into the province from the West Indies they commonly sent into Britain, to answer the demands against them; and bills of credit continued increasing and circulating, for the convenience of domestic commerce. Forty thousand pounds were issued during Nicolson's government, over and above former emissions, by which increase the exchange with Britain, and the price of produce arose in one year from five to six hundred per cent. This has never failed to be the consequence of issuing large quantities of paper money in Carolina: for whenever this currency was permitted to increase beyond what was necessary for the purposes of commerce, it sunk in value, and proportionably increased the nominal price of provisions and labour; and of course should it by any accident be diminished, the price would again fall. Besides this, when the imports happened to exceed the exports, the great demand for bills of exchange raised the price of them, and helped to increase the depreciation of the current money of the province.
[Sidenote] The adventure of Captain Beale.
Among other traders, at this time Othneal Beale commanded a ship in the Carolina trade; and while sailing from Charlestown to London, not being provided with a Mediterranean pass, he was taken by an Algerine rover, who determined to carry him to Barbary, and for this purpose took the English sailors on board, and manned Captain Beale's ship with Algerines, giving them orders to follow him to the Mediterranean sea. Soon after, a storm arising in the night separated the two ships, and Captain Beale being the only person on board that understood navigation, resolved to avail himself of the advantage, and accordingly, instead of sailing for Africa, steered directly for England. Upon his arrival the Algerine sailors were surprized, but not at all displeased; they even confessed to their ambassador the kind usage they had received; upon which Captain Beale had all he lost returned by agreement, together with thanks for his humanity. This bold adventure likewise procured the captain the honour of an introduction to the King, who expressed a desire of seeing him, and ordered Lord Carteret, then Secretary of state, to make him a handsome present on the occasion. This memorable anecdote being published, served to mark him for a man of address and courage in Carolina, where he afterwards took up his residence, and in time arrived at the chief command of the militia, was made a member of his majesty's council, and died at the age of eighty-five, a rare instance of longevity in that country.
[Sidenote] Arthur Middleton president.
In the year 1725, Governor Nicolson having obtained leave from his majesty, returned to Great Britain, and the government devolved on Arthur Middleton, president of the council. Mr. Middleton, though of a reserved and mercenary disposition, was a sensible man, and by no means ill qualified for governing the province. But having succeeded a man who liberally spent all his salary and perquisites of office in promoting the public good, he was neither so much distinguished nor respected among the colonists. Being possessed of a moderate fortune, his chief study was to improve it, and he seemed to aspire after the character of a rich man in private life, rather than that of a popular governor and generous benefactor. As he had taken an active part against the proprietary government, he was not insensible of the advantages now gained from the countenance given them by the crown, and was equally careful to promote loyalty to the King as the freedom and safety of his fellow-subjects.
[Sidenote] A dispute about the boundaries between Carolina and Florida.
At this time the boundaries between the provinces of Carolina and Florida were neither clearly marked nor well understood, as they had never been settled by any public agreement or treaty between England and Spain. To prevent negroes escaping to the Spanish territories, and overawe the Indians under the Spanish juridiction, the Carolineans had built a fort on the forks of the river Alatamaha, and supported a small garrison in it. This gave umbrage to the governor of Augustine, who complained of it to the court of Madrid, representing it as an encroachment on the dominions of Spain, and intended to seduce the Indians from their allegiance to his Catholic Majesty. The Spanish ambassador at London lodged the complaint before the court of Britain, and demanded that orders be sent out to Carolina immediately to demolish the fort. To prevent any interruption of the good correspondence then subsisting between the two courts, it was agreed to send orders to both governors in America to meet in an amicable manner, and settle the respective boundaries between the British and Spanish dominions in that quarter. Accordingly soon after Don Francisco Menandez, and Don Joseph de Rabiero, came to Charlestown, to hold a conference with the president and council of Carolina about this matter. At their meeting, Mr. Middleton shewed those deputies, that this fort was built within the bounds of the charter granted to the Proprietors, and that the pretensions of Spain to such lands were vain and groundless. At the same time he told them, that the fort on the river Alatamaha was erected for defending themselves and their property against the depredations of Indians living under the jurisdiction of Spain. Then he begged to know from them their reasons for protecting felons and debtors that fled from Carolina to them, and for encouraging negroes to leave their masters and take refuge at Augustine, while peace subsisted between the two crowns? The deputies replied, That the governor of Florida would deliver up all felons and debtors; but had express orders for twenty years past, to detain all slaves who should fly to Augustine for liberty and protection. Middleton declared he looked on such injurious orders as a breach of national honour and faith, especially as negroes were real property, such as houses and lands, in Carolina. The deputies answered, That the design of the King of Spain was not to injure private men, having ordered compensation to be made to the masters of such slaves in money; but that his humanity and religion enjoined him to issue such orders for the sake of converting slaves to the Christian faith. In short, the conference ended to the satisfaction of neither party, and matters remained as they were; but soon after, the English fort, built of wood, was burned to the ground, and the southern frontiers of Carolina were again left naked and defenceless.