The transfer of Carolina from the Lords Proprietors to the Crown worked no important changes in the outward form of the machinery of government. Governor, Council, and Assembly, as well as the systems for the administration of land, finance, defense, and justice, remained as they were. The Crown merely took the place of the Lords Proprietors as the immediate source of power. This meant that a single executive, capable of a sustained policy, had succeeded a many-headed executive, of constantly varying personnel and ever-changing policy; that a tried and proven plan of administration had displaced an experiment which had failed. The change made possible a stability of purpose, promptness of action, and vigor of administration of which the proprietary government was incapable. But while there was no change in the outward form of government, there was a marked change in its purpose and spirit. The interests of the Lords Proprietors centered in dividends, those of the Crown in the development of the British Empire. Financial returns, therefore, inspired the spirit of the one, imperial interests that of the other. Imperial interests required the subordination of local interests; the Crown, accordingly, as the source of the former, acted upon the theory that its authority in colonial affairs rested solely upon the royal prerogative, and undertook to conduct the colonial government through instructions which it held to be binding upon both governor and Assembly. Such, however, was not the view of the colonists. They held that the purchase by the Crown carried with it only such powers as the Lords Proprietors had enjoyed; that these powers were defined and limited by the charter of 1665 which guaranteed to the people certain rights and privileges of which they could not be legally deprived; and that the Crown was bound to administer the affairs of the colony in accordance with those guarantees.
Seal of the Province of North Carolina, 1739‑1767
p212 These conflicting theories, together with conflicting imperial and local interests, made harmony impossible. The Crown, on the one hand, intent upon the larger affairs of the Empire, was too prone to ignore the rights and interests of the colony; the colony, on the other hand, with its own affairs uppermost in its consideration, never really sought to understand and sympathize with the policy of the Crown. The result was inevitable. Controversies between the executive department, which upheld the prerogative of the Crown, and the legislative department, which championed the rights and privileges of the people, characterize the political history of North Carolina as a crown colony. Was it the prerogative of the Crown, or the right of the Assembly to determine how quit rents should be paid? To fix the fees of public officials? To control the expenditures of public funds? To erect precincts with the privilege of representation? To ascertain the quorum of the House of Commons? To determine the jurisdiction of the courts? Many of the controversies growing out of these questions were trivial in themselves, but behind them all lay the vital issue whether the colonial Assembly was to be a real legislative body, representative of the people, with the power of independent judgment and action, or whether it was to be reduced to a mere vehicle for registering the royal will, expressed through instructions to the governor, and unless these controversies are studied with this fundamental fact in view they lose most of their interest and all of their significance.
The Crown purchased Carolina in July, 1729, but sent out no governor until February, 1731. During this year and a half, Sir Richard Everard continued to hold office by authority of his commission from the Lords Proprietors. But a commission from the Lords Proprietors had lost most of its virtue in North Carolina and Sir Richard himself no longer commanded that personal respect which might have proved a substitute for it. Consequently during that period a condition bordering upon anarchy prevailed in the colony. The governor was utterly discredited. The Assembly held but one session and the Crown afterwards declared that to be illegal. The Council was suspended. The General Court was suppressed. Many of the precinct courts ceased to function. The Admiralty Court — a crown court — having no restraint on its actions, took advantage of the situation "to draw all manner of Business" to it, proceeding "in such an Extraordinary Manner as occasioned a General Discontent p213and Ferment among the People." Laws were unenforced. The public revenues were not collected. Corruption was rife in official circles. The governor, who had no other notions of government, it was said, than as it gave him power to act as he pleased, openly declared his contempt for the laws of the colony, enforced his will by arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, demanded and took exorbitant fees, and accepted from the Assembly "a present" of £500 for signing a bill emitting £40,000 of paper currency contrary to his instructions. Nobody paid quit rents. Blank patents covering thousands of acres were issued and located for which no purchase money was paid. In a word, "the Province [was] in the greatest Confusion, [and] the Government had sunk so low that neither Peace nor Order subsisted." The Lords Proprietors complained of the Crown's delay in setting up an efficient government, declaring that not only their own personal affairs, but also those of the people "greatly suffer from the present unsettled conditions," and begged that either the transfer be expedited or else they themselves be restored to "the full and free exercise of all the powers granted" them by King Charles II. The people, too, grew impatient; they urged the recall of Governor Everard and the prompt settlement of the government upon a firmer basis.
In seeking the removal of Governor Everard the people of North Carolina enacted the fable of the frogs who prayed for a king. They exchanged Sir Richard Everard for George Burrington. Burrington, it will be recalled, lost his place under the Lords Proprietors in 1725 because the Proprietors were persuaded that he contemplated stirring up a revolution to compel them to transfer their property to the king. Where then should he be, when the transfer was actually made, but in London pressing upon the crown officials his claims to consideration. Success crowned his efforts. In January, 1730, he was notified of his appointment as first royal governor of North Carolina and a few days later received his commission. His commission was signed January 25, 1730, but Burrington remained in England awaiting his instructions which were not completed until December 30th. In January, 1731, he sailed for North Carolina, arrived at Edenton February 25th, summoned such of his councillors as were within reach, and in their presence took the oath of office.
Members of the popular party, with whom he had co-operated during his former administration, hastened to welcome p214him. Some of them, notably John Baptista Ashe and Edmund Porter, he had selected as councillors. The Grand Jury "for the whole Province of North Carolina" declared that they accepted his appointment as "a very great instance" of the king's favor to the colony, and the General Assembly, in an address to the king, echoed the sentiment, declaring that they were in duty bound to acknowledge Burrington's appointment "as a particular mark" of the king's indulgence. Burrington announced to the Assembly that in him they had a governor "that is entirely your Friend and Wellwisher;" and the Assembly expressing their "great pleasure" at his appointment felt "fully assured that we shall not want your best Endeavours to promote the lasting happiness of the People of the Province." But the leaders of the popular party soon found that the Burrington who needed their support in executing his designs against the Lords Proprietors was a different person from the Burrington who seeing his hopes fully realized was enjoying the fruits of his labors; and the echoes of their exchange of courtesies were almost immediately drowned in an explosion produced by irreconcilable differences.
The match to the powder was the governor's 19th instruction, in which the Crown offered, upon two conditions, to remit to the people the back rents for which in the purchase of Carolina it had allowed the Lords Proprietors £5,000. These conditions were, first, that the Assembly pass an act requiring the registration of all landholdings in the colony, thus providing an accurate rent roll for the Crown; second, that all quit rents and officers' fees, which had previously been paid in "rated commodities," or in provincial currency, be paid in proclamation money.1 The importance of this proposal will be appreciated when it is remembered that the people did not hold their lands in fee but as tenants of the Crown paying annual quit rents for their holdings. Assuming the Assembly's prompt and unquestioning obedience, Burrington had had prepared a bill carrying out the Crown's instructions as to quit rents, and with the advice of his Council, had already fixed the fees of colonial officials in proclamation money and put them into effect by executive order. But the Assembly proved unexpectedly independent. It asserted p215that the arrears of quit rents in North Carolina were too small to be a matter of any importance; resolved that, since there was not enough specie in the province with which to pay quit rents and fees, "all such payments be made in some valuable commoditys, or in the Bills now currant in this Province at proper Rates;" and declared that the regulation of officers' fees was a matter for the legislative, and not the executive power. "For nearly twenty years," it said, "the Officers' fees have been paid in Paper Currancy at the Rates mentioned in the Acts of Assembly." But Burrington insisted that the king's instructions gave "the Governour and Council Power to regulate and Settle Fees" in proclamation money, thereby "repealing all Laws that declare Fees shall be received otherways." This direct blow at the legislative power alarmed the House which resolved that by the charter of Charles II, the people of North Carolina were to "have, possess [and] enjoy all Libertys, Franchises, and Privileges" enjoyed by the people of England, among which was the guarantee "that they shall not be taxed or made lyable to pay any sum or sums of money or Fees other than such as are by Law established;" it therefore requested the governor to forbid the payment of fees in proclamation money "until such time as the Officers' Fees shall be regulated by Authority of Assembly." This resolution was as a red flag to a bull. The Council condemned it as "a great invasion of his Majesties prerogative;" Burrington declared it an "unreasonable complaint," and denounced its author as "a Thief that hides himself in a house to rob it and fearing to be discovered, fires the house to make his escape in the smoak."
Burrington attributed the opposition to his course to Edward Moseley, who was not only speaker of the House but also public treasurer, and determined to destroy him. For this purpose, he brought out two more instructions, one forbidding the paying out of any public money except upon warrant of the governor, thus depriving the Assembly of all control over the public funds, except the privilege of being "permitted from time to time to view and examine all accounts of money" disposed of "by virtue of laws made by them;" the other directing that all commissions issued by the Lords Proprietors be withdrawn and no public office be held except by a commission from the king. Burrington laid these instructions before the Assembly accompanied by a declaration of his purpose to appoint "a fitt person" as public treasurer. The Assembly resented this fresh encroachment p216upon its rights and privileges, declared that no public money ought to be disbursed except as directed by the General Assembly, i.e., the governor, Council, and House of Commons, and asserted that in fiscal affairs the Commons, "in Conjunction with the Governor and Council, hath a larger right than only to view and Examine Publick Accounts." Furthermore, it expressed the opinion that the other instruction "doth not extend to officers appointed by Act of Assembly," as was the public treasurer, but only to those who held commissions from the Lords Proprietors; the governor, therefore, need not trouble himself to appoint a public treasurer because that office was already filled by a person with whose "ability and integrity" the House was "very well satisfied," one, moreover, "who was appointed to that office in an Act of Assembly by the Governor, Council and Assembly and such an officer so appointed is not to be removed but by the like Power." To this open defiance of the king's instructions the governor and his supporters in the Council could think of no better answer than to charge the House with trying "to create animositys and ferment divisions;" nor could they resist the temptation to take a fling at Moseley. They admitted that Moseley was "a person of sufficient ability" to be treasurer, and "heartily wished his integrity was equal to it." This insult to its leader drew a sharp reply from the House, which stood loyally by him, and Burrington's attack resulted merely in widening the breach between the two branches of the government.
After his first Assembly, the governor determined not to hold another session until he could secure from his superiors in England confirmation of his instructions on the questions at issue. By successive prorogations, therefore, he prevented a session until July, 1733, when he was able to announce that the Crown adhered to its original instructions, and especially forbade his accepting quit rents and fees "in any other specie but in proclamation money." The Assembly countered with the rejoinder that they too had consulted their "principals" who had "recommended nothing more earnestly to us than that we should not consent to burthen them with such payments." So the quarrel flared up anew. The Assembly, in support of their contents, having appealed to the Great Deed of Grant, were greatly perturbed to find its validity denied by the crown officials. But this merely added fuel to the flames. Neither side would yield. The representatives of the people would not obey the king's instructions; the representative p217of the Crown would not assent to anything short of complete submission. Round and round the circle both sides pursued the old arguments with wearisome iteration and reiteration, but with no results.
In the "several hot debates and messages" which passed between the Assembly and the governor, the Assembly was firm, but always calm and respectful. Burrington on the other hand was insolent, dictatorial, and abusive. "If the Kings Instructions are contrary to some Laws of this Province," he said, "the Governor must act in Obedience to the Kings Commands, therefore you must not be Surprized that whatever Your Law directs contrary to my Instructions is not taken Notice of [by] Me." The violence of the language in which he commanded a like obedience from the Assembly, and denounced all who opposed him, passed all bounds of reason and decency. Quit rents and fees, control of the public purse, the selection of a treasurer, the character of the present incumbent, and all other causes of controversy, dwindled into issues of secondary importance; the rights, the privileges and the dignity of the Assembly as a representative body were at stake and the House resolved to maintain them at all costs. When the governor denounced the author of its resolution against the payment of fees in proclamation money as a thief, the House replied that the resolution "was the Unanimous Voice of the whole House, no one member dissenting thereto," and resolved that the governor's message was a "great indignity and contempt put on the whole House, a Breach of Privilege, and tended to the deterring the members from doing their Duty."
At the very beginning of the controversy, the popular party gained a point by creating a division in the Council. "I endeavoured all I could to prevent this madness," wrote Burrington, "but I cannot answer for the Follys and Passions of Men." John Baptista Ashe led the way, and by "false reasoning and fallacious arguments," won over Edmund Porter and William Smith, the chief justice. About the same time two other councillors, Nathaniel Rice and Joseph Jenoure, were called out of the province. Only Cornelius Harnett2 and Robert Halton were left upon whom the governor could depend. "By this," Burrington complained, "Ashe, Smith and Porter gained their end for then my own vote made but an equality in the Council which obliged me to put an end to the session." This division in the Council was never cemented; indeed, it grew wider for Harnett, too, p218soon joined the governor's enemies. From that time until his recall, Burrington poured upon the heads of Ashe, Porter, Harnett and Smith such a flood of abuse and billingsgate as probably never before or since disgraced the official dispatches of a public officer. Ashe was an "ungrateful" villain, "altogether bent on mischief;" Porter "a man of most infamous character;" Harnett "a disgrace to the Council;" and "Baby" Smith, "a silly, rash boy, a busy fool and egregious sot, to which," continued the irate governor, "I must add that I know him to be an ungrateful perfidious scoundrel." Smith resigned from the Council; Porter was suspended; Harnett was driven out by the governor's abuse; and Burrington, in clear violation of his instructions, replaced them with two new councillors, John Lovick and Edmund Gale, whose votes were at his command.
Burrington's enemies refused to remain quiet under his attacks. They poured complaints in rapid succession upon the Board of Trade. They even raised funds to send Chief Justice Smith to England to prefer charges against the governor. But neither written complaints nor personal appeals contributed so much to Burrington's downfall as his own dispatches, which revealed but too plainly his unfitness for his office. The Board of Trade in replying to them, began with advice and ended with censure. They demanded that he explain the opprobrious epithet which he had applied to Chief Justice Smith. They declared that while they would not venture to pass judgment between him and Porter, they could not but observe that Porter had been "acquitted by the old Councillors and only condemned by those whom you have nominated for new ones." They disapproved his appointment of the new councillors; condemned his practice of voting on bills pending before the upper house, and censured his domineering attitude toward the Assembly. Smarting under their strictures, Burrington flung policy to the winds, and gave full vent to his temper. More and more bitter grew his quarrels, more outrageous his conduct. Public business halted in the face of his private feuds. Three times he convened the Assembly, and three times prorogued it without securing the passage of a single act. Finally, in the summer of 1734, the Board of Trade determined to bear with him no longer, order his recall, and sent Gabriel Johnston to succeed him.
Johnston took the oath of office at Brunswick, November 2, 1734. He was a Scotchman of good birth and education. p219He had studied at the University of St. Andrews in which he had afterwards lectured as professor of oriental languages. Early in life, abandoning literature for politics, he went to London to seek his fortunes as a political writer. There he attracted the attention of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, and Lord President of the Privy Council, who extended his patronage to him. It was through Compton's influence that Johnston was appointed governor of North Carolina. In learning, culture and character, he was superior to any of his predecessors. His learning, however, as Chalmers observes, "degenerated a little into cunning." No breath of scandal attaches to his personal conduct. He had not the itching palm like Everard, nor was he given to profanity, violence and drunkenness like Burrington. Indeed, so little did he seek to advance his own personal fortune that at his death his salary was thirteen years in arrears. But as governor, "he was exceedingly arbitrary, not to say unscrupulous, in his methods," and the ethics of some of his official acts were not above criticism. His experiences in British politics seem to have given him a predilection for sharp practices, or, as he termed it, "management," in political affairs. To secure the passage through the Assembly of a bill in which he was interested, for instance, he "prevailed" upon some of the "most troublesome" members to absent themselves; and at another time, with a similar object in view, he purposely convened the General Assembly when and where he knew his opponents could not attend. On the whole, he showed less consideration for the Assembly and a greater regard for the king's prerogative than Burrington, and was even bolder and more determined in carrying out his instructions.
Johnston not only maintained all the positions taken by Burrington in the quit rents controversy, but also insisted that the king had a right to fix upon the places at which the quit rents must be paid. The Assembly, on the contrary, held that rents were payable on the land, and in support of their position appealed to "the Ancient Laws and usage" of the province. The governor's reply to their appeal injected into the controversy a new and startling issue. While in England seeking the removal of Burrington, Chief Justice Smith had discovered the order of the Lords Proprietors requiring that all acts of the General Assembly be submitted to them for confirmation; otherwise they should expire at the end of two years. His investigations also revealed the fact that so little had this order been heeded, that of all the laws then in force p220in North Carolina, six only, and those of minor importance, had been thus confirmed. Bristling with importance at his discovery, he hastened to submit to the legal advisers of the Crown whether all the unconfirmed laws were not null and void. These officials had not rendered their decision when Smith returned to North Carolina, but he felt so certain that they would confirm his opinion, that he persuaded Governor Johnston and the majority of the Council to adopt it. Accordingly, when the Assembly appealed to the "Ancient Laws" of the province, Johnston and his Council replied that they could not pay "any regard" to them because having never been confirmed by the Lords Proprietors, they were all null and void. This reply brought forth a storm of angry protests. Passions ran high. In the heat of debate, Moseley and Chief Justice Smith came to blows. But the stanch old Scotch governor was undaunted by the tempest which raged about him. He boldly told the Assembly that the king was not dependent upon their consent for power to collect his rents, and "in order to convince the people that his Majesties just revenue did not depend upon any Acts of their Assembly," he issued a proclamation directing that quit rents be paid at specified places, and "in gold and silver," or in bills current at a rate of exchange for sterling to be fixed by the Council. To show his determination to carry out his policy, he erected a court of exchequer to collect rents by distress if necessary, appointed Eleazer Allen receiver-general for North Carolina, although that office for both Carolinas was already held by John Hammerton of South Carolina, and put the militia under the command of officers upon whose obedience and loyalty to him he could rely. At first the very boldness of his course resulted in "a general submission" to his orders, and he was able to report that in the autumn of 1735, the collections amounted to £1,200 sterling, at the same time predicting that the spring collections would be double that amount.
But Johnston's optimistic predictions failed to be realized. "General murmurs" of opposition soon began to be heard. John Hammerton, indignant at the governor's action, hastened into North Carolina, publicly denounced the appointment of Eleazer Allen as illegal, and "had the impudence" to issue a proclamation forbidding the payment of rents to him. Still more potent was the influence of Edward Moseley, who not only refused to pay his own quit rents, but urged the people to follow his example. To him Eleazer Allen attributed p221"all the difficultys and obstructions which had attended the several collections of the quit rents." The murmurs quickly grew into loud protests and threats of violence. At a report, fortunately false, that a man had been imprisoned at Edenton for refusing to pay his rents, 500 men in Bertie and Edgecombe rose in arms and set out to rescue him by force, "cursing his Majesty and uttering a great many rebellious speeches." Complaints poured into the General Assembly that the collectors were exacting payments in currency at rates of seven and eight for one of sterling, to which, when resorting to distress, they added "extravagant charges." Against these "illegal proceedings," the Assembly protested, but in vain. Thereupon, catching something of the governor's spirit, they answered his bold challenge with a challenge even more daring, — they ordered the collectors of the king's revenue into the custody of their officers!
It was in just such an emergency that Johnston revealed his superiority to Burrington in statecraft. Burrington would have met it with bluster accompanied by a volley of oaths and a torrent of curses; Johnston, on the contrary, resorted to what he euphemistically called "management." One of the questions on which he had taken issue with the Assembly was the validity of blank patents, i.e., patents for land in which the date, the name of the patentee, the location of the land, the number of acres, and the amount of the purchase money were all or in part left blank. Many such patents had been issued after the Lords Proprietors had closed their Carolina land office, and as Johnston said, were "hawked about the country" in large numbers, the purchasers locating their lands and filling in the blanks as they pleased. Johnston held such patents invalid and as thousands of acres, estimated at nearly half a million, were held under them, his contention aroused intense opposition. Finding himself checkmated in his efforts to collect quit rents, he proposed to yield his position on blank patents if the Assembly would recede from their position on quit rents. A bargain was promptly struck. The governor agreed to confirm titles held under blank patents; the Assembly consented to prepare a rent roll and to limit the number of places at which quit rents should be payable. Both sides yielded somewhat on the medium in which rents should be paid, the governor consenting to accept certain rated commodities, or their value in provincial currency, the Assembly consenting that the value of provincial currency should be fixed by a commission p222consisting of the governor and representatives from the Council and the House of Commons. In 1739, a bill embodying these provisions passed both houses of Assembly, was promptly signed by the governor, and both governor and Assembly congratulated themselves and each other that the long dispute was at an end.
But their congratulations were premature. The Crown vetoed the act on the ground that vesting the power to regulate the value of money "in any person whatsoever, might be of dangerous consequence, and highly prejudicial to the trade of the nation." At the same time Johnston suffered another defeat for the law officers of the Crown decided against him in all of his contentions relative to the Great Deed, how and where quit rents were payable, and the validity of the provincial laws which had not been confirmed by the Lords Proprietors. With his position greatly weakened by these defeats, he again took up the controversy with the Assembly. In 1741 he called the session, as he wrote, "in the most southern part of the Province on purpose to keep at home the northern members who were the most numerous and from whom the greatest opposition was expected," but to no purpose. Similar failures met him in 1744, 1745, and 1746. Finally, in 1748, he secured the passage of an act which satisfied him.
By this time questions concerning the king's quit rents had lost much of their interest and importance by the creation of the Granville District which transferred half the land in the province and more than half the revenues arising from the land, from the king to a private proprietor. It will be remembered that when the Lords Proprietors surrendered their charter to the king in 1728, John Lord Carteret, afterwards Earl of Granville, decided to retain his interest in the soil. No steps however were taken to lay off his share until 1742. Acting then upon the advice of the Board of Trade the king decided that Granville was entitled to one-eighth of the original grant which embraced nearly all the region between the northern boundary of North Carolina and the southern boundary of Georgia as far west as the South Sea. In 1742, therefore, he directed that five commissioners representing the Crown and five representing Granville be appointed with full authority to locate and set out Granville's claim.
In their work the commissioners seemed to consider Lord Granville's interests paramount to those of either king or colony. It was manifestly fair that the burdens incident to p223the creation of this immense private estate should be shared on some just basis by all of the three colonies, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, which had been erected out of the original proprietary; nevertheless in order that Lord Granville might enjoy the advantages of having his estate in a solid tract the commissioners decided to cut the whole of it out of North Carolina. An important consideration with them in making this decision was the fact that by adopting the North Carolina-Virginia boundary line as the northern line of the Granville District, they would have to run the southern line only. Beginning, therefore, on Hatteras Island at 35° 34′ north latitude, they carried the line in 1744 as far west as Bath. In 1746 it was carried to Haw River, thence twenty years later to Rocky River, and finally, in 1774, to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It ran through the site of the present town of Snow Hill, followed what is now the southern boundary of Chatham, Randolph, Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell counties, and fell just below the southern line of Catawba and Burke counties. Between it and Virginia lay an immense region, •sixty miles in width, embracing •about 26,000 square miles of territory, one-half of the present state of North Carolina, and containing in 1744 more than two-thirds of the inhabitants and an even larger percentage of the wealth of the province.
Throughout this vast region, Lord Granville, though possessing no political authority, was virtually the irresponsible ruler over the property rights of the people for the territorial system which he set up was beyond the control of either Crown or Assembly. For the administration of his estate he maintained a land office at Edenton with a large organization including agents, surveyors, entry takers, and numerous subordinate officials. The inefficiency and corruption of these officials, unrestrained by any watchful authority, soon became a public scandal. Granville himself was a victim of their frauds and abuses, but the chief victims were his tenants. They suffered from the exaction of excessive fees, the collection of illegal quit rents, and the issuance of fraudulent grants. In 1755 the Assembly's committee on propositions and grievances reported such practices of Granville's agents as grievances which "do retard the Settlement of that part of the Government of which his Lordship is proprietor." During the next few years the abuses grew with such rapidity that in 1758 Granville's tenants petitioned the Assembly for relief. The Assembly appointed a committee to investigate the charges and this committee after a thorough investigation made a p224report which attests not only the dishonesty but also the resourcefulness of the agents in devising schemes to defraud the settlers. Some of their practices were the issuing of grants for the same tract by the same agent to more than one person; the issuing of grants for the same tract by different agents to different persons; the bribing of officials to change the name of grantees in the entry-book and to issue to other parties deeds for land for which the original grantee had already paid the entry fees; the issuing of grants improperly signed, and therefore void, so that later they might issue the same grants to other persons, of course collecting fees from all of them; and, finally, the collection of excessive fees and quit rents. The fees in the Granville District, according to Governor Dobbs, were double, and sometimes treble, the frees of the Crown in the rest of the province, and while the king's fees were paid in paper currency, Granville's agents would accept no payments except in gold and silver. In spite of these undoubted frauds and abuses the Assembly was powerless to grant the relief sought and could do nothing more than send a remonstrance to Lord Granville.
It must not be supposed that Granville was privy to these practices or indifferent to the complaints of his tenants. In 1756 he wrote to his agent, Francis Corbin: "Great and frequent complaints are transmitted to me of those persons you employ to receive entries and make surveys in the back counties. It is their extortions and not the regular fees of office which is the cause of clamor from my tenants. Insinuations are made, too, as if those extortions were connived at by my agents; for otherwise, it is said they could not be committed so repeatedly or so barefacedly." Of course none of the excess fees found their way into his coffers; indeed, he would have been fortunate if he had received those to which he was legally entitled. It was said that one of his agents on going out of office advised his successor to remember the proverb of the new broom and not to remit too much to the earl at first as equal remittances would be expected in the future; besides, what was more to the point, such a mistaken policy might lead to investigations that would prove awkward to former agents. The trouble was not with Lord Granville; it was with the system which enabled a private individual to exercise so much control over the fortunes and happiness of people with whom he had no sort of sympathetic connection.
Finding the Assembly powerless and despairing of relief from Lord Granville, the people finally took matters in their p225own hands. One result of their complaints had been an order from Granville to Corbin to publish his table of fees which revealed abundant evidence of systematic abuses and frauds and led to demands upon the agents to disgorge their illegal gains. In the winter of 1759 an armed mob surrounded Corbin's house in Edenton, aroused him in the dead of night, compelled him to go with them to Enfield, •seventy miles distant, and there exacted of him a bond in the sum of £8,000 that he would within three weeks' time exhibit his books for inspection and refund all excess fees. But after his release, instead of complying with his agreement Corbin inspired prosecutions against four of his assailants and upon their refusing to give bail had them thrown into prison at Enfield. This act was the signal for an explosion. From all the surrounding country armed settlers rode into Enfield, broke open the jail, overpowered the jailer, released the prisoners, and inaugurated a reign of lawlessness throughout a large part of the Granville District. Corbin abandoning his prosecutions fled in terror. Some of the sheriffs were openly in sympathy with the mob and the attorney-general, Robin Jones, was so thoroughly intimidated that he refused to prosecute the rioters and appealed to the governor to take action. The Assembly urgently supported his appeal, but the governor refused to move and in his turn became a target for the Assembly's denunciation. In defending himself to the Board of Trade against the strictures of the Assembly, Dobbs denounced the dishonesty of Granville's agents, expressed his sympathy with the people, and declared that their conduct had been grossly misrepresented and exaggerated. The riot, therefore, was never suppressed by legal procedure, the rioters went scot free, and conditions in the Granville District continued volcanic until the proprietorship was abolished.
Throughout its history the Granville District was a source of discord, weakness and division in the colony. For many of the most important affairs of its inhabitants, it was almost a province within the province. Its existence was the cause of numerous controversies over the location and boundaries of the grants of other large landowners, and even of grants issued by the Crown. With that indifference to former grants so characteristic of colonial officials, the commissioners had included within the Granville District nearly 500,000 acres of the McCulloh grant, and while Granville and McCulloh themselves had little difficulty adjusting their conflicting claims, their agreement did not prevent constant friction between p226their agents and surveyors. There were clashes too between the agents of Granville and those of the Crown. The former charged Governor Dobbs with issuing grants for land within the Granville District while Dobbs retorted that Granville's line encroached for a depth of at least •nine miles upon the king's land. These disputes and conflicts kept the frontier in a state of continual disorder and tended to discourage the immigration of substantial settlers. Many less desirable immigrants, taking advantage of the situation, squatted on lands along the border between the king's district and that of Lord Granville without taking out grants and without paying quit rents. Under such conditions it was impossible to instill into them that respect for law which is the foundation of free government. The colony also suffered from the utter indifference of the second Lord Granville, who succeeded to the title in 1763, to his Carolina estate. He allowed his land office at Edenton to remain closed for several years, thus depriving North Carolina of many excellent settlers who would have taken out grants within his district.
Financially, too, the Granville District was a great drawback to the colony. Quit rents derived from the land in this immense region went not into the public treasury but into the pockets of a private individual, or of his corrupt agents. Thus a large part of the revenues from the richest and most populous half of the colony were used for other purposes than support of the government. Consequently the burden fell so much more heavily upon the poorer half. This fact had no little to do with the stubbornness of the Assembly in holding out against the king's instructions relative to a permanent civil list.
The dual territorial and fiscal system made necessary by the existence of the Granville District was a source of division and weakness in North Carolina. The province was neither an economic nor a political unit. A northern and a southern treasurer were necessary. There was a northern and a southern party. To these divisions of interests primarily may be traced the controversy over representation which wrecked Governor Johnston's administration. These different interests continued throughout the colonial period. As late as 1773, on the very eve of the Revolution, Governor Martin complained that the Granville District created a division in the colony which for many years had "fatally embarrassed its politics." Considering the whole history of the Granville District, therefore, Martin was fully justified in declaring p227that it was "not only profitless to the Proprietor, but a nuisance to this Colony."
Governors, Assembly, and people were all agreed not only as to its baneful effects, but also as to the proper remedy for its evils. The remedy was purchase by the Crown. In 1767 Governor Tryon declared that its purchase by the Crown "would more than treble the value of the quit rents": that it was "an object so extremely coveted, to a man, by the inhabitants settled there" that it would no doubt result in the passage of "any law his Majesty would propose for the better and more easy collecting of his quit rents." "If it could be purchased for sixty thousand pounds sterling," he added, "it would be cheap; it is certainly the most rising interest on the continent of America." To like effect wrote Governor Martin who in 1771 said: "It seems here an universally acknowledged principle that this Country will never enjoy perfect peace until that proprietary which erects a kind of separate interest in its bowels is vested in the Crown." The Assembly too was of the same mind. In 1773 the House of Commons appointed a committee, composed of its strongest leaders, "to take into consideration Lord Granville's Territory in this Province, with respect to the settlement of the same, and to propose some plan to quiet the Inhabitants in their possession." The plan proposed and agreed to by the Assembly was to request the king to "be graciously pleased to purchase the same, that the said Lands may be held of him as other Lands are held of his Majesty in his District in this Colony." But nothing came of these suggestions; the Revolution came on, independence was declared, and Lord Granville being then an alien enemy, the Assembly in 1782 solved the problem of the Granville District by the short and effective method of confiscation.
The creation of the Granville District in 1744 was an important element in enabling Governor Johnston to secure the passage of the quit rent law of 1748, but a more important element still was the representation quarrel inaugurated by the Assembly of November, 1746, which threw the quit rent controversy completely in the shade. The most determined opposition to the governor in the quit rents controversy had come from the inhabitants of the old county of Albemarle who claimed to hold their land under the Great Deed of Grant. The Great Deed gave them better terms than the Crown was disposed to allow and they were determined not to surrender their advantage. Another advantage which they enjoyed enabled p228them to sustain their position. This was the right which each precinct in Albemarle had of sending to the General Assembly five representatives, whereas the other precincts sent but two each. This privilege originated early in the proprietary period when Albemarle was the only county in Carolina, and was not extended to the precincts which were subsequently erected in Bath County.
As these now precincts grew in wealth and population they came to look upon this inequality as a discrimination against them, while the expansion of the colony southward toward the Cape Fear gave rise to sectional interests different from the interests of Albemarle, which served to emphasize it. The commercial interests of the Cape Fear settlers, who enjoyed the advantage of direct trade with the mother country, often conflicted with those of Albemarle, whose trade necessarily went through Virginia and the other colonies, and legislation in the interests of one section was frequently considered ruinous by the other. Personal ambitions and sectional rivalries also increased the dissatisfaction of the southern precincts. New Bern was ambitious to displace Edenton as the seat of government, and her pretensions were supported by the precincts south of Albemarle Sound. The people in the southern precincts, especially those along the Cape Fear, complained that it was a hardship to compel them to go to Edenton, in the extreme northeastern corner of the province, across two wide sounds, in order to consult the public records in the secretary's office, to transact business in the General Court, and to attend sessions of the General Assembly. But all their efforts to move the capital to a more central place were defeated because the counties north of Albemarle Sound had a majority in the Assembly. The controversy came to a head in June, 1746, when the proposal to make New Bern the capital was again defeated, and the session closed with a sectional quarrel that split the popular party in two. In this division, the shrewd politician at the head of the government saw his opportunity and hastened to make the most of it.
Making common cause with the southern members, Johnston prorogued the Assembly to meet in November at Wilmington, expecting that so many northern members would refuse to attend at that season and at such a distance, that the southern members would control the House. In fact, the former had openly declared that, because of the inclemency of the season and the difficulties of travel, they would not attend a winter session at Wilmington. Since they composed a majority p229of the House, they of course expected that no session could be held without them. But in this they reckoned without their host, for they could not foresee that Samuel Swann, John Starkey, and other southern leaders, for the sake of a petty sectional advantage and at the behest of a royal governor, would surrender one of the most cherished principles of the popular party, namely, that no number less than a majority should be considered a quorum of the House of Commons. Yet this is just what they did. With only fifteen members in attendance, out of a total membership of fifty-four, Speaker Swann declared a quorum present and notified the governor that the House was ready for business. The business of the session was cut and dried. But two bills were considered, one making New Bern the capital and regulating circuit courts, the other reducing the representation of the Albemarle counties3 from five to two members each. Johnston hastened to dispatch the two acts to England for approval, saying: "I have got a law passed for fixing the seat of Government at Newbern, and a tax laid for Public Buildings. There was only one other law passed then, viz., an Act for ascertaining the number of representatives for each County, the inequality of which has been one great source of the Disorders of this Colony." Not a word about the revolutionary method by which the two bills were passed through the Assembly!
But the northern counties were not so reticent. They protested loudly against the trick of which they were the victims, denounced the whole proceedings as a fraud, and solemnly agreed that they would not recognize the validity of the pretended acts of the rump Assembly. Accordingly, when the governor issued writs for a new Assembly to meet in February, 1747, and directed the northern counties to return but two members each, the people refused obedience and in each county chose five as usual. The House, of course, promptly declared the elections null and void, threw out the returns, and directed that new elections be held. Thereupon the northern counties appealed to the king. A long and bitter controversy followed. Three issues were presented, viz.: the right of the northern counties to five members each; the number of representatives necessary to constitute a quorum of the House; and the validity of the act complained of. The governor, assisted by certain of his councillors, presented the case p230for the southern counties; Wyriott Ormond and Thomas Barker, prominent attorneys, represented the northern counties. Both sides argued their contentions with skill and ability. The governor contended that the only basis for the claims of the northern counties was the Biennial Act of 1715 which the king had repealed in 1737. The northern counties, on the other hand, traced their claim back to the Fundamental Constitutions and the unbroken practice of the colony under the Lords Proprietors. By careful searching of the records, by numerous depositions as to what practice had been followed, and by hearing long and tedious arguments, the crown officials sought diligently and impartially to arrive at a correct decision. The main point, i.e., the right of the northern counties to five members each, they decided in favor of the northern counties; they thought, however, that a majority was not necessary for a quorum, saying that "such a constitution is very extraordinary and liable to great inconvenience"; nevertheless, as the act in question had been "passed by management, precipitation and surprise," they advised the king to veto it.
Eight years passed between the appeal and the decision, years of confusion, rebellion and almost of anarchy throughout the northern half of the province. The first election held under the act of 1746 had given the governor an Assembly amenable to his will and he determined to hold it together as long as possible. Elected in 1747, it held thirteen sessions, and was not dissolved until 1754, after Johnston's death. During these years the northern counties refused to send representatives to the Assembly. They denied the constitutional authority of an Assembly in which they were not allowed their full representation. They held its acts to be null and void. They would not use the currency emitted by its authority. They refused to pay taxes. They declined to serve as jurors in the General Court organized under the act of 1746, or to submit to its judgments. In a word, as Bishop Spangenberg wrote in 1752, throughout the northern counties there existed "a perfect anarchy. As a result, crimes are of frequent occurrence, such as murder [and] robbery. But the criminals cannot be brought to justice. The citizens do not appear as jurors, and if court is held to decide such criminal matters no one is present. If any one is imprisoned the prison is broken open and no justice administered. In short, most matters are decided by blows. Still the county courts are held regularly and what belongs to their jurisdiction receives p231customary attention." The last statement throws a flood of light on this curious situation. The people would not submit to the jurisdiction of the General Court because it was held under authority of an act passed by the rump Assembly of November, 1746, nevertheless they maintained their county courts in full vigor and cheerfully submitted to their decrees because they were held under the long established laws of the province.
Governor Johnston, dying in 1752, did not live to see the end of the controversy which his "management" had fastened on the province. After a brief interval, during which first Nathaniel Rice and then Matthew Rowan, as presidents of the Council, administered the government, Arthur Dobbs was appointed governor. Dobbs was the head of an ancient family in Carrickfergus, Ireland. He had had a varied and not undistinguished career, having served as high sheriff of County Antrim, as representative of Carrickfergus in Parliament, and as surveyor-general of Ireland. But he was best known for his interest in Arctic explorations; he had even made an attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, and had written treatises on the subject. His interest in North Carolina began with the purchase of the colony by the Crown. As early as 1733 he was a member of a syndicate which purchased •60,000 acres in New Hanover precinct upon which the company settled a colony of Irish Protestants. He also had other landed interests in North Carolina. It was doubtless this connection with the colony that suggested his appointment as governor.
It was an unfortunate selection. Without the energy and ability of Burrington, lacking Johnston's force of character and political shrewdness, Dobbs entertained more exaggerated ideas of the prerogative of the Crown and less tolerance for the constitutional claims of the Assembly than either. At sixty-five years of age, he was too old to adapt himself to the strange conditions of a new country and too infirm to grapple successfully with the difficult problems of colonial administration. During the decade covered by his administration, these difficulties increased as year by year his capacity to cope with them diminished. Says Saunders in his admirable analysis of Dobbs' character, "his mental faculties, probably never very great, weakened and finally gave way under the strain * * * and in December, 1762, a stroke of palsy, that deprived him of the use of his lower limbs, all the winter, put an end to all hope, for the time, at least, of his future usefulness. p232He rallied, however, and if he did, indeed, escape the drivelling imbecility of old age, he committed its supreme folly by marrying a very young girl. Complimented in 1755 for his vigor and intelligence, in 1762 he was told by the lords of the Board of Trade that his dispatches were so very incorrect, vague and incoherent that it was almost impossible to discover his meaning, and that as far as they could be understood, they contained little more than repetitions of propositions he had made to them before, and upon which he had received their sentiments fully and clearly expressed."4 To which it must be added that as his mental faculties decreased, his irritability, his dictatorialness, and his egotism increased, rendering co-operation with him impossible. Such was the man which the British colonial system of the eighteenth century selected to administer the public affairs of a sensitive and highly excitable people at a time when the fate of the British Empire hung upon the vigor, intelligence and harmony with which all its parts co-operated in its defense.
Dobbs arrived at a conjuncture favorable for a successful administration. The people were tired of internal strife. The French and Indian War was then in progress and imperial interests for the first time in the history of the colony absorbed the attention of the people. Dobbs, too, was the bearer of the decisions of the Crown in the issues raised by Governor Johnston and these decisions were on the whole favorable to the colony. Furthermore he brought instructions to dissolve the old rump Assembly elected in 1747, which half the colony regarded as illegal, and to call a new Assembly in which representation should be distributed as it had been prior to 1746. This Assembly met in New Bern, December 12, 1754. It was the first Assembly since June, 1746, in which all the counties were represented. Evidence of the seriousness of the division in the popular party was seen in the contest for the speakership. For the first time in fourteen years a candidate for the speakership appeared against Samuel Swann, who had long been the leader of the popular party and was now the leader of the southern faction. After a sharp contest, he was defeated by John Campbell, leader of the northern faction. The morning after the election, Dobbs wrote to the Board of Trade, "Although there may be some little sparring betwixt the parties, yet both have assured me it shall have no effect upon public affairs or make my administration uneasy."
p233 In spite of his sanguine anticipations, Dobbs soon found himself involved in controversies with the Assembly over a greater variety of issues than any of his predecessors. Some of the less important of these concerned the right of the Assembly to elect the public treasurer, to name an agent to represent the colony before the various boards in England, to appoint a public printer, and to fix the fees of provincial officials. On these issues the Board of Trade generally sustained the Assembly even to the point of rebuking the governor for the persistence of his opposition. When Dobbs, for instance, rejected an aid bill because it contained a clause naming an agent in England, in whose choice he claimed a right to be consulted, the Board of Trade wrote to him that it was none of his business "either in point of Right or Propriety to interfere in the nomination of an Assembly so far as regards the Choice of the person" for "in this respect the Representatives of the people are and ought to be free to chuse whom they think proper to act," and that while the method of appointment in this particular case was irregular, "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 it was too trivial an Objection to have been admitted as a reason for rejecting that Supply." But on the more important issues, such as the number of members necessary to constitute a quorum of the House of Commons, the right of the Assembly to determine the qualification and tenure of judges, and its right to control the expenditure of public funds, the Board of Trade fully sustained the governor.
The quorum controversy Dobbs inherited from the Johnston administration. The popular party, contending for the principle of the Biennial Act of 1715, that "the quorum of the House of Burgesses for voting and passing of Bills shall not be less than one full half of the House," based its contention upon "the Constitution and constant usage and practice" of the colony. Such a constitution, on the other hand, the crown officials, calling to mind the practice of the British Parliament in which 40 members out of a total of 556 were a quorum, considered "very extraordinary and liable to great inconvenience," so they instructed Dobbs to consider fifteen members a quorum of the Assembly. This instruction the Assembly resolutely refused to obey. In October, 1760, in April, 1762, in December, 1763, and in February, 1764, the members declined to obey the governor's commands that they p234form a House with less than a majority, "denying His Majesty's right of constituting fifteen to be a quorum." The governor blustered and scolded and the Board of Trade denounced the Assembly's course as "an indecent opposition to the just authority of the Crown," but to no purpose; the Assembly refused to yield and the issue remained to vex the administration of Dobbs' latest successor under the Crown. It was not finally settled until the people took the government into their own hands in 1776.
In the quorum controversy the Assembly held a stronger legal position than it did in the controversy over the qualifications and tenure of judges, though perhaps not a more just one. It was conceded that the appointment of a chief justice, with a tenure during the king's pleasure, was a prerogative of the Crown. For this great office attorneys were usually sent out from England whose personal character and legal learning did not always measure up to the dignity and responsibility of their position. Owing their appointment and their tenure to the will of the governor they were perhaps too often amenable to executive influence. To curtail this influence as much as possible, as well as to provide for the increasing needs of the growing colony, the Assembly passed an act which provided for associate, or assistant justices upon whom, in the absence or disability of the chief justice, it conferred full jurisdiction, at the same time so arranging the circuits that the chief justice could not possibly attend more than half the courts. These associate justices were to be appointed by the governor, but the Assembly was careful to limit his choice by fixing such qualifications as practically to exclude all non-resident attorneys, and to secure their independence by giving them a tenure during good behavior.
These "new and unprecedented" features, crown officials considered violations of the king's prerogative, and upon their advice the king vetoed the act and instructed Dobbs not to consent to any such provisions in the future. Thus again did Prerogative challenge Privilege, undo what the Assembly had declared to be necessary for the "ease" of the people and the "due and regular administration of justice," and ride roughshod over the personal ambitions of numerous aspiring attorneys. Here then were all the elements for a petty quarrel. It flared up at once bringing with it as Dobbs said, "a stagnation of Justice." The controversy reached its crisis in 1760. Called into special session to vote an aid to the king for war purposes, the Assembly obstinately refused p235even to consider an aid bill unless the governor would consent to its court bill. The contest raged with great bitterness. The governor lashed the members fiercely and the Assembly retorted by holding a secret session in which it brought an arraignment against Dobbs "without an equal until that brought against King George at Philadelphia by the United Colonies on the 4th of July, 1776."5 It declared that "by the injudicious and partial appointment of Justices not qualified for such trust and the abrupt removal of Others whose Characters have been liable to no objection, Magistracy has fallen into Contempt and Courts have lost their Influence and dignity." These explosions, however, cleared the atmosphere and led the way to a compromise. In return for a supply, the governor agreed to sign the court bill provided a clause was inserted limiting its duration to two years unless approved by the king. Needless to say this approval was never given, and the only reward Dobbs received for his pains was a stinging rebuke from his official superiors. The Assembly fared better for the incident showed it a way to accomplish its purpose by adopting the simple expedient of passing court laws containing the desired provisions and limited in their operation for two years. This practice was followed for more than a decade.
Most of the controversies which have been discussed, especially those over the election of the public treasurer, the appointment of the colonial agent, and the qualifications and tenure of judges, were involved in the great controversy over finances, and were, in fact, subsidiary to it: that is to say, the Assembly used its power over the public purse to force from the executive concessions on these other questions. The French and Indian War which continued through most of Dobbs' administration brought unprecedented demands for money and gave to financial affairs greater importance than they had ever had before. No man was more British in his enmity to the French, or more Protestant in his hostility to their religion, than Dobbs, and he made the wringing of money out of the province for the prosecution of the war the paramount object of his administration. The Assembly met his demands as liberally as it thought the circumstances of the colony justified, but it could not satisfy the governor. Greater demands urged in impolitic language brought on numerous p236sharp controversies over the prerogatives of the Crown and the privileges of the Assembly in fiscal affairs.
These controversies involved two classes of funds. First, there was North Carolina's share of the appropriation made by the British Parliament to reimburse the colonies for their large expenditures in prosecuting the war; and, second, money appropriated directly by the General Assembly. Dobbs claimed the right to dispose of the first by executive order, and at times drew upon it for the equipment and pay of troops. His right to do this the Assembly disputed, and this position was sustained by the Board of Trade. Much more significant was the controversy over appropriations. The governor complained of the habit of the Assembly of tacking onto supply bills extraneous matters, as it did in the court law controversy. But these phases of the dispute involved no principle; the chief issue was the claim of the Assembly to the sole right to frame supply bills. In 1754, the Council having proposed an amendment to an appropriation bill, the Assembly promptly rejected it and unanimously resolved "that the Councill in taking upon them to make several material Alterations to the said Bill whereby the manner of raising as well as Application of the Aid thereby granted to his Majesty is directed in a different Manner than by that said Bill proposed have acted contrary to Custom and Usage of Parliament and that the same tends to Infringe the Right and Liberties of the Assembly who have always enjoyed uninterrupted the Privilege of Framing and modelling all Bills by Virtue of which Money has been Levied on the Subject for an Aid for his Majesty." Having made good this principle, the Assembly voted money for support of the war with a liberality which even Dobbs acknowledged. After 1758, however, the governor made a total failure in his efforts to direct the Assembly. More zealous than judicious, he allowed himself to become involved in a silly quarrel over what the Board of Trade called a "trivial" matter, in which he imagined the king's prerogative was affected, and rather than yield a little where resistance could do no good, he foolishly threw away the supplies which a burdened people reluctantly offered. Quarrel followed quarrel; the sessions were consumed with quarrels. The Assembly refused to frame supply bills at the governor's dictation, and in an outburst of wrath, he wrote to the Board of Trade that the members were p237"as obstinate as mules" and appealed to the king to strengthen his authority for "supporting his Majesty's prerogative" in the colony.
In these controversies with Dobbs, one's sympathies are naturally with the Assembly. Nevertheless when one considers the threat which the vast designs of France held out against the very existence of the British Empire in America, the danger which hung over the colonists themselves from the hostility of the savage and relentless allies of the French, and the urgent necessity for unity and harmony in all the English-speaking colonies, one cannot altogether escape the feeling that the Board of Trade was justified in rebuking the Assembly for its "unfortunate and ill-timed disputes * * * 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."
The Assembly's justification must be sought in its conviction that it was fighting the battles of constitutional and representative government. Its appeal was constantly to the "Constitution" and the "usage and practice" of the colony. By "Constitution" it meant the Carolina charter and the practices which had grown up under it. Among its provisions was a guarantee that the people of Carolina should "freely and quietly have, possess and enjoy" as fully as if they were residents of England, "all liberties, franchises, and privileges, of this our kingdom, * * * without the molestation, vexation, trouble, or grievance, of us, our heirs, and successors; any act, statute, ordinance, or provision, to the contrary notwithstanding." Furthermore, the charter contained certain provisions which, though not among those "liberties, franchises and privileges" which the people enjoyed as Englishmen, were yet equally as binding upon both ruler and subject. In the quorum controversy, for instance, the Assembly based its contention on that clause of the charter which provided for the making of laws by and with the advice and consent of the freemen, "or the greater part of them, or their delegates or deputies," and asserted that "the King had no right to lessen the Quorum by his Instructions." These chartered rights, the Assembly held, had not been affected by the transfer of the colony to the Crown, and could be neither abridged nor abrogated without the consent of the people. As late as 1761, Dobbs wrote that the Assembly contended that the charter "still subsisted" and that it bound the king as well as the people. The Assembly felt, therefore, p238that it was fighting the battles of representative government, which the royal governors had set themselves to destroy. Dobbs summed up the situation when he wrote, "The Assembly think themselves entitled to all the Privileges of a British House of Commons and therefore ought not to submit to His Majesty's honorable Privy Council further than the Commons do in England, or submit to His Majesty's instructions to His Governor and Council here," and appealed to the king to strengthen his hands that he might more effectually "oppose and suppress a republican spirit of Independency rising in this Colony."
1 "Current specie of foreign coinage the value of which was ascertained and fixed in sterling money by proclamation of the Crown." — Ashe, History of North Carolina, Vol. I, p229. At a later date provincial currency was also so called.
2 Father of the Revolutionary patriot of the same name.
3 In March, 1739, Albemarle and Bath counties were abolished and their subdivisions, theretofore known as precincts, became counties.
4 Prefatory Notes to Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. V, p. viii.
5 Saunders: Prefatory Notes to Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. VI, p. xxi.
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