The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

caballing and forming resolutions against the measures of the Government."*

        * Colonial Documents, Rolls Office, p. 184.

        As was to be expected, Governor Martin suspended Mr. Johnston from office, which drew from him the following dignified letter, now on file in the Rolls Office in London:

"EDENTON, November 16th, 1775.

        "SIR: I have this day had the honor of receiving your excellency's letter, signifying that you had been pleased to suspend me from acting as deputy to Mr. Turner, in the Naval office, with the reasons for such removal, and it gives me pleasure that I do not find neglect of the duties of my office in the catalogue of my crimes; at the same time I hold myself obliged to you for the polite manner in which you are pleased to express yourself of my private character. You will pardon me for saying that I had reason to complain of the invidious point of view in which you place my public transactions, when you state that 'the late meeting of the inhabitants of this province at Hillsboro, was a body of my own creation.'

        "Your excellency cannot be ignorant that I was a mere instrument on this occasion, under the direction of the people; a people among whom I have long resided, who have on all occasions placed the greatest confidence in me, and to whom I am bound by gratitude (that powerful and inviolate tie in every honest mind,) to render any service they can demand of me, in defense of what they esteem their rights, at the risk of my life and property.

        "You will further, sir, be pleased to understand, that I never considered myself in that honorable light in which you place me--'one of the King's servants,' being entirely unknown to those who have the disposal of the King's favors. I never enjoyed, nor had I right to expect, any office under His Majesty. The office I held, and for some years exercised under the deputation of Mr. Turner, was an honest purchase for which I paid punctually an annual sum, and which I shall continue to pay until the expiration of the term for which I would have held it, agreeably to our contract.

        "Permit me, sir, to add that had all the King's servants in this province been as well informed as to the disposition of the inhabitants, as they might have been, or taken the same pains to promote peace, good order, and obedience to the laws, that I flatter myself I have done, the source of your excellency's unceasing lamentations had never existed; or had it existed, it would have been in so small a degree that e'er this it would have been nearly exhausted.

        "But, sir, a recapitulation of past errors, which it is now too late to correct, would be painful to me, and might appear impertinent to you; I shall therefore decline the ungracious task, and by and with all due respect, subscribe myself,

"Your excellency's most
"obedient, humble servant,


        He was a member from Chowan in 1775, to the provincial congress of the state, and succeeded, on the death of John Harvey, as moderator or president.

        He was present at Halifax at the formation of the constitution in November, 1776, and although not a member, afforded all the aid of his experience and ability to develope the conservative features of that instrument. To many of the principles adopted, he was opposed, fearing the departure from the forms long established and practiced was too great to be useful.

        In 1780 to 1782, he was a member of the Continental Congress.*

        * While a member of the Continental Congress he was elected to the high honor of president of that body; but he was compelled to forego this distinction because of the condition of his finances. This compelled his return to North Carolina, and he had thus to forego what was then the highest civil function in America--Journal of Continental Congress.

In 1787, he was elected governor of the state. He was an ardent and enthusiastic admirer of the constitution of the United States, and presided at the convention. held July 21st, 1788, to consider that instrument, but it was rejected by that body. In 1779, he and Benjamin Hawkins were elected the first senators from North Carolina in the Congress of the United States: here they served till 1793.

        In February, 1800, he was appointed one of the judges of the superior courts of law and equity, which he resigned in November, 1803 He died in 1816.

Page 119 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS