viands, untasted, into the river. He forgot that he was in the home of John Ashe, and he had seen that neither he nor the people could be intimidated or cajoled."
I am indebted to the able address of Hon. George Davis for much of the eloquent style in which these events have been recorded, and use his language, so forcible and correct, and so much better than any I could employ.
After the battle of Alamance, Tryon was transferred to the Governorship of New York, and he left North Carolina to the mutual satisfaction of himself and the people. He declared in a dispatch to his Government, that "not all the wealth of the Indies could induce him to remain among such a daring and rebellious people."
His successor, Governor Martin, found his place no bed of roses, notwithstanding he used every means to reconcile the people to the mother country. He early experienced the restive spirit of the age, and as already stated, found it convenient to take refuge (on 10th July, 1775) on board of His Majesty's ship of war, lying in the Cape Fear river. In a dispatch dated 20th July, 1775, from on board the "Cruiser," he informs his Government that "Fort Johnson had been burnt, and that Mr. John Ashe and Mr. Cornelius Harnett were the ringleaders of the savage and audacious mob." Governor Martin found as little pleasure in association with such daring men as had Governor Tryon, and with English squadron left the Cape Fear country for Charleston. Thus was the State free from any foreign ruler. This same year, 20th of May, 1775, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was proclaimed, and the year following, (18th November, 1776), a State Constitution was formed at Halifax.
These were the men that formed our State; these--
Like Romans in Rome's quarrel,
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.
Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the State;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great.
It has been the subject of frequent remark and admiration, that North Carolina should haved formed, under such circumstances, so perfect a Constitution that it carried the State through the long and bloody revolution in safety, and for nearly sixty years, in honor and happiness. For any people, long inured to aristocratic forms and monarchial rule, should, bursting from the gloom of monarehy into the light of liberty, to have created so perfect a form of Government, was indeed a subject full of wonder. It has been amended several times; but to the minds of many it has not been improved. It was the work of men who knew the great principles of liberty, truth and justice, and many of them afterwards fought and died to secure them.
It was adopted on the 18th December 1776, as reported by a committee, among whom were W. Avery, John and Samuel Ashe, Thomas Burke, Rich'd Caswell, Cornelius Harnett, Joseph Hews, Robert Howe, Willie Jones, Thomas Jones, and others.
It is recorded that it was chiefly the production of Caswell, Burke and Thomas Jones. But whoever they were, they proved themselves master workmen in their craft.
Thou, too, sail on, oh Ship of State,
Sail on thy course, both strong and great,
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate.
By many it is stated that our Constitution was the earliest formed. But this is error. When the power of the mother country over the colonies was gone, and some Government other than England was necessary, the Continental Congress, by a resolution adopted 3d November, 1775, recommended the Colonies to adopt such Government as should best
Index - Contents