On his return he commenced his public career. I copy from the Rolls Office in London the following:
"3d Nov., 1766.
"At a meeting of the council at Newburn, Robert Howe, Esq., produced the Governor's (Tryon's) commission appointing him captain of Fort Johnston, and he took the oath and subscribed the test."
In a dispatch of Gov. Martin to Earl of Dartmouth dated December 24th, 1772, "the Governor complains that the Colonial Assembly had passed a resolution requesting Governor Tryon to forward their petition to the King and thus overlooking him."
"This," he adds, "was done by the influence of Robert Howe and Isaae Edwards."
"Of Mr. Howe," the Governor says, in the same dispatch, "when he came to North Carolina, Mr. Howe was the captain of Fort Johnson, and Baron of the Exchequer; but believing the two offices incongruous, he appointed Mr. Hasell Baron of the Exchequer; by the King's appointment Captain Collet was made captain of the fort, which deprived Mr. Howe of a post of contemptible profit to a man of honor; but he, by extraordinary management of moneys that came into his hands to support the garrison, made it very lucrative, and served to keep together the wreck of his fortune. Mr. Howe is a man of lively parts and good understanding, but, in the present state of his affairs, of no account or consideration, and is trying to establish a reputation for patriotism."
"The Legislature resolved to continue the establishment of Fort Johnston only to the next session, which, I fear, is owing to the command being held by an officer nominated by His Majesty, instead of Mr. Howe, a native of this country." (Colonial Records, London.)
This year and in the next, 1772 and 1773, Howe was elected a member of the Assembly. He was also elected a delegate to the Colonial Congress which met at New Berne on 25th August, 1774. This was the first assemblage of the representatives of the people in a legislative capacity in the Colony in direct opposition to the Royal authority. It was violently denounced by Governor Martin. Howe was appointed chairman of a committee to whom the speech of Martin was referred, and wrote an able and eloquent reply. On the 8th August, 1775, Martin by proclamation dated 8th August, 1775, on board the British ship "Cruiser." denounced Howe for having taken the style of colonel, and for summoning and training the militia, etc.
This closed Howe's legislative career. By the Colonial Congress that met at Hillsboro on 21st August, 1775, he was appointed colonel of the 2d Regiment, then about to be raised on the Continental establishment.
The officers appointed to this regiment were Robert Howe, colonel; John Patton, major, (maternal grandfather of the Hon. C. C. Cambreling, already alluded to;) Alexander Martin, lieutenant colonel, afterwards Governor of the State. Among the captains were James Blount, Hardy Murfree, Henry Irwin Toole, Michael Payne, and others. In this gallant regiment Hertford County contributed her first quota of troops enlisted for the war. They constituted Company D, and were commanded by Hardy Murfree. Colonel Benjamin Wynns commanded the Hertford Battalion. Their first march under Howe was to Norfolk, and reached the Great Bridge only two days after the battle. Thence they went south under Lee. One of the best and truest of Hertford's sons was aide-de-camp to General Howe. This was young Godwin Cotten, of Mulberry Grove. Like his young kinsman, Colonel James Cotten, of Anson, he was the surveyor of the county. He was the youngest son of
Index - Contents