The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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and they recommend that the magistrates, clerk, and sheriff should be elected by the people.*

        * For copy of this memorial, see Wheeler's History of N. C., II, 24.

        What an early and rapid stride did these patriotic men take, at this early day, in the right of the people to govern themselves, and declare a principle that fifty years after became the law of the land!

        I find among the early records the name James Cotten, and from curiosity more than a hope that the memory of such a man may be useful, we present his infamous conduct. We could wish in describing the men of our State, to present only the patriotic, the virtuous, and the good; and, like the motto of the Roman sun-dial--

                         "Non numero horas, nisi screnas."

        But truth demands that we should present facts. Such men as Cotten, in these perilous times, were only

                         "Vermin gendered on the Lion's mane--"
                         whose acts consign them to contempt.

        Among the Colonial records in London, I find the following letter:

"21 July, 1775.

        "I have received your letter of the 15th inst., by Mr. Cunningham, and highly approve of your proper and spirited conduct, while I cannot sufficiently express my indignation and contempt of the proceedings of Captain-General Spencer and his unworthy confederates. You and other friends of the Government have only to stand your ground firmly!

        "Major Snead may be assured of my attentions to all his wishes.

        "I beg my compliments may be presented to Colonel MacDonald.

"I am, Sir,
"Your humble servant,


"To Lt. Col. James Cotten, "Anson Co., N. C."

        I found, also, among the Colonial records in London, the deposition of James Cotten, taken 14th Aug., 1775, on board of His Majesty's sloop of war, the "Cruiser," where he had been for succor and for safety. Anson County had become rather too hot for him, which proves the determined spirits of the patriots, and whose names should be cherished in history. This deposition states--

        "I was called before the committee for Anson County; and Samuel Spencer, the chairman, stated that they had sent for me as one of the burgesses of the county, to know if I would sign and approve of the resolves of the Continental Congress, which were read to me by Mr. Thomas Wade. I refused. They said that they should proceed against me, and gave me two weeks to consider.

        "On the Tuesday following, David Love, accompanied by William Love, Samuel Curtis, William Covington, and another, all armed, came to my house and took me, notens volens, towards Mask's Ferry, on the Pedee.

        "I escaped from them, traveling as secretly as possible, sleeping in the woods at night, and reached this vessel on Sunday night last."

        Deposition of Samuel Williams, who escaped with Colonel Cotten, taken at the same time and place:

        From dispatch of Gov. Martin, dated--

"NEW YORK, 15th Sept., 1777.

        "Two vessels have arrived here from North Carolina, bringing refugees.

        "A Mr. James Cotten, of No. Ca., who went hence some time ago, will probably have waited on your Lordship.

        "He is a man of vulgar life and character, and is a native of New England, and I do not estimate him very highly."

        We now will bid "Good-bye to James."

        Allusion has been made to Samuel Spencer.

        He was a member of the Colonial Assembly at an early day, and in 1774 elected to the Provincial Congress at New Berne, which was the first organized movement of the people in a legislative capacity in open opposition, and independent of the Royal Government. This body sent delegates to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia.

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