August 09, 1769
That the province in general labor under general grievances, and the Western part thereof under particular ones; which we not only see, but very sensibly feel, being crouched beneath our sufferings: and notwithstanding our sacred privileges, have too long yielded ourselves slaves to remorseless oppression. — Permit us to conceive it to be our inviolable right to make known our grievances, and to petition for redress; as appears in the Bill of Rights passed in the reign of King Charles the first, as well as the act of Settlement of the Crown of the Revolution. We therefore beg leave to lay before you a specimen thereof that you compassionate endeavors may tend to the relief of your injured Constituents, whose distressed condition calls aloud for aid. The alarming cries of the oppressed possibly may reach your ears; but without your zeal how shall they ascend the throne — how relentless is the breast without sympathy, the heart that cannot bleed on a view of our calamity; to see tenderness removed, cruelty stepping in; and all our liberties and privileges invaded and abridged (by as it were) domestics: who are conscious of their guilt and void of remorse. — O how darling! How relentless! Whilst impeding judgments loudly threaten and gaze upon them, with every emblem of merited destruction.
A few of the many grievances are as follows.
1. That the poor Inhabitants in general are much oppressed by reason of disproportionate taxes, and those of the western countries in particular; as they are generally in mean circumstances.
2. That no method is prescribed by law for the payment of the taxes of the western counties in produce (in lieu of currency) as is in other counties within this province; to the peoples great oppression.
3. That lawyers, clerks, and other pensioners; in place of being obsequious servants for the country’s use, are become a nuisance, as the business of the people is often transacted without the last degree of fairness, the intention of the law evaded, exorbitant fees extorted, and the sufferers left to mourn under their oppressions.
4. That an attorney should have it in his power either for the sake of ease or interest, or to gratify their malevolence and spite, to commence suits to what courts he pleases, however inconvenient it may be to the defendant: is a very great oppression.
5. That all unlawful fees taken on indictment, where the defendant is acquitted by his country (however customary it may be) is an oppression.
6. That lawyers, clerks, and others extorting more fees than is intended by law; is also an oppression.
7. That the violation of the King’s instructions to his delegates, their artfulness in concealing the same from him; and the great injury the people thereby sustains: is a manifest oppression.
And for remedy whereof, we take the freedom to recommend the following mode of redress, not doubting audience and acceptance; which will no only tend to our relief, but command prayers as a duty from your humble petitioners.
1. That at all elections each suffrage be given by ticket and ballot.
2. That the mode of taxation be altered, and each person to pay in proportion to the profits arising from his estate.
3. That no future tax be laid in money, until a currency is made.
4. That there may be established a Western as well as a Northern and Southern district and treasurer for the same.
5. That when a currency is made it may be let out by a loan office (on land security) and not to be called in by a tax.
6. That all debts above 40s. and under 10 pounds be tried and determined without lawyers, by jury of six freeholders, impaneled by a justice, and that their verdict be entered by the said justice and be a final judgment.
7. That the Chief Justice have no perquisites, but a salary only.
8. That clerks be restricted in respect to fees, costs, and other things within the course of their office.
9. That lawyers be effectually barred from exacting and extorting fees.
10. That all doubts may be removed in respect to the payment of fees and costs on indictments where the defendant is not found guilty by the jury, and therefore acquitted.
11. That the assembly make known by remonstrance to the King, the conduct of the cruel and oppressive receiver of the quit rents, for omitting the customary easie and effectual method of collecting by distress, and pursuing the expensive mode of commencing suits in the most distant courts.
12. That the assembly in like manner make known that the governor and council do frequently grand lands to as many as they think proper without regard to head rights, notwithstanding the contrariety of his majesties instructions; by which means immense sums has been collected, and numerous patents granted, for much of the most fertile lands in this province, that is yet uninhabited and uncultivated, environed by great numbers of poor people who are necessitated to toil in the cultivation of bad lands whereon they hardly can subsist, who are thereby deprived of his majesties liberality and bounty: nor is there the least regard paid to the cultivation clause in said patent mentions, as many of the said council as well as their friends and favorites enjoy large quantities of lands under the above-mentioned circumstances.
13. That the assembly communicates in like manner the violation of his majesties instructions respecting the land office by the governor and council, and of their own rules, customs and orders, if it be sufficiently proved, that after they had granted warrants for many tracts of land, and that the same was in due time surveyed and returned and the patent fees timely paid into the said office; and that if a private council was called on purpose to avoid spectators, and peremptory orders made that patents should not be granted; and warrants by their orders arbitrarily to have issued in the names of other persons for the same lands, and if when entreated by a solicitor they refused to render so much as a reason for their doing, or to refund any part of the money by them extorted.
14. That some method may be pointed out that every improvement on lands in any of the proprietors part be proved when begun, by whom, and every sale made, that the eldest may have the preferenced of at least 300 acres.
15. That all taxes in the following counties be paid as in other counties in the province in the produce of the country and that ware houses be erected as follows:
In Anson County at Isom Haleys Ferry Landing on PeDee River,
Rowan and Orange at Cambleton in Cumberland County,
Mecklenburg at ………on the Catawba River, and in
Tryon County at ……….on………..River.
16. That every denomination of people may marry according to their respective mode ceremony and custom after due publication or license.
17. That Doctor Benjamin Franklin or some other known patriot be appointed agent to represent the unhappy state of this province to his majesty, and to solicit the several Boards in England.