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The Natural History of North-Carolina.
FURTHER OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.
AS to the Air, I don’t know what fault it has, except what I have said before of it’s being sometimes extreamly hot, at other times subtile, and piercing; and I am persuaded, it enters a Man’s Body easier than that in Ireland; yet I think that much of the Mortality that happens among Strangers, is owing in a great measure to the ill government of themselves, for they eat but little, having destroyed their Stomachs by Surfeits of Fruit, or excessive Drinking hot Spirituous Liquours; and if any rather chuse the cold, his Stomach is chilled, and he is immediately in danger of a Flux, or extream Looseness. There is another thing to be observed, Men guard themselves less from the Air here, than in most other Place, trusting to the heat of the Climate, and receive the cool of the Evenings with only a Shirt. I think that the Air, though not so cold, is much more subtle and piercing here than in Ireland, it corrodes Iron much more, not by Moisture, for it is not so moist; and besides it does it in the dry Weather.
Notwithstanding this Country is as fertil and pleasant as any in the World (in the same Latitude) for the produce of Minerals, Fruit, Grain, Wine, and several other rich Commodities, that are frequently to be met with in it. All the Experiments that have been already made of the Fertility and natural Advantages of the Country, have answered beyond expectation, as affording some Commodities, which other Places in the same Latitude do not.
As for Minerals, they being subterraneous Products, so in all New Countries, they are the last Species that are generally discovered, and will most certainly be so, where the Indians never look for any thing lower than the superficies of the Earth, being a race of Men, the least addicted to search into the Bowels of the Earth, of any in the World, that inhabit so fine a Country as Carolina; and I am satisfied, that there are as good and rich Mines here, that lie full to the Westward of us, as any the Spaniards possess in America. The Lands near the Heads of the Rivers being Mountainous, and no doubt, have as rich Minerals in them as any of those parts that are already discovered to be so rich.
I shall say no more on this Subject at present, but give you some general Observations concerning North-Carolina; which are, That it lies as convenient for Trade as any Province in America, abounding with several rich and valuable Commodities, such as Tar, Turpentine, Pitch, Rosin, Masts, Yards, Planks, Boards, Staves, Lumber, Timber of many sorts, fit for any uses; Skins of Deers, Beeves, Buffelo’s, Elks, Bears, Panthers, and several other Beasts. The Furrs of Beavers, Racoons, and many other wild Beasts, which are in great Plenty here; as also Rice, Wheat, Indian Corn, Barley, Oats, Buck-wheat, and sundry sorts of Pulse, Potatoes, and variety of fine Fruits, Flax, Beef, Pork, Tallow, Hides, Horses, Whale-bone, Oil, Bees-wax, Myrtle-wax, Honey, Cheese, Butter, Cotton, Tobacco, Indico, Coffee, and no doubt would produce good Silk, Oil, and Wine, the Soil of this Country being as proper as any in the World for that purpose.
This Country is likewise adorned with pleasant Savannas or Meadows, Rivers, Mountains, Vallies, Hills, and rich Pastures for Cattle, and blessed with a wholsome pure Air, especially a little backwards from the Sea, where only wild Beasts inhabit at present, few of which are so voracious as to kill Men, Horses or Cows, for there cannot be a richer Soil, no place abounding more in Flesh and Fowl, both wild and tame, besides vast numbers of excellent Fish, Grain, Cyder, and many other pleasant Liquors, together with most Necessaries convenient for Life, that are daily found out, to the great Benefit and Advantage of those that are already settled here.
The Stone or Gout seldom or never afflict the Christian Inhabitants, and the Europeans that have been afflicted with the Stone and Gravel, find present Ease, by drinking Yaupan Tea.
The Consumption we are entire Strangers to, no Country affording a better Remedy for that Distemper than the pureness of the Air; neither has the small Pox ever visited this Country but once, and that in the late Indian War, which destroyed most of those Savages that were seized with it.
As for Trade, we lie so near Virginia, that we might have the advantage of their Convoys, if there were occasion for them, as also Letters from thence in two or three Days, and from some places in a few Hours. The great numbers of ships that come to New-England, New-York, Pensilvania, Mary-Land, and Virginia, make the Provisions scarce in those Places, so that they are frequently obliged to North-Carolina for those Necessaries, where Provisions and Naval Stores never fail of a good Market. Besides where these are produced and raised in such plenty, there appears good House-keeping, and plenty of all manner of delicate Eatables.
The Porke is excellent good, from their Hogs feeding on Straw-berries, Wall-nuts, Peaches, Maiz, and several other sorts of delicate Fruits, which, are the natural produce of this Country, and make them the sweetest Meat the World can afford; as is well known to all Strangers that have been in that Country. And as for their Beef, it proves extraordinary good, being fat and well relished. We have not only Provisions very plenty, but Cloaths of our own Manufacture, which are made and daily increase in these parts; such as Cotton, Wool, Hemp and Flax, being all the growth this Country. But the women do not over burthen themselves with care and Industry; otherwise there would not be such continual calls for those necessarys from Europe. But this Climate being visited with so mild and short Winters, save abundance of Cloaths. We likewise can go out with our Commodities to any part of the West-Indies, or elsewhere in the depth of Winter, whereas those in New-England, New-York, and Pensilvania, and those Colonies to the Northward of us, cannot stir for Ice, but are fast locked into their Harbours all that Season.
We have no frontier Town in North-Carolina, which is an advantage in not being so continually alarm’d by the Enemy, and what has been accounted a detriment to us, proves one of the greatest advantages any People cou’d wish or desire. This Country being Fenced with a Sound near ten Leagues over in some Places, through which, although there be Water enough for as large Ships to come in at, as any part hitherto seated in both Carolinas; yet the difficulty of that Sound to Strangers hinders them from Hostilities against us, so that this natural Bull-work proves very advantagious to us in securing us from our Enemies.
Our distance from the Sea likewise rids us from two curses or Plagues which attend most other parts of America, viz. the Musketo’s, and the water Wood-worms, that eat Ships bottoms. Whereas at Bath and Eden-town, there is no such thing known, and as for Musketo’s we are very little troubled with them, except it be in low Marshes, and near the Salt-waters, which are only habitations for wild Beasts, Birds, and Snakes of various kinds. The vast quantities likewise of Fish that this great Sound or Water supplies us with, when ever we take the pains to Fish for them, is another considerable advantage not to be met with so commodiously in any part of America as in this Province.
As for the Climate (as I observed) we generally enjoy a very wholesome and serene Sky, and a pure and thin Air, the Wether seldom proving so overcast or Cloudy but we have the blessing of the warm Sun, except it be in Winter, and then as soon as the South and West-winds begin to blow, the Horizon immediately clears up and restores the light of the Sun. The Weather in Summer is very pleasant, being continually refreshed with cool reviving Breezes from all Quarters except the South, which is very sultry.
The Spring here is as pleasant and as beautiful as in any place I have ever been in, and the Winter generally proves so mild that it is rather like an Autumn, except the Winds blow North-west, at which time it is peircing and cold, but proper enough for our constitutions, and very wholesome, freeing these parts from many dangerous distempers that a continual Summer afflicts them with, nothing being wanting as to the natural Ornaments or blessings of a Country to the making reasonable Men happy.
As for the Constitution of this Government, it is so mild and easy in all respects, to the Liberties and Properties of the Subject, that it is the best established Government in the World, and a Place where a Man may peaceably enjoy his own without being invaded by another; rank and superiority always giving place to Justice and Equity, which is the foundation that every government ought to be built upon, and regulated by.
Besides this Province has been settled and continued the most free from the insults and barbarities of the Indians of any Colony in America, which was one of the greatest blessings that cou’d attend such a small number of People as they were, and how Iregularly settled first, and at what distance they are from each other, and yet how undisturbed they have remained and free from any Foreign danger or loss, to what most of the other Colonys have been exposed to, not only by the Indians, but their own Slaves the Negroes. And what may well deserve Admiration is, that their Prisons are never crowded with Malefactors or Debtors; as to Malefactors I never knew but one that was guilty of death, for Murder, which happened as follows; two Persons well known to each other, being at the Tavern, one of them was falling asleep, his Friend importuned him to go home along with him, which the other refusing to do, his Friend told him, that he would leave him, which he had no sooner said, but the other Stab’d him with his Knife, whereof he instantly died; the Murderer was immediately apprehended, tried, and condemned to die, he confest that before he left Europe he had murdered two, and notwithstanding his Condemnation, he found means to make his escape out of Prison some few Days before Execution.
As for Debtors, few or none are confin’d in Prison above four and twenty Hours, for the Sherriff generally takes them Home to his House, or takes their Word for their Appearance at the next Court, to be held, in any of their precincts or Barronies, where they Judge him a Servant to the Creditor for as long time as they imagine the Debt deserves, but if the Person has been a Planter and by misfortunes has contracted Debts, or an aged Person they frequently at these Courts make a Collection amongst themselves, by which means they discharge the Debt, or satisfie the Creditor, so that by these methods none are kept in confinement.
It is likewise enacted by the Laws of the Country, that no Person shall be liable to pay above forty Shillings of their Country Money for any publick-House Scores for Liquors, let the Persons that keep such Houses trust them what they please, yet by Law they can recover no more: This is done chiefly to prevent People, if possible, running in Debt, or spending their Time idly after that manner, especially in a Country where Industry is so much wanting. Notwithstanding this Law, some will owe above One hundred Pounds at these Taverns, or publick Houses, which they will justly and honestly pay, looking upon it as the greatest Scandal in Nature to make use of this Law; neither would the Country much regard them afterwards if they did. Yet there are some that are not so scrupulous, or so strictly bound up to Principles of Justice, that have taken the advantage of this Law, to defraud their Creditors, when they had an Opportunity.
There are several other good Laws in this Province, and particularly, that no Vagabond, or inferiour Person is suffered to travel through the Country without a Pass from the Governor, or some of the Justices of the Peace, this is done to prevent Transports from Europe running away from their Masters.
They have no Frontier Towns, as I before observed, neither have they any Army, except their Militia, which are both of Horse and Foot, having proper Officers, who are Commissioned, or Nominated by the Governor, although they are seldom obliged to Muster (as they are in most of the other English Provinces in America) except it be to apprehend Offenders that will not submit themselves to the Law, or be taken by the Authority of their Justices of Peace’s Warrant; in such cases, they generally raise the Posse or Militia, to seize and bring them to Justice; Yet instances of this Nature are but seldom, for I never knew but two whilst I was in the Country.
But to return to the Subject in Hand, there are made throughout this Settlement, as good Bricks as any I have ever met with in Europe: All sorts of Handy-crafts, such as Carpenters, Joyners, Coopers, Bricklayers, Plaisterers, Shoe-makers, Tanners, Curriers, Taylors, Weavers, and most other sorts of Tradesmen, may with small Beginnings, and good Industry, soon thrive well in this Place, and provide good Estates, and all manner of Necessaries for their Families, Lands being sold at a cheaper rate here than in most parts of America.
The Farmers that go thither (for which sort of People it is a very thriving place) shou’d bring with them several sorts of Seeds of Grass, as Trefoil, Clover-Grass, all sorts of Sanfoin, and common Grass, and especially those that have arose and sprung in a warm Climate, that will endure the heat of the Sun; likewise several Garden-Seeds, and choice Fruit-Trees, and European-grain, for increase and hardness, and especially Olive-Trees and several sorts of European-Grapes. The necessarys for Husbandry I need not acquaint the Husbandman withal, but Hoes, of all sorts, and Axes must be had, Saws, Wedges, Augurs, Nails, Hammers, and what other things may be necessary to build with Timber and Brick. For whoever reads this Treatise with attention, must needs be acquainted with the nature of the Country, and therefore cannot but be Judges what will be chiefly wanting in it.
Whoever goes to this Province need not complain for want of Lands for taking up, even in places most delightfully seated on navigable Rivers and Creeks, without being driven to remote parts of the Country for settlements, as at present they are forced to do in New-England, and several other English provinces in America, which are already become so populous, that a new comer cannot get a beneficial and comodious seat, unless he purchases it at a very dear rate.
Another great advantage here is, that there is liberty of Conscience (as I said before) allowed to all. These things being duly weighed, any rational Man that has a mind to purchase Lands for a Settlement for himself and Family, will soon discover the advantages that attend the settlers and purchasers of Lands here above all the other Provinces in the English Dominions in America, for Ease, Pleasure, Satisfaction, and all necessaries of Life.
And as several parts of Europe may be admired for its artificial, so may Carolina for its natural Beauty; for the Country in general is level, except some Hills near the Cherokee and Appelapean Mountains, and most agreeably diversified with fine arable Lands, producing vast increase, and two Crops in one Season, with large and spacious Savannes or Meadows, most beautifully adorn’d with variety of Odoriferous and fine Flowers, intermixt with plenty of good Grass for Pasture for Cattle. The large Woods and Forests with their Lofty Trees and spreading Vines of various sorts, affording not only refreshing, but most pleasant shades to sit under in the extremity of the hot Weather, and likewise abounding with various kinds of wild Beasts and Birds, which are preserved in them, not only for diversion of Hunting, but likewise convenient and profitable for the support of Man.
And Lastly, the large and Navigable Rivers and Creeks that see to be met with watring and adorning this Country, well stored with vast quantities of Fish and Water-Fowl. These ornaments and many advantages which it enjoys, makes it one of the pleasantest places in the World to live in, Sed, Nescio qua natale solum dulcedine capto ducit & Immemores non sinit esse sui. They make very necessary Vessels for carriage of their Commodities by Water, which are called in these parts Periaugers and Canoes, which are the Boats made use of in this Country, and are generally made out of one peice of large Timber, and that most commonly of the Cypress kind, which they make hollow and shaped like a Boat, with Masts, Oars, and Padles, according to their size and bigness. Some of these Periaugers, are so large that they are capable of carrying forty or fifty Barrels of Pitch or Tar. In these Vessels likewise they carry Goods, Horses, and other Cattle from one Plantation to another over large and spacious Rivers; they frequently trade in them to Virginia and other places on this continent, no Vessel of the same Burthen made after the European manner is able to out Sail one of these Periaugers.
The Canoes are of less Burthen than the former, some will carry two or three Horses over these large Rivers, and others so small that they will carry only two or three Men. These are more ticklish than Boats, but no Boat in the World is capable to be rowed as fast as they are, and when they are full of Water they will not sink, and not only the Indians but even the Christians are very dexterous in managing of them.
Before the arrival of the Christians in these parts (as I have been credibly inform’d) the Indians had no other Method in making these Periaugers and Canoes, but by Fire, burning them hollow with Gums and Rosins, and scraping them with sharp Stones or Shells, prepared for that use, according to the shape and size they proposed to make them, having neither Handsaws, Axes, Adds, Chizel, or any other Instruments made of Iron or Steel, wherewith to fashion or make them; but at present they have all manner of Instruments proper for such uses, which they have purchased from the Christians. It is most certain, that no People in the World are more handy and dexterous in managing their Periaugers, and Canoes, with either Sail, Oar, or Paddle, than they are; and when ever it happens that their Canoes are full of Water, they will very nimbly leap out, and holding the Canoe with one Hand, throw out the Water with a Gourd with the other, and so proceed on their intended Voyage. They likewise very often set their Periaugers and Canoes, along the Shoar with long Poles.
The Land Carriages are much after the same manner as those with us; there being not only plenty of Horses, but likewise of Carts and Waggons, and several other Necessaries convenient for Carrying all manner of Commodities by Land from one place to another.
The Roads are as good as in most parts of the World, and the travelling as pleasant, especially the Road from Edentown to Virginia, being made broad and convenient, for all sorts of Carriages, such as Coaches, Chaises, Waggons and Carts, and especially for Horsemen, these Lands lying so level, and the beautiful and delightful Objects they are entertained with in their Journey, render it both amusing and diverting. What is remarkable is, that traveling from Edentown to Virginia, there is a Post set up in the Division between those two Provinces, with North Carolina on the South, and Virginia on the North, in large Capital Letters, to shew to all Travellers the Bounds between those two Colonies.
In other parts the Roads are more like Paths than any publick Road, only that they are made broad enough for Coach, Chaises, and all manner of Carriages. But this is a general Rule to be observed throughout all America, that wherever you meet any of those Paths like Roads, with the Trees marked or notched on each side, it is a sure sign that it is the publick Road from one Christian Town to another. Notwithstanding there are several Paths of Horses, Cows, and other Beasts in the Woods, as large as the former, which are to be avoided, by reason that the Trees are not marked as above; neither do the Indians ever use this Method in making their Roads, having some secret Knowledge to guide them through these large Woods, which we are entire Strangers to; so that several Christians not knowing, or regardless of these Marks, have been for several Days lost in the Woods, before they could come to any Planters House, or meet with any Person to inform them which way to go; yet I never heard of any perish for want of Provisions, under these misfortunes, there being not only great Plenty of several good Fruits to be met with, all over the Woods most parts of the year, but likewise variety of Birds and Beasts, necessary for the support of Life; but I have known some lost for eight, others for fourteen Days, before they could meet with any human Creature to inform them what part of the Province they were in.
The Negroes sometimes make use of these Advantages in the Woods, where they will stay for Months together before they can be found out by their Masters, or any other Person; and great Numbers of them would act after the same manner (which would be detrimental to the Planters) were they not so much afraid of the Indians, who have such a natural aversion to the Blacks, that they commonly shoot them when ever they find them in the Woods or solitary parts of the Country.
There are no Wind-Mills in this Province at present, and not above two or three Water-Mills, which are for the most part continually grinding their Wheat; for the small Sloops and Periaugers are continually coming and going with Corn and Flower: But the common method that the Planters use to grind their Corn is with Hand-Mills, which almost every one of them has. The Stones for these Mills are got up the River Neus, which are very soft when dug out of the Earth, but grow exceeding hard and durable after they are some time in the Air, and are serviceable upon these occasions. These Stones seem more like a parcel of Oyster-shells petrified, than any natural Stone, for through the whole Grain of this Stone there is no other appearance, but the exact shape place, from whence they draw a Funnel some distance from the Kiln. Then they take the Light-wood which they pile up with the ends of each, placed slanting towards the center of the Kiln, which is generally made taper from the Ground, afterwards they cover it very secure with Clay, Earth or Sods, to keep in the Flames, after this is done they set it on fire at the Top, the Weather permitting, which must be neither too dry nor too wet. By this means the Tar runs into the center, and from thence into the Funnel, where they attend Night and Day (with Ladles to put it into Barrels prepared for that purpose) till the Kiln is quite burnt out, which is generally in eight and forty Hours or less, according to the dimensions of the Kiln. It sometimes happens through ill management, and especially in too dry Weather, that these Kilns are blown up as if a train of Gun-powder had been laid under them by which Accident their Negroes have been very much burnt or scalded. The Planters generally know very near what quantity of Tar each of their Kilns will produce, according to their dimensions, for which reason they are always provided with a sufficient Number of Barrels for that end.
The Pitch is made of the Tar, which is done in the following manner. They have large Furnaces made in several parts, and more now than ever, by reason of a late act of Parliament made in the Reign of his present Majesty, which obliges every Person or Persons that burn Tar-kilns in his Majesties dominions in America to make half of the first running into Tar, and the other half into Pitch, the penalty being a forfeture of the whole. With this second running they fill their furnaces, and so place a fire underneath it till such time as it begins to boyl, then they set it on fire and burn it to the consistence of Pitch.
The Rosin is very scarce in these parts, few giving themselves the trouble; but when made, it is done after the following manner, viz. Take Turpentine, as much as you think proper, put it into an Alembick or a Copper Vesica, with four times its weight of fair Water, and distil it, which will produce a thin and clear Oil like Water, and at the bottom of the Vessel will remain the Rosin. The Indians never make either Pitch, Tar or Turpentine, ranging and hunting continually through the Woods, being all the Industry they are given to, except they plant some small quantity of Indian Corn or Maiz, and dress their Deer-Skins, being as well satisfied with this way of living as any among us, who by his Industry has acquired immense Treasure.
I will in the next place give an account of those that are Transported to these parts from Europe, and the many advantages that attend them in this Province, according to their good behaviour. These are indented for such a limitation of time, as appears by each of their Indentures, and are disposed and made Servants of during that time, each of them being more or less regarded according to their good or bad behaviour, and the reason of their being Transported. Neither can any Servant give a second Indenture on himself before he is out of his Apprentiship, and a Free-man in the Country; then he is at his Liberty to make what bargain he pleases, but before that time all contracts made by him are void and of no effect. For by only applying to any of their Courts, he is immediately discharged and set free, notwithstanding he has received a gratuity (from the Planter who claims him) for so doing. This being an established law of the Country to prevent Masters taking advantage of their Servants before they have obtained their freedom. As soon as they have fullfill’d the Obligation of their Indentures, and are become Free-men, their Masters are obliged on their parts to give each Man Servant a new Suit of Cloaths, a Gun, Powder, Shot, Ball and ten Bushels of Indian Corn, and by the Laws of the Country, they are entitled to fifty Acres of Land, which they seldom take up, but dispose of for Trifles, this quantity of Land being too small for large Stocks of Cattle (which most Planters here are possessed of) or to make Pitch and Tar on, which is another Staple of this Country, so that an Instance of this Nature is not to be met with in this Province.
Thus they appear after they have served their time and have obtained their freedom, having no other visible Fortune to depend upon or support them except their Industry. The Question then may be reasonably asked, how it is possible for them to live, or make Fortunes from such small and despicable beginnings? Concerning which Objection, I shall thus endeavour to satisfie the Reader.
Those that are thus made Free-men, their former Masters generally give a Character of them, according to their good or bad behaviour during their Apprentiship, and those that have acted with prudence, care, and good conduct, whilst they were Servants never are at a loss to meet with the best usage from their Masters, who recommend them to other planters (if they have no Imployment for them) to be their Stewards, or overseers of their Plantations (several of the Planters of this Country having many) wherein are generally great Stocks of Cattle, Horses, and Swine.
The overseer being thus employ’d, his business is to mark all the Calves, Foles, and young Pigs, with the Planters Mark or Brand, every Planter having his Brand or Mark recorded in proper Books, kept for that purpose in each Precinct or Barony throughout this Province. This is done to prevent the Planters having any disputes about any of these Beasts, each Planter claiming by these marks nothing but what is justly his own, and if there be any Negroes, to see them perform whatever Work the Planter requires to be done; this being chiefly what the Overseer is employed in, for which Service he is allowed every seventh Calf, seventh Fole, and half of all the young Hogs that are bred during his Stewardship, and likewise the seventh part of all sorts of Grain and Tobacco that is produced on the said Plantation. Whatever quantity of Corn, Rice or Tobacco he plants by his own Industry, is all his own Property, the Master having nothing to do with it. Thus in three or four Years time, with good management, he has a sufficient Stock of Cattle, Grain, Money, and all other Necessaries proper to purchase a Plantation, by which means many are become as wealthy and substantial Planters, as any in the Government. But I must confess, that few are such good Proficients in this way of Industry, notwithstanding there are such considerable advantages to be acquired thereby. But on the contrary, those of ill behaviour, and such as have been negligent in their Apprentiship, are not thus recommended, but generally get their livelyhood by the sweat of their Brow, yet live after a very loose and indolent manner; for if they work two Days in the Week, they generally drink and are idle all the rest (Provisions and Liquors being so very cheap) and are rather greater Slaves when made free, than they were during their Apprentiship, never making any advantage of their Time. Thus, I hope I have satisfied the Reader as to this Point.
I shall only mention one particular in regard to these Servants or Transports, which I had like to have omitted; which is, that they run away from their Masters, to prevent which there is a Law made in this Country, whereby those that run away are obliged (if apprehended and taken, as they generally are) to serve double the time they are absent from their Masters; this they are obliged to perform after the expiration of their Indentures, which is done to prevent their running away before they have served their time, which so deters them, that they are not so guilty of this kind of Practice of late, as formerly.
Few Masters of Ships will venture to carry on board their Vessels any of these Servants or Debtors from this, or any other of the Provinces, without their giving sufficient security that they are not in Debt, and Freemen, or publish an Advertisement sometime before their departure out of the Province; wherein they require all Person that they are indebted to, To come, and they will pay them what they can make appear to be justly due. And likewise, That all Persons indebted to them, are desired to come and pay them before they quit the Country, in such or such a Ship. This being the Substance of this Advertisement, which is fixed on their Court-House Door, for all Persons to peruse. These Obligations being thus performed, they are at their Liberty to go where they please, and the Masters liable to no Penalty; but if they should act contrary to the Laws (and they be discovered) both their Persons and Ships are liable to be arrested, and subject to pay whatever the Creditors can make appear due to them, or any other Losses they have sustained thereby. Notwithstanding all these Laws, some of them run away, and when they are taken, like the Negroes, have Neckyoaks put on them, which they constantly wear, ‘till they give sufficient Testimonies of their good behaviour to the contrary. Several Instances of this Nature I have been Eye-witness to during my stay in that Country.
There is an Office here which is worth our Notice, viz. the Gunpowder-Office, which hath continued ever since the last War with the Indians, at which time there was a Law made, by which all Vessels trading to those Parts were liable to pay three Shillings and four Pence, Carolina Money per Ton, or the Value in Gun Powder, except the said Vessel was built in the Country, or that the Merchant had a Plantation there, then the Vessels were liable to pay half Fees, or one Shilling and eight Pence per Ton to the Powder-Office. The lessening of these Fees was to encourage Merchants to build and settle in this Country. They nominated at their General Assemblies such Persons as they judged proper in each County to receive the said Fees, which were to be laid out in a sufficient Magazine or Store of Gunpowder, which was to be always in readiness for the use of the Christians against the Indians, whenever they made any Attempts, which there is no danger of their ever doing for the future; yet this Office continued ‘till the Year 1733, being about that time laid aside as unnecessary, as I have been informed since my return from those parts.
The Planters are very Hospitable and Charitable to each other, and especially if any have had the misfortune to have their Houses burnt, or any other grievous Affliction befall them. On these occasions they readily contribute to make up the loss of the Sufferers, whereby they generally become more wealthy than they were before this misfortune happened.
Thus have I given an Account of the Advantages and Disadvantages that attend the Christian Inhabitants of this Province; having nothing more in view than to satisfie my Readers with the best Account I could learn (during my Residence there) I shall proceed to give a short Account of the Negroes or Blacks, together with a Description of the Indians, and the Laws and Customs now in force and use amongst them.
The NEGROES are sold on the Coast of Guinea, to Merchants trading to those Parts, are brought from thence to Carolina, Virginia, and other Provinces in the hands of the English, are daily increasing in this Country, and generally afford a good Price, viz. more or less according to their Goodness and Age, and are always sure Commodities for Gold or Silver, most other things being purchased with their Paper Money. Some of them are sold at sixteen, twenty five, or twenty six Pounds sterl. each, and are looked upon as the greatest Riches in these Parts. There are great Numbers of them born here, which prove more industrious, honest, and better Slaves than any brought from Guinea; this is particularly owing to their Education amongst the Christians, which very much polishes and refines them from their barbarous and stubborn Natures that they are most commonly endued with. I have frequently seen them whipt to that degree, that large pieces of their Skin have been hanging down their Backs; yet I never observed one of them shed a Tear, which plainly shews them to be a People of very harsh and stubborn Dispositions.
There are several Laws made against them in this Province to keep them in Subjection, and particularly one, viz, That if a Negroe cut or wound his Master or a Christian with any unlawful Weapon, such as a Sword, Scymiter, or even a Knife, and there is Blood-shed, if it is known amongst the Planters, they immediately meet and order him to be hanged, which is always performed by another Negroe, and generally the Planters bring most of their Negroes with them to behold their fellow Negroe suffer, to deter them from the like vile Practice. This Law may seem to be too harsh amongst us, to put a Man to death for Blood-shed only, yet if the severest Laws were not strictly put in execution against these People, they would soon overcome the Christians in this and most of the other Provinces in the Hands of the English.
Notwithstanding the many severe Laws in force against them, yet they sometimes rise and Rebel against their Masters and Planters, and do a great deal of mischief, being both treacherous and cruel in their Natures, so that mild Laws would be of no use against them when any favourable Opportunity offered of executing their barbarities upon the Christians, as hath been too well experienced in Virginia, and other Places, where they have rebelled and destroyed many Families.
When they have been guilty of these barbarous and disobedient Proceedings, they generally fly to the Woods, but as soon as the Indians have Notice from the Christians of their being there, they disperse them; killing some, others flying for Mercy to the Christians (whom they have injured) rather than fall into the others Hands, who have a natural aversion to the Blacks, and put them to death with the most exquisite Tortures they can invent, whenever they catch them.
When any of these Negroes are put to death by the Laws of the Country, the Planters suffer little or nothing by it, for the Province is obliged to pay the full value they judge them worth to the Owner; this is the common Custom or Law in this Province, to prevent the Planters being ruined by the loss of their Slaves, whom they have purchased at so dear a rate; neither is this too burthensom, for I never knew but one put to death here for wounding, and after attempting to kill his Master, who used all Means he could to save his Life, but to no purpose, for the Country insisted on having the Law put in execution against him.
The Negroes that most commonly rebel, are those brought from Guinea, who have been inured to War and Hardship all their lives; few born here, or in the other Provinces have been guilty of these vile Practices, except over-persuaded by the former, whose Designs they have sometimes discovered to the Christians; some of whom have been rewarded with their Freedom for their good Services; but the Reader must observe, that they are not allowed to be Witnesses in any Cases whatever, only against one another.
There are some Christians so charitable as to have the Negroes born in the Country, baptized and instructed in the Christian Faith in their Infancy, which gives them an abhorance of the Temper and Practice of those who are brought from Guinea. This Freedom does not in the least exempt them from their Master’s Servitude, whatever others may imagine to the contrary, who believe them to be at their own Liberty as soon as they have received Baptism. The Planters call these Negroes thus Baptized, by any whimsical Name their Fancy suggests, as Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Diana, Strawberry, Violet, Drunkard, Readdy Money, Piper, Fidler, &c.
Their Marriages are generally performed amongst themselves, there being very little ceremony used upon that Head; for the Man makes the Woman a Present, such as a Brass Ring or some other Toy, which if she accepts of, becomes his Wife; but if ever they part from each other, which frequently happens, upon any little Disgust, she returns his Present: These kind of Contracts no longer binding them, than the Woman keeps the Pledge given her. It frequently happens, when these Women have no Children by the first Husband, after being a Year or two cohabiting together, the Planters oblige them to take a second, third, fourth, fifth, or more Husbands or Bedfellows; a fruitful Woman amongst them being very much valued by the Planters, and a numerous Issue esteemed the greatest Riches in this Country. The Children all go with the Mother, and are the Property of the Planter to whom she belongs. And though they have no other Ceremony in their Marriages than what I have represented, yet they seem to be Jealously inclined, and fight most desperately amongst themselves when they Rival each other, which they commonly do.
Their Children are carefully brought up, and provided for by the Planters, ‘till they are able to work in the Plantations, where they have convenient Houses built for them, and they are allowed to plant a sufficient quantity of Tobacco for their own use, a part of which they sell, and likewise on Sundays, they gather Snake-Root, otherwise it would be excessive dear if the Christians were to gather it; with this and the Tobacco they buy Hats, and other Necessaries for themselves, as Linnen, Bracelets, Ribbons, and several other Toys for their Wives and Mistresses.
There are abundance of them given to Theft, and frequently steal from each other, and sometimes from the Christians, especially Rum, with which they entertain their Wives and Mistresses at Night, but are often detected and punished for it.
There are several Blacks born here that can Read and Write, others that are bred to Trades, and prove good Artists in many of them. Others are bred to no Trades, but are very industrious and laborious in improving their Plantations, planting abundance of Corn, Rice and Tobacco, and making vast Quantities of Turpentine, Tar, and Pitch, being better able to undergo fatigues in the extremity of the hot Weather than any Europeans.
The Children of both Sexes wear little or no Cloaths, except in the Winter, and many of the young Men and Women work stark naked in the Plantations in the hot Season, except a piece of Cloath (out of decency) to cover their Nakedness; upon which Account they are not very expensive to the Planters for their Cloathing. The Planters at their Death used to make some of their favourite Negroes free, but there is now an established Law (especially in Virginia) that if they do not quit the Province in about Eleven Days after their Freedom, whoever takes them they become his Property; but before the expiration of that time they either go to another Province, or sell themselves to the Christians. The Planters seeing the Inconveniencies that might attend these kind of Priviledges to the Negroes, have this and all other Laws against them continually put in practice, to prevent all Opportunities they might lay hold of to make themselves formidable.
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