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Watauga Petition

Petition to North Carolina - July 5, 1776

To the Hon. the Provincial Council of North Carolina: 

The humble petition of the inhabitants of the Washington District, 
including the River Wataugah, Nonachuckie, &c., in committee assembled, 
Humbly Showeth, that about six years ago, Colonel Donelson, (in behalf 
of the Colony of Virginia), held a Treaty with the Cherokee Indians, in 
order to purchase the lands of the Western Frontiers; in consequence of 
which Treaty, many of your petitioners settled on the lands of the 
Wataugah, &c., expecting to be within the Virginia line, and 
consequently hold their lands by their improvements as first settlers; 
but to their great disappointment, when the line was run they were 
(contrary to their expectation) left out; finding themselves thus 
disappointed, and being to inconveniently situated to move back, and 
feeling an unwillingness to loose the labour bestowed on their 
plantations, they applied to the Cherokee Indians, and leased the land 
for a term of ten years, before the expiration of which term, it 
appeared that many persons of distinction were actually making purchases 
forever; thus yielding a precedent, (supposing many of them, who were 
gentlemen of the law, to be better judges of the constitution than we 
were,) and considering the bad consequences it must be attended with, 
should the reversion be purchased out of our hands, we next preceded to 
make a purchase of the lands, reserving those in our possession in 
sufficient tracts for our own uses, and resolving to dispose of the 
remainder for the good of th community. This purchase was made and the 
lands acknowledged to us and our heirs forever, in an open treaty, in 
Wataugah Old Fields; a deed being obtained from the Chiefs of the said 
Cherokee nation, for themselves and their whole nation, conveying a fee 
simple right to the said lands, to us and our heirs forever, which deed 
was for and in consideration of the sum of two thousand pounds sterling 
(paid to them in goods,) for which consideration they acknowledged 
themselves fully satisfied, contented and paid; and agreed for 
themselves and their whole nation, their heirs, &c., forever to resign, 
warrant and defend the said lands to us, and our heirs, &c., against 
themselves, their heirs, &c. 

The purchase was no sooner made, than we were alarmed by the reports of 
the present unhappy situation between Great Britain and America, on 
which report, (taking the new united colonies for our guide,) we 
proceeded to choose a committee, which was done unanimously by the 
consent of the people. This committee (willing to become a party in the 
present unhappy contest) resolved (which is now in our records) to 
adhere strictly to the rules and orders of the Continental Congress, and 
in open committee acknowledged themselves indebted to the united 
colonies their full portion of the Continental expense. 

Finding ourselves on the Frontiers, and being apprehensive that, for the 
want of a proper legislature, we might become shelter for such as 
endeavored to defraud their creditors; considering also the necessity of 
recording Deeds, Wills, and doing other public business, we, by consent 
of the people, formed a court for the purposes above mentioned, taking 
(by desire of our constituents) the Virginia laws for our guide, so near 
as the situation of affairs would admit; this was intended for 
ourselves, and was done by the consent of every individual, but wherever 
we had to deal with people out of our district, we have ruled them to 
bail, to abide by our determinations, (which was, in fact, leaving the 
matter of reference,) otherways we dismissed their suit, lest we should 
in any way intrude on the legislature of the colonies. In short, we have 
endeavored so strictly to do justice, that we have admitted common proof 
against ourselves, on accounts, &c., from the colonies, without 
pretending a right to require the Colony Seal. 

We therefore trust that we shall be considered as we deserve, and not, 
as we have (no doubt) been many times, represented, as a lawless mob. It 
is for this very reason we can assure you that we petition; we now again 
repeat it, that it is for want of proper authority to try and punish 
felons, we can only mention to you murderers, horse thieves and robbers 
and are sorry to say that some of them have escaped us for want of 
proper authority. We trust, however, that this will not long be the 
case; and we again and again repeat it, that it is for this reason we 
petition to this Honorable Assembly. 

Above we have given you and extract of our proceedings, since our 
settling on Wataugah, Nolachuckie, &c., in regard to our civil affairs. 
We have shown you th causes of our first settling and the 
disappointments we have met with, the reason of our lease and of our 
purchase, the manner in which we purchased, and how we hold of the 
Indians in fee simple; the causes of our forming a committee, and 
legality of its election; and same of our court and proceedings, and our 
reasons for petitioning in regard to our Legislature. 

We will now porceed to give you some account of our military 
establishments, which were chosen agreeable to the rules established by 
convention, and officers appointed by the committee. This being done we 
thought it proper to raise a company on the District service, as our 
proportion, to act in the common cause on the sea shore. A Company of 
fine riflemen were accordingly enlisted, and put under Captain James 
Robertson, and were actually embodied, when we received sundry letters 
and depositions, (copies of which we now enclose to you,) you will 
readily judge that there was occasion for them in another place, where 
we daily expected attack. We therefore thought proper to station them on 
our Frontiers, in defence of the common cause, at the expense and risque 
of our own private fortunes, til farther public orders, which we flatter 
ourselves will give no offence. We have enclosed you sundry proceedings 
at the station where our men now remain. 

We shall now submit the whole to your candid and impartial judgement. We 
pray your mature and deliberate consideration in our behalf, that you 
man annex us to your Province, (whether as County, district, or other 
division,) in such manner as my enable us to share in the glorious cause 
of Liberty; enforce our laws under authority, and in every respect 
become the best members of society; and for ourselves and constituents 
we hope, we many venture to assure you, that we shall adhere strictly to 
your determinations, and that nothing will be lacking or any thing 
neglected, that may add weight (in the civil or military establishments) 
to the glorious cause in which we are now struggling, or contribute to 
the welfare of our own or ages yet to come. 

That you may strictly examine every part of this our Petition, and delay 
no time in annexing us to your Province, in such a manner as your wisdom 
shall direct, is the hearty prayer of those who, for themselves and 
constituents, as in duty bound, shall ever pray. 

John Carter, Chn     Zach Isbell     	Jacob Brown     George Rusel
Charles Robertson    John Sevier     	Wm. Bean         Jacob Womack
James Robertson      Jas. Smith      	John Jones       Robert Lucas

 The above signers are members in Committee assembled. 
 Wm. Tatham, Clerk, P.T. 

Jocob Womack            James Easley       	John I. Cox       	Joud.Bostin, sen.
Joseph Dunham      	John Haile         	John Cox, jr.     	Henry Bates, jun.
Rice Duncan        	Elijah Robertson   	Abraham Cox      	Will'm Dod
Edward Hopson      	William Clark      	Emanuel Shote     	Groves Morris
Lew. Bowyer        	John Dunham      	Thomas Houghton   	Wm. Bates
Joseph Buller      	Wm. Overall       	Joseph Luske      	Robert Mosely
Andw. Greer        	Matt. Hawkins     	William Reeves    	Ge. Hartt
Jaob Mitchell           John Brown              David Hughes            Isaac Wilson
Gideon Morris        	Jos. Brown        	Landon Carter     	Jno. Waddell
Shadrach Morris    	Job Bumper        	John McCormick    	Jarret Williams
William Crocket    	Isaac Wilson       	David Crocket     	Oldham Hightower
Thomas Dedmon           Richard Norton     	Edward Cox        	Abednago Hix
David Hickey       	George Hutson      	Tho's Hughes      	Charles McCartney
Mark Mitchell      	Thomas Simpson   	Wm. Roberson      	Frederick Vaughn
Hugh Blair         	Valentine Sevier   	Henry Siler       	Jos. McCartney
Elias Pebler       	Jonathan Tipton    	Frederick Calvit  	Mark Robertson
Jos. Brown         	Robert Sevier      	John Moore         	Joseph Calvit
John Neave         	Drury Goodan            Wm. Newberry 
Joshua Houghton
John Robinson      	Richard Fletcher   	Adam Sherrell     	John Chukinbeard
Chris. Cunningham  	Alexander Greear   	Sam. Sherrell,jr  	James Cooper
Jas. Easley        	Joseph Greear      	Sam. Sherrell,Sr  	William Brokees
Ambrose Hodge      	Andrew Greear,jr   	Ossa Rose         	Julius Robertson
Dan'l Morris       	Teeter Nave            Henry Bates,jr    	John King
Wm. Cox            	Lewis Jones            Jos. Grimes       	Michael Hider
Crs.Cunningham,sr       John Davis             Joshua Barten,sr  	John Barley