East New Market

Acts and Laws

1776 James Sulivane's Salt

In Committee of observation. Dorchester County Nov. 15th 1776.

Gentlemen. In obedience to an order recd from the late Convention we had several Evidences before us whom we examined concerning certain depredations & outrages committed by Capt Richard Andrew of Caroline County and a number of People whom he headed, part of them Inhabitants of that county, and others inhabitants of this County and on Evidence it appeared that they searched the Dwelling House and out Houses of Mr. James Sulivane for Salt, that finding only five or six bushels there, they took none of that but proceeded to Col. James Murrays on Hunting Creek, which is also in this county, and there got from Mr. Murray, the Key of a House in which there was some salt and took from thence by their account fourteen and a half bushels of salt for which they offered to pay, Mrs. Murray fourteen and one half dollars that she refused to take the money on which they left that sum in the House and went off with the Salt.

On receiving this Information we ordered the Evidence to appear again on a certain day to which Day we summoned those of the afd company who reside in this county, and appeared to have been the most active in the outrage, to appear to answer, some of them appeared agreeable to summons and behaved orderly and offered some excuses for the non attendance of the others under these circumstances and as some of the most material witnesses did not attend we postponed the hearing of the matter till Wednesday last, when we ordered the parties charged and witnesses to attend us which they promised to do, the Parties charged came on Wednesday, but contrary to our Expectation they came headed by Capt. Andrew and upwards of one hundred armed men to support them, and the company behaved so riotous and disorderly that it was out of our power to proceed in the Business, and their coming so unexpectedly it was impossible for us to collect a force sufficient to stop them before they returned in the evening. Many of the Men swear they will support what they have done at the Hazard of their lives as it seems they have associated to do, and by their declarations against the present measures of the country and in favour of the King shew themselves entirely disaffected to our cause.

If these men were all we had to contend with it is probable our Militia might be sufficient, but from the best information we can obtain we are of opinion they have a very formidable number to protect them from Caroline, Worcester and Sussex in Delaware, and as (since their outrages) several Companies in this county have taken salt nearly in the same way which will of course stop them from opposing them if they do not join them, we are unanimously of opinion that it is very improbable there can be in General Hooper's Brigade a sufficient number of the militia raised, who would on the present occasion take up arms to suppress and stop the progress of these Rioters and their adherents and bring the offenders to Justice; and we therefore think it most prudent to decline making the attempt as a failure would be very detrimental to our cause, and give Strength and Spirits to their party & Friends.

And have sent this by an Express hired for the purpose to inform your Honours of what we have done and what we apprehend is our real Situation, and we would beg leave to Submit to your Judgement, whether it would not be proper under our present circumstances to send men to bring these offenders to justice, also having neither connexions or acquaintance with them may be relied on, and will probably much better go through the Business. It is becoming a matter of great importance & we are apprehensive if it is not soon checked will probably go a great way towards destroying the Peace and good order ot the greatest part of this Shore. We cannot omit the opportunity (in behalf of those people of our county who have yet remained quiet under their great distress for Salt) to inform your Honours that the want of that Absolute Necessary of Life is so great in this county that many Families for months past have not had a spoonfull of Salt, others have got a quart or a few handfulls by begging from those who coud badly spare any.

The people hearing of Quantities of Salt going to Baltimore have some of them applied there for relief but have very few of them got any it being generally taken for the Inhabitants of the Western Shore before those this way can get there to apply, under these circumstances they are much distressed and if these unhappy people find they have no chance of being supplied equally with those on the other shore we know not what may be the consequence, perhaps they may at length grow desperate rather than perish. We therefore are moved in pity towards our distressed county men to apply to your Honours for such relief as may be in your power to grant them and as we hear there has lately arrived Vessels at Baltimore with Quantities of Salt if your Honours wou'd be pleased to order that a part of that or any other Salt that may arrive be bought and sent to us for the relief of the Inhabitants of this county we will engage to be answerable for the price set on it, and will undertake to have it delivered at the same price as far as it will go in small quantities to the distressed people, this being done we are persuaded it will not only be of great advantage to the People, but that they seeing measures are taken to relieve their wants will have their minds made easy and will go on much more spirited and chearful in doing their duty in their respective stations than they now do.

We shall be obliged to your Honors for an answer by the return of our Express, and are with great Esteem, Gentlemen,

Your very obedt Servants

Signed by order of the Committee John Dickinson Chairman.