Biography of Joseph Hewes
Joseph Hewes was born near Kingston, in New Jersey, in the year 1730. His
parents were Aaron and Providence Hewes, who were members of the Society of Friends, and who originally belonged to the colony
of Connecticut. They were induced, however, to remove from New England, on account of the prejudices which existed among the
descendants of the Puritans against those who adopted the Quaker dress, or professed the Quaker faith.
At the period of their removal, many parts of New England
were suffering from the frequent hostilities of the Indians, who, roving through the forests in their vicinity, often made
sudden incursions upon the inhabitants of those colonies, and generally marked their route with the most shocking barbarities.
The murderous spirit of the Indians was also, at this time, much inflamed by an act of the government of Massachusetts, which
had increased the premium on Indian scalps and Indian prisoners to a hundred pounds for each. By way of retaliation, the Indians
often made their sanguinary incursions into the territory of Massachusetts, and not infrequently extended their journeys among
the inoffensive farmers of Connecticut. Hence, many of the latter, desirous of a more quiet and secure life, were induced
to seek a permanent residence in the remoter parts of the country.
Among those who thus fled from the annoyance of prejudice,
and from the deeper wrath of a savage foe, were the parents of Joseph Hewes. But even in their flight they narrowly escaped
the death which they wished to avoid. On passing the Housatonic River, a party of the Indians came so nearly upon them, that
Mrs. Hewes was wounded in the neck by a ball shot from the gun of a savage.
In New Jersey, however, where they at length arrived, they
found a peaceful and secure home. Here, some time after their settlement, their son Joseph Hewes was born. Of the incidents
of his younger days we know but little. At a proper age he became a member of Princeton College, from which, having graduated
in due course, he was placed in the counting-house of a gentleman at Philadelphia, to be educated as a merchant.
On leaving the counting-house of his employer, he entered
into the mercantile business for himself, and soon became an active and thrifty merchant.
At the age of thirty he removed to North Carolina, and settled
in the village of Edenton. The same prosperity which had attended him at Philadelphia, followed him to a more southern province,
and in a few years he acquired a handsome fortune.
Mr. Hewes, both before and after his removal to North Carolina,
sustained the reputation of a man of probity and honor. He acquired the confidence and esteem of the people among whom he
lived, and was soon called to represent them in the colonial legislature of the province. This distinction was conferred upon
him for several successive years, with increasing usefulness to his constituents, and increasing credit to himself.
At length, in the year 1774, a congress, well known in the
annals of the American colonies, assembled in Philadelphia. In that body were three delegates from North Carolina, of whom
Mr. Hewes was one.
The instructions and powers given to the delegates of this
congress by the people of the several colonies, were considerably diversified. No public body, at that time, contemplated
a separation from the mother country, and with no powers to this effect were any of the delegates to the congress of 1774
invested. Their object respected the means most proper to restore harmony between themselves and Great Britain, to obtain
redress of grievances which the colonies suffered, and to secure to them the peaceful enjoyment of their unalienable rights,
as British subjects.
No delegates to this congress carried with them credentials
of a bolder stamp, than those from North Carolina. They were invested with such powers as might "make any acts done by them,
or consent given in behalf of this province, obligatory in honor upon any inhabitant thereof, who is not an alien to his country's
good, and an apostate to the liberties of America."
On the meeting of this congress, two important committees
were appointed; the one, to "state the rights of the colonies in general, the several instances in which these rights are
violated or infringed, and the means most proper to be pursued for obtaining a restoration of them;" the other, to "examine
and report the several statutes which affect the trade and manufactures of the colonies." Of the former of these committees,
Mr. Hewes was appointed a member, and assisted in preparing their celebrated report.
This report contained a temperate, but clear declaration of the rights of the English colonies in North
America, which were expressed in the following language:
"1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property;
and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever a right to dispose of either, without their consent.
"2. That our ancestors, who first settled these colonies,
were, at the time of their emigration from the mother country, entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities of free
and natural born subjects, within the realm of England.
"3. That by such emigration they by no means forfeited,
surrendered, or lost, any of those rights; but that they were, and their descendants now are, entitled to the exercise and
enjoyment of all such of them as their local and other circumstances enable them to exercise and enjoy.
"4. That the foundation of English liberty, and of free
government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council; and as the English colonists are not represented,
and, from their local and other circumstances, cannot properly be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled
to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation
can alone be pursued in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such
manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed; but if from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interests
of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British parliament as are bona fide restrained
to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the commercial advantages of the whole empire to the
mother country, and the commercial benefit of its respective members; excluding every idea of taxation, internal or external,
for raising a revenue on the subjects in America, without their consent.
"5. That the respective colonies are entitled to the common
law of England, and, more especially, to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage,
according to the course of that law.
"6. That they are entitled to the benefit of such of the
English statutes as existed at the time of their colonization, and which they have, by experience, respectively found applicable
to their several local and other circumstances.
"7. That these his majesty's colonies are likewise entitled
to all the immunities and privileges granted and confirmed to them by royal charters, or secured by their several codes of
"8. That they have a right peaceably to assemble, consider
of their grievances, and petition the king; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the
same, are illegal.
"9. That the keeping a standing army in these colonies in
times of peace, without consent of the legislature of that colony in which such army is kept, is against the law.
"10. It is indispensably necessary to good government, and
rendered essential by the English constitution, that the constituent branches of the legislature be independent of each other;
and therefore the exercise of legislative power in several colonies by a council appointed during pleasure by the crown, is
unconstitutional, dangerous, and destructive to the freedom of American legislation.
"All and each of which the aforesaid deputies, in behalf
of themselves and their constituents, do claim, demand, and insist on, as their indisputable rights and liberties, which cannot
be legally taken from them, altered, or abridged, by any power whatever, without their consent, by their representatives in
their several provincial legislatures."
To the above declaration of rights was added an enumeration
of the wrongs already sustained by the colonies; after stating which, the report concluded as follows:
"To these grievous acts and measures, Americans cannot submit; but in hopes
their fellow subjects in Great Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to that state in which both countries found
happiness and prosperity, we have, for the present, only resolved to pursue the following peaceable measures: 1. To enter
into a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, or association. 2. To prepare all address to the people
of Great Britain, and a memorial to the inhabitants of British America. And, 3. to prepare a loyal address to his majesty,
agreeably to resolutions already entered into."
Few measures adopted by any session of congress during the
revolutionary struggle, were more remarkable than that of the congress of 1774, which recommended the system of non-importation.
It was a measure dictated by the highest patriotism, and proceeded upon the acknowledged fact, that the same exalted patriotism
which existed among them, existed, also, among the American people. The efficiency of the measure, it was obvious, must lie
in the union of the people to support it. They must adopt and persevere in a system of privation. A willingness to do this
generally prevailed throughout the colonies; and to the government of Great Britain was presented the spectacle of thirteen
colonies adopting a measure, novel, perhaps, in the history of the world, and supporting it at the sacrifice of a great portion
of those comforts which they had been accustomed to enjoy.
Although a merchant, and one who had been engaged in commercial
transactions with England for the space of twenty years, Mr. Hewes cheerfully assisted in forming a plan of the non-importation
association, and most readily became a member of it.
The manner in which Mr. Hewes had acquitted himself during
the session of this congress, was so acceptable to the people of North Carolina, that he was again appointed to the same high
office, and in the month of May, 1775, again appeared at Philadelphia, and continued in congress until the adjournment of
that body, on the last day of July. During the recess of congress, between July and September, he made a visit to his friends
in New Jersey, and in the latter month again resumed his place. From this date until the twenty-ninth of October, 1779, Mr.
Hewes continued to represent the state of North Carolina, with the exception of something more than a year, during which he
devoted himself to hie private affairs, and to the interests of his state at home.
The last time that he appeared in congress was on the twenty-ninth
of October, of the year last mentioned, after which, an indisposition under which he had labored for some time confined him
to his chamber, and at length, on the tenth of November, terminated his life, in the fiftieth year of his age. His funeral
was attended on the following day by congress, by the general assembly of Pennsylvania, the president and supreme executive
council, the minister plenipotentiary of France, and a numerous assemblage of citizens. In testimony of their respect for
his memory, congress resolved to wear a crape around the left arm, and to continue in mourning for the space of one month.
Although the events in the life of Mr. Hewes, which we have
been able to collect, are few, they perhaps sufficiently speak his worth, as a man of integrity, firmness, and ardent patriotism.
To this may be added, that in personal appearance he was prepossessing, and characterized in respect to his disposition for
great benevolence, and in respect to his manners for great amenity. He left a large fortune, but no children to inherit it.
Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration
of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 427-433. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)
Recommended Reading: The Tar
Heel State: A History of North Carolina (Hardcover). Description: The Tar Heel State:
A History of North Carolina constitutes the most comprehensive and inclusive single-volume chronicle of the state’s
storied past to date, culminating with an attentive look at recent events that have transformed North Carolina into a southern megastate. Integrating tales of famous pioneers, statesmen,
soldiers, farmers, captains of industry, activists, and community leaders with more marginalized voices, including those of
Native Americans, African Americans, and women, Milton Ready gives readers a view of North Carolina that encompasses perspectives
and personalities from the coast, "tobacco road," the Piedmont, and the mountains in this sweeping history of the Tar Heel
State. The first such volume in more than two decades, Ready’s work offers a distinctive view of the state’s history
built from myriad stories and episodes. The Tar Heel State is enhanced by one hundred and ninety illustrations and five maps.
with a study of the state’s geography and then invites readers to revisit dramatic struggles of the American Revolution
and Civil War, the early history of Cherokees, the impact of slavery as an institution, the rise of industrial mills, and
the changes wrought by modern information-based technologies since 1970. Mixing spirited anecdotes and illustrative statistics,
Ready describes the rich Native American culture found by John White in 1585, the chartered chaos of North Carolina’s
proprietary settlement, and the chronic distrust of government that grew out of settlement patterns and the colony’s
early political economy. He challenges the perception of relaxed intellectualism attributed to the "Rip van Winkle" state,
the notion that slavery was a relatively benign institution in North Carolina,
and the commonly accepted interpretation of Reconstruction in the state. Ready also discusses how the woman suffrage movement
pushed North Carolina into a hesitant twentieth-century
progressivism. In perhaps his most significant contribution to North Carolina’s
historical record, Ready continues his narrative past the benchmark of World War II and into the twenty-first century. From
the civil rights struggle to the building of research triangles, triads, and parks, Ready recounts the events that have fueled
North Carolina’s accelerated development in recent years and the many challenges that have accompanied such rapid growth,
especially those of population change and environmental degradation.
Recommended Viewing: John Adams (HBO
Miniseries) (2008) (501 minutes). Description: Based on David McCullough's bestselling
biography, the HBO miniseries John Adams is the furthest thing from a starry-eyed look at America's
founding fathers and the brutal path to independence. Adams (Paul Giamatti), second president of the United States, is portrayed as a skilled orator and principled attorney whose preference
for justice over anti-English passions earns enemies. But he also gains the esteem of the first national government of the
United States, i.e., the Continental Congress, which seeks non-firebrands capable of making a reasoned if powerful case for
America's break from England's monarchy. The first thing one notices about John Adams' dramatizations of congress' proceedings,
and the fervent pro-independence violence in the streets of Boston and elsewhere, is that America's roots don't look pretty
or idealized here. Some horrendous things happen in the name of protest, driving Adams to
push the cause of independence in a legitimate effort to get on with a revolutionary war under the command of George Washington.
But the process isn't easy: not every one of the 13 colonies-turned-states is ready to incur the wrath of England, and behind-the-scenes negotiations prove as much
a part of 18th century congressional sessions as they do today. Continued below...
peek into a less-romanticized version of the past, John Adams is also a story of the man himself. Adams' frustration at being
forgotten or overlooked at critical junctures of America's early development--sent abroad for years instead of helping
to draft the U.S. Constitution--is detailed.
So is his dismay that the truth of what actually transpired leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence has
been slowly forgotten and replaced by a rosier myth. But above all, John Adams is the story of two key ties: Adams'
54-year marriage to Abigail Adams (Laura Linney), every bit her husband's intellectual equal and anchor, and his difficult,
almost symbiotic relationship with Thomas Jefferson (Stephen Dillane) over decades. Giamatti, of course, has to carry much
of the drama, and if he doesn't always seem quite believable in the series' first half, he becomes increasingly excellent
at the point where an aging Adams becomes bitter over his place in history. Linney is marvelous,
as is Dillane, Sarah Polley as daughter Nabby, Danny Huston as cousin Samuel Adams, and above all Tom Wilkinson as a complex
but indispensable Ben Franklin.
Recommended Viewing: The American Revolution (History Channel) (482 minutes). Description: Revisit the birth of a nation in this truly definitive look at
America's fight for independence and its world-changing rise to glory. The American
Revolution features ten powerful documentaries--more than eight hours of essential programming by THE HISTORY CHANNEL® and
A&E on DVD for the first time. From the Declaration of Independence to the Treaty of Paris, these are the stories and
events surrounding the remarkable achievements of heroic individuals seized by the epic forces of history. Continued below...
Hear the words of the founding fathers and other key figures, as read by leading actors such as Kelsey Grammar
(TV’s Frasier) and Michael Learned (TV’s The Waltons). Thrilling re-enactments of great battles, compelling period
images, rare archival material, and commentary by leading historians bring the past vividly alive. Between Bunker Hill and
from Ben Franklin's masterful diplomacy to Benedict Arnold's deceit and tragedy, The American Revolution presents a sweeping
canvas of historical programming at its comprehensive best.
Recommended Viewing: Founding Fathers
(A&E) (200 minutes). Description: The four programs from the History Channel in this set profile America's
Founding Fathers, noting right at the outset they were a "mismatched group of quarrelsome aristocrats, merchants, and lawyers."
The story of how these disparate characters fomented rebellion in the colonies, formed the Continental Congress, fought the
Revolutionary War, and wrote the Constitution is told by noted historians, and the production is enhanced with beautifully
photographed reenactments as well as intelligent use of period paintings and engravings. The story begins with Samuel Adams
and John Hancock in Boston, whose protests against British
taxation led to the Boston Tea Party. Moving on to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia,
the brilliant delegates from the South, particularly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, appear on the scene, and the
story is told of how an improbable cohesion between the colonies began. Continued below…
characters, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, appear in turn, and each of the major participants is portrayed in
a biographical profile. How these men all came to act together, despite the stark differences in their backgrounds and temperaments,
becomes the main thread of the story. They were all quite human, as the historians who appear in interviews remind us. Some
of them drank too much, some had illegitimate children, some owned slaves, and some could hardly get along with anyone. Yet
these men with complicated private lives worked together and performed heroically. This is an intelligently rendered and captivating
look at the men who formed the American nation.
Viewing: Founding Brothers
(A&E) (200 minutes). Description: The political
wrangles of a fledgling country may sound dull compared to the drama of a war, but the early history of the United
States only gets more fascinating as the Revolutionary War is left behind. Founding Brothers,
a documentary from the History Channel, examines the struggle to not only establish democracy, but to give it the economic
strength and governmental structure that will allow it to survive and thrive. George Washington grappled not only with politics,
but with questions of style and propriety--how should a president, as opposed to a king, behave? Understanding the conflicts
between Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson will illuminate ideas that have shaped the government of the
U.S. ever since. Continued below…
provides a wealth of portraits and illustrations from the time, as well as discreet dramatizations, that bring the rise of
party politics to life, humanizing these historical figures with tales of the scandals and squabbles they faced as well as
their political achievements. An excellent introduction to the roots of the American experiment, and a bracing illustration
of what Jefferson
meant when he said of the presidency, "No man will bring out of that office the reputation which carried him into it."
1776, by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster). Description:
Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and
a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a
turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated
until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including
an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold
off the world's greatest army. Continued below...
He also effectively
explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short
of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was
particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton
was magnified despite its limited strategic importance. Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded
portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed
as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists
to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities
of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable
reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how
deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any
other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their
good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian.
Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents The Revolution (A&E) (600 minutes). Review: They came of age in a new world amid intoxicating and innovative
ideas about human and civil rights diverse economic systems and self-government. In a few short years these men and women
would transform themselves into architects of the future through the building of a new nation – “a nation unlike
any before.” From the roots of the rebellion and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to victory on the battlefield
at Yorktown and the adoption of The United States Constitution, THE REVOLUTION tells the
remarkable story of this pivotal era in history. Continued below...
Venturing beyond the conventional list of generals and politicians, THE HISTORY CHANNEL® introduces the
full range of individuals who helped shape this great conflict including some of the war’s most influential unsung heroes.
Through sweeping cinematic recreations intimate biographical investigations and provocative political military and economic
analysis the historic ideas and themes that transformed treasonous acts against the British into noble acts of courage both
on and off the battlefield come to life in this dramatic and captivating program. This TEN HOUR
DVD Features: History in the Making: The Revolution Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Interactive Menus; Scene