• North Carolina Political Letters: Nullifier Party, Largest Slave Holder, Clay's Tariff

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    JOSEPH B. HINTON (1788-1872) was a Reverend and an antebellum state legislator of Beaufort County and Raleigh, NC. Hinton was a member of the Nullifier Party, an American political party based in South Carolina in the 1930s and considered an early American third party. The party was committed to states’ rights and supported the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, holding that states could nullify federal laws within their borders.


    ALLEN GRIST was a Whig, planter, naval stores producer, sheriff and senator from Beaufort County, near Washington, NC.  He served three terms in the North Carolina Senate and was instrumental in getting the Bank of Washington chartered and established in 1851.  A firm owned by Grist and his son, James, used slave labor extensively. In 1860, Grist was listed as owning $50,000 in real estate and $92,000 in personal property, including 109 slaves, making him the largest slaveholder in Beaufort County. Grist and his companies owned additional slaves and leased others.


    Offering two ALSs by Hinton to Grist providing him with significant political news in the legislature, including heavy criticism of North Carolina’s youngest governor – Gaston – and his failed schemes. In the first letter, Hinton speaks of North Carolina’s dire financial straits and Clay’s land bill, an apparent reference to Henry Clay’s compromise tariff that lowered duties.  Many people in the South believed federal tariffs were unconstitutional and many thought the states should reject them.  Our writer, Hinton, speaks of the Nullifier’s Party being in full force, an apparent reference to North Carolina’s desire to reject federal tariffs. In Hinton’s second letter, he provides a fascinating looking at the political machinations in electing members to the state’s assembly in 1833.


    7 ¾ x 9 ½, 2 1/3 pp, Hinton writes to Grist “Monday night”, n.d., but c. 1833.   


    “W. Gaston was elected judge of the Supreme Court. Vote 112 Gaston, Seawell 43, Blank 36. Gov. Swain was also again elected governor. Symptoms of opposition caused his friends to hurry on the election & even then about 50 blanks told him a tale he cannot misunderstand.  His schemes of debt, canals, roads, fail – he is done with & fail it must unless the people lose their senses. The Conventional Committee reported today their plan is to cut a ship channel from the Neuse to Beaufort & a ship channel from Edenton to Norfolk, make a Rail Road from Tennessee line, to somewhere on the Neuse, probably to Newbern. These are to be State works.  She is to do them herself & also a Rail Road from Halifax, via Fayetteville to the So. Ca. line. Besides these State works, the State is to borrow, at once five million dolls. & beside this the Bank Stock, literary fund, vacant lands, are to be thrown into the fund. Our members of Congress are to be called on to cause the Indian title in this State to be extinguished & these Indian lands are to be cast into the common gulf. Then our members of Congress are to be required to help to pass Clay’s land bill & the money from that quarter is to go into the fund. & our share of the surplus money in the Treasury of the U.S. is to be applied & so used & then borrow five or ten million more if it should be needed to complete the grand South Sea Dream. By this time you will say, they are crazy. They are so, and yet many of the first men in N.C. – for property & intelligence – are here & say well done & will cling to the scheme as for life. Old Willis Alston in the Convention today predicted bankruptcy & ruin to the State if the Assembly adopted the project. Mr. Shephard’s wife’s death has delayed the action of the Bank Committee…


    “The nullifiers are here in great force & I doubt not doing all they can & probably not in vain.


    “Yours, Jos. B. Hinton


    Mailed from Raleigh NC to Allen Grist, Esq., Washington, Beaufort Co., NC.


    2 1/3 pp, 8 x 10, Raleigh [NC], Dec. 5th, 1833, Hinton writes to Grist.


    “Your letter came to hand yesterday morning soon afterwards I showed it to Dr. Potts & Mr. Shaw. I was detained at home for the first hour of the yesterday sitting of the Assembly, when I went down to the House I found them in the act of balloting for Brigadier General Bonner & Sprewill of Tyrrel in nomination. I am of opinion that this movement was the work of some person in the House of Commons. Dr. Potts was talking with me at the moment & was surprised as were others of Bonner’s voters by the suddenness of the movement, when it was not expected to happen for some days to come. The Dr. went in & distributed all the Bonner tickets he could. Pugh did the same in the senate. Mr. Kennedy and the Tyrrell members were active against Bonner & for Sprewill.  I saw no others concerning themselves about it. The plan had been matured out of doors to beat Bonner & it did so. Bonner’s vote was 60 or 70, Sprewills about 100. For myself, I was a mere looker on. I rather did Bonner service…but he has…requited my friendship for me to engage as an active partisan of his. I could not do it without forgetting everything due to myself.  Mr. Kennedy was much displeased after he received his father’s letter & resolved that Bonner should not succeed & stood ready to run himself if the Tyrell members did not put up Sprewill. He is quite displeased at his father’s informing him that the delegation from all the counties were opposed to him & in favor of Bonner, so, the old gentleman told him somebody had written from this place. He attacked Shaw, supposing he had so written, but he denied it. I endeavored to soothe him, but unsuccessfully. Let it be remembered that Mr. K. is a young man, who has given no offense in the Assembly, that many of his school mates are in the Legislature, & that he boards in the midst of nearly 100 members, and there can be no cause of wonder that he could carry many with him for himself or for his friend, for a little empty honor like that & beside Col. Bonner has gained no strength by coming to the Assembly. He gave much offense last year & the violent speeches & abuse of himself & his brother Rollin here, against me, injured him among those who were witnesses of my generous friendship for himself a little while before. But it is over now, let it pass. Today, we bury Mr. Singleton, member of Congress from So. C who died yesterday in this place; he was attacked here a week ago with hemorrhage of the lungs. David Latham, I think, will die. He is or was yesterday eve in the closing stage of a rapid neurotic inflammation consequent of a bad cold…Dr. Shaw is unremitting in his attention to him….

    “Yours Jos. B. Hinton


    “Why won’t Mr. Ellison send to some one of the Beaufort members a certified copy of the Report of the Co. line commissioners? He may rest assure the will give offense in the lower end of the country by disregarding every application I have made for it, before & since I came here. P.S. Bonner’s vote was 62, Sprewill’s was 114.”


    Folds, toning and some soiling, but very readable and both letters contain their integral address leaf with early postmarks, which are faded. A portion of the last page to the first letter has been removed, but it doesn’t affect the letter’s content. Seal tears affect a few words.


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