Josiah Martin


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Martin, JOSIAH, royal governor; born in Antigua, West Indies, April 23, 1737; was appointed governor of North Carolina in 1771, and became extremely obnoxious to the people by his attempts to thwart the patriotic movements. He denounced the Provincial Congress, and announced his determination to use all the means in his power to counteract their influence. Finding the Assembly firm in their stand against him, he dissolved them, April 8, 1775. Soon after this a letter from the governor to General Gage, asking for a supply of men and ammunition, was intercepted. The people were greatly exasperated. The committee of safety at Newbern seized and carried off six cannon which he had placed in front of the "palace" there. News of hostile preparations reached the governor's ears from every quarter. Becoming alarmed for his personal safety, he fled to Fort Johnson, June 14, on the Cape Fear River, near Wilmington, whence he sent forth, June 16, a menacing proclamation. A plot for a servile insurrection was discovered in July. It was supposed the governor had planned it, and the indignant people determined to demolish Fort Johnson, and not allow Martin to make it a stronghold. Five hundred of them, led by John Ashe, marched on the fort. The governor fled to the sloop-of-war Cruiser, lying in the river, and the people demolished the fort. The patriots disarmed the Tories, and confined as prisoners on their plantations those who were most obnoxious, and the Continental Congress voted to sustain the Whigs in North Carolina with a force of 1,000 men. They prepared to hold a new convention, when Martin, from on ship-board, issued a proclamation forbidding the meeting, and making accusations against the patriots. The Whigs denounced it as "a malicious and scandalous libel, tending to disunite the good people of the province," and it was burned by the common hangman. They authorized the raising of three regiments. Martin never returned, and thus ended royal rule in North Carolina. He died in London, England, in July, 1786.



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