Monday, April 23, 2012

Provision for Prisoners

In 1777, Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee and Silas Deane rebuked Frederick Lord North for the mistreatment of prisoners in British custody, remarking, “The records of Congress, my lord, are filled with proofs of tender care and attention not only to the wants, but to the comforts and accommodation, of their prisoners.” 

The records of state and local authorities show a similar concern.  On April 25, 1776, the North Carolina Provincial Congress appointed Eaton Haynes, Esq. as an Agent for the province in Philadelphia.  The Provincial Congress authorized Haynes “to take such measures and give such orders” as he thought necessary to conduct prisoners sent by North Carolina “with the greatest safety and expedition possible….”

The Provincial Congress also expected Haynes “supply the Prisoners and Guard with provisions, and other articles which may be necessary for them upon their route, and be empowered, in behalf of this Province, to draw upon the Continental Treasury for such sums as he shall necessarily expend for the above purposes….”  The North Carolina Provincial Congress instructed Haynes inform Joseph Hewes, Esq. of such draughts on the Continental Treasury.  Hewes was one of the North Carolina Delegates in the Continental Congress. 
Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee to Lord North, 12 Dec. 1777, in Francis Wharton, editor, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, 6 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1889), 2:449.
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