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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Josiah Martin

MARTIN Josiah, colonial governor, born probably in Antigua, Wisconsin, 23 April, 1737; died in London, England, in July, 1786. He became an ensign in the British army in 1756, and had risen to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1771, when he was appointed royal governor of North Carolina, succeeding William Tryon, who had been transferred to New York after the battle of Alamance. Governor Martin, with conciliatory tact, attained a good understanding with the Regulators, many of whom remained faithful to the crown throughout the Revolution. He assumed a firm attitude toward the Whigs, and, when the difficulties with the home government approached a crisis in the colonies, was secretly active in organizing the Highlanders and other loyal elements. In his speech to the assembly in April, 1775, he reviewed the situation, and defined his position in energetic language. The assembly replied in equally resolute terms, whereupon he dissolved it, and began to enlist a Loyalist force. On 24 April, while he was in conference with those members of the council that adhered to royalist views, a body of Whigs attacked his house and carried off six guns that he had planted. The next day ha sent his family to New York, and took refuge on board the sloop-of-war "Cruiser," transferring his headquarters to Fort Johnston on Cape Fear river. When the Mecklenburg resolutions were published he transmitted to England a copy of the document, which he described as "setting up a system of rule and regulation subversive of his majesty's government," while still affirming his belief that he had the means in his own hands "to maintain the sovereignty of this country to my royal master in any event." He already had requested from General Thomas Gage in Boston a supply of arms and ammunition. One of the letters was intercepted, and in July a plot for arming the slaves was discovered, of which he was supposed to have been the instigator. John A she thereupon marched on Fort Johnston at the head of a band of incensed colonists, compelled the governor to flee on board the "Cruiser" on 20 July, and demolished the fort. From the vessel Martin issued on 8 August a proclamation of extraordinary length, which was denounced as a malicious libel by the Whigs, and publicly burned by, the common hangman, he remained on the coast to direct a rising of the Loyalists, whom he furnished with arms brought from England. In January, 1776, Sir Henry Clinton came with a body of troops in transports to aid Martin in re-etablishing the royal power, but the presence of General Charles Lee's forces deterred him from landing. The expedition of Lord Cornwallis and Sir Peter Parker was expected from Cork to co-operate with Sir Henry Clinton, but was retarded by a storm at sea. It "had been sent out by the advice of Martin, who had presented a complete plan for the subjugation of the Carolinas. The Highlanders now took the field under the two MacDonalds, but were completely routed at Moore's creek bridge. Discomfited by this disaster, Martin embarked on Sir Peter Parker's fleet, and arrived at Charleston in June, 1776. He importuned the British authorities to send arms and money for a loyal corps in North Carolina, and offered to raise and lead a battalion of Scottish Highlanders and rally the people of the western counties around the royal standard if he were restored to his old rank in the army. The means were furnished for the formation of military bodies among the Highlanders and Regulators, though the commission that he asked for was refused. He remained with Cornwallis, who gave special heed to his energetic counsels after taking command in the south. When Cornwallis entered North Carolina after his victory at Camden he was accompanied by Martin, who expected to rouse the loyal part of the population, and soon be able to resume the administration. The two attempted invasions of North Carolina were checked at King's Mountain and Cow-pens. Governor Martin's health was destroyed by the fatigues of the campaign. He left North Carolina in March, 1781, for Long Island, and shortly afterward embarked for England.

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