For those of you who haven’t heard, the North Carolina Collection and Documenting the American South are digitizing the Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, a thirty-volume set of transcribed documents covering the history of North Carolina from the 1600s to 1790. Now, before you start searching Google for the electronic versions of this wonderful resource, let me warn you…we’re still at least two years from being finished with the project! However, I occasionally run into interesting tidbits that simply have to be “published,” and I think the North Carolina Collection’s blog is the perfect outlet. I can’t promise weekly postings, but I’ve already seen index entries for “Beer, lack of” and “Girls and Soldiers,” so I can’t imagine they’ll be far between.
The first tidbit involves Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, an influential pamphlet published in Philadelphia in January 1776. On February 14 of that year, John Penn, one of North Carolina’s delegates to the Continental Congress, wrote from Philadelphia to Thomas Person in North Carolina concerning military matters and troop requisitions. With the letter, Penn enclosed a copy of Common Sense and in the postscript stated, “I send you a pamphlet called ‘Common Sense,’ published here abt. a month ago.” Is this the first copy of Paine’s pamphlet to find its way into North Carolina? I can’t say, but it is most definitely one of the earliest.