Joseph Hewes was one of three NC Delegates featured in the first entry of this series eleven years ago, and I thought it fitting to give him his own diary to better explore the man. He was originally from New Jersey but moved to NC to start his own business:
Born in 1730 at Maybury Hill, an estate on the outskirts of Princeton, N.J., Hewes was the son of a pious and well-to-do Quaker farmer. He received a strict religious upbringing, and studied at a local school. After learning trade from a Philadelphia merchant, he entered business for himself. About 1760, anxious to expand his modest fortune, he moved to the thriving seaport town of Edenton, N.C. There, where he was to reside for the rest of his life, he founded a profitable mercantile and shipping firm and gained prominence.
By the time he had begun to prosper in Edenton, his rejection of many aspects of Quakerism was already in action. After that first diary in 2008, I had some conversations with a few people who remarked about a Quaker getting involved in the War effort, and we speculated that abuses of the Crown drove him to it. I'm now leaning towards another (less noble) reason: His overbearing father probably drove him away from the faith. Whatever the case, Hewes was not only a capable businessman, but also a cunning tactician. From a letter in January 1776 to Samuel Johnston: