The Regulators Of North Carolina


The Regulators of North Carolina: Outraged

Opressors The history of colonial North Carolina is

bombarded with frequent strife and turmoil. The people of

North Carolina, because of a lack in supervision from the

British monarchy, learned to possess an independent spirit.

The colony remained isolated from the rest of the country

because of several geographical conditions such as poor

harbors, the abscence of navigable rivers, numerous

swamps, and bad road conditions. Due to these conditions,

communities throughout North Carolina became widely

seperated. The colony was initially set up by the Lords

Proprietors, an English founding company that helped

finance early American exploration. When North Carolina

was freed from British proprietorship, the Granville family,

descendants from the original Lords Proprietors, con-tinued

to hold their land rights. This area, which became known as

the "Granville District," was the scene of many disputes over

land grants, taxes, British support, and a great deal of lesser

issues. Settlers in the back country (Piedmont) felt

particularly oppressed by the laws drawn up by an assembly

largely composed of eastern landowners. "Local" officials in

many counties, particularly in the western segment of the

back country were not local men at all, but friends of the

royal governor, William Tryon. These so-called "friends"

often collected higher fees than authorized by the law while

obtaining tax money or divided a single service into many

services and charged fees for each. Lawyers who followed

the judges around the colony also fell into the same habit.

The citizens of Anson, Orange, and Granville counties were

the first to make themselves heard. In 1764, this band of

citizens, referred to as the "mob," created a number of local

disturbances until Governor Arthur Dobbs passed a

proclomation forbidding the collection of illegal fees, the

practice that the people complained of the most. Their

protests were calmed only temporarily. However, the efects

of the new law wore off soon enough and sheriffs and other

county officers returned to their old dishonest practices.

Citizens complained largely in part because money was so

scarce; local trading was almost limited to barter. Often,

property was seized and resold, and citizens felt that their

property was being sold to a friend of an official for much

less than its true value (1). People among the Granville

District were anxious to revolt and needed only a leader to

provide the spark that led to the fire of the War of

Regulation. A man named Hermon Husband became

actively involved and was referred to as a leader several

times, despite the fact that he was often nothing more than an

agitator. Husband reprinted patriotic flyers with messages

dealing with taxation withour representation hoping that

citizens would call for reform. However, at no time during

the Regulation was there an actual leader (2). Orange

County was an early center of Regulator activity. Colonel

Edmund Fanning, holder of numerous offices in the county

including the prominent Clerk of the Recorder's Court at

Hillsborough, became a prime target along with Royal

Governor William Tryon, who took office in 1765. Tryon

was hated because he aimed to use taxes to build Tryon

Palace in New Bern, a very costly residence for himself, as

well as the seat for the colony's government. The Regulators,

"who named themselves after a group of country reformists

in South Carolina (3)" shortly after Tryon's announcement to

build the palace, had no sympathy with the governor's desire

for a fancy residence. The War of Regulation was not limited

to Orange County. Outbreaks of violence during the

collection of taxes in Anson County and several riots

throughout the Granville District were sure signs of what was

to come. A group of men, apparently enthusiastic over the

success of the Sons of Liberty in resisting the Stamp Act,

called citizens together to determine whether they were being

treated justly or not. Edmund Fanning denounced this

meeting. Little was accomplished at the meeting, but this is

where the Regulators proclaimed themselves as a radical

political group (4). Minor oppositions continued to occur

until the spring of 1768 when the sheriff of Orange County

announced he would be collecting taxes at certain areas of

the colony only, and if colonists did not pay at these

particular locations a charge would be incurred. This

occured at about the same time Tryon gave word about the

construction of Tryon Palace. This was very inconvenient for

the sttlers for two reasons. The widely scattered population

made it difficult to arrive at these tax stations. Lack of money

was also a concern. Opposition to these moves influenced

people to join the Regulator association. The Regulators

declared their purpose in a proclamation soon after claiming

they would: "assemble ourselves for conference for

regulating public grievances and abuses of power, in the

following particulars...that