The Regulators of North Carolina
.—Hillsborough's Ad-Ministration of the Colonies continued.
The people of Boston
had gone out of favor with
almost every body in England
had lost all patience, saying the Americans
were determined to leave their friends on his side the water, without the power of advancing in their behalf a shadow of excuse.2
This was the state of public feeling, when, on the nineteenth of July, Hallowell
arrived in London
with letters giving an exaggerated account of what had happened in Boston
on the tenth of June.
The news was received with general dismay; London
grew anxious; stocks fell greatly, and continued falling.
Rumors came also of a suspension of commerce, and there was a debt due from America
to the merchants and manu facturers of England
of four millions sterling.3
In the Ministry, anger expelled every other sentiment, and nearly all united in denouncing ‘vengeance,’
as they expressed it, ‘against that insolent
town’ of Boston
The thought of gaining quiet by repealing or modifying the act, was utterly discountenanced.
‘If the Government
,’ said they, ‘now gives way as it did about the Stamp Act, it will be all over with its authority in America
had escaped to the country,5 Hallowell
was examined at the Treasury Chambers
before Lord North and Jenkinson
He represented that the determination to break the revenue laws was not universal; that the revenue officers who remained there were not insulted; that the spirit displayed in Boston
, did not extend beyond its limits; that Salem
made no opposition to the payment of the duties; that the people in the country would not join, if Boston
were actually to resist Government; and that the four Commissioners at the castle could not return to town, till measures were taken for their protection.
The Memorial of the Commissioners
themselves to the Lords
of the Treasury announced, that ‘there had been a long concerted and extensive plan of resistance to the authority of Great Britain
; that the people of Boston
had hastened to acts of violence sooner than was intended; that nothing but the immediate exertion of military power could prevent an open revolt of the town, which would probably spread throughout the Provinces.’7
The counter memorial in behalf of Boston
, proving that the riot had been caused by the imprudent and violent proceedings
of the officers of the Romney8
At the same time9
letters arrived from Virginia
, with their petitions and memorial, ‘expressed,’ said Blair
, the President
of the Council, “with modesty and dutiful submission;” but under the calmest language, uttering a protest against the right of Parliament to tax America for a revenue.
The party of Bedford
, and the Duke
himself, spoke openly of the necessity of employing force to subdue the inhabitants of Boston
, and to make a striking example of the most seditious, in order to inspire the other Colonies with terror.10
This policy, said Weymouth
, will be adopted.
Shelburne, on the contrary, observed, that people very much exaggerated the difficulty; that it was understood in its origin, its principles, and its consequences; that it would be absurd to wish to send to America
a single additional soldier, or vessel of war, to reduce Colonies, which would return to the mother country of themselves from affection and from interest, when once the form of their contributions should be agreed upon.11
But his opinions had no effect, except that the King
became ‘daily’ more importunate with Grafton
, that Shelburne should be dismissed.12
The Cabinet were also ‘much vexed’ at Shelburne's reluctance to engage in secret intrigues with Corsica
, which resisted its cession by Genoa
The subject was, therefore, taken out of his
hands and the act of bad faith conducted by his col-
Unsolicited by Paoli
, the General
of the insurgents, they sent to him Dunant
, a Genevese, as a British emissary, with written14
as well as verbal instructions.
was found wanting every thing, money, artillery, armed vessels, muskets with bayonets, and small field-pieces, such as could be carried on mules;15
but he gave assurances of the fixed purpose of himself and of the Corsican people to defend their common liberty;16
and persuaded the British Ministry
, that if supplied with what he needed, he could hold out for eighteen months.17
‘A moment was not lost in supplying most of the articles requested by the Corsicans’ ‘in the manner that would least risk a breach with France
;’ ‘and indeed many thousand stands of arms were furnished from the stock in the Tower, yet so as to give no indication that they were sent from Government.’
While British Ministers were enjoying the thought of baffling France
, they had the vexation to find Paoli
himself obliged to retire by way of Leghorn
But their notorious interference was treasured up in memory as a precedent.
When, on the twenty-seventh of July, the Cabinet
definitively agreed on the measures to be pursued towards America
, it sought to unite all England
by resting its policy on Rockingham
's Declaratory Act, and to divide America by proceeding severely only against Boston
, it was most properly resolved that
the office of its Governor should no longer remain a sinecure, as it had been for three quarters of a century; and Amherst
who would not go out to reside there, was in consequence displaced, and ultimately indemnified.
In selecting a new Governor, the choice fell on Lord Botetourt; and it was a wise one, not merely because he had great affability and a pleasing address, and was attentive to business, but because he was ingenuous and frank, sure to write fearlessly and truly respecting Virginia
, and sure never to ask the Secretary
to conceal his reports.
He was to be conducted to his Government in a seventy-four, and to take with him a splendid coach of state.
He was to call a new Legislature, to closet its members, as well as those of the Council;19
and, to humor them in almost any thing except the explicit denial of the authority of Parliament.20
It would have been ill for American Independence, if a man like him had been sent to Massachusetts
But ‘with Massachusetts
,’ said Camden
‘it will not be very difficult to deal, if that is the only disobedient Province.’
his voice did not entreat mercy.22
The cry was, it must be made to
repent of its insolence; and its Town Meetings no
longer be suffered to threaten and defy the Government
of Great Britain
Two additional regiments of five hundred men each, and a frigate were at once to be sent there; the ship of the line, which was to take Botetourt
, might also remain in those seas.
A change in the Charter
was resolved on by Hillsborough; and he also sent over orders to inquire, ‘if any persons had committed acts which, under the authority of the statute of Henry the Eighth24
against treason committed abroad, might justify their being brought to England
to be tried in the King
a town whose representatives, contrary, however, to the judgment of their constituents, voted in favor of rescinding, was indicated as the future capital of the Province.
must tremble, ‘for,’ said the Secretary
, ‘the Crown will support the laws and the subject must submit to them.’
At this time Bernard
received from Gage
, in consequence of the earlier orders from England
, an offer of troops, if he would make a requisition for them.
But the Council, after a just analysis of the late events, gave their opinion, that the civil power did
not need the support of the troops, nor was it for his
Majesty's service or the peace of the Province, that any should be required.
dared not avow his own opinion;27
but, in his spite, he wrote to Hillsborough for ‘positive orders’28
not to call ‘a new Assembly until the people should get truer notions of their rights and interests.’
The advice of the Council was inspired by loy-
All attempts at a concert to cease importations had hitherto failed; the menace of the arrival of troops revived the design, and early in August, most of the merchants of the town of Boston
subscribed an agreement, that they would not send for any kind of merchandise from Great Britain
, some few articles of necessity excepted, during the year following the first day of January, 1769; and that they would not import any tea, paper, glass, paints or colors, until the act imposing duties upon them should be repealed.29
On the anniversary of the fourteenth of August,30
the streets of Boston
resounded with songs in praise of freedom; and its inhabitants promised themselves that all ages would applaud their courage.
Come, join hand in hand, brave Americans
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;
To die we can bear, but to serve we disdain;
For shame is to Freedom more dreadful than pain.
In freedom we're born, in freedom we'll live;
Our purses are ready,
Steady, boys, steady,
Not as slaves, but as freemen, our money we'll give.
The British administration was blind to its dangers, and believed union impossible.31
‘You will learn what transpires in America
infinitely better in the city than at court;’ wrote Choiseul32
to the French Minister
‘Never mind what Lord Hillsborough says;’ he wrote again; ‘the private accounts of American merchants to their correspondents in London
are more trustworthy.’33
The obedient official sought information in every direction—especially of Franklin
, than whom no man in England
uttered more prophetic warnings, or in a more benign or more loyal spirit.
‘He has for years been predicting to the Ministers
the necessary consequences of their American measures,’ said the French
‘he is a man of rare intelligence and welldisposed to England
; but, fortunately, is very little consulted.’
While the British Government
neglected the opportunities of becoming well-informed respecting America
collected newspapers, documents, resolves, instructions of towns, and even sermons of the Puritan
clergy, and with clear sagacity and candid diligence, proceeded to construct his theory.
‘The forces of the English
are scarcely ten thousand men, and they have no cavalry;’ thus reasoned the dispassionate statesmen of France
the militia of the Colonies numbers four hundred
thousand men, and among them several regiments of cavalry.
The people are enthusiastic for liberty, and have inherited a republican spirit, which the consciousness of strength and circumstances may push to extremities.
They will not be intimidated by the presence of troops, too insignificant to cause alarm.’
It was, therefore, inferred that it would be hazardous for England
to attempt reducing the Colonies by force.
‘But why,’ asked Choiseul
‘are not deputies from each Colony admitted into Parliament as members’ And it was answered36
that ‘the Americans
objected to such a solution, because they could not obtain a representation proportioned to their population, and so would be whelmed by superior numbers; because the distance made their regular attendance in Parliament impossible; and because they knew its venality and corruption too well to be willing to trust it with their affairs.
They had no other representatives than agents at London
, who kept them so well informed, that no project which would turn to their disadvantage could come upon them by surprise.’
By this reasoning Choiseul
that an American representation in Parliament was not practicable; but also that ‘no other method of conciliation’ would prove less difficult, and that unanimity in America
would compel the British Government
to risk the most violent measures, or to yield.
When, on the nineteenth of August, England
heard that Massachusetts
had, by a vast majority of its representatives, refused to rescind the resolutions of the preceding winter, Lord Mansfield was of the opinion that all the members of the late Legislative Assembly at Boston
should be sent for, to give an account of their conduct, and that all the rigors of the law should be exercised against those who should persist in refusing to submit to Parliament.38
‘Where rebellion begins,’ said he, ‘the laws cease, and they can invoke none in their favor.’39
To the ambassador of Spain
, he expressed the
opinion that the affair of the Colonies was the gravest and most momentous that England
had had since 1688, and saw in America
the beginning of a long and even infinite series of revolutions.
,’ he insisted, ‘must first be compelled to submit to the authority of Parliament; it is only after having reduced them to the most entire obedience that an inquiry can be made into their real or pretended grievances.’40
The subject interested every court in Europe
, was watched in Madrid
, and was the general theme of conversation in Paris
, where Fuentes, the Spanish Minister
, expressed the hope that ‘the English
might master their Colonies, lest the Spanish Colonies
also should catch the flame.’41
‘I dread the event,’ said Camden
; ‘because the Colonies are more sober and consequently more determined in their present opposition than they were upon the Stamp Act.’
‘What is to be done?’
; and Camden
answered, ‘Indeed, my dear Lord
, I do not know.
The Parliament cannot repeal the Act in question, because that would admit the American
principle to be right, and their own doctrine erroneous.
Therefore it must execute the law. How to execute it, I am at a loss.
is the ringleading Province; and if any country is to be chastised, the punishment ought to be levelled there.’42
But the system which made government subordinate to the gains of patronage, was every where producing its natural results.
In South Carolina
, the profits of the place of Provost-Marshal
were enjoyed under a patent as a sinecure by a resident in England
whose deputy had the monopoly of serving processes throughout the Province, and yet was bound to attend courts nowhere but at Charleston
As a consequence the herdsmen near the frontier adjudicated their own disputes and regulated their own police, even at the risk of a civil war.44
The blood of ‘rebels’ against oppression was first shed among the settlers on the branches of the Cape Fear River
The emigrants to the upland glades of North Carolina
, though occupying rich lands, had little coin or currency; yet as the revenue of the Province was raised by a poll-tax,45
the poorest laborer among them must contribute towards it as much as the richest merchant.
sheriffs were grown insolent and arbitrary; often
distraining even quadruple the value of the tax, and avoiding the owner, till it was too late for him to redeem his property.
All this was the more hateful, as a part of the amount was expended by the Governor
in building himself an extravagantly costly palace; and a part was notoriously embezzled.
The collecting officers and all others, encouraged by the imperious example of Fanning
who loaded the titles to estates with doubts,47
and charged illegal fees for recording new deeds, continued their extortions;48
sure of support from the whole hierarchy of men in place.
Juries were packed; and the Grand Jury
was almost the agent of the extortioners.
The cost of suits at law, under any circumstances exorbitant, was enhanced by an unprecedented extent of the right of appeal from the county court to the remote superior court; where a farmer of small means would be ruined by the expense of attendance with his witnesses.
‘We tell you in the anguish of our souls,’ said they to the Governor
, ‘we cannot, dare not go to law with our powerful antagonists; that step, whenever taken, will terminate in the ruin of ourselves and families.’49
Besides, the Chief Justice
was Martin Howard
a profligate time-server, raised to the bench as a convenient reward for having suffered in the time of the Stamp Act, and ever ready to use his place as a screen for the dishonest profits of men in office, and
the instrument of political power.
Never yet had
the tribunal of justice been so mocked.
by oppression and an intuitive jealousy of frauds, men associated as ‘Regulators,’52
binding themselves to avoid if possible all payment of taxes,53
except such as were levied, and were to be applied according to law; and ‘to pay no more fees than the law allows, unless under compulsion, and then to bear open testimony against it.’
They proposed to hold a General Meeting
but they rested their hopes of redress on the independent use of their elective franchise; being resolved to know and enjoy the liberties which they had inherited, without turning pale at the name of ‘rebellion.’
‘An officer,’ said the inhabitants of the west side of Haw River
‘is a servant to the public; and we are determined to have the officers of this country under a better and honester regulation.’
It was easy to foresee that the rashness of ignorant, though well-meaning husbandmen, maddened by oppression, would soon expose them to the inexorable vengeance of their adversaries.
As one of the Regulators rode to Hillsborough
, his horse was, in mere wantonness, seized for his levy, but was soon rescued by a party, armed with clubs and eleven muskets.
Some one at Fanning
's door showed pistols, and threatened to fire among them; upon which four or
five heated, unruly persons in the crowd discharged
their guns into the roof of the house, making two or three holes, and breaking two panes of glass without further damage.56
's instance, a warrant was issued by the Chief Justice
to arrest three of the rioters, and bring them all the way to Halifax
Raising a clamor against the odiousness of rebellion, Fanning
himself, as military Commander
, called out seven companies of militia;58
but not above one hundred and twenty men appeared with arms, and of these, all but a few stood neutral or declared in favor of the Regulators.59
In Anson County60
on the twenty-first of April, a mob interrupted the inferior court; and, moreover,61
bound themselves by oath62
to pay no taxes, and to protect each other against warrants of distress or imprisonment.
In Orange County
the discontented did not harbor a thought of violence,63
and were only preparing a Petition to the Governor
‘They call themselves Regulators,’ said Fanning
, ‘but by lawyers they must be termed rebels and traitors;’ and he calumniated them as plotting to take his life, and lay Hillsborough
, who as the King
's Representative, should have joined impartiality with lenity, made himself an open volunteer
on the side of Fanning
and while he advised the
people to petition the Provincial Legislature
he empowered Fanning
to call out the militia of eight counties besides Orange
, and suppress insurrections by force.
The people of Orange
, and equally of Anson, Rowan
, were unanimous in their resolution to claim relief of the Governor
Flattery was, therefore, mixed with menaces, to allure the Regulators to sign a Petition which Fanning
had artfully drafted,67
and which rather invoked pardon than demanded redress.68
‘You may assure yourself from my knowledge of things,’ wrote Fanning
's agent to Herman Husbands, ‘one couched in any other terms cannot go down with the Governor
The hands and the feet, should not run in mutiny against the head.’
But he vainly sought to terrify the rustic patriot by threats of confiscation of property, perpetual imprisonment, and even the penalties for High Treason.69
On the last day of April, the Regulators of Orange County
, peacefully assembled on Rocky River
, appointed twelve men on their behalf, “to settle the several matters of which they complained;” 70
instructed ‘the Settlers’ to procure a table of the taxables, taxes, and legal fees of public officers;71
and framed a Petition to the General Assembly,
to secure them a fair hearing, and redress where they had been wronged.72
, on his side, unable to induce the Regulators to heed the offer73
of his services, advertised their union as a daring insurrection, announced his authority to employ against them the militia of eight counties, and bade them expect ‘no mitigation of punishment for their crimes;’ at the same time twenty-seven armed men of his procuring, chiefly Sheriffs and their dependents, and officers, were suddenly despatched on secret service, and after travelling all night, arrived near break of day, on Monday the second of May, at Sandy Creek
, where they made prisoners of Herman Husbands and William Butler
Against Husbands there was no just charge whatever.
He had never so much as joined ‘the Regulation;’ had never been concerned in any tumult; and was seized at home on his own land.
The ‘astonishing news,’ therefore, of his captivity, set the County
in a ferment.
Regulators and their opponents, judging that none were safe, prepared alike to go down to his rescue, but were turned back75
by ‘the glad tidings,’ that the Governor
himself had promised to receive their complaints.
Hurried to gaol, insulted, tied with cords, and threatened with the gallows, Husbands succeeded by partial concessions, the use of money, and by giving bonds, to obtain his liberty.
But it seemed to him,
that ‘he was left alone;’ and how could an unlet-
tered farmer contend against so many?
In his despair he thought to leave his home and every thing he loved most dearly, and exile himself into some new land.
With this purpose he ‘took the woods;’76
but hearing that the Governor
had promised that the extortioners might be brought to trial, he resolved to impeach Fanning
, and to show before the world whether he was a principal in riots, or whether he had done no more than prosecute every lawful method for justice and redress.77
The Regulators, on their part, prepared their Petition, which was signed by about five hundred men; fortified it with a precise specification of acts of extortion, confirmed in each instance by oath; and presented78
it to the Governor
with their plain and simple Narrative, in the hope that ‘naked truth,’ though offered by the ignorant, might weigh as much as the artful representations of their ‘powerful adversary.’
Their language was that of loyalty to the King
, and, with a rankling sense of their wrongs, breathed affection to the British Government
, ‘as the wholesomest Constitution in being.’79
It is Tryon
himself who relates that ‘in their commotions no mischief had been done,’ and that ‘the disturbances in Anson and Orange
The Regulators awaited the result of the suits at law. But Tryon
would not wait.81
He repaired to Hillsborough
threw himself entirely against the Regulators,
and demanded of them unconditional and immediate submission,82
and that twelve of them should give bonds in a thousand pounds each, for the peaceful conduct of them all. An alarm went abroad, the first of the kind, that Indians83
as well as men from the lower counties, were to be raised to cut off the inhabitants of Orange County
About fifteen hundred men84
were actually in arms; and yet when in September, the causes came on for trial in the presence of Tryon
, and with such a display of troops, Husbands was acquitted on every charge; and Fanning
who had been a volunteer witness against him, was convicted on six several indictments.85
A verdict was also given against three Regulators.
The court punished Fanning
by a fine of one penny on each of his convictions; the Regulators were sentenced to pay fifty pounds each, and be imprisoned for six months.
would have sent troops to reduce the Regulators to submission by fire and sword; but his sanguinary disposition was overruled by the Council of War.86
The Regulators remained quiet at their own homes, brooding over the failure of their efforts for redress.
They resolved at the next election to
choose trustworthy men for their representatives;
and when the time came, so general was the discontent, North Carolina
of its delegates.
Yet its people desponded, and saw no way for their extrication.