The most surprising thing, however, about the war of the Regulation, perhaps, is not that it began and had its being, but that it was so ruthlessly stamped out by North Carolina troops, especially that this was done by the people of the Eastern portion of the Province, a people whose own garments already reeking with local rebellion and insurrection of every hue and grade, were, in less than half dozen years, to be red with rebellion on a continental scale. Fresh from the Stamp Act rebellion, in which the leaders of the forces against the Regulators had been leaders against the Crown, they were rebels by habit and by descent. Rebels themselves, and the sons and grandsons of rebels, they hesitated not to use force when to them it seemed expedient. But neither the best nor the wisest people are always consistent. In 1789, when Tennessee had come to years of discretion and desired to set up for herself, for very good and sufficient reasons, her nursing mother stood ready to force her back to her old allegiance at the point of the bayonet, and this, although the blood was scarcely dry that she had spilled in securing her own separation from Britain.
This course was probably due to three causes: 1st. The isolation of the two sections; 2d, the difference in their conditions; 3d, the game of diplomacy between the Eastern leaders and Tryon.
1. By its settlement the territory of the Province was practically divided into two sections, one long settled and the other freshly peopled, separate and distinct in population, religion and material interests, and they so remained for many, many years. Indeed, our people did not become throughly unified until, having endured in common the hardships and braved the dangers of the late war, they began to suffer in common the oppressions of reconstruction, more intolerable, perhaps, than the hardships and dangers of civilized warfare. Remaining thus separate and distinct, each adhering to its own traditions, habits of thought, speech and action, the people of one section knew little about the other.
It must not be assumed, however, that there was lack of sympathy in the East for the people of the West during the Regulation troubles, for Tryon found great reluctance on the part of the Craven militia to join the Alamance expedition; and in Dobbs, too, Caswell's own county, there was serious trouble. There was trouble, too, in Johnston County, and in Pitt; Edgecombe, too, was very loth to send troops; and there were no troops at all at Alamance from the Albemarle section. In Bute County the regiment, some 800 or 900 strong, when called upon for fifty volunteers, broke ranks without orders and declared themselves on the side of the Regulators. Nor were the Legislatures by any means hostile. That of 1768 declared against the further collection of the sinking fund tax, and that of 1769, brief as it was, denounced the extortioners most roundly, while that 1770-'71, the one that passed the Johnston Bill, as if it was thoroughly aroused at last to the great emergency, covered the whole ground almost, it may be said, of remedial legislation, thereby justifying Iredell's assertion that it was of “regulating principles.” It enacted laws to regulate attorney's fees; to regulate officers' fees; to direct sheriffs in levying executions; to authorize the Inferior Courts to establish tobacco warehouses wherever needed; to prevent the collection of the sinking fund tax, and for the more speedy and cheap collection of small debts, remedial legislation that, had it been enacted in 1769, would have caused the Regulation troubles to subside, just as the Stamp Act troubles subsided upon the repeal of the Act that gave rise to them. It must be remembered, too, that when the Council in 1768 desired to give the government power to find and try indictments in any district it might choose, no matter where the offences were committed, the Assembly indignantly, it may be said, refused to assent thereto, saying the proposition was not only foreign to the bill then pending, but was “expressly contrary to the sentiments of the Assembly.”
It must be remembered, also, that as late as February, 1771, the Grand Jury for the Newbern district refused to find a true bill against Husbands, then and there sought to be indicated for libel
What sufficient explanation can there be of this that does not recognize the fact that, owing to the long existing coasting trade, the intercourse between the East and Boston was greater than that existing between the East and the new-comers of the West? The Albemarle section then, as now, traded with Virginia; for then, as now, all roads in Albemarle led to Virginia. So, too, as to the Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear settlements; the people there also were isolated, only in less degree, from their fellow subjects in the interior, their usual journeyings to the interior, even after the present century began, extending no further upland than the hill country about the lower falls of the rivers, some 100 miles or more from the coast, whither they went to escape malaria. Doubtless, too, on the other hand, on the memorable 20th May, 1775, there were scarcely more than a dozen men in all Mecklenburg who had been East of those falls, including those who had been to Newbern as members of the Legislature.
It must be remembered, too, that there was no printing press in the State until 1749, and that before 1775 the only newspapers were the Gazette, begun in 1749, at Newbern, and continued till the Revolution, with the exception of about thirteen years, those between 1755 and 1768, and the North Carolina Gazette, begun in 1763 at Wilmington, and discontinued in 1767, but followed by the Cape Fear Mercury, in the same year, which continued to the Revolution. With the mail facilities of those days, those little sheets (for they were of the very smallest size) had but little circulation anywhere, and none at all, it may be said, in the interior. The legislative journals and enactments from time to time were indeed printed, but only in pamphlet form, and in numbers about sufficient to supply the members of the Legislature. In 1771, when the act under
If the same causes and provocations that led to the war of the Regulation, to-wit, a system of unequal and unjust taxation, the oppressions and extortions of county officials and the collection of unlawful taxes, all bad enough anywhere in themselves, but rendered insufferable in the interior by the lack of a circulating medium with which to pay taxes and fees, satisfy executions, and carry on business generally, had existed in the East to the same extent, the result there, too, doubtless, would have been insurrection. They did not so exist, however, notably, as we have seen, by reason of the warehouse system and its happy incident of inspectors' notes, and the sufferings of the people of the West were tolerated by the people of the East, seemingly at least, while the sufferings of their fellow-subjects to the North of them, at Boston, for instance, speedily excited them to the very highest pitch. It was an Eastern hand, that of Samuel Johnston, that prepared and presented the bloody bill that gave Governor Tryon authority to prosecute the war against the Regulators. It was the East that sent General
And yet, if ever a people were estopped by their record from condemning, to say nothing of punishing, the use of force in putting an end to official oppression, it would seem to be that same people who belonged to the coast-line settlements. Let us recapitulate what has already been stated.
Under the rule of the Proprietors, resort to force and violence was, it may be said, a common occurrence, almost the habit of the country for many years. Under royal rule, scarce a decade passed that did not see the people up in arms to redress official grievances. Indeed, at a very early day they came to the opinion, subsequently expressed at Hillsboro, in 1788, to-wit, that “the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind,” and, what is more, they acted upon it whenever occasion required.
The first outbreak under royal rule was brought about by the attempt of Governor Johnston to force the people to bring their rents to the collectors at places designated by the Government. Owing to the lack of a sufficient currency, at a very early day laws were passed making these rents payable in produce and collectable on the premises. The trouble began in 1735, and in the year 1737 the people, thinking forbearance had ceased to be a virtue, began to resort to force. In that year, at the General Court at Edenton a man was imprisoned for contempt of Court, but the people of Bertie and Edgecombe, which latter county then covered substantially all the settled territory to the Westward, hearing that he was imprisoned for refusing to deliver his rents at the appointed place, rose in arms to the number of 500 and marched on the town, intending to rescue the man by force from the Court, in the meantime cursing the King and uttering a great many rebellious speeches. When within five miles of Edenton they learned the truth, and that the man,
In 1746 this same Governor Johnston attempted to deprive the old counties of the Province of their immemorial right to send five delegates each to the Assembly, and issued writs of election for only two members to the county. The result was that the old counties refused to regard his writs of election, and when they voted, each voter put on his ballot the names of five men already agreed upon, and the sheriffs so returned. The Legislature thereupon declared the elections void. But the people would vote in no other way, and in consequence the old counties for eight years were not represented in the Assembly, and not being represented, refused to pay taxes, or to do any other act that recognized the authority of the Assembly. The new counties that sent only two members, seeing what the old ones were doing, said it was not fair to make them bear the whole burden of the Government, and they, too, refused to pay taxes. And this was the condition of the Province for eight years, at the end of which time representation was restored.
The good Bishop Spangenburg, who passed through these counties in the fall of 1752, six years after the trouble began, on his way from Pennsylvania to the up-country to locate lands for the Moravian settlement, as we have seen, gives a desperate account of affairs. “Anarchy,” he said, “prevailed; the people would not acknowledge the Assembly in any way; no criminals could be brought to justice; though such crimes as murder and robbery were of frequent occurrence, for if the General Courts were opened no jurors would attend, and if any one was imprisoned the jail was broken open and the prisoner released, and, in short, most matters were decided by blows.
This trouble had not ended before a new one was well on the way. This came about from the setting off to Lord Granville, by metes and bounds, his one-eighth part of Carolina, wholly in North Carolina. This was done in 1744. In a few years Granville's agents became great oppressors. Matters continued to go from bad to worse until the beginning of 1759, when the people again resorted to force. On the 24th January, 1759, a number of men, variously estimated, from Edgcombe County, which then included the present counties of Halifax, Nash, and Wilson, went to the house of Corbin, Granville's chief agent, near Edenton, seized and carried him to Enfield, then the county-seat of Edgecombe, and obliged him to give a heavy bond to return at the following Spring Term of Court, and disgorge all the fees he had unjustly taken. The AttorneyGeneral, too, was unhappy, and made oath that he had heard that a great number of the “rioters” intended to petition the Court at Granville to “silence him,” and if this was not done to “pull him by the nose and also to abuse the Court.” During this time, also one Haywood, a subordinate of Corbin, who had been absent, returned home and died suddenly and was there buried. The people thinking the report of his death was a falsehood concocted and spread abroad to prevent his prosecution in the Court, went to his grave in a body and dug up and inspected his remains. Finding the man was really dead, the people went home without further disturbance. In time a few of the “rioters” were arrested and put in the jail at Halifax, but on the next day their comrades, having learned the fact, went to the jail in open day, broke down its doors and released the prisoners.
Then came the Stamp Act trouble in which, as we have seen, the Stamp Masters were forced to swear at the court-house doors that they would have nothing to do with the stamps, and Colonels Ashe and Waddell, having called out the militia of the Cape Fear District to the number of some 700 men, made Tryon, the new RoyalViper, which had seized several vessels for want of stamped paper, to release them, and to agree to stop such seizures for the future, and there was neither disguise nor concealment about any of this proceeding, but everything was done in broad open day by men perfectly well known, and in the very presence of the Governor, as it were.
Our records show indisputably that resistance to oppression was at the bottom of each one of these troubles, and that in every case violence was resorted to. These events, covering so many years and such a wide extent of territory, and coming so close together, one following directly upon the heels of the other, are not to be viewed as separate, casual, sporadic, isolated outbreaks, but as a connected series, similar in their nature, akin indeed both in origin and development, like causes producing like results. Their history, like that of events generally in the colony, shows indisputably that the people of North Carolina, when occasion required, were quite given to force and to violence, though not mere lawless rioters who loved strife for strife's sake and preferred violence to peaceful measures. On the contrary, there was much method in their madness, and cool, deliberate system in their force. Each one of the troubles mentioned exemplifies this, the Rent trouble, the Legislative representation trouble, the Granville District troubles, or the Enfield riots, as they were called, and the Stamp Act troubles.
And yet, with all this record back of them, in the very next trouble, that is to say in the war of the Regulation, a trouble that in the beginning was contemporaneous with that caused by the Stamp Act, those same Eastern people rode rough-shod over their Western brethren, killing some in heat of battle, hanging others in cold blood, ravishing the homes and plantations of some, and confiscating those of others, for forcible resistance to oppressions not a whit less grievous and unlawful than those to which they themselves, the vaunted “Sons of Liberty,” with arms in their hands, in open daylight, had so recently and so defiantly refused to submit,
2. The condition of the Province, too, doubtless had much to do with the attitude of the East toward the Regulators. The Province had neither gold nor silver, and naturally enough, for it had neither mines nor mints, and the balance of foreign trade was not in her favor to such an extent as to bring coin here from other countries. The only currency, properly so called, in the Province consisted of paper notes issued to meet appropriations voted by the Legislature, principally during the administration of Governor Dobbs. Every year a portion of these notes were called in and burnt in sight of the members of the Legislature, and another portion in the shape of taxes for the expenses of the government. When Tryon took charge of the government these notes amounted to less than £70,000, whereas, according to the Governor, three times that amount would not have been sufficient for the business of the Province; and as for specie, he said there was not enough to have paid the taxes levied by the Stamp Act for one year. The natural remedy for this state of things, it would seem, was the issue of more paper money, under proper limitations, by the Government; but in its way stood an act of the British Parliament, passed through the influence of the British merchants, forbidding the Province to issue paper money.
3. The advantage that this state of things gave Tryon can be readily seen, an advantage that he was not slow to use, and one that was doubtless very grateful to him, for the outlook on his arrival, and for some time afterward, was not very propitious. He reached the Province in October, 1764, not long after the resolution of the British Parliament asserting its right to tax the Colonies was adopted. Dobbs died on 28th March, 1765, and Tryon assumed the
Tryon's supposed influence at home seems to have been his principal if not his entire stock in trade. That he unduly magnified that influence is now apparent, for not one of the currency bills became a law. And yet, so strongly did he impress himself and the value of his home influence upon our ancestors, that, even after he had left the Province and had taken upon himself the government of New York, our Assembly appealed to him, in contempt, as it were, of Governor Martin, to secure the approval of a bill for the emission of additional currency, and that, too, in spite of the fact that he had never, during his whole administration here, secured the approval of a single bill that would not have been approved without his solicitation, and in spite of the fact that he had added near £80,000 to the debt of the Province during the seven years of his administration. And thus the game of diplomacy, in which Tryon's supposed home influence was freely staked on the one side against actual, tangible provincial appropriations by the Assembly on the other, was carried on.
This is the only sensible solution of the events of that period. In justice, however, to our respected ancestors, losers though they were in the game, it must be said that the stakes were well worth playing for, and that, had they been the winners, the money they ventured would have been well expended in view of the benefits that would have accrued to the Province. If Tryon, to use the modern slang, could have delivered the goods, that is to say, could have secured the approval of a law to increase the currency to a reasonable extent, the appropriations for the palace and for the Cherokee boundary expedition would have been expenditures wisely and economically made. But he did not, and could not, deliver the goods; and so not only were those first appropriations of money wasted, but the Assembly got into the habit of throwing good
But it is the end that proves the work. Of the forty-seven sections of the State Constitution adopted in 1776, thirteen, more than onefourth, are the embodiment of reforms sought for by the Regulators. And yet, though many men have maligned the unhappy Regulators, no man has dared to reflect upon the “patriots of '76” who thus brought to such glorious end the struggle the Regulators began and in which they fought, bled and died. The war of the Regulation ended, not with the battle of Alamance in 1771, but with the adoption of the State Constitution in 1776.
It would be doing grave injustice, however, to the Regulators to omit special reference to two of their papers, setting forth as they do in detail the grievances under which they labored and the remedies they proposed therefor. The papers referred to are the petitions of the people of Anson and Orange and Rowan to the Legislature in 1769.
The people of Anson complained that while the Province labored under general grievances, the Western part thereof labored under particular ones, “particular restrictions,” so to speak, which they claimed the right to make known under the English Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement of the Crown. Accordingly, they begged leave to lay before the Assembly specimens of the grievances under which they labored, that its compassionate endeavors might tend to the relief of the people, whose distressed condition called aloud for aid. The alarming cries of the oppressed, they said, “possibly may reach Legislative ears, but without their zeal how shall they ascend
A few of the many grievances specified were as follows:
1. That the poor Inhabitants in general were much oppress'd by reason of disproportionate Taxes, and those of the Western Counties in particular; as they were generally in mean circumstances.
2. That no method was prescribed by Law for the payment of the Taxes of the Western Counties in produce (in lieu of a Currency) as in other Counties within the Province; to the People's great oppression.
3. That Lawyers, Clerks, and other pensioners, in place of being obsequious Servants for the Country's use, were become a nuisance, as the business of the people was often transacted without the least degree of fairness, the intention of the law evaded, exorbitant fees extorted, and the sufferers left to mourn under their oppressions.
4. That an Attorney should have it in his power, either for the sake of ease or interest, or to gratify his malevolence and spite, to commence suits to what Courts he pleases, however inconvenient it may be to the Defendant.
5. That unlawful fees should be taken on an Indictment, where the Defendant is acquitted by his Country however customary it might be.
6. That Lawyers, Clerks, and others should extort more fees than was intended by law.
And for remedy thereof they recommended to the Assembly the following mode of redress, “not doubting audience and acceptance, which would not only tend to their relief, but command prayers as a duty from its humble petitioners”:
1. That at all elections each suffrage be given by Ticket and Ballot.
2. That the mode of Taxation be altered, and each person to pay in proportion to the profits arising from his Estate.
3. That no future tax be laid in Money, until a currency was made.
4. That there might be established a Western as well as a Northern and Southern District, and a Treasurer for the same.
5. That when a currency was made it might be let out by a Loan office (on Land security) and not to be call'd in by a Tax
6. That all debts above 40s. and under £10 be tried and determined without Lawyers, by a jury of six freeholders, impanneled by a Justice, and that their verdict be enter'd by the said Justice, and be a final judgment.
7. That the Chief Justice have no perquisites, but a Salary only.
8. That Clerks be restricted in respect to fees, costs, and other things within the course of their office.
9. That Lawyers be effectually Barr'd from exacting and extorting fees.
10. That all doubts might be removed in respect to the payment of fees and costs on Indictments where the Defendant was not found guilty by the jury, and therefore acquitted.
15. That all Taxes in the following Counties be paid as in other Counties in the Province (i e) in the produce of the Country and that ware Houses be erected as follows (Vizt)
In Anson County at Isom Haley's Ferry Landing on PeDee River,
Rowan and Orange at Cambleton in Cumberland County,
Mecklenburg at —— on the Catawba River, and in
Tryon County at —— on —— River.
16. That every denomination of People may marry according to their respective Mode Ceremony and custom after due publication or License.
17. That Doctr Benjamin Franklin or some other known patriot be appointed Agent, to represent the unhappy state of this Province to His Majesty, and to solicit the several Boards in England.
The people of Orange and Rowan in their petition asked that Acts be passed:
1. To disqualify lawyers and clerks from holding seats in the Assembly.
2. To give the clerks salaries and take away fees.
3. To confine lawyers to the fees prescribed by law.
4. To “call in all acting clerks and fill their places with gentlemen of probity and intelligence,” and insert in said Act a clause prohibiting all judges, lawyers or sheriffs from receiving their fees before the suit in which they became due was finally determined, which they hoped would prevent the odious delays in justice so destructive yet fatally common among them.
5. To repeal an act prohibiting dissenting ministers from celebrating the rites of matrimony according to the forms prescribed by their respective churches, “a privilege they were debarred of in no other part of his Majesty's Kingdom, and a privilege they stand entitled to by the Act of Toleration, and in fact, a privilege granted to the very Catholics in Ireland and Protestants in France.”
6. To divide the Province into proper districts for the collection of taxes.
7. To tax every one in proportion to his estates; that however equitable the law as it then seemed might appear to the inhabitants of the maritime ports of the Province, where estates consisted chiefly of slaves, yet to them on the frontier where very few owned slaves, though their estates were in proportion in many instances as a thousand to one, for all to pay equal was very grievous and oppressive.
8. To repeal the Summons and Petition Act, which was replete with misery and ruin to the lowest class of people in the province and in lieu thereof to pass an act to empower a single magistrate to determine all actions for less than five or six pounds without appeal, to be assisted, however, by a jury of six men, if demanded by either party.
9. To make inspection notes on imperishable commodities of the produce of this Province lawful tender, at stated prices, in all payments throughout the Province.
10. To divide the county.
11. To make certain staples of manufacture to answer foreign demands.
12. To ascertain what taxes were collected in 1767, by whom, and to what purposes they were applied specially, and look into the matter of taxes generally. This was done in view of the belief that £27,000 were collected more than was due.
13. To provide that the yeas and nays should be inserted in the Journals of the Assembly, and that copies of the Journals be sent to every magistrate.
If these things were done, the petitioners said they would “heal the bleeding wounds of the Province; would conciliate the minds of the poor petitioners to every just measure of government; would make the laws what the Constitution ever designed they should be, their protection and not their bane, and would cause joy, gladness' glee and prosperity diffusively to spread themselves through every quarter of this extensive Province, from Virginia to the South, and from the Western Hills to the great Atlantic ocean.”
These petitions contain the complaints of the Regulators couched in their own language. Do they give any indication of a want of education, a want of patriotism, or a want of regard for the law? Verily, the Regulators might well be content to rest their case, if any need there was for it, upon these two petitions.
In the matter of the complaints against the lawyers of that day, it will be well enough for those of the present day, and for others, to remember generally that while as a rule lawyers have been among the boldest and best patriots and the earliest and most earnest advocates of civil liberty, there is no rule without its exception, and specially that the lawyers of that day were made such by license from the Governor, who received for his own use a fee for every license issued. It must be remembered, too, that in
But it is said the Regulators were men of low degree, ignorant, depraved, violent, lawless, opposed to all taxes, hostile to all government, and without property or other stake in the Province. But this sweeping denunciation seems simply untrue.
In the matter of taxes and government, the Regulators not only made no opposition to the payment of taxes lawfully levied and honestly applied, but, on the contrary, they publicly and officially declared it to be the duty of every citizen “to give part of his substance to support rulers and law.”
But they say the Regulators beat the lawyers. And so they did; that is to say, they beat Fanning and Williams. Who “lawyer” Williams was, or how he had made himself specially odious, the records do not show. But Fanning was an extortioner and an odious county official as well as a lawyer, and will any one say that he did not richly deserve every stripe that was laid upon him? Be it remembered, too, that the Legislature, the same one that passed the Johnston Act, absolutely refused to compensate Fanning for his losses, the destruction of his house by the Regulators being an admitted and undeniable item among those losses. Can any one say a word in defence of Fanning?
It is said also that the Regulators broke up the courts, and so they did, but were the courts blameless? Were the Regulators without the gravest provocation? Had not the court severely and promptly punished the Regulators for rescuing a mare levied on by the Sheriff for taxes, at the same term that it refused to pass sentence upon their oppressor, Edmund Fanning, a duly convicted extortioner? What respect could a court command while it refused to purge itself of corrupt and extortionate officers in its daily presence? Fanning, the oppressor of the people, was an officer of the court and a convicted criminal in its dock; but not only did the court refuse persistently to punish him, but the Governor forced him upon the people
But it is said also, substantially, that while resistance to the English Government, in which North Carolinians were not represented, was patriotism, resistance to the Provincial government, in which they were represented, was rebellion. But wherein lies the distinction? Oppression is none the less oppression because it comes from a domestic hand rather than from a foreign one. And was there not grievous oppression long borne? Is there no point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue in a representative government?
But even if such a distinction could be maintained, it would have no application to the Regulators, who rose in arms, not against the Legislature, in which they were indeed represented, though very unequally, but against the Governor, who was the immediate representative and appointee of the British Crown, and against the judges, the sheriffs, the clerks and the recorders, each one of whom held his office perfectly independent of both people and Legislature, and each one of whom, more or less directly, held his appointment from the Crown. Even the attorneys were licensed by the Governor. In addition to this, one of the main causes of all the trouble was due to an Act of the British Parliament which forbade the Legislature to provide the Province with the currency it so much needed. This Act was passed in the interest of the British merchants. The very heart, then, of the Regulators' fight was against the King, his representatives and his government generally, in which they had no representation whatever; so that, if there was anything in the distinction
But suppose the Regulators, towards the last, were given to violence and lawlessness, were not the Sons of Liberty equally so? Chief Justice Marshall says they destroyed many houses, injured much property and grossly abused several persons highly respectable in character and station. Can worse be said of the Regulators? And yet the Sons of Liberty were glorious patriots! What, then, were the Regulators?
But, say some, the Regulators proposed only to pull down the Provincial government without intending anything in its place, proposed anarchy, in short, and therefore were not patriots. But what did the Sons of Liberty propose in 1766, when they made Tryon a prisoner in his own house at Brunswick? Did they have another Governor or another government in view to put in the place of the Governor and government they were then defying, and that, with arms in their hands, for a time at least, they utterly subverted? If the Sons of Liberty had any such purpose they left no record to show the fact. Indeed, their records show they had no such purpose. The Sons of Liberty, however, were glorious patriots as well as our revered forefathers. What, then, were the Regulators? And if a purpose to set up a new government be the test by which to determine whether popular resistance to a government be rebellious or patriotic, what about the attitude of our revered forefathers, who stood ready with iron hand to crush out their fellow-citizens in Tennessee who, having thrown off the North Carolina yoke, organized themselves into what they called the State of Franklin, and set up a government with an unmistakable and undeniable existence? They certainly had a new de facto government in full operation in all its branches actually in the place of the old. The people who did this certainly were not anarchists, and, under the supposed test, ought to have been let alone. But whether patriots or not, North Carolina forced them back under her yoke, and the State of Franklin became
The test, then, would seem, to say the least, not to be infallible, and so certainly not sufficient to relegate to rebellion a people who had all the other marks of patriotism. And if the test be not a true one, why should not the Regulators be patriots? Their grievances were great and their resistance was bold. If the Sons of Liberty were patriots, why were not the Regulators?
In the matter of education and social culture, in the matter of morals and in the matter of property, the Regulators were quite as other people were in their day and generation, the Sons of Liberty, for instance, neither better nor worse; nor were they a class to themselves in the territory which they inhabited; on the contrary, as oppression increased, they constituted the great body of the people there. Will any man say that the great body of the people in the Central and Western portions of the Province were men of low degree, or ignorant, or lawless, or opposed to government no matter how honest, or that they were poverty-stricken, or even that they were in sympathy with such men? Certainly no one familiar with the history of the settlement of the magnificent valleys of the Yadkin and Catawba rivers, and in the portions of the State West of Raleigh generally, and the character of the splendid settlers there will accuse the great body of the people there of special ignorance, special depravity, special lawlessness or abject poverty.
If, then, the Sons of Liberty, lawless and violent as they undoubtedly were, endeavoring to pull down before they were ready to build up, were the glorious apostles of liberty and the grand exemplars of patriotism, they are universally taken and accepted to be in America at least, what were the Regulators?
But if the Regulators were merely violent, lawless and depraved men generally, how can we account for the following extract from a letter from our delegates in Congress, William Hooper, of Wilmington; Joseph Hewes, of Edenton, and John Penn, of Granville. The letter is addressed “To the Honorable President and members
“In our attention to military preparations we have not lost sight of a means of safety to be effected by the power of the pulpit, reasoning and persuasion. We know the respect which the Regulators and Highlanders entertain for the clergy; they still feel the impressions of a religious education, and truths to them come with irresistible influence from the mouths of their spirited pastors. The present controversy is the cause of liberty, religion, of God—it is a theme worthy the character of the divine missionaries of the Holy Jesus; like him, his followers ought to go abroad doing good, and what employment more meritorious, more purely evangelical, than to lead those who err into the way of truth, to confirm those who waver, and to call forth the powers of every American in support of the Constitution, and to struggle to prevent the downfall of the whole British Empire. Influenced by these views, the Continental Congress have thought proper to direct us to employ two pious clergymen to make a tour through North Carolina in order to remove the prejudices which the minds of the Regulators and Highlanders may labor under with respect to the justice of the American controversy, and to obviate the religious scruples which Governor Tryon's heart-rending oath has implanted in their tender consciences. We are employed at present in quest of some persons who may be equal to this undertaking, and at a future day shall inform you of the result of our inquiries. You will observe that the Congress have conceived the Continent so much interested in the measure that they have made the expense of their support Continental.”
Hermon Husbands, “Harmon,” as he was familiarly called, has come down to us as the leader and embodiment of the cause of the Regulators, its very heart and soul. He is represented, too, to have been a bad, violent, depraved, seditious, ignorant, vulgar man, who, having led people into trouble, coward-like deserted them in the hour of trial and personal danger; but there seems to be no proof that he was either violent or depraved or seditious, but only lawfully and naturally restive under official oppression. Nor is it entirely certain that he was the originator of the movement. That he was wanting in personal courage, the courage that enables a man to face “the imminent deadly” breach at the cannon's mouth on the battle-field, and that he abandoned the Regulators at Great Alamance just as, or just before, the firing began, is doubtless true. But even admitting this, there were men before him, as there have been men since his day, who, well qualified to stir up resistance, much to their mortification and surprise, perhaps, found their “courage ooze out at their fingers' ends,” or somewhere else, at the critical moment; who, to use the expressive phrase of the late war, found themselves “liable to dysentery in the dead hour of battle.” And then, too, it must be remembered that Husbands was of Quaker association and proclivities, if not of Quaker birth, and that possibly he looked upon the use of carnal force as sinful. It is not given to many men to be always or everywhere great. To some the hustings or the forum, to others the battle-field is the most appropriate sphere of action. Ne sutor ultra crepidam.
Certainly, as a citizen, Husbands was not an objectionable character in the ordinary walks of life. He was sober, intelligent, industrious and prosperous; honest and just in his dealings; the owner of a considerable body of good land, and, judging from his crops, a good farmer. His “clover meadows and fields of wheat” that Tryon destroyed are described as particularly fine. It may be doubted, however, though a good farmer and efficient agitator, whether in time of real danger and great excitement he had sufficient
Husbands came to North Carolina about the year 1756 or 1757, judging from the date of the first grant of lands to him, and, it seems, was a native of one of the Northern colonies, perhaps Pennsylvania, and the son of a well-to-do farmer. Tryon asserted that though of the Quaker faith he had been expelled from the fold for bad practices. Husbands himself, however, said he was reared in the faith of the English Church. That he was an uneducated man, as is alleged, it would be difficult to prove. Certainly his account of the Regulation troubles, a pamphlet of some one hundred or more pages printed in 1770, would seem fair enough proof to the contrary. Immediately after the battle he left the Province and went to Pennsylvania, where he lived for the balance of his days. His career of agitation there, more pronounced even, perhaps, than that here, ended in the famous Whiskey Insurrection of the year 1794. For his part in that trouble he was arrested, tried and convicted, but finally pardoned in response to petitions from his old friends in North Carolina, and the special intercession of the Rev. Dr. David Caldwell, of Guilford, and Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia. He died in the year 1795.
It is said that while in Pennsylvania he was a member of the Legislature there, but whether that be true or not does not certainly appear. It is said, too, that he was a kinsman of Benjamin Franklin, and had frequent communication with him during his residence in North Carolina, the inference being that he got many of his ideas about government from his distinguished relative.
But the War of the Regulation stands upon its own merits, and not upon the character of any one man, good or bad. Certainly, if the merits of the cause were to be judged by the character of its adherents, Husbands would by no means be first chosen for the test. Among others without spot or blemish, was Rednap Howell, of Granville County, who, it seems to this writer at least, was the head and front of the movement, though not the originator perhaps, and head and shoulders above all others in its ranks. He came from New Jersey, and settled first in Chatham County as a school-teacher. Where he went after the battle is not known. It is known, however, that he was the writer of the popular songs and political doggerel of the day, a very powerful machine indeed for reaching and stirring up the popular heart. Nor does there seem to be any reason to deny him a full share in the authorship too, of some of the principal graver papers of the Regulation that have come down to us, some of them as fine specimens of good writing as that day and generation afforded, and none were ever better. Notably among these are the petition to Tryon of 21st May, 1768, and the petition to the Judges in September, 1770. It is idle to say that the authors of such papers as these were either ignorant or unlettered. Their pens were the pens not merely of ready writers, but of elegant and forceful ones as well. Howell was, however, an influential actor as well as writer in those times. Tryon characterized him as one of the principal leaders of the troubles, and accepted his declarations as convincing proof of the purposes of the Regulators before the battle; and well he might, for Howell was one of the committee that presented the petition of 21st May, 1768, and one of the Regulators that broke up the Court in 1770, and he it was who was “raising the country” for the rescueth of April, 1771, shows beyond question that he was the master-spirit then controlling the movement, and that his interest in the Regulation went much beyond mere song-writing, in a word, that his plans were far-reaching, and his aims for the complete redress of all oppression under which “poor Carolina” labored, no matter at what cost, were very far advanced. Upon him, as upon Person, there was no taint of cowardice or other spot or blemish whatever.
Thomas Person, also of Granville, was another Regulator upon whose character the most ardent friend of the cause might well be willing to stake its reputation. The details of the part he bore in the troubles may not now be definitely ascertained, though he was certainly a Regulator, and certainly also active enough in the cause to make Tryon after the battle exclude him by proclamation from amnesty. Indeed, he is said to have been “one of the most remarkable men of the times, an earlier, more adroit, courageous and successful reformer than Husbands.” Now, Person was a Churchof-England man, a generous friend of education, a man of strong sense, the owner of large estates, and of the highest social position, and, as his subsequent career proved, one of the staunchest and most devoted patriots this or any other Province possessed during the Revolution. After the battle he was imprisoned at Hillsborough, but how he secured his release, or how he escaped trial and punishment for treason with the other Regulators excluded from the benefits of amnesty, does not certainly appear. Tradition in Orange says, that while in prison there he was very anxious to go to his home in Granville County to see, or more probably to destroy, certain papers there, and to that end he agreed with his jailor that at dark on a given night a fast horse, or rather a fast mare, for historic horses are generally mares, was to be ready for him on which to ride to his home in Granville and
But however this may all be, we know the fact that Tryon's troops went to Person's house, looking, perhaps, for plunder as well as for evidence against the owner, and broke open his desk, but nothing criminating was found. The desk is to-day in the possession of a descendant of Person's brother William, with its broken lock still unrepaired.
The most probable solution of Person's release from prison seems to be found in a letter from North Carolina, published in the Boston Gazette, 12th of August, 1771. The writer, in reply to some inquiries made as to the fate of a certain Regulator, says that he was held a prisoner at Hillsborough, to be tried at the special court of Oyer and Terminer; that his desk at home was broken open and his papers taken, but that upon examination they proved not to be of a criminatory nature. He was, however, neither tried at the special court, nor then allowed to give bail for his appearance at any future court, though abundantly able to give ample security, but was sent to Wilmington, where he was discharged upon giving his recognizance before a Magistrate to appear at the coming Superior Court;
The Person family came to North Carolina from Virginia and settled in Granville County before its formation. William Person was the first Sheriff of the county, having received his appointment in the year 1746 at the organization of the county. His son, Thomas Person, the Regulator, in time became a surveyor for Lord Granville. He was noted for the accuracy of his surveys and the faithfulness of his work generally. There, as most surveyors did elsewhere, whether for the Crown or for Lord Granville, he accumulated a handsome estate, their business as surveyors making them familiar with the best lands. His first appearance in public life seems to have been as a member of the Assembly of the session of 1766. From that time until his death he continued to represent his county in a legislative capacity. He was a member of every Provincial Congress from the beginning of the Revolution to the end. He was also a member of the Provincial Council for the State, and of the Committee of Safety that succeeded the Council, and that with it constituted the Government from the overthrow of Martin to the adoption of the State Constitution. He was also made a Brigadier-General for his district, in a word, wherever devoted, intelligent, efficient patriotism was required, Person was promptly put on duty. He was in constant correspondence, too, with his friend and countyman, John Penn, one of the delegates to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, who regularly advised with and consulted him upon the condition of affairs.
In 1791, a new county being erected, it was in honor of him named Person County. His name is also perpetuated at the University by the oldest hall there, called Person Hall, in grateful commemoration of his munificent liberality to that institution. Two
He married, but left no descendants. He was born on 19th January, 1733, and died in November, 1800, while on his return from Raleigh to Goshen, his home in Granville, and was buried, at his request, at Personton, one of his places. He left large estates. And to-day North Carolina bears in her bosom the bones of no purer patriot than those of Thomas Person.
James Hunter, of Orange, was also a man of some property. He was at one time a member of one of Dr. Caldwell's congregations, but subsequently withdrew from it because he thought the Doctor was not sufficiently enthusiastic in the cause of the Regulators. His influence and his consequence were such that on the morning of the battle the Regulators asked him to take chief command on the field. He refused to do so, however, saying “they were all free men and every one must command himself.” He was a man of good mind naturally, moral in his deportment, very ardent in his temperament and enthusiastic in whatever he undertook, and without suspicion as to his courage. This was the man who went with Howell to Brunswick to deliver to Tryon the paper of 21st May, 1768, and who, at September Court in 1770, presented to Judge Henderson the bold petition of that date, and who, with Howell, afterwards broke up the court, and who again, in March, 1771, was present, ready to break it up if held; and it was to him that Howell's memorable intercepted letter of 16th February, 1771, was addressed. These things, of course, made him one of the “worst” and most “lawless” Regulators.
Daniel Gillespie, of Guilford, was a member of the Provincial Congress that adopted the State Constitution in December, 1776, and a member also of the Convention that adopted the Federal Constitution in 1789; represented his county in the Legislature, and filled other offices of trust and responsibility. He was a Captain during the Revolution and[???]a very skillful and enterprising officer. His older brother, John Gillespie, was a Colonel during the war, and
Their names lived long, and still do live, doubtless, in the traditions of the section to which they belonged.
James Pugh, another Regulator, was not so fortunate as were his compeers above named. He did, indeed, run in safety the gauntlet of Tryon's bullets in the battle, but in spite of great gallantry, possibly because of it, he was taken prisoner, tried, convicted and sentenced to death under the Johnston Act. Pugh, according to tradition, was an ingenious gunsmith, as well as zealous Regulator, and had mended many of the Regulators' guns prior to the fight, and in the fight had, it was well known, killed or disabled many of Tryon's artillerists, and there was no hope for him. When placed on a barrel under the gallows for execution, as it seems was the custom in those days, he was perfectly calm and composed. Having obtained permission to address the people for a half hour, he declared that he had long been prepared to meet his God in another world; that he had no regrets to express for what he had done in the matter of the Regulation, and that his blood would be as good seed sown on good ground, which would soon produce a hundred fold. He than recapitulated the causes that led to the late conflict; asserted that the Regulators had taken the life of no man previous to the battle; that they had aimed at nothing more than a redress of grievances; that Tryon had brought an army there to murder the people instead of taking sides with them against a set of dishonest officers, and advised him to put away his corrupt clerks and tax-gatherers, mentioning Fanning by name as one especially unfit for office. At this point, though the half hour promised him had not expired, the barrel, at the instance of Fanning, was suddenly knocked from under
Was this man a mere lawless desperado? On the contrary, he became a Regulator with the fear of God before his eyes, and through all its trying scenes, even under the very gallows itself, bore himself as one all the while conscious of his responsibility to a higher power for the acts done in the body here on earth. With this fear of God thus upon him, but utterly fearless of man, even under the gallows itself, he faced Tryon and his troops, and as if given that prevision, said to be sometimes bestowed upon men with the hand of death laid heavily upon them, he declared that he had no apologies to make for what he had done, and that his blood would be as good seed sown upon good ground that would soon yield a hundred fold. Can such a man as this be properly characterized as depraved or lawless or ignorant? Was he not rather a magnificent hero of the highest type, and worthy of the utmost reverence and admiration of his own and succeeding generations?1
Others might be named in this connection, but these are enough. Were these men, though undoubtedly among the “worst” and most “lawless” of the Regulators, the ignorant, uneducated, povertystricken creatures that the Regulators generally have been so persistently represented to have been? Were Caswell and Nathaniel Greene, or Harnett and Patrick Henry uneducated men? Was Washington uneducated and was Franklin ignorant? None of these, however, were college-bred, and perhaps neither of them made pretentions to being an accurate classical scholar, yet all of them wrote English clearly, forcibly, well, nay, even elegantly. How shall we safely judge a tree save by its fruits? Applying this test the Regulators need fear nothing, for they may safely rely for their reputation in this regard upon the official papers they left behind them.
The truth is, Washington was a type, a splendid one, it is true, of a large, if not the best, class of the young men of his day in America. He received what now would be called “the rudiments of an education,” especially in mathematics, and then, before reaching full age, went into the woods to begin life as a surveyor. So generally, indeed, did the native young enterprise and intelligence, of this part of the country at least, find vent in that direction, that few of the prominent men of the day can be named who did not begin life as surveyors. In North Carolina, especially in the portions settled before the Regulation troubles, it has been a subject of remark that there were few long-established families that did not trace their pedigrees back to surveyors; and naturally enough, for his profession gave every surveyor knowledge of the country and where to make judicious entries of unappropriated lands, where, in a word, to pick and choose at his own will from the best. This class of men was represented on the side of the Regulators by Person and on the Government side by Caswell, not as distinguished types, doubtless, as Washington, but still admirable ones of the same class.
But while a large proportion of the enterprise and intelligence of the youth of the country, after receiving “the rudiments of an education,” went into the business of surveying, it did not all do so, for much of it found congenial occupation in other pursuits of life, but with the same result, that is to say, the production in time of a class of excellent English scholars, well versed theoretically as well as practically, in the affairs of life, no matter what they might have been, whether business or government. And just here it may be remarked that the science of government, as a matter of practical, every-day importance, was, perhaps, quite as well understood and quite as much studied, to say the least, in America during the latter half of the last century as at any time in the present. It is idle to say that such men as these were either ignorant or uneducated.
But the most odious crime, perhaps, alleged against the Regulators was that a large proportion of them became Tories during the
In this connection, too, it will be well to remember that our information about the Regulation troubles for half a century or more came to us from their enemies colored, distorted and tainted by their prejudices.
Governor Tryon was an Englishman by birth and a soldier by profession. He received a commission as Lieutenant and Captain of the First Regiment of Foot Guards 12th October, 1751; in 1757 he married Miss Wake, of Hanover Street, with whom he received a fortune of £20,000 sterling, and on 30th September, 1758, became Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel in the Guards. Through some Court influence, probably, as Miss Tryon was maid of honor to the Queen, and as he claimed relationship with the Rawdon or Moira family, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of North Carolina,Gentleman's Magazine, lviii., 179. “The name of Tryon,” it asserts, “will be revered across the Atlantic while virtue and sensibility remain.” The State of New York manifested its “reverence” soon after by erasing the name of Tryon from the only county that bore it in the State. North Carolina also obliterated the name of Tryon from the list of her counties in 1779, and the territory having been divided, called the new counties Lincoln and Rutherford.
What was Tryon's real character it is difficult to say at this day. That he was a diplomat, as well as a statesman and soldier, would seem to be true. That he possessed personal courage is doubtless true, and that he was well versed in the learning of his profession and possessed of a practical knowledge of its details, no one can deny who has studied his record. Undoubtedly, he was fond of the pomps and vanities of life generally; but, possibly, he was never quite so happy as when riding at the head of a column of gallant men, and doubtless the feather in his hat was just a trifle, at least, more showy than the feathers worn by men of equal rank though, perhaps, of not equal military ability. But Tryon, when in North Carolina, at least, is considered to have been something more than
He was a fine writer too, and a fearless one; wrote with much force and elegance, indulging at times in very polished impertinence very thinly veiled in his correspondence with the home government. But, to do Tryon full justice, we must bear in mind that modern ideas of the just relations between a people and their Governors are very different from the ideas of a hundred and twenty-five years ago. Fanning, too, at an early day seems to have gotten a baneful influence over him, so baneful indeed was it, that from the day it was acquired it was full of evil, and evil only, to the Province.
Young, active and energetic, as soon as might be after his arrival, he sought to inform himself as to the Province and its people, and this, it must be remembered, had to be done not in Palace Cars as now, but on horseback. He was on one of these tours when called to the head of the government by the death of Governor Dobbs. Upon taking charge of affairs he found himself confronted with the Stamp Act troubles, and he certainly would have executed that hateful law but for the force of circumstances over which he had no control. The thing, however, was simply impossible, and having exhausted not only persuasion, but all the force at his command, he at an early day abandoned the attempt. The objective point with him from that time seemed to be to get control of the Assembly, with a view to the passage of such laws as he desired or was instructed to secure. Heavy appropriations, too, had great attractions for him, for he was reckless and extravagant in the expenditure of public money. The palace had to be built and various other things had to be done that were dear to his splendor-loving heart. He succeeded admirably in his efforts to ingratiate himself with the leaders, at least in Eastern North Carolina where the control was, so much so, that even after he had gone to New York our Legislature appealed to
He was evidently a man of complex nature, in which force and diplomacy and mere foppery, perhaps, contended for the mastery, and too, while ordinarily an amiable man, when his blood was up he was as merciless as a wild beast. The wanton hanging of the lunatic Few in cold blood, and without any form of trial, the morning after the battle of Alamance, when all pretence of resistance was at an end, showed both the cruelty of the man and the dominion Fanning had over him, and the manner in which he ravaged the country of the Regulators after they were vanquished was worthy of a Cumberland in olden time or a Sherman in modern. Equally cruel was the infliction of two hundred and forty lashes upon a man whose greatest crime was writing an “impudent letter” to “Lady” Tryon.
Nor, in this regard, was his course in New York any better. Sabine, in his “Sketches of the American Loyalists,” paints him in very black colors. He says, that in 1777, when Governor of New York, Tryon declared that if he had more authority, he would “burn every committee-man's house within his reach,” and that he would “give twenty-five silver dollars for every acting committee-man delivered up to the King's troops”; that when Fairfield was burned, Mrs. Burr, a lady of great dignity of character, and possessed of most of the qualities which give distinction to her sex, resolved to remain in her dwelling, and, if possible, to save it from the flames. She made personal application to Tryon to spare it, but he answered her not only uncourteously, but rudely, brutally and with vulgarity, and when a soldier attempted to rob her of her watch, he refused to protect her, and that at the burning of Norwalk he seated himself in a chair on Grammond Hill and calmly enjoyed the scene.
But he was frivolous and cruel in New York, as well as in North
On the first arrival of the army here, he followed the army whereever it marched administering oaths of allegiance to the inhabitants. These oaths were readily taken, and from the Gazettes we find that the Governor did not lose such a favorable opportunity of puffing off his assiduity. As the army did not remain long in one place, the rebels again took possession and barbarously murdered several of Governor Tryon's converts, forced others to join the rebel army, and plundered the effects of all who refused. This has, in a great measure, deterred even the most loyal subjects from taking the oaths till they find they are to be protected.
In General Clinton's excursion up the North River, near a thousand stout fellows came to claim the benefit of the proclamation, and proposed to enlist in the new corps; but General Tryon, who never let slip any opportunity of appearing consequential, immediately assembled them together, pronounced a pompous speech to them, and tendered the oath to them with much formality. The country-folks took the oath with great pleasure, and then having got their protections in their pockets, they thought it best to return home to their own habitations till his Majesty's troops had conquered the rebels. In this manner were so many able-bodied recruits lost.
General Tryon takes another method to convert the rebels; he sends out officers with flags of truce, loaded with sermons to distribute among them. The Chief Priest of the Moorefields Tabernacle could do no more. With these sermons the rebels light their tobacco pipes, or expend them in other necessary uses.
Another letter of the same series under date of 17th May, 1778, says:
In some instances we have not been remarkable for our good conduct in the neighborhood. Governor, now General Tryon, who is the pink of politeness, and the quintessence of vanity, chose to distinguish himself by petitioning that the Provincials under his command should occupy the out-posts at Kingsbridge; he had his wish for a long time, by which we lost numbers of our best recruits. The man is generous, perfectly good-natured, and no doubt brave, but weak and vain to an extreme degree. You should keep such people at home; they are excellent for a Court parade. I wish Mrs. Tryon would send for him.
Some of the lines in the character given to Tryon in New York are quite familiar to the student of North Carolina history. Certainly his fondness for the administration of oaths, for military life and tawdry display generally, for sermons and chaplains, are traits
Sabine, on the contrary, thinks his military operations in New York evince much ability and skill, though his career, neither in New York nor North Carolina, either in civil or military life, entitles his memory to respect, even with the most liberal and charitable.
This characterization of the man, corroborated as it is by what we know of him while in North Carolina, casts grave doubts upon the tradition here as to his qualities as a statesman. But however we may puzzle ourselves about the character of Tryon, the fact remains that his administration was a curse to the Province.
Edmund Fanning, son of Captain James Fanning and Hannah Smith, though of Irish descent, was a native of Long Island. His family was one of wealth, education and high social position. He graduated at Yale College in 1757, and in 1764 received the degree of Master of Arts from that institution and from Harvard; in 1772 he received the same degree from Columbia College; in 1774 he received the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford, England, and in 1803 the degree of Doctor of Laws from Yale and from Dartmouth Colleges. As has been said, “The annals of our State present no other, and the Union scarcely, if indeed a single instance, of an individual crowned at so early an age with this high literary distinction from such reputable and numerous sources, abroad and at home.”
About 1760 he was sworn in as an attorney at Hillsborough; in 1763 he was appointed Register for the County of Orange, and in 1766 a Judge of the Superior Court in place of Maurice Moore, removed for his outspoken opposition to the Stamp Act, and at a later date was made Colonel of the Militia for the county. During a portion, at least, of his residence here he was also Surveyor General for the Province of New York. In 1771 he returned to New York and when the Revolution came on enlisted a corps of Loyalists called the Associated Refugees or King's American Regiment of Foot, funds for that purpose having been subscribed in Staten Island, King's County, Town of Jamaica, and City of New York. The regiment was disbanded in 1783. In September, 1783, Colonel Fanning was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, and subsequently Lieutenant-Governor of Prince Edward Island, the affairs of which latter Province he administered for nearly nineteen years. In 1793 he was made a Major-General, in 1799 a Lieutenant-General, and on 25th April, 1808, a General in the British Army. He died at an advanced age at his house in Upper Seymour street, London, on 28th February, 1818, leaving a widow and three daughters. The statement that he married a daughter of Governor Tryon, set forth in Sabine's American Loyalists, is doubtless untrue. Tryon himself was not married until the year Fanning graduated.
The following lines, said to be an undoubted specimen of Rednap Howell's “poetry,” show unmistakably the prevailing sentiments in regard to Fanning and his compeer, Frohock, the Clerk of the Court in Rowan:2
Says Frohock to Fanning, to tell the plain truth,
When I came to this country I was but a youth.
My father sent for me; I warn't worth a cross,
And then my first study was to steal for a horse.
I quickly got credit and then ran away
And haven't paid for him to this very day.
Says Fanning to Frohock, 'tis folly to lie;
I rode an old mare that was blind of an eye.
Five shillings in money I had in my purse;
My coat it was patched but not much the worse.
But now we've got rich and it's very well known
That we'll do very well if they'll let us alone.
Still other lines, doubtless from the same pen, that were current as early as 1765 have come down to us:When Fanning first to Orange came
He looked both pale and wan,
An old patched coat upon his back,
An old mare he rode on.
Both man and mare warn't worth five pounds
As I've been often told;
But by his civil robberies
He's laced his coat with gold.3
It was currently reported and believed that in spite of his impecunious condition when he came to the Province, Fanning in a very short time accumulated a fortune of £10,000, certainly a large sum to have been honestly made in that day among a poor people. Frohock, too, died rich.
Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the Regulators at one time dragged Fanning from the court-house by the heels and beat him with many stripes, that at another they fired bullets into his dwelling-house, and at still another demolished it,
Especial attention is called to the paper entitled “A View of the Polity of the Province of North Carolina in the year 1767,” in Volume VII. It is an admirable paper, and very well worth reading by any one who desires to obtain a clear idea of the government in Colonial days.
The very comprehensive and interesting account of the German Reformed Churches in North Carolina, in the appendix to the eighth volume, was prepared at the special request of the Editor by the Rev. George Wm. Welker, who, for fifty years, has been a minister to those churches. The paper will be found to be very valuable and instructive, not merely to those specially interested in the German
As ecclesiastical affairs were as much under the control of the government as those purely civil, Governor Tryon was of course a staunch “churchman.” He boasted, nevertheless, that he was by no means intolerant and hoped that his preference for the Established Church of England would not create a contrary impression. Toleration, however, he thought by no means meant to “exempt dissenters from their share of the support of the Established Church.” Accordingly, one of the very first acts of his administration was to secure the passage of an Act for making “a better provision for an orthodox clergy.” This Act, which was passed in May, 1765, was intended to remove the objections to the Act passed in 1762 on that subject, and was considered as favorable as could have been expected. The stipends of the clergy were not only augmented from £80 to £133.6.3, but a shorter and easier mode for their recovery by law was provided. The right of presentation, too, was given to the Crown, to be exercised of course by the Governor, which relieved the clergy from what they called “the insolence and tyranny of vestries.” The Act also gave the Governor and Council authority to suspend any of the clergy that should be guilty of any gross crime or notorious immorality, such suspension to be revocable by the Bishop of London.
But it was easier, perhaps, to pass the law than to execute it. In some counties the people refused to receive the clergy the Governor presented to them; in others vestries were elected, but would not qualify or act. In all, the people were “on the shift and double how to get clear of every public expense,” and so great was the distress of the people for want of a currency that mobs and riots were frequent, and in many places officers dared not distrain for any dues whatever. Indeed, one of the clergy, in June, 1767, wrote to the
Whether it was from his boasted spirit of toleration or whether it was because he saw it was to his interest to do so, Tryon, “staunch churchman” as he was, undoubtedly courted the influence of the Presbyterians, and more than once took occasion to praise them and to express his sense of the obligations under which he and the Government lay to them. In 1766 he approved the Act then passed allowing Presbyterian ministers to celebrate the rites of matrimony in their usual and accustomed manner.
Before that time no minister of the Gospel as such, save one of the Established Church, could celebrate the rites of matrimony in North Carolina. The Act of 1766 was soon repealed, and the much-coveted privilege thereby taken from the Presbyterians. In 1771, however, a new Act restoring the privilege was passed with the Governor's approval, but with a clause suspending its operation until the pleasure of the King should be known. This Act, Governor Tryon said, was an “indulgence” to which the Presbyterians were well entitled because of the attachment they had shown to the Government. His approval of the charter of Queen's College was also very naturally considered a decided mark of gubernatorial favor, although Fanning, according to popular report, was to be its Chancellor. That something was due to the Presbyterians, independent of the merits of the case, from Tryon for the support their pastors gave him in 1768 cannot be well denied. Certainly the letters in which all the
In the affairs of his own church Tryon, while zealously maintaining every form of prerogative, seemed earnestly to desire to fill the parishes with clergymen of good character, a class of men that he said were greatly needed in the Province. He seemed, too, honestly to think a church established by law was the right thing for the Province, and that it was a part of his duty to execute the law providing for its establishment.
When Tryon came to this Province there were here just five clergymen of the Established Church. When he left it there were eighteen, an increase of thirteen.
The taxables in the Province for the first year of Tryon's administration were reported to be 45,912 in number, 28,542 being white and 17,370 being black, showing a population, according to the estimate of Governor Swain, of some 220,000 population, about fourfifths of which were white. For the year 1767 the number of taxables reported was 51,044, indicating on the same basis some 250,000 people. In 1771, or at the end of Tryon's administration, there would doubtless have been a population of over 300,000 had it not been for the check given to the progress of the colony by the War of the Regulation in the interior part of the State; but the statement
To what extent the War of the Regulation actually affected the prosperity of the Province can not now probably be determined, but that it did materially put a check upon it there is little reason to doubt, for the same causes that induced such large bodies of people already settled here to leave known fertile lands and migrate across the mountains to other and unknown lands, would of course deter other people from coming in to take their place.
In the matter of trade and commerce Governor Tryon reported that lumber, a considerable staple in the Province, was exported to the West Indies and paid for in sugars, rum and molasses, and that tar, pitch and turpentine were also exported and paid for by goods imported or by bills of exchange. Sometimes, indeed, but very rarely, a vessel brought in hard dollars with which to buy a cargo. In such case, however, the merchant did not permit the dollars to circulate in the Province, but either sent them to a foreign market or to Great Britain. The exported lumber, plank and scantling, was sawed in lengths from twenty-five to thirty feet in the home mills, of which there were but a few, save those on the creeks on the
Concerning manufactures, Governor Tryon said, that dispersed over the Province, especially in the Northern and Western portions, were some spinning-wheels and looms for the manufacture of cotton, wool and flax, that scarcely supplied the wants of the families in which they were worked: so that it was an unheard of thing for a piece of linen or woolen cloth of home manufacture to be sold. Sheep, he said, thrived well here, but had not become a staple of the country, and wool being scarce it was generally mixed with cotton, which flourished well. There were also two fulling mills on a branch of Deep River in Orange County. The cloths brought from these mills were valued at from 2s. 6d. to 4s. sterling per yard; also two still-houses, one at Wilmington and the other at Newbern, purposely for distilling spirits from molasses, each of a capacity to distill 200 to 300 hogsheads annually; ship-building was not of very great importance, the largest vessels not exceeding two hundred tons burden. There were five or six tanners and as many hatters in the Province, but none of them of much note. Mechanics for building houses and making farming tools were about as in the other Colonies, though perhaps not as good; their materials, excepting timber, lime and brick, were brought from Great Britain or the Northern Colonies. Within a few years past the Province had opened direct trade with the mother country and had been very much benefitted thereby. No encouragement had been given by the Legislature to any manufactures since 1734, but a bounty for the exportation of hemp and flax was given in 1764.
An Act for the encouragement of an iron manufactory on the Trent River, some thirty miles above Newbern, to be erected by some gentelemen from Maryland, passed the Lower House, but fell through in the Upper. A grist mill and saw mill had already been put up for the iron works. The ore was said to be sufficient in quantity and good in quality. This project, however, came to nothing
In the matter of exports and general products besides naval stores, Governor Tryon reports the familiar list of lumber, shingles, staves, deer-skins, raw-hides, leather, beef, pork, tallow, corn, flour, pease, rice, bees-wax, myrtle-wax, tobacco, indigo, stamps, flax, &c.
1 For many of the personal traits of the Regulators above referred to, see Caruther's Life of Caldwell.
3 See page 507, Vol. 7, for Fanning's order “for some good double gold lace for a hat and some narrow double gold do for a jacket.”