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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Extracts from the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
No Author
August 19, 1771
Volume 10, Pages 1017-1024

[Reprinted from the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, 19th August, 1771. No. 1034.]
Letter from North Carolina about Tryon and the Regulators.

Newbern, No. Carolina, July 29, [1771.]

By a Person arrived in town, who has just been through the settlements of the Regulators, we have advice, that upwards of 6000 of those people have taken the oaths of allegiance to his Majesty, and happily returned to their farms and plantations: They say they are now perfectly contented and express much satisfaction at the event of the late battle, which has opened their eyes, and fully convinced them of the wrong measures they were pursuing.

By several intercepted letters from the Regulating chiefs, it has very plainly appeared, that they intended to seize the government, though it was a profound secret among themselves, and not suffered to transpire among the common people, who were to have been led on

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by degrees, with the pretence of redressing grievances 'till their successes against the provincial forces, which they made no doubt of, should have infatuated their minds and ripened them for the execution of their grand plot.

Wilmington, July 24.

The following are copies of some papers found in the house of Hermon Husbands.


This is to give notice to all persons that may have any exclaim against George Mabry come to John Kimbrough's the first Friday in January and you will oblige your friend John Bryan.

December 6th, 1770.

Mr. George Mabry sir I understand that you have wronged Robert Jackson greatly, for in that fray you had at the race you was the first that struck as I understand and the mare that you got from Jackson he is obliged to work for by day work, instead of working for his family and the mare you let him have in favour of pretendingly is not worth ten shillings, and I did not think a man of your ability would go to use any such a poor man so villidly [villainously] as you did him and now my desire is to you, for to take Jackson his mare home again or six pounds. Take back your ten shilling mare again and deliver him up his note and I desire that all this may be compleated by this day three weeks or you may expect what will follow. This is from your friend.


January ——th, 1771.

The judgment of the committee is, that George Mabry is to pay Robert Jackson the sum of six pounds ten shillings proc. which money the said Jackson paid Mabry for abuse.

And likewise to pay James Garran four shillings proc. the money which Garran paid Mabry for feeding his mare.

And likewise, the judgment of the committee is, that George Mabry shall in twenty days from the above date, that he the said Mabry shall bring in four sufficient freeholders, and give in to John Bryan as security for his good behavior and if the said Mabry shall fail or neglect so to do, then the said Mabry shall leave the province in twenty-four days after that without fail. William Field, John Field

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Joseph Robins, John Bell, Alexander Smith, William Thornsbury, Edward Thorsbury.

A true copy of the Judgment of the Regulators certified by me John Bryan, Capt. of the regulators.

∗ ∗ ∗ The genuinness of this copy of the judgment of the committee has been proved by the oath of John Kimbrough, who seen the above named sign it, and who saw John Bryan certify it as above; and by the oath of George Mabry, who in his oath farther declares, he was obliged to pay the money as by them awarded; they threatening to whip him and burn his house in case of his refusal.

January 28th, 1771.

Loving Friend.

Mr. Mabry has been here on his journey to leave the province. He tells me his father lies dead and he would willingly go home and bury him, besides the manner that he is leaving the province in, is not answering the purpose you intended. I would not have you think that we want to abolish any thing you have done but I think, at this critical time, it is better for him to return to his family and bury his father and let the matter ly over for a further hearing, because the manner he accepts of the punishment is answering no purpose, it only exasperates both parties. He says that judgment past against him at the first meeting, so that he had not the liberty of getting his evidence. We cannot tell how it is, but pray dont concern with him for stopping his journey. Consider a partner is a nigh friend to part with. There was a company of people here as he went along and stopt him or else he would have pursued his journey. So we hope you will not hurt him as we were the cause.

We have agreed to set on for Newbern on Monday the 11th of next month and has great dependence on your parts. Let not private animosities disturb you at this time when the public calls us to action. Write to your friends on this occasion—

We remain your friends,
To Mr. John Bryan.

Newbern, July 27.

On Saturday evening it was mentioned in a company of gentlemen, at the King's Arms tavern, that the Massachusetts weekly, political, and commercial paper, called the Spy, of the 27th of June,

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was then just received by a person in town, containing sundry particulars relative to the measures pursued by government against that faction of people, who long before, under the title of Regulators, had insolently insulted the dignity of his Majesty's courts, daringly torn down justice from her tribunal, openly sat at defiance the laws of their country, and with circumstances the most brutal, broke through and violated every sacred tie of human society. The paper being sent for and read, it was the unanimous opinion of every one present, that they were compelled, in point, of justice to his excellency Governor Tryon, to themselves, and to the public, to have a meeting of the inhabitants on the Monday following, to collect their sentiments respecting the contents of the said paper: A meeting was accordingly had, and the Honourable Samuel Cornell, Esq, being elected chairman, the paper called the Spy, No. 17, was again read; when the inhabitants came to the following resolutions:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of the members of this meeting, that the character of his Excellency Governor Tryon, by the integrity and propriety of his conduct, both in public and private life, is so well established, that it can receive but little support from any resolutions entered into by us; yet we hope to be pardoned, when we say we cannot see the baneful epithets of Tyrant, Traitor, and Villain, with the complicated charges of Avarice, Ambition, Injustice, Perjury, Perfidy, and Murder, applied to a Gentleman of so amiable and exalted a character, without resolving that the same is most wantonly cruel and unjust; unless it be thought tyranny to be courteous, humane, and benevolent, on all occasions; treason, to make the law a rule of his conduct; villainy, to be generous and just in all his dealings; avarice, to expend many thousand pounds of private property, with every emolument of office, in executing the trust reposed in him; ambition to be affable to the great, and condescending to the lower part of mankind; injustice, to do as we would wish to be done by; perjury, strictly to adhere to every sacred injunction; perfidy, to be faithful and scrupulously punctual in the observance of every engagement; murder, to permit the execution of the sentence of the law; which if it be, this censure is just; otherwise, Leonidas, thou art a Lyar, and the basest of Calumniators.

Resolved, That we think it a duty which we owe to ourselves, and the public, to assert that we ever considered the presses of North Carolina as intirely free, and as being open to all parties, but

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influenced by none; neither awed by menaces of the mighty, nor restrained by the murmurings of the multitude.

Resolved, That the suggestion of the contrary, contained in the said Massachusetts Spy we consider as a high insult and indignity offered to that spirit of constitutional freedom and independence which the inhabitants of North Carolina have ever discovered.

Resolved, That the blessings derived to the British nation from the liberty of the press arises, as we apprehend, from the privilege of a discreet and unreserved discovery of communication of real facts and opinions, whereby the public may be benefited, or an individual made the wiser, better or happier; and in not being the infamous vehicle of private scandal or public abuse.

Resolved, That the paragraphs in the said Massachusetts Spy, which has reference to the measures of government taken by Governor Tryon against the Regulators, are replete with the basest misrepresentations, the most palpable falsities, abusive epithets and scandalous invectives, and that therefore it is a shameful perversion of the liberty of the press, and that the authors and publishers thereof deserve to be publickly stigmatized, and loaded with the heaviest contempt and reproach.

Resolved, That the Chairman be requested to direct the sheriff of the county to give orders that the paper called the Massachusetts Spy, No. 17, be publickly burnt under the gallows by the common hangman, on Wednesday next, as an open testimony of the utter abhorrence and detestation in which that infamous production, and its still more infamous authors are held by the people of this government.

Lastly, Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolves be sent to James Davis and Adam Boyd, Esquires, to be published in their next Gazette, as a proof to the Massachusetts Spy of the freedom of the press in North Carolina.

To the Printer of the Massachusetts Spy.


We observe you have in your Spy (No. 17) inserted a piece subscribed Leonidas, replete with abusive epithets, scandalous invectives and daring falsehoods, against our late excellent Governor, whose numberless virtues and amiable qualities justly endear him to all the good people of this province.

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It certainly is difficult to conceive to what a degree of iniquity a man may arrive, who, like Leonidas, has the effrontery to set truth and decency at defiance; and you, Mr. Printer, in undertaking to be the publisher of such vile calumnies, fall little short of him in point of guilt.

Be it known to him, and you, sir, that the beloved memory of Governor Tryon, is, and will continue to be deeply impressed on our grateful hearts, and we trust will be transmitted by us to our latest posterity; while the stigmatized name of Leonidas, and yours, Mr. Printer, will be consigned to that infamy justly attendant on such egregious calumniators.

Whether we consider his Excellency Governor Tryon, in a public or private capacity, several years experience of his conduct, a grateful remembrance of his many services to this province, and an incumbent regard to truth, oblige us publickly to declare, that the strictest justice, probity, honor, humanity, munificence, and affability, are his distinguishing characteristics.

With respect to the six queries of Leonidas, we admit the first, viz, His late Majesty's gracious intentions towards this province; but as to the facts which Leonidas basely suggests in the other queries, as they are asserted without proof, so they are sufficiently answered by denying them, except that paragraph relative to whipping a man whom he calls an able and generous planter; the person he alludes to was deservedly punished by the sentence of a court martial, called by his Colonel, while in the ranks, and under the immediate command of his militia officers, in virtue of a necessary law of this province, entitled, “The militia act.”

We cannot however pass over the 5th quere, without taking some particular notice of it; for he therein says, the Governor ordered a discharge of his artillery on the people while under the sacred bond of a treaty, the contrary of which is well known, not only to the forces there under his Excellency's command, but to the rebels themselves, and never was ever suggested by any one of them to have been otherwise.

His Excellency tried every expedient that human prudence could suggest to prevail on the miscreants to lay down their arms, take the oaths to government, and surrender up to public justice their outlawed chiefs, promising them upon such easy terms his Majesty's most gracious pardon for all their past numerous transgressions; but they rejected his offers with contempt and abusive language:

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Nay, some of the audacious wretches cried out to his troops, “fire and be damned”; and others exclaimed, “Here's death in one hand, and no mercy in the other! battle! battle!” He then directed the sheriff to order them to disperse, agreeable to the riot act; which the sheriff did, but to no purpose. Yet still he forebore attacking them, till the hour allowed in such cases by the said act was expired; and even then he sent an express messenger, to inform them that the hour was elapsed, requiring them once more to lay down their arms and submit to government: Declaring, that in case of their refusal, he would without further delay fire upon them; but they spurned at his threats, and contemned his admonitions, still crying out “battle! battle!” In such situation, what could or ought his Excellency to do, but perform his duty (which he most gallantly did) as a brave and experienced officer, by reducing to reason and proper submission a parcel of abandoned profligates, who seemed to set all laws, divine and human, at defiance, and were over-running the country with every species of rapine and violence. Yet these are the men for whom Leonidas, Mucius Scœvola, and their partizans are advocates; and dare, in their behalf, to attack and traduce one of the brightest characters on this continent.

There are laws, says Mucius Scœvola, sufficient to quell the most outrageous riots; the law, and not the sword, should restrain them.

Were the laws sufficient to quell the rebellion in Scotland, in the memorable year forty five? We all know the military force found some difficulty in performing that important service. But, says Scœvola, the Attorney General should keep a watchful eye on the people. Grand juries indict, courts issue warrants, and other officers are to execute them, &c. True, Sir; but the people in question set at nought courts of Justice, depised indictments, opposed all legal process, and the authority of sheriffs, and other officers.

The Posse Commitatus, cries Scœvola, is more than sufficient to bring them to justice; ridiculous, absurd. The men who should form the Posse Commitatus, were themselves in rebellion. What then could be done, but what was and ought to be done?

However, notwithstanding their accumulated crimes, our good Governor still remembered mercy (though, all circumstances considered, few mortals less deserved it) extending it so far as to order their wounds to be drest. Of twelve who were capitally convicted by their country, six only were executed.

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Mr. Printer, unless your heart is too callous to feel either shame or remorse, the sight of these lines must shock your guilty soul, and force you to curse the day you unhappily undertook to make your paper the infamous vehicle of such detestable slander.

You, Leonidas and Scœvola should publickly ask pardon of God and the world, and of his Excellency Governor Tryon in particular, for your enormous crime, and endeavour, by an unfeigned repentance, to pacify the divine vengeance; lest the Almighty, in his wrath, should denounce the same fate to you, as he did to the perverse Israelites; Amen dico vobis, moriemini in peccatis vestris; though it is said you, Leonidas (Gallio like) care not for those things