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    The Regulators of North Carolina: Outraged Oppressors Essay

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    The history of colonial North Carolina has been bombarded with frequent strife and turmoil. The people of North Carolina, because of a lack of supervision from the British monarchy, learned to possess an independent spirit. The colony remained isolated from the rest of the country because of several geographical conditions such as poor harbors, the absence of navigable rivers, numerous swamps, and bad road conditions. Due to these conditions, communities throughout North Carolina became widely separated.

    The colony was initially set up by the Lord’s Proprietors, an English founding company that helps finance early American exploration. When North Carolina was freed from British proprietorship, the Granville family, descendants from the original Lord’s Proprietors, continued to hold their land rights. This area, which became known as the “Granville District,” was the scene of many disputes over land grants, taxes, British support, and a great deal of lesser issues.

    Settlers in the backcountry (Piedmont) felt particularly oppressed by the law drawn up by an assembly largely composed of eastern landowners. “Local officials in many counties, particularly in the western segment of the bac country were not local men at all, but friends of the royal governor, Willia Tryon. These so-called “friends” often collected higher fees than authorized by the law while obtaining tax money or divided a single service into man services and charged fees for each. Lawyers who followed the judges around the colony also fell into the same habit.

    The citizens of Anson, Orange, and Granville counties were the first to make themselves heard. In 1764, this band of citizens referred to as the “mob,” created a number of local disturbances until Governor Arthur Dobbs passed a proclamation forbidding the collection of illegal fees, the practice that the people complained of the most. Their protests were calmed only temporarily. However, the effects of the new law wore off soon enough and sheriffs and other county officers returned t their old dishonest practices. Citizens complained largely in part because money was so scarce; local trading was almost limited to barter.

    Often property was seized and resold, and citizens felt that their property was being sold to a friend of an official for much less than its true value (1). People among the Granville District were anxious to revolt and needed only a leader to provide the spark that led to the fire of the War of Regulation. a man named Hermon Husband became actively involved and was referred to as leader several times, despite the fact that he was often nothing more than an agitator. Husband reprinted patriotic flyers with messages dealing with taxation with our representation hoping that citizens would call for reform.

    However, at no time during the Regulation was there an actual leader (2). Orange County was an early center of Regulator activity. Colonel Edmund Fanning, the holder of numerous offices in the county including the prominent Cler of the Recorder’s Court at Hillsborough, became a prime target along with Royal Governor William Tryon, who took office in 1765. Tryon was hate because he aimed to use taxes to build Tryon Palace in New Bern, a very costly residence for himself, as well as the seat for the colony’s government. The Regulators, “who named themselves after a group of countries reformists in South Carolina (3)” shortly after Tryon’s announcement to build the palace, had no sympathy with the governor’s desire for a fancy residence.

    The War of Regulation was not limited to Orange County. Outbreaks o violence during the collection of taxes in Anson County and several riots throughout the Granville District were sure signs of what was to come. A group of men, apparently enthusiastic over the success of the Sons o Liberty in resisting the Stamp Act, called citizens together to determine whether they were being treated justly or not. Edmund Fanning denounced this meeting. Little was accomplished at the meeting, but this is where the Regulators proclaimed themselves as a radical political group (4).

    Minor oppositions continued to occur until the spring of 1768 when the sheriff o Orange County announced he would be collecting taxes at certain areas of the colony only, and if colonists did not pay at these particular locations charge would be incurred. This occurred at about the same time Tryon gave word about the construction of Tryon Palace. This was very inconvenient for the settlers for two reasons. The widely scattered population made it difficult to arrive at these tax stations.

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