SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2003, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved

Regulators-Index

 

Archives: The Regulators and The Battle of Alamance

Baptists, Regulators & Capt. Merrell
Henry Sheets 1907

The Battle of Alamance
W.E. Fitch 1905

Blood Shed on the Alamance
William H. Foote 1846

Colonial Clergy & The Regulators
D.T. Stokes 1971

Johnston Riot Act of 1771

The Regulators
1971 Bi-Centennial

Regulators and The Battle of Alamance
W.S. Powell 1975

Tryon's Amnesty Proclamation
31 May 1771

Tryon's Character & Personality
W.E. Fitch 1905

Tryon's Reward Proclamation
9 June 1771

Primary References


THE REGULATORS

From The Commemorative Souvenir Program Bi-Centennial of the Battle of Alamance, 1971

During the mid-1700s, many settlers left Pennsylvania and the other middle-Atlantic colonies, moving south over the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road and other wilderness trails. These people searched for better and cheaper land, and many of them found it in the hilly Piedmont "backcountry" of North Carolina.  These new North Carolinians were mostly Germans, Scotch-Irish, or Welsh; their religion was likely to be Presbyterian, Quaker, Lutheran, or German Reformed---nationalities and religious beliefs that stressed the simple, independent life. Their land agreed with them, giving more than food---animals and plants also furnished the raw materials for clothing, housewares, and shelter. Moreover, any backcountry man who was not his own blacksmith, cooper, or cobbler, had neighbors who could perform these services in trade for work or produce. Thus, the Piedmont settlers were almost totally self-sufficient, needing only a few precious goods---salt, needles, and the like---from the outside world.  Obtaining even the few needed trade goods was sometimes a difficult task for the Piedmont settler, for transportation in the backcountry was confined to the land. Here, the rivers and creeks run shallow and swift, with the few short navigable stretches abruptly ending in sandbars and rapids, or blocked by fallen trees. The valleys created by these waterways run northeast to southeast, and in the eighteenth century, it was much easier to follow these valleys than to traverse the ridges. So, moving either northwest or southeast, the backcountryman made long and infrequent trade journeys to Virginia or South Carolina. He had little contact with North Carolinians in the east.

Settlement of eastern North Carolina had taken place earlier, and the life style of the east was considerably different from that of the backcountry. In the east, there were many port towns, and creeks and rivers offered easy water transportation inland. Huge plantations had grown up on these waterways; farms based on slave labor and the relative ease of cultivating the flat land. Merchants and government officials headquartered in the east; there were fine homes and finer furnishings. The coastal plain was the home of many colonists of English birth or descent; the Church of England was strong; there was a natural feeling of unity with the mother country. Just as in the backcountry, the east had its share of poor farmers, but here such men were a minority.  Thus, within the single colony of North Carolina, there was a division of population, bridged only by the few settlers in the piney-woods plains separating east and west. There were two life styles, two generally different levels of education, two ideas of the good life. And because there was so little trade or communication between the two groups, the gulf widened rather than narrowed.  Although there were fundamental differences between the population of the east and west, there was one government for the colony. By the mid-1700s this government was controlled by the British crown and its agent, the royal governor. The king and his council issued instructions to the governor, who carried out these instructions through a variety of colonial agencies.  The governor also maintained a council, composed of men selected by the king or appointed on the governor's recommendation. The council met with the governor to decide important matters of state; it also served as the upper house of the colonial assembly.

The lower house of North Carolina's colonial assembly was called the "House of Burgesses" or simply the "assembly." Its members were elected by the male taxpayers of individual counties or towns. Lawmaking was a somewhat complicated process, since the governor, council, and house all possessed veto power over a bill. Even if all three approved of a measure, they could be overridden by the king and his councilors.   They were also complications regarding land in the colony. In the southern half of the province, land was granted directly by the king's agents. Settlers here registered their claims with the colonial government, paying small fees for surveys and certificates. But since the king owned all this land, settlers were required to pay a yearly fee for land rent. These fees were called "quit-rents," because they "quit" the king from laying any other claim on their land.  Land in the northern half of colonial North Carolina belonged to Lord Granville and the section was therefore known as the "Granville District." Here lands were registered and quit-rents collected by Granville's own agents. Unfortunately, these agents failed to manage the land properly---grants were not recorded, quit-rents were seldom collected, and in one area, no land office was in operation.  Colonial North Carolina's court system also operated in some confusion. Two separate courts that ruled on land grants, large debts, and certain other matters were both staffed by the governor and his council. Important civil and criminal cases were decided in the Superior Courts, which met twice per year in each colonial district. Officers of this court included the colony's chief justice and several associate justices, and the court was officially known as the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery.

The court which most directly affected the everyday lives of the colonists was the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held four times per year in each county. This court's judges were justices of the peace---appointed by the governor and council after recommendation by assembly members. There were over 500 J.P.s in North Carolina in 1767; a minimum of three was necessary to hold a single court session.  Other officers in the county court included the register, sheriff, and clerk of court. The latter was appointed by high colonial officials, and it was his duty to sign and certify many court records and documents. The sheriff was selected by the governor after being nominated by the justices of the peace. Sheriffs and their appointed deputies arrested and jailed suspects, supervised elections, and collected the public taxes. These taxes included the poll tax---a fixed amount collected for each white male over 16 and each slave over 12. The poll tax was increased from time to time to finance military expeditions or pay other special expenses. Also collected were county taxes imposed for the building of courthouses and roads, and the parish tax for the upkeep of Church of England ministers. The sheriff kept 8 percent of his collection in payment for his duty.  The most striking differences between the colonial governmental system and later state systems was the fact that officials were not paid salaries. Instead, most of them were allowed to collect a set fee for each piece of work they performed. These fees, including some for the governor, were published in a law dated 1748, and were modified and amended throughout the colonial period.

North Carolina's colonial government was similar to other English institutions of the period, and was not particularly unfair or unjust in its principles or organization. It granted the people certain rights few other governments offered-trail by jury, election of representatives, government by a fixed code of law, the right to petition for redress of grievances. What those in the "Regulator movement" would protest would not be the principles of the government, but the day-to-day operations, which they believed to be in violation of these principles. Indeed, the backcountry men who became Regulators had (or claimed) a firm allegiance to the crown. They also had a host of problems to face-some caused by government, some by circumstance.  First, there was the basic problem of money---backcountry men saw little of it. The few items they could not grow or make-salt, gunpowder, etc. were usually paid for in trade goods. There was very little hard money in the entire province; little gold or silver coin worth its face value. Easterners traded warehouse receipts among themselves, the value of the receipt being the worth of the goods stored, but westerners had no such warehouses. Moreover, the colonies were not allowed to issue paper money for use outside the individual colony itself. Therefore, a North Carolina merchant would pay for imported goods either with agricultural or forest products, or would be forced to send hard money---a practice that drained the colony of such currency.  From time to time North Carolina assemblies issued paper proclamation money to be used within the province, but such money was worth only as much as the currency that backed it. The colony attempted to back this money with the collection of extra poll tax. Not only were the extra taxes erratically collected, but the proclamation money itself was often counterfeited, so that it came to be worth only half its face value. Since backcountry men did little trade using money, even proclamation script was scarce in the west.

The backcountryman's lack of money was especially distressing at tax collection times taxes could be paid only in money and not in trade goods. If the western farmer could produce no cash, the sheriff seized household or farm goods, sold them, and used the sale money to pay the tax. Usually, some neighbor could loan a small sum of money, but farmers were hesitant to borrow in advance. Moreover, taxpayers were supposed to pay at central locations. If the sheriff was forced to visit the farmer, he could legally collect an extra amount for his "distress." In such cases, having traveled thirty or forty miles on horseback, the sheriff or his deputy was usually in no mood to wait around while the farmer scurried off to borrow money---goods would be seized and carried off.   Another problem in the backcountry was the attitude of both officials and citizens. The officials usually were not dishonest, but they did owe their jobs to higher-ups, and their loyalty followed suit. The chain of governmental appointments led to the king himself, near the upper end was a group of intelligent, educated men--aristocrats. Even as they were, on the whole, dedicated to the public good, they looked on their colonial offices as means for advancement in government services. Strictly speaking, the offices themselves were gifts from the king---property---but definite responsibilities were attached to these offices.  Lower down the official chain were petty officers whose basic honesty was sometimes questionable. Sheriffs, especially, were suspected of embezzlement of public tax collections and similar funds. Even Governor Tryon accused the sheriffs of fraud.

Set against the government officials were backcountry farmers. Many of these men had originally moved into the colony to escape rising property costs farther north. They had little formal education; they were stubborn and often rigidly religious. That government officials should take what seemed outrageous sums merely for doing "a little writing" was to the backcountry men basically dishonest. Though far removed from the eastern center of government, and officials were loathe to travel to the west, where roads were few and inns and taverns even fewer. Accordingly, up until the Regulation, officials did little to supervise their backcountry agents.  Overall, the provincial government functioned in jerks and starts. The location of the border between North and South Carolina was a hotly-debated matter for many years; the law limiting the size of individual land grants was suspended for several influential Englishmen; Lord Granville's land officers maintained no western district office for five years. Out of touch with the backcountry, the province's government leaders failed to understand the extent and exact nature of the western settlers' problems until it was too late to prevent mob actions and violence.


Gov. William TryonWilliam Tryon

Governor of North Carolina from 1765 until July 1, 1771, Tryon was born in Surry County, England, in 1729. He was a soldier by profession. In 1764 he came to North Carolina as lieutenant governor under Arthur Dobbs. The latter died in 1765, and Tryon became governor, continuing in this post through most of the period of the Regulator movement. Shortly before the Battle of Alamance, he was appointed governor of New York. Here he served until the Revolution, at which time he became a major-general of the Loyalist forces. In 1780 Tryon returned to England, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant-general. He died in 1788.  Early historians of the Regulator movement cast Tryon as the villainous oppressor of the backcountry. Yet, his greatest fault seems to have been only an overfondness for pomp and circumstance, a fault perhaps stemming from his military activities. Tryon was actually the most successful of the colony's royal governors---one of the few able to secure adequate financial backing and cooperation from the House of Burgesses. With this assistance, he secured funds for the building of the "Province House" in New Bern, later known as "Tryon's Palace." It must also be remembered that, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the militia, Tryon waged a very successful campaign against the Regulators.

Tryon was a servant of the crown as well as the people, and he was somewhat stiff-necked in his dealings with the Regulators. But time and time again he demonstrated his understanding of backcountry problems, and he indicated a strong desire to put an end to the strife through lawful reform. Governor William Tryon might be characterized as stern, official, and persuasive. He was certainly not despotic, dishonest, or cruel.


Edmund FanningEdmund Fanning

The principal object of hatred for the Orange County Regulators, Edmund Fanning held a number of colonial posts. A lawyer, he was chosen representative to several colonial assemblies, was register of deeds for Orange County, and, in 1766, was a judge of the Superior Court (Court of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery). Fanning also served as a colonel in the provincial militia.  Fanning was a native of Long Island; he graduated from Yale College in 1757. He then studied law in New York, and came to Hillsborough in 1761. He was only 24 when he arrived. After the Battle of Alamance, Fanning followed Tryon to New York, becoming the governor's personal secretary. In New York, he was a colonel in the militia, commanding a regiment of Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. In 1783 he became lieutenant-governor of Novia Scotia, and later became governor of Prince Edwards Island, a post he held for almost nineteen years. By 1808, Fanning was ranked as a general of the British army. He died in London in 1818.

Fresh from the genteel northeast, "Ned" Fanning arrived in Hillsborough with high expectations, and he soon began to acquire wealth and influence. He was, after all, a good lawyer and an efficient government agent. He expressed educated ideals; he surrounded himself with finery; he became a friend of Governor Tryon. Befitting his position, Fanning was active in getting Hillsborough a minister, a schoolmaster, a town clock, and a market place. He donated a bell to the local Anglican church. But between Fanning and most Orange County citizens, there was a constant tension.  The backcountry farmers and traders, not as ignorant as some believed, had needs and ambitions totally different from those of Ned Fanning. We can imagine the latter the butt of tales told in Orange County taverns, and see a dusty farmer mimic Fannings' "dandified" mannerisms after he has passed by on Hillsborough's main thoroughfare. As we can suspect that Ned Fanning himself was not blind to all this. Eventually an antipathy, and perhaps even a hatred, grew up between the lawyer and the less affluent citizens. Merely by following the "letter of the law" Fanning deepened the mutual feeling of ill-will. His letters to Governor Tryon are somewhat pretentious, and it was Ned Fanning who termed the first meeting of the future Regulators "insurrectionary," helping to close the door on their attempts to alleviate problems on a local level. But as the Orange County situation worsened and the methods of the Regulators turned more and more toward violence, the citizens of Hillsborough turned to Fanning, electing him borough representative in 1770.

Edmund Fanning was no villain; neither was he a model of compassion. His contempt for the backcountry man, his desire to "make a name for himself," and his aristocratic display of wealth and education in a frontier community, all combined to provoke the Regulators and give them their needed "common enemy."


Herman Husband

Of the major figures in the "Regulator Movement," none was so prominent, and none so enigmatic as Herman Husband. Colonial officials thought him the principal organizer and leader of the Regulators; Husband himself claimed not to have been a Regulator.  Herman Husband came to North Carolina from Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s, and he settled in Orange County. He was soon expelled from the local Quaker congregation, apparently for his tendency to be outspoken. In and out of jail during the entire Regulator movement, he disappeared from the colony on the day of the Battle of Alamance. Husband finally resettled in western Pennsylvania, becoming a participant in the "Whisky Rebellion" of 1794. For this activity, he was tried in a Federal court and sentenced to die, but was spared under the terms of a mass pardon issued by President Washington.  Husband is credited with having three published pamphlets. The first, "Some Remarks on Religion. . .," appeared in the 1750s, while Husband was still in Pennsylvania. Two other tracts, "An Impartial Relation," and "A Fan for Fanning and a Touchstone for Tryon" (the latter actually a series of newspaper articles), were propaganda pieces written during and after the Regulator movement and published in the northern colonies.

Herman Husband began his adult life as a Quaker, but only after much youthful soul-searching. While not an "intellectual," Husband nevertheless seems to have read a great deal, being especially fond of the writings of Benjamin Franklin. His religious stirrings, which put him against the Church of England, also seems to have influenced his distaste for aristocratic and federalist forms of government. Apparently the man had honest instincts as a radical reformer, but did not have the necessary will to act effectively on his convictions. Still, his ability to organize and his talents as a pamphleteer made him a Regulator hero.  Husband was in his mid-forties during the Regulator movement, and was described in a Regulator ballad:

Who would have tho't Harmon, that hum drum old fox
Who looks so bemeaning with his towsled locks,
Would have had resolution to stand to the tack.

Indeed, Herman Husband (also called "Harmon Husbands") actually seems to have lacked the necessary "resolution." His pamphlet describing his religious experiences ends on a troubled note---unresolved. In this pamphlet, the author quotes a poem he found particularly apropos to his situation:

I will To-morrow, that I will, I will be sure to do it;
To-morrow comes, To-morrow goes, and still thou art to do it:
And thus Repentance is referred from one Day to another,
Until the Day of Death comes on, and Judgment is the other.


James Hunter

Popularly called the "General of the Regulators," James Hunter seems to have been genuinely interested in reform for reform's sake. Legend has it that he was asked to command the Regulators at the Battle of Alamance but refused, commenting, "We are all free men and every man must command himself." Hunter was born in Virginia in 1740, and was thus still a young man during the Alamance crisis. He was mentioned as a "ringleader" in several pieces of government correspondence, and was outlawed after the Battle of Alamance. Yet, his main claims to Regulator fame were (1) that he and Rednap Howell (an Orange County schoolmaster, traditionally known as writer of many "Regulator ballads" presented a Regulator petition to Governor Tryon at Brunswick Town (June, 1768), and (2) Hunter was the intended recipient of a letter written by Rednap Howell. This letter, intercepted by Tryon's agents in 1771, explained attempts to organize Regulator groups in the east. Howell also commented on the anti-government resolves of the backcountry. The letter played a part in convincing the governor and council that the Regulators were bent on insurrection.  After the Battle of Alamance, James Hunter went into hiding. In 1776 he appeared again, arrested by the Whigs as a potentially dangerous Tory. He later took an oath of allegiance to the new state, represented Guilford County in the House of Commons (1778 to 1782), and at different times served as sheriff, treasurer, and county court judge in Guilford. Hunter died in 1820, and was described by his grandson as having been

"….a fine-looking man... six feet tall . . . the Irish brogue was distinct in his enunciation. . . He was a strict Presbyterian... his habits were temperate. . . in absence of company he was generally reading. I never saw him dressed otherwise than in black broadcloth, and his linen was always clean and fresh looking."


In 1765 George Sims delivered "An address to the People of Granville County." This speech, also called the "Nutbush Address," charged the county clerk of court with malpractice. The problem of illegal fees and supposedly dishonest officials had already led to mob violence in Granville County. In the address, Sims describes the average citizen's problems in obtaining money to pay court fees and debts:

... if he has but one horse to plow with, one bed to lie on, or one cow to give a little milk for his children, they must all go to raise money which is not to be had. And lastly if his personal estate (sold at one tenth of its value) will not do, then his lands (which perhaps has cost him many years of toil and labor) must go the same way to satisfy these cursed hungry caterpillars, that are eating and will eat out the bowels of our Commonwealth, if they be not pulled down from their nests in a very short time, and what need I say, Gentlemen, to urge the necessity their is for a reformation...

In 1766 an "advertizement" was read in Orange County court, inviting county neighbors to elect delegates to attend a meeting at Maddock's Mill on the Eno River. The purpose of the meeting, the advertisement stated, would be

"... to judiciously enquire whether the free men of this county labor under any abuses of power or not and let the same be notified in writing if any is found and the matter fully conversed upon and proper measures used for ammendment; this method will certainly cause wicked men to tremble..."

County officials were also invited, but since their leader, Edmund Fanning, termed the affair "insurrectionary," none actually attended. Without the presence of the officials, there was little to be "conversed upon," and the meeting broke up. Those attending promised to meet again at a later date. These evidences of backcountry dissatisfaction led the 1767-1768 legislature to pass several laws that touched on the western problems. But the problems had not been solved; the dissatisfaction had not been assuaged. Now, two incidents increased tension in Orange County, the heart of the backcountry.  Governor Tryon, ever mindful of the need for order in government, secured a total of $15,000 to build a combination statehouse-governor's residence in New Bern---"Tryon's Palace." To pay for the structure, an extra poll tax was levied. Backcountry men complained that they would never see the building, and that they didn't want it in the first place. An extra blow was dealt to Orange County citizens. The county sheriff announced that he would accept tax payment at only five locations in his huge county and that, if he were forced to visit the taxpayer to collect, he would levy the legal 2s8d additional fee for his "distress."

The tax for 1768 was, according to Edmund Fanning's arithmetic, 0. 10. 8 poll, or about $2. (Fanning's total does not agree with the sum of the individual items, which is 1.3.4, about $4.25. However, it is almost a certainty that the sheriff's collections would be based on the figure supplied by Fanning.) Only 8d (about 7 cents) of this tax was to be used for, "Building a Province House." Nevertheless, the combination of the sheriff's announcement and news of the tax for the government building aroused the moneyless backcountry men of Orange. Those who had two years ago assembled at Maddock's Mill were now joined by others in an "Association." Their resolves were published:

We the under written subscribers do voluntarily agree to form ourselves into an Association to assembly ourselves for conferences for regulating publick Grievances & abuses of Power in the following particulars with others of like nature that may occur

1. That we will pay no Taxes until we are satisfied they are agreeable to Law and Applied to the purposes therein mentioned unless we cannot help and are forced.

2. That we will pay no Officer any more fees than the Law allows unless we are obliged to it and then to shew a dislike to it & bear open testimony against it.

3. That we will attend our Meetings of Conference as often as we conveniently can or is necessary in order to consult our representatives on the amendment of such Laws as may be found grievous or unnecessary and to choose more suitable men than we have heretofore done for Burgesses and Vestry men and to Petition His Excellency our Governor the Honorable the Council and the Worshipful House of representatives His Majesty in Parliament &c. for redress of such Grievances as in the course of this undertaking may occur and to inform one another & to learn, know and enjoy all the Priviledges & Liberties that are allowed us and were settled on us by our worthy Ancestors the founders of the present Constitution in order to preserve it in its ancient Foundation that it may stand firm & unshaken.

4. That we will contribute to Collections for defraying necessary expences attending the work according to our abilities.

5. That in Cases of differences in Judgment we will submit to the Majority of our Body.

To all which We do solemnly swear or being a Quaker or otherwise scrupulous in Conscience of the common Oath to solemnly affirm that We will stand true and faithful to this cause until We bring them to a true regulation according to the true intent & meaning of it in the judgment of the Majority.

In March, the "Association" repeated the same points in stronger terms, and by April the group called themselves "Regulators"---they would attempt to "regulate" local government. Tension was growing, and the Regulators now wrote a new "advertisement" demanding that the Orange County sheriff show them his tax lists, collection records, and fee tables. Meanwhile, local officials were furious. Edmund Fanning referred to the Regulators as "the mob," and declared that they seemed to think themselves "the sovereign arbiters of right and wrong." A simple act was all that was needed to set off the Regulatory powder keg. Perhaps it was meant as a show of force, perhaps it was merely bad timing. In any case, a day or two before the last Regulator petition reached Orange officials, sheriff's officers seized a Regulator's horse, saddle, and bridle for tax payment. On April 8, 1768, eighty angry Regulators marched on the county seat at Hillsborough. Armed with "clubs, staves & and cloven muskets," the group captured and bound Sheriff Hawkins, then "rescued" the horse and tack. As they left town, some of the group fired shots into Colonel Fanning's house. "Ned" Fanning himself was away at the time, attending court in Halifax. Informed of the Regulators' actions, he ordered the arrest of three "ringleaders" of the riot, then called out seven companies of the Orange militia. Next, he hurried back to Hillsborough to take command of the militia forces, writing Governor Tryon an agitated letter asking for more authority to deal with the "traitorous Dogs . . ." On hearing the news, Tryon's Council declared the Regulators guilty of insurrection. Fanning was authorized to call up militia from the surrounding counties if such action was necessary, and Tryon himself offered to come to Hillsborough. Meanwhile, terrified office-holders in Orange agreed to meet with the Regulators to discuss grievances. While these preparations were being made, Fanning and a posse raided the Sandy Creek area, arresting William Butler and Herman Husband on a charge of "inciting to rebellion." The two prisoners were carried to Hillsborough and held in the town jail. When news of the arrests reached the Regulators, they dropped plans for the meeting and 700 strong, Regulators and their supporters again marched on Hillsborough. County officials, with little sure force at their disposal, released the two prisoners on bail. Isaac Edwards, the governor's private secretary, was in Hillsborough at the time. Speaking (it appeared at the time) for the governor, Edwards promised that, if the Regulators would peaceably disburse and petition, the governor "would see that justice was done them." The Regulators agreed to the request. On hearing of this action, Tryon declared that his secretary had exceeded his authority. The governor stated that he would not deal with the Regulators as an organization and demanded that they immediately disband; he also offered hope for settlement of the Regulators' grievances:

I shall give His Majesty's Attorney General Orders to prosecute every officer who has been guilty of Extortion or illegal Practices in his office upon any Application or information lodged with him. . . As you want to be satisfied what is the amount of the Tax for the Public Service. . . I am to inform you it is seven shillings a taxable besides the County and Parish Taxes…

There was other trouble in the backcounty. On April 27, 1768, a mob of about 100 men disrupted the proceedings of the Anson County court. They questioned the clerk on taxes and fees, openly debated possible violence, and resolved that they would not pay taxes. The men referred to themselves as "this company of Regulators."  Tryon responded to the Anson incident by giving county officials power to raise the county militia and to arrest the "Ringleaders and Principals of the late Disturbance. . ." Again, he called for Regulators to express their grievances through proper channels. Writing to a court official, Tryon expressed his views on the Regulators' refusal to pay taxes:

As you are well acquainted with the nature of Taxation I shall only observe that it is the indispensable Lot of Mankind who live in Society, to give a part of their Property to the Government which affords them a secure and quiet enjoyment of the remainder. Whereupon whoever refuses to pay such part which the Occasions of Government may require, forfeits his title of Protection from it and leaves his Family and Property at the Will of his lawless Associates, & himself at the mercy of the Laws of his Country, which can never want vigor and force sufficient to support its dignity and efficacy.  This contagion and disaffection has spread from Anson to Orange County.….

Problems in the backcountry were now such that Tryon himself acted. On July 21 he issued a new "Proclamation Against charging Exorbitant Fees," demanding that fee tables be posted and that illegal practices be stopped. The governor also prepared to visit the western part of the province, apparently with two purposes in mind: (1) to persuade the Regulators to disband and follow a more proper course for redress of grievances; (2) to protect the September term of Superior Court---the court that was to try Butler and Husband on charges of inciting the recent "Hillsborough Riot."   The Governor arrived in Hillsborough on July 6. In spite of his previous declaration that he would not deal with the organized Regulators, Tryon and the insurgents began exchanging messages. To further convince the backcountry of his good intentions, the governor ordered the attorney general to institute prosecutions against officers charged with taking illegal fees. One officer thus charged was Edmund Fanning.

The Regulators listened, but would promise only to petition the Assembly for redress. They would not disband, nor would they agree to make a bond for their good behavior at the upcoming court. Many Regulators continued to distrust---and misunderstand---the governor's efforts on their behalf. An attempt to read Tryon's latest proclamation to a Regulator assemblage by Sheriff Tyree Harris was met with threats of violence. William Butler was quoted as saying, "We are determined not to pay the Tax for the next three years, for the Edifice or Governor's House, nor will we pay for it." Tryon called out the militia to protect the court. Knowing that many backcountry men were sympathetic to the Regulator cause, the governor began courting ministers of the area's churches. In turn, the ministers worked to persuade their congregations of the folly of the Regulators. In one instance, four Presbyterian ministers wrote an open letter to all congregations in the colony, urging the church members to

Submit yourself to every ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the King as supreme, or unto Governors as those that are sent by him for the Punishment of Evil Doers, and for the Praise of them that do well. And We earnestly recommend to the whole Presbyterian Body, in this Province a Spirit of Loyalty and cheerful Obedience to Law and Government, that you may transmit to your Posterity the reputation you derived from your Ancestors, secure the continuance of your Civil and Religious liberties, and merit the future notice and indulgence of the Legislature...

With the help of such influential forces, Tryon was able to raise 1,461 men from Rowan, Mecklenburg, Granville, and Orange counties. Apparently, however, the governor still had his difficulties. After the militia had been dismissed, Tryon wrote, "I can with great integrity declare that I never experienced the same anxiety and fatigue of spirits as I did last summer in raising and conducting the troops. . ."

The September term of the Hillsborough District of the superior court-trial scene for four men of Regulator principles: Herman Husband, William Butler, Samuel Devinney, and John Hartzo. County officials Edmund Fanning (Register), Francis Nash (Clerk of Court), and Sheriff John Wood were also on trial for extortion. Husband was acquitted of the charge of "inciting a riot." The three other Regulator defendants were found guilty of the same charge, but Tryon suspended the fines and released the prisoners. Later, the three received a full pardon from the governor. Nearly 800 Regulators had assembled outside Hillsborough, awaiting the outcome of the court trials. They were only partially disappointed. Colonel Edmund Fanning was found guilty on five counts of extortion, and fined one penny for each count. However, the three judges (Martin Howard, Chief; Maurice Moore and Richard Henderson, Associates) were unsure of the legality of judging Fanning guilty, and the case was referred to England for further interpretation. The end result was that Fanning, who had immediately resigned as Register, was never fined. (English authorities would later find him innocent of the charges.) The Regulators felt that justice had not been served---a man whom they heard declared guilty was not punished. The complicated fee table, however, allowed separate charges for certifying different parts of the same document, a fact that the Regulators and apparently even the colony's chief justice did not fully understand. Popular history, and the prejudice of the Regulators, would declare the haughty Fanning "guilty," but the real villain was the complex fee law. Tryon sympathized with the Regulators:

To say that these insurgents had not a colour for their shewing a dissatisfaction at the conduct of their public officers would be doing them an injustice for on a prosecution at the Superior Court carried on by the attorney general in the virtue of my directions both the Register and Clerk of the county were found quilty of taking too high fees.

During 1768, other "Regulator" groups were also active, none successfully. In Johnston County, some eighty men gathered to disrupt the court, but the justices marshaled enough allies to disburse the mob by freely swinging wooden clubs. A gang of about thirty men from Edgecombe County tried to rescue fellow-insurgents confined in the Halifax jail. The gang was routed and a number of individuals captured by the town's irate citizens. In Rowan County the Regulators attempted to prosecute several officials, including Judge John Frohock. Their attempts failed when the juries refused to return "true bills" on the cases.

After the Hillsborough trials, Tryon dismissed the militia and returned to the east. The backcountry was now relatively quiet. The Colonial Assembly had been dissolved in July, 1768, and elections for new members were held in 1769. The new assembly met late that same year, With several Regulators as delegates. Orange and Anson County assemblymen presented a joint grievance petition, as did the relatively 11 eastern county of Halifax. The assembly lent a sympathetic ear to these grievances, and passed a resolution against the taking of illegal fees, but before more concrete laws could be formulated and passed, assemblymen and the governor quarreled over an unrelated matter, and the assembly was dissolved. Here ends "Act I" of the tragedy of the "War of the Regulation." 1769 had offered a chance for both the backcountrymen and the rest of the colony; such an opportunity would not occur again.  Had the 1769 Assembly continued to meet, it is quite possible that most of the Regulator grievances would have been satisfied. After all, the problems the Regulators most lamented were the same as those faced by other sections of the colony. Moreover, it was widely recognized, even by the British crown, that problems and injustices did exist. Since the Regulators were not quarrelling with the form of government, it would have been possible to resolve their grievances within the framework of eighteen-century British colonialism-within the framework of their own government.

At this point in time, both the Regulators and the government had been found at fault, and both had accomplished certain goals. The two groups were at last moving toward a common ground. Tryon's march to the backcountry, his meetings with Regulator leaders, and the Hillsborough court trials---all had brought home points the governor could not totally appreciate from the confines of New Bern and Brunswick Town. The Regulators, to whom Tryon had been merely the faceless epitome of opposition, now had some knowledge of the governor's concern for their well-being. Their group actions, however illegal, had made Tryon's visit to the backcountry necessary. The governor may have been displeased with these circumstances, but he could not overlook either the practical need to minimize the colony's internal strife, nor the physical size and strength of the Regulator movement. So far as historical documentation attests, 1769 and the first eight months of 1770 were quiet times for the Regulators. In addition to the petitions of Halifax and Orange and Rowan Counties (previously noted), on October 8, 1769, the assembly was presented a grievance paper from Anson County. Nearly 250 people had signed this document.

The mood and activities of the backcountry Regulators during this period is open to much speculation. The historical quiet of the time would be ended with the spectacular violence of the second Hillsborough riot of September, 1770. Apparently, agitation in the backcountry had taken new forms during 1769. Orange County Regulators were in contact with like groups in the surrounding counties---Anson, Rowan, Granville, Mecklenburg---and the movement appears to have been spreading eastward. Prominent Regulators such as James Hunter, Rednap Howell, William Butler, and Herman Husband were engaging in various propaganda activities. Attesting to this activity is the last entry in Husband's pamphlet, "An Impartial Relation." It extracts a portion of Governor Tryon's memorandum dated October 31, 1769. Although some months must have passed before Husband secured his copy of this memorandum, it seems reasonable to assume that the pamphleteer spent part of his quiet period busily writing. Also, the "Regulator Songs" attributed to Rednap Howell were being spread over the backcountry. And it is not difficult to imagine that, during this time, the backcountry was buzzing with discussions, meetings, and drastic pronouncements. In spite of their continued agitation, the Orange County Regulators had won a victory. They were not punished for their rioting; Edmund Fanning had resigned at least one of his many offices; Regulator delegations represented the backcountry in the assembly. The victory was tempered by several Regulator observations: Fanning had not received proper punishment; few regulatory laws had been passed; it appeared that the same petty officials were engaged in the same old shell games.

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