The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        THIS COUNTY preserves the memories of the first conflict of arms between the Royal Troops of England, [16th May, 1771,] and the people of the Colonies. Then and there was the first blood of the Colonists spilled in the United States, in resistance to the oppressions of the English Government and the exactions of its unscrupulous agents. Tryon, the Royal Governor of the Province of North Carolina, exhibited in his administration the bloodthirsty temper of "the great wolf," as he was so appropriately termed by the Indians of the State.

        The officers of the Government, by exactions in the shape of fees and taxes, grieviously oppressed an industrious and needy people. The people bore these exactions with patience; remonstrating in their public meetings, in respectful but decided terms. This simple-minded people, without aid from much learning or books, knew and laid down the great fundamental principles of good government, "that taxation and representation should go together, that the people had the right to resist taxation when not imposed by their legal representatives, and also the right to know for what purpose taxes were imposed, and how appropriated." These principles were derided by the imperious Tryon, and terminated in open conflict of arms. The Regulators were vanquished by superior force and discipline, but the great germs of right and liberty were firmly planted in their minds, and a few years later bore the fruits of victory and independence. Had this battle terminated differently, (and under skilful leaders, and at a later period, this would have been the case,) the banks of the Alamance would have rivaled Bunker Hill and Lexington; and the name of Husband, Merrill and Caldwell would have ranked with the Warrens and Putnams of a later day.

        A writer on North Carolina History, as to this revolt, states that "the cause of the Regulators has been the subject of much unmerited obloquy, clouded as it has been by the heavy pages of Williamson and Martin and the ignorant disquisitions of untutored scribblers. Although on the occasion they were overthrown, their principles were intimately connected with the chain of events that directly led to the Revolution, and struck out that spark of independence which soon blazed from Massachusetts to Georgia." (Jos. Seawell Jones' Defence of North Carolina.)

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