Thursday, January 17, 2013

An interesting history lesson over at the always enlightening Free North Carolina, about a band of free farmers who had had enough of government abuse, and did something about it.

  "Residents of the frontier counties of AnsonOrange, and Granville (much larger then than today) began to protest publicly in 1764. Many appointed, rather than elected, officials became targets of numerous threats and violence, including sheriffs, tax collectors, registrars, court clerks, and judges. Royal governor Arthur Dobbs issued a proclamation against the taking of illegal fees, but that directive was ignored. Dissatisfaction grew and unrest spread among the people. A new governor, William Tryon, arrived in 1765; he was a veteran army colonel and became the cause of renewed unrest, in part after he occupied a large new building—"Tryon's Palace," designed as both governor's home and capitol, which he constructed in New Bern at public expense.
After a mob seized a county officer against whom it held grievances—the much-despised Edmund Fanning, a corrupt multiple-office holder in Orange County—grabbed his heels, and pulled him down the stairs, banging his head on each step. The home of another official was entered and his personal possessions were thrown out the window.
When a special term of court was called in Hillsborough in 1771, the judges hesitated to attend and Tryon called out the militia to protect them. The Regulators sought a public meeting with colonial officials to discover "whether the free men of this [Orange] county labor under any abuses of power or not." The officials ignored the call for a discussion as well as a request for an explanation of other recent events. Their failure to respond precipitated further determination and closer bonding among the Regulators. As a governor appointed by the Crown as well as a trained and experienced army officer, Tryon would brook no such action as he anticipated from the men of North Carolina. With the approval of the colonial Assembly, the governor called out the militia, and at its head led his army from New Bern, the capital, to the western frontier intent on settling the question of authority in his colony.
West of Hillsborough where they were camped, the Regulators on 16 May 1771 tried once again to confer with Tryon. They could do so, he replied, only if they dispersed and laid down their arms within the hour. This infuriated the Regulators. When they made no response, Tryon sent an officer to say that unless they disbanded promptly he would fire on them. 
"Fire and be damned" was their answer."

Fire and be damned.  Great slogan, from great patriots.   Thanks, Brock, for enlightening us on another inspiring episode from our own history.

The Regulators mistake was to confront superior military force directly, although that was likely seen as the honorable thing to do at the time.  Had they told the governor that his representatives would never be safe in Regulator territory unless he agreed to address their concerns honestly and transparently, and then made a few examples, they likely could have prevailed.    Live and learn.

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