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Full text of "Was Alamance the first battle of the Revolution?"

F 

257 



NOVEMBER, 1903 



No. I 



THE 



North Carolina Booklet 




GREAT EVENTS IN 



NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY 



WAS ALAMANCE THE FIRST 
BATTLE OF THE REVOLUTION? 

BY 

Mrs. L. a. McCORKLE. 




PRICE, 10 CENTS 




4^ '''^ 

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Book__^A3__ 



VOL. Ill NOVEMBER., 1903. No. ? 



THE 



NORTH CAROLINA BOOKLET 



'CAROLINA! CAROLINA! HEAVEN'S BLESSINGS ATTEND HER! 
WHILE WE LIVE WE WILL CHERISH, PROTECT AND DEFEND HER.' 



RALEIGH 

E. M. UzzELL & Co., Printers and Binders 

1903 



p.. 






OFFICERS OF THE NORTH CAROLINA SOCIETY DAUGHTERS 
OF THE REVOLUTION, 1903: 

REGENT : 

MRS. THOMAS K. BRUNER. 

VICE-REGENT: 

MRS. WALTER CLARK. 

HONORARY REGENTS: 

MRS. SPIER WHITAKER, 

(Nee Fanny DeBerniere Hooper), 

MRS. D. H. HILL, Sr. 

SECRETARY : 

MRS. E. E. MOFFITT. 

TREASURER I 

MRS. FRANK SHERWOOD. 

REGISTRAR : 

MRS. ED. CHAMBERS SMITH. 



Founder of the North Carolina Society and Regent 1896-1902; 
MRS. SPIER WHITAKER. 

Regent 1902: 
MRS. D. H. HILL, Sr. 



PREFACE. 



The object of the North CAROLiisrA Booklet is to erect 
a suitable memorial to the patriotic women who composed 
the ^'Edenton Tea Party." 

These stout-hearted women are every way worthy of admi- 
ration. On October 25, 1774, seven months before the defi- 
ant farmers of Mecklenburg had been aroused to the point of 
signing their Declaration of Independence, nearly twenty 
months before the declaration made by the gentlemen com- 
posing the Vestry of St. Paul's Church, Edenton, nearly 
two years before Jefferson penned the immortal National 
Declaration, these daring women solemnly subscribed to a 
document affirming that they would use no article taxed by 
England. Their example fostered in the whole State a deter- 
mination to die, or to be free. 

In beginning this new series, the Daughters of the Revo- 
lution desire to express their most cordial thanks to the for- 
mer competent and untiringly faithful Editors, and to ask 
for the new management the hearty support of all who are 
interested in the brave deeds, high thought, and lofty lives 
of the North Carolina of the olden days. 

Mrs. D. H. Hill. 



ALAMANCE. 



i??i 



The following poem by Seymour Whiting should be memo- 
rized by every child in ITorth Carolina. When this poem was 
written no monument had been placed on the old battle- 
ground. The monument which now marks the spot was 
erected in 1880. 

No stately column marks the hallowed place 

Where silent sleeps, iinurned, their sacred dust — 

The first free martyrs of a glorious race, 

Their fame a people's wealth, a nation's trust. 

Above their rest the golden harvest waves, 
The glorious stars stand sentinel on high, 

Wliile in sad requiem near their turfless graves 
The winding river murmurs moaning by. 

But holier watchers here their vigils keep 

Than storied urn or monumental stone; 
For Law and Justice guard their dreamless sleep, 

And Plenty smiles above their bloody home. 

Immortal youth shall crown their deathless fame, 
And as their country's glories still advance. 

Shall brighter glow, o'er all the earth thy name, 
Our first-fought field of freedom — Alamance! 




MONUMENT ON ALAMANCE BATTLE-GROUND. 



WAS ALAMANCE THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE 
REVOLUTION? 



BY LUTIE ANDREWS MCCORKLE, 
Author of " Old-time Stories of the Old North State." 



"Constructive historical work deserves and gets more credit 
than does destructive work. To overthrow the idols of our 
forefathers is considered akin to sacrilege; but the time is 
come when we are compelled to bow our heads and acknowl- 
edge that some of our forefathers were as great rascals as 
some of us.'' 

This remarkable paragraph introduces an article entitled 
"Regulators in a IsTew Light/' which appeared in the Char- 
lotte Observer of January 25, 1903. While few of us, I trust, 
are willing to admit the "soft impeachment" of being rascals 
ourselves, fewer still, doubtless, are willing to accord this dis- 
tinction to their forefathers, and say in earnest what Burns 
said in jest: 

"My ancient but ignoble blood 
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood." 

"The average history of Revolutionary events," our enlight- 
ened critic goes on to say, "gives but one side of the question, 
and even that side is whitewashed." After such a bold 
announcement, we arei not surprised by the recklessness with 



6 



which the writer proceeds, in his ^'destructive work/' That he 
succeeds in showing the Regulators in a ''new light" is nn- 
questionahle ; but that it is a true light will at least admit of 
some degree of doubt. 

Such sweeping assertions as these arraign a, formidable 
array of writers of eminent talent as men incompetent, by rea- 
son of carelessness and partiality, to perform the tasks which 
they undertook. Bancroft, Lossing, Hawks, Wheeler, Swain 
and Graham were not only men of recognized ability, but 
were untiring, pain stalling, conscientious seekers after truth. 
With one accord they believed and stoutly maintained that 
"the first blood shed in battle with the troops of the English 
government in support of the principles of the American Revo- 
lution was the blood of N^orth Carolinians, and the first battle- 
field was the soil of that State" at Alamance. They had pur- 
sued their investigations unde^r a profound sense of their duty 
to pireserve the history of their country for the instruction of 
future generations, and they gave the results of their inquiries 
to the public as truth, to be cherished with honest pride by 
every patriotic American. Now it is charged that theirs was 
"constructive work" — the construction of an idol to be wor- 
shiped by a credulous people, and that it now becomes the 
bounden duty of the destructive critics of this generation to 
demolish this idol in the interest of historic certainty. 

The causes of the Regulation movement, culminating in the 
battle of Alamance, it is alleged, were "igTLorance and ven- 
geance on one side and vanity and error on the other." The 
"flagrant and unjustifiable wrongs" under which the people 



groaned are tlius laughed to scorn, and tlie patriots of 1771 
are represented as the dupes of a cowardly demagogue who 
was using his influence to avenge personal grievances. 

Possibly no two facts in American history have been more 
doubted and discussed, and in consequence more indisputably 
proven, than that the battle of Alamance was the first battle, 
and the Mecklenburg Declaration the first declaration of 
independence in the revolt of the colonies against the Crown 
of England. The latter was the natural sequence of the for- 
mer. And yet, just as during the Wars of the Roses, there 
were patriotic Englishmen who sided with the house of York, 
and others with the house of Lancaster; as during the Pro- 
tectorate there were patriots both among the Roundheads and 
among the Cavaliers ; as during the Revolution some good men 
sided with England against their own countrymen, believing 
Toryism to be a religious virtue; as during the war between 
the States there were conscientious Unionists who fought in 
the Federal army against their own neighbors and kindred; 
so for the last' century there have been among us two parties^ — 
the one believing, the other refusing to believe, in the patriot- 
ism of the heroes of Alamance and in the authenticity of the 
Mecklenburg Declaration. 

By far the ablest and best equipped advocate of the '^de^ 
structive theory" in the former instance is Mr. Francis I^ash 
of Hillsboro, ]^. C. In a most interesting and admirably 
written paper on ''Hillsboro: Colonial and Revolutionary," 
he essays to prove that the organization knoAvn as the Regu- 
lators was ''an ignorant, headstrong populace," "all criminals 



8 



in a common riot/' moved by '^imaginary grievances/' and 
led by ^'an unscrupulous fomentor of strife/' who has since 
been elevated as a '^sentimental hero." He would have us 
believe that tbe battle so long regarded by our people with 
patriotic pride as the ''first fought field of freedom" was "lit- 
tle more than a neighborhood riot/' and denounces the asser- 
tion that '^the same spirit inspired the Eegulators that in- 
spired the Sons of Liberty or the Lexington Minute Men" as 
"sentimental slush." The battle of Alamance he would have 
us believe was but "the after-clap of a disgraceful riot." Him- 
self the descendant, if I mistake not, of a gentleman who was 
a victim of one of the few outrages charged against any of 
the Eegulators, their self -assumed title a stench in the nostrils 
of his family for more than a century, Mr. J^ash shows some- 
what of the unreasoning spirit of hereditary prejudice, and 
writes with a zeal worthy of a better cause. I am persuaded 
that he is not just in his denunciation of the Regulators, 
albeit they may have been unduly prejudiced against that 
Francis E'ash whose honored name he bears and whose patri- 
otic blood flows in his veins. 

Mr. ISTash has undertaken to overthrow the position on this 
question of many men whose testimony is incontrovertible, 
and seeks to break the force of documentary evidence that is 
overwhelming in its mass and conclusiveness. Whatever may 
be said of Hawks, Wheeler, Swain and Graham on the score 
of hereditary bias and local prejudice as being natives of North 
Carolina,, the same weakness cannot be charged to Bancroft, 
Caruthers, Lossing and Foote, all of whom are a unit in their 



conclusions in the premises. These men were natives of oither 
States, and, with tlie exception of Bancroft, they all visited 
the scenes they described and gathered the facts, not only from 
documentary evidence that had been handed down from colo- 
nial times, but in great part from, men who witnessed or par- 
ticipated in the battle and in the events preceding. Thus, it 
is seen they had at their command not only the records to 
which Mr. l^ash appeals so confidently, but the testimony of 
men who were able to communicate the facts at first hand. 
'Not a few of these, it may be added, were Presbiyterians, to 
whose testimony, as it will be shown presently, Mr. I^ash is 
himself disposed to defer on all occasions. 

The statements of Bancroft, in his ^'History of the United 
States,'' edition of 1854, are for the most part quotations from 
the letters of Governors T'ryon and Martin to Lord Hills- 
borough, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and from cotem- 
porary publications in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. 
This great historian tells us that he had a very full collection 
of papers bearing on the Regulators, and he declares that ''the 
blood of rebels against oppression was first shed on the 
branches of the Oape Fear river." Nor is the opinion of 
Dr. Caruthers to be despised. He lived for forty years in the 
section which had been the storm center of the Regulation 
movement, being the immediate successor of Dr. David Cald- 
well as pastor of tlie historic churches of Alamance and Buf- 
falo. He gathered many of his facts from ''old men of great 
respectability, who were then living and remembered the for- 
mer times." When he used verbal testimony he "took pains 



10 



to get an account of the same thing from different persons or 
froin the same person at different times, for the purpose of 
comparing them together and ascertaining the truth." And 
he tells us that '^the Eegulation is now regarded by our 
greatest men as the very germ of the Revolution in this 
State/' Dr. Hawks tells us he lived "where the spot on which 
the Regulators were hanged met his eye every day/' and 
declares that '^God made the flower of freedom, grow out of the 
turf that covered these men's graves." He also had a personal 
acquaintance with cotemporaries of those who laid down their 
lives at Alamance. 

The Regulators were, in Mr. E'ash's opinion, "an ignorant, 
headstrong, lawless populace," as they were regarded by 
Edmimd Fanning and his associates. In this view, however, 
he is not sustained by the testimony of men of eminent charac- 
ter who were associated with soma of the Regulators. Dr. 
Oaruthers tells us "there were many men in most of the iipper 
counties engaged in that affair who were then, as their de- 
scendants are now, among the most sensible, upright and 
respectable people in the country. Most of them had enjoyed 
the advajitages of a Christian training, and at that time had 
the ministrations of able and devoted men. The parishioners 
of such men as McAden, Caldwell, Balch, Craighead and 
others were probably something more than semi-barbarians 
and were not likely to be an unprincipled and lawless rabble, 
but many from these congregations were not only united with 
the mass of the Regulators in their addresses and petitions 
and all their legal methods of obtaining a redress for their 



11 



grievances, but were actually engaged in the battle." He says 
further: "Those [of the Eegulators] who lived in the region 
in which I have been acquainted seem to have been regarded 
as honorable in all the relations of life, and were much 
esteemed as men and citizens." 

Dr. F'oote, like Dr. C'aruthers, spent years in the section 
involved in this disturbance, and enjoyed a personal acquaint- 
ance with the immediate descendants of the Eegulators. "The 
descendants of these j)eople/' he writes, "who were at the time 
treated as rebels and stigmatized in government papers as 
ignorant and headstrong and unprincipled, hold the first rank 
in their country for probity and intelligence, have held the 
first ofiices in their own and in the two younger and neighbor- 
ing States, and have not been debarred the highest offices in 
the Union." 

Mr. JSTash himself admits that the four men whose names 
we have of the six who paid the penalty of their patriotism 
on the gallows at Hillsboro did not answer the description 
"lawless and ignorant." James Pugh made a manly defense 
of his course in the speech he delivered on the gallows, re- 
buking Tiyon for dereliction in duty, and "advised him to 
put away his corrupt clerks and tax-gatherers and be a friend 
of the people." Benjamin Merrill "was an honest, upright 
man." Of R,obert Matear "little is known" ; but against the 
statement of Caruthers that "he with Thompson had never 
taken any part in any riot and was a Regulator only in sym- 
pathy," Mr. ISTash thinks the fact conclusive that "he was con- 
victed at Hillsboro and executed, though six other convicts 



12 



were respited and afterwards pardoned.'' Surely Matear must 
]ia,ve been ^'ignorant and lawless/' since his ciharacter and 
record were not such as to comniend him to the mercy of that 
humane Governor who refused to listen to the Regulators and 
shot down Robert Thompson, an unarmed man, with his own 
hand ! Messer's integrity may be judged from the fact that 
he was permitted to leave the State in search of Hermon 
Husband, having promised to return and suffer himself to 
be executed if he could not bring Husband back. He failed 
in his effort and retiu'ned in due time to die for his offense. 
Many others who were numbered with the Regulators, such 
as Thomas Person, Cblonel Bryan and Captain Raleigh 
Sutherland, were men of ^^unimpeacliable character." If 
Mr. Nash is correct in saying that at that time ''the most 
moral communities in the whole section were those over which 
a few Presbyterian ministers held sway and exerted an influ- 
ence for good," then the weight of evidence seems to be 
against his position, for we are told that ''a large proportion 
of the men in Dr. Caldwell's congregation were Regulators." 
True, Dr. Caldwell's letter to Try on, in which he declares 
that the people of his congregation are not in sympathy with 
the Regulators, is often quoted ; but those who make use of 
this letter for the purpose of discrediting the Regulation 
movement invariably fail to state that it was written in 1766, 
five years before the battle of Alamance, and at a time when 
Dr. Caldwell himself was a comparative stranger in tliat 
section, having settled there only the previous year. In the 
five succeeding years he and his flock had ample occasion 



13 



and opportunity to ohange tlieir minds, and it is certain they 
did. Besides, ^'the people of Orange and equally of Rowan 
and Mecklenburg were unanimous in tlieir resolutions to 
claim relief from the Governor." So we find "the most 
moral communities in that section" engaged in the contest; 
for the congregations of McAden, Caldwell, Balch and C'raig- 
head, w^ho, to use Mr. N^ ash's phrase, ''held sw^ay and exerted 
an influence for good," extended over this section. Dr. 
Hawks tells us that ''w^hen the final struggle came every one 
of these spiritual guides, to a man, was on the side of an 
oppressed people." Even Hermon Husband, who figures in 
the pungent periods of our destructive critics as ''a selfish 
stirrer-up of turmoil, a fomentor of strife," seems to have 
been regarded as a man of some character by those who knew 
him. Clerk Fanning and the Hillsboro lawyers excepted. 
Says C'aruthers : ''I have conversed wdth a number who knew 
him personally and intimately in their youth, as they were 
neighbors, some of whom are yet living, and they all speak 
of him as a man of strict integrity and as a firm and sincere 
advocate of w^hat he considered the rights of mankind. When 
people find they have been deceived by a man who has 
courted their favor merely for some selfish end, they usually 
turn against him, but this was not the case with the people 
he represented." Dr. Caldwell thought, as Caruthers was 
assured by the family of that distinguished patriot and divine, 
"that Husband was a little headstrong and impetuous, but 
he believed him to be honest in his intentions." It is known 
that Husband was a personal friend and relative of Benja- 



14 



min Franklin, from whom at various times lie received mes- 
sages and pamphlets. Although Husband, bred a Quaker 
and deprecating all bloodshed as contrary to the law of Christ, 
fled at the first gun at Alamance, it appears by no means 
unreasonable that from Franklin he may have derived many 
of his opinions, aud that, though desiring a peaceful solution 
of every difficu.lty, he may have been actuated by motives as 
pure as were the motives of those who afterwards laid down, 
their lives for the cause of liberty. Very certain it is that 
the agitation begim by the Regulators had made good head- 
way in Grauville and Halifax, as well as in Orange and the 
more western counties, some time before Husband took a 
hand in it. Think what we may of his conduct at Alamance 
and afterwards, we are, in strict justice, compelled to accord 
him the verdict of contemporary public opinion. And while 
we would make no ''sentimental hero" of him, w^e have no 
right to attribute to him selfish and vengeful motives. 

Mr. Nash does not discuss the ''causes leading up to the 
War of the Regulation, except as they affect the history of 
colonial Hillsboro." Having thus left out of view a large 
part of the facts bearing on our question, he persuades him- 
self, and would persuade others, that the whole movement was 
oontemptible in its origin and spirit, and that Alamance was 
only the "after-clap" of what all must admit was a "disgrace- 
ful riot." Conceding all the facts alleged as to the riot at 
Hillsboro, we are by no means compelled to regard Alamance 
as the "after-clap" of that unfortunate affair, and much less 
are we required to admit that the men of Alamance were men 



15 



of another spirit tlian that which animated the Sons of Lib- 
erty and the Minute Men of Lexington. The truth is, the 
disturbances around Hillsboro were but the temporary out- 
ilashings of a spirit of deep resentment against corrupt offi- 
cials which pervaded the whole piedmont section of the 
colony, and was felt even on the distant sea-board. Before the 
Stamp Act bred defiance in the east, the people of the middle 
counties had long been groaning imder the exactions of the 
officers of the law, and simultaneously, though without con- 
cert of action, '^pleading in the anguish of their souls" for 
deliverance from the extortions and abuses of power under 
which they suffered. It would hardly be possible for dis- 
content so widespread not to evoke some lawlessness. When 
men bred to count themselves freemen ha,ve seen law dis- 
regarded and justice trampled under foot, what wonder if 
they fail to respect the law and its officers ? When wise heads 
ar^ convinced that foul wrong is being done without rebuke, 
hot heads will sometimes plot hasty vengeance. 

And what more natural than that the E,egulators should 
have cherished an '^especial antipathy toward Hillsboro'' ? 
It was a ver)^ small village, chiefly known to them as the 
home of Edmund Fanning, whose abuses of the law had made 
him odious to the people; as the home of the lawyers who 
justified and defended him, making his cause their own, and 
as the seat of a court in which a judge had flaunted his con- 
tempt for a long-suffering people in their faces by fining the 
chief culprit a penny and costs when convicted of extortion 
on six counts. Goaded by a sense of outrage, some of these 



16 



meiij in an outburst of indignation, undertook to "administer 
wild justice'' after their own fashion. But it is a well known 
fact that these outrages, instead of being excused as the 
"overflow of exuberant patriotism/' as Mr. I^ash would have 
us believe, were deplored and "condemned by the great body 
of Eesrulators." Because a small number of rnde "fellows 
of the baser sort" were g^iilty of lawless conduct, in one neigh- 
borhood, it is neither in accord with "historic truth" nor with 
historic justice to hold the entire body responsible for such 
conduct, and much less is it right on that account to impugn 
the motives of all those men of piedmont I^orth Carolina who 
for ten long years waged a fight for their liberties. This was 
precisely the uncharity of Governor Tryon, according to the 
testimony of his successor. 

Bnt in referring to the "so-called extortions practiced upon 
the people," Mr. ISTash concedes that "the charges of public 
officers were m some instances oppressive" ; and yet, in his 
evident anxiety to establish confidence in T'ryon's view of the 
"discreet and steady behavior of Colonel Fanning," and to 
relieve his character from unjust aspersion, he tells us that 
on certain papers Fanning "was entitled to a charge of eight 
shillings, whereas he made a rule, out of abundance of cau- 
tion, to charge only six shillings." It is matter of well 
attested fact, also that, "out of abundance of caution," to 
re-imburse himself for occasional generosity and keep his 
famous wine cellar well filled. Colonel Fanning was wont to 
charge $15 for a marriage license, for which the law allowed 
him but one dollar. 



17 



Governor Josiali Martin, who sncoeeded Tryon very soon 
after tlie battle of Alamance, was undoubtedly in a position 
to know wliereof be spoke. After spending some montbs in 
and around Hillsboro, be wrote to tbe Earl of Hillsborougb, 
Secretary of State for tbe Colonies, as follows: 

"North Carolina, Hillsborough, 

"August 30, 1772. 

. . . "My progress through this country, my Lord, hath opened my 
eyes exceedingly with respect to the commotions and discontents that 
have lately prevailed in it. I now see most clearly that they have been 
provoked by insolence, and cruel advantage taken of the people's igno- 
rance by mercenary, tricking attorneys, clerks and other little officers, 
who have practised upon them every sort of rapine and extortion, by 
which, having brought upon themselves their just resentment," etc. 

E-eferring to tbis letter of Governor Martin, and also to 
tbe petition of tbe people of Orange to Gbief Justice Howard 
and bis associates, Bancroft says: ^Tbe people bad no re^ 
spite from tbe insolence of mercenary attorneys and offioers, 
and were subjected to every sort of rapine and extortion. Tbe 
courts of law offered no redress. At tbe inferior courts tbe 
justices, wbo tbemselves were implicated in tbe pilfering of 
public money, named tbe juries. Tbe sberiff and receivers of 
taxes were in arrears for near seventy tbousand pounds wbicb 
tbey bad extorted from tbe people and of wbicb more tban 
two-tbirds bad been irretrievably embezzled." In 1769 Gov- 
ernor Tryon bimself wrote to tbe Assembly : 

^Tbe fact is too well known to admit of a denial, tbat in a 
long course of years past great sums of tbe public money bave 



18 



been lost by tlie negligence or insolvency of sberiffs and other 
collectors with their sureties. And it is presimied that in the 
same course of time considerable sums have simk after they 
were lodged in the public treasury, whereof no account has 
hitherto been made." 

Were it needful to add anything to these statements, we 
could rely upon the facts mentioned by Bancroft, that the 
petition of the Regulators was signed by about five hundred 
men and was fortified 'Vith a precise specification of acts of 
extortion, confirmed in each instance by oath.'' He had in 
hig possession a copy of tliat petition, with its signatures. 

Against all this mass of evidence, conclusive to any un- 
prejudiced mind, Mr. E^ash brings up the address presented 
to Governor Tryon in the Assembly of 1770 by Robert Howe, 
Samuel Johnston, Maurice Moore, Cornelius Harnett, Abner 
E'ash, Joseph Hewes and Edmund Fanning, in which they 
'^condemn without stint both the motives and the acts of the 
Regulators." As these men, with the exception of Fanning, 
were afterwards ^^distinguished patriots," Mr. ^N'ash would 
have us consider their opinion conclusive as to the status of 
the Regulators. But he fails to tell us that these men, except 
Joseph Hewes, were all lawyers, and. Fanning only excepted, 
all from the eastern part of the province. The fight of the 
Regulators had all along been largely against the lawyers. 
They had plainly stated in one of their protests: 'Tt is not 
our form or mode of government, nor yet our laws, that we 
are quarreling with, but with the malpractice of the officers 
of our County Ct)urt, and the abuse we suffer from those who 



19 



are empower ed to manage our public affairs." C'an we won- 
der if the acts of mercenary individuals had brought odium 
upon the whole profession? ]^or can we forget that the 
people of the sea-board had not felt the heavy hand of extor- 
tion as the poor farmers of the interior had felt it. The 
Governor residing in the east, the officers of the law would 
be held in check there and would hardly dare to practice the 
oppressions that were common in more remote regions. Be- 
sides, the east had been longer settled and was more pros- 
perous through its flourishing commerce with the outside 
world, while in the interior there was little either of coin or 
currency, the people subsisting solely upon their small crops, 
and their trade being diiefly barter. Hence, men from the 
east were hardly prepared to appreciate the motives (even 
though they may at a later period have followed the good 
example) of the Regulators in fighting ^'for the liberties they 
had inherited." 

The Regulators, says Mr. IsTash, ^'demanded that dishonest 
public officials should be removed and punished ; and Gov- 
ernor T'ryon not complying with their demand so summarily 
as they desired, they, inspired by hatred and revenge, pro- 
ceeded to administer this punishment themselves. So they 
were an organized but irresponsible and uncontrollable 
mob^ — not a great people in the throes of a struggle for inde- 
pendence." 

Were the Regulators a mob? Let them answer for them- 
selves. "We tell you, in the anguish of our souls," they said 
to Governor Try on, "we cannot go to law with our powerful 



20 



antagonists ; that step, whenever taken, will terminate in the 
ruin of ourselves and families." They had had experience 
with lawyers and had grown wiser because of that sad expe- 
rience. ''That is all we want/' they said to the Governor's 
secretary — ''liberty to make our grievances known/' so con- 
fident were they of the righteousness of their cause. This, 
surely, is not the unreasoning spirit of a mob. Their deter- 
mination, as set fortli in resolutions adopted at one of their 
earlier meetings, was: 

"1st. That we will pay no more taxes until we are satisfied 
that they are agreeable to law and applied to purposes therein 
mentioned, unless we cannot help it or are forced to it. 

"2d. That we will pay no officer any more fees than the 
law allows," etc. 

Again, let Governor Martin, who seems honestly desirous 
to deal fairly by them, answer in their behalf. The "tricking 
attorneys, clerks and other little officers," he v/rites to the 
Eiarl of Hillsborough, in the letter already mentioned, had 
"engaged government in their defense by artful misrepre- 
sentations, that the vengeance the wretched people in folly 
and madness aimed at their heads was directed against the 
Constitution; and by this stratagem they threw an odium 
upon the injured people that by degrees begot a prejudice 
which precluded a full discovery of their grievances. Thus, 
my Lord, as far as I have been able to discover, the resentment 
of government was craftily worked up against the oppressed, 
and the protection which the oppressors treacherously ac- 
quired, v/here the injured and ignorant people expected to 



21 



find it, drove (some of them) to acts of desperation and con- 
federated them in violence, which, as your Lordship knows, 
induced bloodshed; and, I verily believe, necessarily." In 
the adroit special pleading of Mr. Nash, the craft and strata- 
gem of Fanning is being repeated in this year of grace 1903. 

The Regulators, says Bancroft, ''asked no more than that 
extortioners be brought to fair trials and the collectors of 
public money called to proper settlement of their accounts." 
Tryon made promises, only to break them, until they found 
to their sorrow that "his Excellency was determined not to 
lend a kind ear to the just complaints of the people." And 
such was the craft and cunning of Fanning and the la,wyers 
who aided and abetted his rascalities that the Regulators were 
doomed to disappointment in their sanguine ''hope that naked 
truth and native igTiorance would poise the superexcellent 
flourishes and consummate declamation of their powerful 
adversary." Certain it is, however, that something more 
than the "superexcellent flourishes" of Mr. leash's specious 
argument will be needed to "poise" the right of the men of 
Alamance to be regarded as patriots contending for their 
liberties. History has given its verdict, and that verdict is 
not likely to be changed by the arguments of those whose 
methods and animus compel them to become the apologists of 
Fanning and of Tryon. 

Mocked in the courts, stigmatized as "outlaws and rebels," 
again and again deceived by the royal Governor, tliese men 
whom Mr. I^ash denounces as a "lawless and irresponsible 
mob" twice retired quietly to their homes on receiving a mere 



22 



promise of redress — once wtien they had gathered seven hun- 
dred strong at Hillsboro, and again when ^ve hundred of 
them, had assembled at Salisbury. Here again we do not find 
any spirit of irresponsibility and lawlessness. 

'Not were they men of lawless and cowardly spirit who, 
without a leader and in large part unarmed, stood before 
Tryon at Alamance, desiring naught but permission to pre- 
sent to him a respectful petition laying before him in ample 
detail all their grievances, ^'in full hope and confidence of 
being redressed by him." To have submitted to his peremp- 
tory and insulting demands would have been to exhibit the 
cringing spirit of slaves. So, with the courage of martyrs, 
those of them who were armed stood their ground when Tryon 
precipitately began the battle. Thus was given, as Caruthers 
says, ^Hhe first expression of the principles and spirit which 
covered the men of '76 with immortal honor.'' 

When Captain Raleigh Sutherland, coming with a force 
from Surry to help the Regulators, wept on hearing from, a 
distance the guns of Alamance, because he was not there with 
his countrymen 'Svho were shedding their blood in defense 
of their rights," he was animated by the same spirit which led 
General Francis ^N^ash to say, with his -dying breath, on the 
field of Gennantown, ^'Froni the first dawn of Revolution 
I have been on the side of liberty and my country." The 
difference was, that Sutherland was first to recognize that 
dawm of Liberty's day. 

But it is urged that the men of Alamance were not fighting 
British troops, and that they were not fighting for inde- 



23 



pendence. As to the first quibble, it is sufficient to state tbat 
tbey were fighting the same sort of a force that suffered de- 
feat at the hands of Shelby and Cleveland at King's Moun- 
tain — colonial militia, flying the British flag and led by 
officers who represented the British crown. As to the second, 
the same argument would prove that Lexington was not a 
battle of the Revolution at all, and that in fact the Revolu- 
tion did not commence until July, 1776. The truth is, none 
of the colonists at first desired independence. The common 
demand of all was redress of grievances. Only thirty-seven 
days before the battle of Lexington, John Adams declared 
''that there are any who pant after independence is the 
greatest slander on the province." 

Once more, it is said that the men of Alamance did not 
come thither expecting to fight. Neither did the men of 
Lexington. We are told that ''the night preceding the out- 
rage at Lexington there were not fifty people in the colony 
that ever expected any blood would be shed in the contest." 
The patriots of Alamance were stigmatized as rebels, and 
suffered the spoiling of their plantations and the burning of 
their homes, and some of them were executed as traitors and 
rebels. According to the British view, the men of Lexington 
were nothing more nor less. 

Compare the utterances and the deeds of the men of Ala- 
mance with those of the men of Lexington. They of Lexing- 
ton instruct their representatives to demand "radical and 
lasting redress of their grievances." The Regulators, when 
promised a respectful hearing, are so sure of compliance with 



24 



tlieir just demands that they cry ''Agreed ! That is all we 
want — liberty tO' make our gTievancies known.'' On the vil- 
lage green of Lexington free-born Americans swore ''to com- 
bat manfully for their birthright inheritance of liberty.'' 
On the greensward of Alamance the Kegulators, counting 
themselves free-born, gave full proof of their resolve "to 
know and enjoy the liberty which they had inherited." 

Word chimes with word. Deed harmonizes with deed. 
The same spirit of freemen, ready to die for liberty, breathes 
in both. At Alamance there burst forth in a, battle for right 
and justice the same undaunted spirit of love for freedoim 
that afterwards flashed in the Mecklenburg Declaration of 
Independence, and later flamed at King's Mountain, at Cow- 
pens and at Guilford Court House. I^or does it alter this 
fact, that some of the Eiegulators, forced by Tryon to take the 
oath of allegiance to the British government, afterward fought 
in the ranks of the Loyalists against their own countrymen, 
as some of those who had oppressed them w^ere in the ranks of 
the patriot army. This is, in truth, but another argument to 
show that theirs was not the irresponsible temper and lawless 
disposition of a mob. They kept their oath out of regard to 
solemn obligations which they considered binding in the sight 
of heaven ; and it is matter of history that they were promised 
as loyalists all the redress for which they had fought at Ala- 
mance, and under a Governor who had declared his convic- 
tion of the justice of their cause. It is matter of history also 
that the Presbyterians of Mecklenburg hesitated because of 
their oaths, when independence was proposed, and disregarded 



25 



those oaths only under the advice of their leaders. If any 
fact in the history of the United States is well attested, it is 
that the fire which flashed forth at Alamance was not 
quenched in the ashes of defeat. It left embers burning from 
which, as the years went by, there was kindled throughout 
Surry, Anson, Eowan and Mecklenburg and across the Alle- 
ghanies in the independent "State of Franklin," founded by 
refugees from the country of the Hegulators, a flame of 
patriotic fervor which, uniting at last with the fires of Lex- 
ington and Bunker Hill, swept away the entire remnant of 
British power in the colonies. In the State of Franklin, the 
immediate offspring of the Regulation movement, independ- 
ence was a fact before it was dreamed of elsewhere. In that 
little Commonwealth in the mountains no British flag ever 
waved and no officer of the British Crown ever came, and 
there the people, outraged and outlawed by British oppres- 
sion, "set to the people of America the dangerous example of 
erecting themselves into a State separate and distinct from 
and independent of the authority'' of the English Crown. 

In view of all the facts, attested by cotemporary witnesses 
and admitted by royal Governors, we feel constrained to be- 
lieve that what Bancroft says of the men of Lexington should 
be, in all its particulars, held applicable to the heroes of Ala- 
mance, and to them only. 

"There they now stood, with arms in their hands, silent, 
fearless, willing to fight for their privileges, scrupulous not to 
begin civil war, as yet unsuspicious of danger. The ground 
on which they trod was the altar of freedom, and they were 



26 



to furnisli the victims. They gave their lives a testimony 
to the rights of mankind, hequeathing tO' their country an 
assurance of success in the mighty struggle which they 
began/^ 

Let us hold their names in grateful remembrance, and let 
the '^expanding millions of their countrymen renew and mul- 
tiply their praise from generation tO' generation." 



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