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ERIC Number: EJ1002126
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Nov
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Prelude to the American Revolution? The War of Regulation: A Revolutionary Reaction for Reform
Sadlier, Sarah
History Teacher, v46 n1 p97-126 Nov 2012
On June 19, 1771, the young, admired captain of the Regulators, Benjamin Merrill, and 11 of his compatriots were condemned to the gallows for high treason. But what heinous actions did these men commit? What reprehensible crime would constitute such a punishment? The answer lies in the failure of the Regulator Rebellion, a prolonged conflict in the North Carolina backcountry spanning from 1766 to 1771. Today, this unsuccessful revolution is best known as the War of Regulation, or more simply, the Regulation. The backcountry men of neighboring South Carolina, who protested the legislature's inability to establish local government in the western settlements, first assumed the moniker of "Regulator." The term was later adopted in the 1760s to denote persons of the North Carolina backcountry whose purpose was to "regularize" and reform the protocols and procedures of their local governments. These Regulators, a group consisting of seven thousand men, endeavored to obtain redress of their grievances from their colonial government. When their peaceful, legal measures were repeatedly blocked, primarily by Royal Governor William Tryon, the backcountry men reacted with open violence. Their hostilities culminated in the Battle of Alamance, which concluded the war with a Tryonian victory. In the aftermath of Alamance, the governor's forces decimated Regulator strongholds, hanged a select number of the Regulator rebels, and required more than 6,000 individuals to swear an oath of allegiance to the King. Though the larger portion of the insurrection had been subdued by 1771, the Regulator Movement persisted in the backcountry throughout much of the 1770s. On the eve of the American Revolution, the Regulators would appear to be America's first Patriots; however, such was not the case. Although the Regulators prefigured the larger American Revolution with their willingness to fight for fairer taxation and governance against their ruling body, they were not always the anti-British Patriots historians have assumed them to be. Thorough investigation of primary resources reveals that the Regulators were certainly not American Patriots: for the most part, they were loyal British subjects--reacting to and endeavoring to reform corruption in their local government through means of revolution. (Contains 79 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina; South Carolina