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The Southern States of America
Chapter II - North Carolina a Royal Province, 1729 - 1776

Condition from 1729-1752.

The Proprietary of the Carolinas ended in 1729 by its purchase by the Crown. Only Lord Granville refused to sell his share. There were several reasons for this transfer. The Crown desired it for purposes of defense against the Spaniard and the French on the south and southwest ; the merchants of England preferred to trade with royal provinces rather than with proprietaries, and the proprietors were glad to sell, for their possessions had not been a financial success. Politically the Proprietary had produced only unrest and conflicts ; its history was one of collisions and insurrections. As far as the settlers were concerned the transfer was a matter of indifference. They felt that all their rights were guaranteed by the original charter under which they had made their settlements, and that neither proprietors nor king could interfere with them.

At the time of the transfer there were about 40,000 people in the province, including both white and black. They were settled along Albemarle Sound, and at the mouths of the rivers as far south as New Bern. The few Indians that remained in the settlements were on reservations. The people were engaged in farming, cultivating corn, wheat, tobacco, peas, rice, indigo, and some cotton. Tar and rosin engaged some attention. There were a few saw-mills along the rivers. Hogs and beef cattle were driven to Virginia and sold. Barreled pork and beef were shipped. Their trade was with New England and the West Indies and Virginia. Sugar, molasses and rum were imported from New England. The English navigation laws produced some smuggling. The people were a plain people who manufactured their own clothes called "homespun." The transfer to the Crown produced little change in the form of government. The governor was now appointed by the Crown instead of by the proprietors. He was to hold his office during the pleasure of the Crown. His salary was supposed to be paid out of quit-rents due the Crown. His instructions were so minute and voluminous that he had little freedom of action. In the administration of affairs he was assisted by a council, secretary, receiver-general for the collection of rents due the Crown, surveyor-general and attorney-general, all of whom were appointed by the Crown.

The judicial department consisted of a Supreme Court composed of a chief justice and his associates, and the precinct courts that met quarterly in each precinct. In addition to these there were some minor courts. The legislature consisted of an upper house composed of members of the council, and a lower house elected by the people of the precincts. Certain towns were also given representation in the lower house.

At first there were only two counties and these were divided into precincts. These counties were Albemarle and Bath, but in 1738 these precincts were made counties. There was no chief town. The governor resided at his own place, and the Assembly met frequently at private houses.

The first governor appointed by the Crown was George Burrington. He had been governor under the proprietors, but had been recalled. His administration was short. He arrived in 1731 and his administration terminated in 1734. The settlers welcomed Burrington, though his former administration had been turbulent. This good feeling did not last long, for turmoil and strife soon followed. Burrington was full of energy. He visited every part of the province, explored the rivers and sounds and strove to 'aid the province. However, he was quarrelsome and knew nothing of diplomacy. From good testimony it appears that he was vulgar, profane and boisterous. He declared that the settlers "always behaved insolently to the governors. All the governors that were ever in the province lived in fear of the people and dreaded their assemblies." This statement is borne out by the missionary Urmstone, who said "they respect no authority that does not emanate from themselves."

Very wisely Burrington was recalled and Gabriel Johnston became his successor. Johnston was a Scotchman who had been engaged in English politics in London. He was different in temperament from Burrington. He felt himself gifted in the art of bringing things to pass by what he called "management." He had many opportunities to show his skill, for his administration was a long one, extending over eighteen years - till 1752. There were many perplexing problems that harassed Johnston. One was the collection of quit-rents. Lands were not held by the settlers in fee simple. Each year they were required to pay to the Crown certain rents called quit-rents, which were nothing more than a tax. The time, place and means of the payment were the causes of bitter trouble. In disgust, Johnston wrote that these people "never were of any service to the proprietors, and I fear they never will be to the king." The governor devised many schemes, but the Assembly under the management of the astute Edward Mosely always interfered with his plans. Finally Johnston determined that he would get control of the Assembly by a trick of his "management." He called the Assembly to meet at Wilmington in the month of November. This place was so far from the populous Albemarle section that he thought few of the opposition from that section would be able to attend. In this he was correct, for not even a quorum was present. This did not embarrass Johnston, for he proceeded to organize the Assembly and to legislate.

The most important legislation of the session had to do with the Albemarle section. These old precincts had each five representatives, while the new precincts had only two. A law was enacted limiting the Albemarle precincts to two also. They refused to abide by the law, and elected their customary five. The Assembly refused to seat them, but Albemarle refused to send others. This condition remained for eight years. Being unrepresented, Albemarle refused to pay taxes. Inasmuch as the northern counties did not pay, the southern refused also. Finally the Crown repealed the obnoxious legislation.

It was during Johnston's administration that four companies were sent to join Admiral Vernon in his attack on the Spaniards at New Carthage in South America. Also the coasts were frequently attacked by parties from St. Augustine and by Spaniards. In these attacks cattle was slaughtered, slaves stolen and some persons killed. To protect the entrance to the Cape Fear, Fort Johnston was erected at the mouth.

Worn out with care, Governor Johnston died in 1752.

Expansion of the Province, 1752-1765.

During the administration of Johnston the province began to grow rapidly toward the west. Scotchmen began to arrive as early as 1739, and to settle along the Cape Fear River. At the end of the Johnston administration the population was estimated at 90,000. Johnston having died in office, he was succeeded by the president of the Council, Nathaniel Rice. He lived only a few months when he was succeeded by Matthew Rowan, a prominent merchant of Bath, who held the office till the arrival of Arthur Dobbs in 1754. Immigrants had already begun to pour into the "back country" before the arrival of Dobbs. Many Scotchmen came to the colony immediately after the battle of Culloden in 1745, and settled on the Cape Fear; the Scotch-Irish came down in great numbers from Pennsylvania and settled what is now the central portion of the state; into the same region, only a little further west, came the Germans-better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the Moravians settled in the northwest-called by them Wachovia. In addition to these immigrants many Englishmen continued to come into the province. This tide of immigration completely changed the character of the province. Hitherto, it had been weak and feeble, but soon there were 125,000 people. Also, these immigrants were of the highest type -industrious, frugal, religious, intelligent. The fact that Johnston was from Scotland and that Dobbs was from Ireland was an inducement to these people to come to this province. At this time North Carolina was developing more rapidly than any other province in America.

Religious Conditions.

In religion these new immigrants were mostly Presbyterian and Lutheran. They believed in education, and built their school houses and churches in the same grove. In the east there were Baptists, Quakers and Episcopalians. Numerous Vestry Acts had been passed with a view of permanently establishing the Church of England, but these acts amounted to very little. These Vestry Acts generally made each county a parish, the voters of each parish selected the vestry to secure a minister who was required to be acceptable to the bishop of London. The legislature fixed the fees for the minister and provided for a glebe. In the eastern counties where there were members of the Church of England it was not difficult to put these laws into effect, but in the "back counties," where there were practically only Dissenters, these acts were of no avail. Dissenters were chosen vestrymen, and they failed to provide for a minister. In this way the law was nullified.

The great missionary society of England for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, had sent missionaries to the province as early as 1701, but the efforts had amounted to little. Later came Presbyterians and Baptists who were more successful.

Land Grants.

Land grants on easy terms were secured from the Crown. In order to encourage immigration, certain London merchants were given large grants. McCulloch was granted 1,200,000 acres on the headwaters of the Pee Dee and the Cape Fear. He was to divide this into baronies of 12,500 acres each. No rents were to be paid for many years. These large grants caused much trouble up to the time of the Revolution, when the McCulloch lands were confiscated. In 1744 Lord Granville's lands were assigned him. He was given the northern half of the province from the seat to the west. It was from him that the Moravians made their purchase of 100,000 acres and established their communistic settlement. It was unfortunate for the Crown and the province that an absentee landlord was owner of one-half the land. It caused no end of trouble. The rents went to him and not to the Crown. Many complaints were made against Granville's agents; they made little effort to bring settlers, and there was jealousy between the Crown's domain and the Granville district. The laws for this district were made by the legislature, but this divided rule was hurtful. Serious riots were frequently threatened with the agents, which the Assembly was called upon to settle. On one occasion a large body of men went to the home of Francis Corbin, the agent, and compelled him to go with them to Enfield, where he was forced to promise reforms under a "peculiar bond." Lord Granville never gave up these lands, but lost them in the upheaval of the Revolution.

French and Indian Wars.

In the French and Indian war this province was quick to respond to the call for help. Under President Rowan, before the arrival of Governor Dobbs, the Assembly voted an aid of 750 men and 12,000. The command was given to Col. James Innes, who had previously led the provincial troops against Spain in the attack on New Carthagena. Colonel Innes led 450 of these troops to Virginia and arrived there just after the discomfiture of young Washington at Great Meadows. The commander of the expedition against the French was General Frye. Just at this juncture he died, and Governor Dinwiddie prevailed upon Innes to take chief command. The whole expedition had been poorly planned, no provision had been made for the support of the troops and the French outnumbered the English. Under these circumstances Colonel Innes sent the North Carolina troops to their homes. He remained at the head of a handful of troops till the English government appointed Governor Sharpe to the chief command. In October, 1754, Governor Dobbs met with Governor Dinwiddie at Winchester, and made plans for a more extensive campaign. Colonel Innes was prevailed upon to remain with the army as Camp-Master-General. When Fort Cumberland was finished he was made governor. Braddock had now taken chief command and in July, 1755, made his disastrous attack on the French and Indians. Colonel Innes received the remnant of his army into Ft. Cumberland. Though it was August his successor went into winter quarters in Philadelphia, leaving Innes with a mere handful of men and the sick and wounded. Under these circumstances he disbanded his men and returned to North Carolina.

Governor Dobbs was very energetic all the time in support of the English government. He had been a member of the army, and his son, Edward Brice Dobbs, was then a member. At this time he was visiting his father. He organized a company to go to the aid of General Braddock. In 1755 four companies were organized to go to the help of the English in New York. Governor Dobbs met other governors in Philadelphia, in 1757, to discuss ways and means to conduct the war. In the same year two companies were sent into South Carolina to aid in repelling an attack from that direction. In the campaign against Ft. DuQuesne three companies were sent from North Carolina under the command of Col. Hugh Waddell. He was probably the youngest colonel in the expedition, but also the most expert Indian fighter. He often dressed as an Indian and was skilled in their woodcraft. This knowledge was of great service to the commander in this expedition.

The contribution of North Carolina to this war was made under the most trying difficulties. Money could be secured only by exporting products to other colonies, where they were sold at a sacrifice. The English government voted funds to reimburse the colonies, but North Carolina felt that she never received her share and blamed Governor Dobbs for it.

While this war was waging there was danger to the province nearer home. The Indians on the western frontier were ready for the warpath. The Cherokees in the western mountains had many fighting men. They began to make raids on the frontier settlers and to massacre them. So great was the danger that the Assembly erected a fort just beyond Salisbury, naming it Ft. Dobbs. Colonel Waddell was placed in command. In 1756 another fort was erected still further westward. The Moravian settlement also became a retreat for the settlers. In February, 1760, the Indians attacked Ft. Dobbs in great numbers, but were repulsed by Colonel Waddell. In 1761 a campaign against the Indians was planned. Colonel Grant, of the English army, was to march against them from the south, and Colonel Waddell from the north. Grant met the Indians near the present town of Franklin and crushed them so that they sued for peace.

There were other troubles that worried the last days of Governor Dobbs. The old quarrel with the Assembly continued. Dobbs was anxious to return to England, and so asked for an assistant governor. He died before sailing, and the administration of affairs passed to the lieutenant-governor, William Tryon, in 1765.

William Tryon and the War of the Regulation, 1765-1771.

Tryon was the most distinguished and accomplished of all the royal governors ever sent to the province. He was well-born, accomplished, ambitious, diplomatic and suave in manners. He was the one governor who was able to get along with the Assembly. He was very popular, but this popularity he won only after a bitter experience with the Assembly at the very beginning of his administration. This trouble arose from the effort to enforce the Stamp Act.

Tryon was told by Speaker Ashe of the Assembly that they would resist its enforcement to the death. Tryon therefore prorogued the Assembly. The people, however, were very restless. On October 16 some 500 or 600 people assembled in the town of Wilmington and burned Earl Bute in effigy. The crowd then compelled many citizens of the town to come out to a bonfire and drink to "Liberty property, and no stamp duty and confusion to Lord Bute." Dr. Houston, who had been appointed stamp-master, was required to take oath that he would sell no stamps. Mr. Stewart, the printer, was required to publish his paper without the stamps. Instead of the stamps he printed a skull and cross-bones with these words: "here is the place to affix the stamps." The governor, seeing the dangerous trend of things, called together a number of merchants for consultation and tried to persuade them to render obedience to the law, but they refused firmly to try to prevail upon the people to accept it.

On January 16 two vessels came into the Cape Fear without the proper stamps. They were seized by an English war-vessel, the Viper. There was great indignation among the people. The crew, sent to Wilmington for supplies, was arrested and thrown into prison, and no supplies were permitted to be sent to the vessel. The militia of the county was called out, and under the commands of Colonels Ashe and Waddell came to Brunswick, and threatened the vessel. The commandant of Ft. Johnston, fearing that they might seize the fort, spiked all the guns. These troops were not disorderly; they even visited the governor and told him that no harm was intended to him, but that the commerce of the Cape Fear must not be interrupted. There was no concealment in the conduct of these men, and the best men of the province were the leaders. Tryon was fearful that a general insurrection would ensue, for the whole province was in sympathy with the conduct of these leaders. Happily, at this juncture, the news arrived that the odious measure would be promptly repealed. All disturbances now subsided. Tryon had learned something of the type of men that he had come to rule, and in the future he guided himself accordingly.

Tryon and his wife were fond of society and possessed many social accomplishments. When the Assembly met they made friends rapidly. He prevailed upon them to locate the capital at New Bern and to undertake the building of a palace for the governor, and one of the finest buildings in America was erected. Under Tryon European court etiquette reached its highest point in this colony. His receptions were full of forms and ceremonies that appealed to the imagination of the Assembly, and to the best people of the province. Of course, this palace created a debt, but no word of complaint was heard save from the "back counties."

One other very prominent trait of Tryon was his fondness for military display. He was never happier than when he was surrounded by a military escort and exercising the pomp of arms. He felt that such display impressed the imaginations of the people with the power and strength of government. For example, there was a demand that the dividing line between the province and the Cherokee Indians be run. Instead of sending surveyors, he organized the militia of Rowan and Mecklenburg counties into a regular army, and with the flare of trumpets and the beat of drums he marched into the region, camped for a few days, returned home and left the surveyors to run the line. He made the desired impression on the Indians, for they called him "the Great Wolf." Then, too, it helped to cement the Tryon party and to make him popular with many people. This proved a heavy expense, but the Assembly, unlike the Assembly of earlier days, had no complaint to make.


The most important and most dramatic event in the colonial history of the province was the Regulator movement. The most notable outbreak occurred in Orange county, though the sympathizers with the Regulator complaints were found in various sections. The movement was the outcome of conditions social, political, economic and, some have thought, religious. The social life of the new west, or "back counties," was different from the old east. These new settlers were farmers; they had little intercourse with the east, and they were too far from the sea to engage in trade. They had little money, which was always a defect in the economic life of the province. They had an abundance of produce, but they could not obtain money for it. In religion they were dissenters. Their ministers were strong leaders. In fact the settlements were made in small groups, and each group had its leader, who was frequently the minister. The system of local government did not tend to bind them to the east. The county officers received their appointment from the governor. There was centralization in government, but decentralization in everything else. It was out of conditions like these that complaints began to be made as early as 1765 against the county officials. The first formal complaint was made on June 6, 1765, in the famous Nutbush paper of Granville county. This paper set forth some of the grievances under which the people claimed to labor. This brief paper complained of the illegal exactions of lawyers and clerks, and declared that "few of you have not felt the weight of these iron fists." Similar but fuller complaints were made in Orange and Anson in 1766. Protests were sent to the Assembly, but there was no redress of grievances. That these grievances were real, and not imaginary, no one denies. Feeling grew so intense that the Orange Regulators in March, 1768, declared that they would pay no more taxes "till there is a settlement to our satisfaction." The mild protests of 1766 and 1767 had gone unheeded, and so now the era of threats and force began. The sheriff of Orange was warned that any effort to collect tax would be at his peril. He did not heed this warning but seized a mare, bridle and saddle for taxes. A number of indignant Regulators proceeded to Hillsboro, rescued the property and fired into the house of Edmund Fanning, whom they regarded as responsible for the failure to heed their grievances. For this offense two men, Herman Husbands and William Butler, were arrested on April 30. On May 3, 700 Regulators went to Hillsboro to secure their release, but found that they were already released on bail. In July Governor Tryon came in person to Hillsboro, and returned in September, bringing troops from Rowan, Orange and Granville to protect the court that was to be in session. Here was another example of Tryon's fondness for display, though it cost the province 20,000. When the court met a great band of Regulators numbering, it was estimated, 3,700 came near the town, and sent to inform the governor that they wished to lay aside all illegal methods of settling their grievances. Tryon took no notice of their request, and so the Regulators returned to their homes. Things now remained quiet for a time. A new Assembly had been called and many new men had been elected. The Regulators were hoping to obtain a favorable hearing from them, but were doomed to disappointment. Other things also happened to irritate the Regulators. When the Hillsboro court met in September, 1770, a band of Regulators came to town, entered the court-house, intimidated the judge till he fled, whipped some lawyers, assaulted Fanning and permitted him to go on condition that "he take the road and continue running until he should get out of their sight." Then they took possession of the courthouse and proceeded to hold a mock court, entering all kinds of ridiculous verdicts on the record. Their whole conduct smacks of the rude horseplay common to American frontier life.

Governor Tryon now began to contemplate the use of force. The judges, attorney-general and Council advised this course. The Assembly was now called and proceeded to pass the Johnson Bill, better known as the Bloody Act, which made rioting treason. Husbands, a leader among the Regulators, was a member of this Assembly. He was expelled but was arrested at once, and was to be tried in New Bern. Only the failure of the grand jury to return a true bill prevented the Regulators from marching a large body to New Bern to release him by force.

Governor Tryon, in the meantime, placed the town under military control, and had the militia held in readiness all along the expected line of march.

In April Tryon, having completed his preparation, began to collect his troops and to move into the "back counties." He assembled about 1,200 troops, collected mostly from the eastern and southeastern counties, the Albemarle section, however, refusing to send troops. Tryon took personal command of this division. The brilliant Hugh Waddell was sent to raise an army in the counties of Mecklenburg, Anson and Rowan. In this region Waddell was well known and beloved as the defender of Ft. Dobbs. He assembled his troops but failed to march further than the Yadkin River, near Salisbury. Here he found himself surrounded by so many Regulator sympathizers that he called a council of war, and it was decided not safe to proceed any further. Then, too, his powder wagons had been surprised while in camp in what is now Cabarrus county, and destroyed by masked men.

Tryon, in the meantime, marched to Hillsboro, and on May 16 came face to face with a large band of Regulators and their friends on Alamance Creek, a few miles beyond Hillsboro. Great numbers of these people had not come up for a battle and were unarmed. When the battle began most of them fled. Of this battle Tryon says: "The loss of our army in killed and wounded and missing amount to about sixty. The action lasted two hours, but after about half an hour the enemy took to tree-fighting, and much annoyed our men who stood at the guns." The loss in killed and wounded among the Regulators is not definitely known. It has been variously estimated from twelve to two hundred.

Immediately after the battle one person, Few, was hanged. He was said to have been half demented. The victorious army then marched to Sandy Creek Baptist church and destroyed the property of the Regulators, especially the farm of Herman Husbands, where one of the army wrote that they "found fifty acres of the finest wheat." Thence the army moved further west to make a junction with Waddell. They met near the Moravian settlement. After a few days Tryon sent Waddell back into Rowan and Mecklenburg to quiet any defection in those parts. Tryon himself, with the main body, returned to Hillsboro, where a number of prisoners were put on trial for their lives for high treason. Twelve were pronounced worthy of death, and six of them immediately executed in the presence of the governor and surrounded by his troops. Tryon then announced to his army that his work in North Carolina was ended. Before the battle he had been notified of his appointment to the governorship of New York. He proceeded to New Bern and left the army to be disbanded by Colonel Ashe. Among those executed at Hillsboro was James Pugh. He received permission from the governor to speak at the gallows. In his speech he "refused to make any acknowledgments for what he had done, that his blood would be as seed sown in good ground, which would produce a hundredfold."

The battle of Alamance effectually ended the Regulator troubles. These people had real grievances, but they attempted to remedy them in an unlawful manner. For this they must not be judged too harshly, for they were frontiersmen, and frontiersmen are not accustomed to look to the government for much protection.

Governor Tryon did not use all the means in his power to pacify these people. He was needlessly harsh in his treatment of them, and drove them from their homes. Morgan Edwards made a tour through this section one year after the battle and wrote that "it is said 1,500 families departed since the battle of Alamance, and to my knowledge a great many more are only waiting to dispose of their plantations in order to follow them."

The End of the Provincial Period.

Gov. Josiah Martin, the last of the royal governors, took up the unfinished tasks of Governor Tryon. He tried to make friends with the Regulators, but it was too late, for great numbers of them had determined to go to the more western counties, and they did. Unlike Tryon, Martin was not able to make friends with the leaders of the Assembly, and so the old clash between the governor and the Assembly returned. The debts of the province had greatly increased. Money was not to be had in sufficient quantity to conduct the affairs of trade, and politically, the province was divided. However, the province had continued to prosper. Sawmills had been erected and iron furnaces had been started. In the "back counties" there were some good farms. Population was steadily increasing, though the disturbances had checked its rapid growth. In 1766 Tryon said that a thousand immigrant wagons passed through the town of Salisbury.

In character, Martin was very different from Tryon. He possessed none of the latter's fascination and diplomacy, but had an exalted idea of the royal prerogatives. Among the more influential of the people he never made an intimate friend. Three local troubles arose to embarrass and to harass him. The boundary line between North and South Carolina had not been completed beyond the Catawba River. Martin's royal instructions for continuing it were such that the province felt that it was being deprived of territory that rightfully belonged to it. Over this he and the Assembly had a prolonged quarrel. Also, certain special taxes the people thought should be abolished, that enough had been collected to meet the purpose for which it had been levied. But the most exasperating problem was the enactment of a judicial system, or Court Law. The act creating a judiciary was limited in time. This time was now expired, and Governor Martin could never prevail upon the Assembly to pass a new act conformable to his instructions. The result was that the province was left practically without courts of law. This was the first feature of the royal government to fail. These three local cases were sufficient to have prepared North Carolina for the more important movement impending.

In 1773 the Assembly began to take notice of English colonial legislation by the appointment of a committee to keep it informed on such matters, and 1774 found North Carolina in full and free correspondence with the other colonies. The colonies had resolved to bring about concert of action through a continental congress. Governor Martin determined that his province should send no delegate, that he would call no assembly as Tryon had done in regard to the Stamp Act Congress of Albany. Col. John Harvey, the speaker of the Assembly, heard of this intention, and declared that "then the people will convene one themselves." Harvey's suggestion was carried out and the first Provincial Congress met at New Bern on Aug. 25, 1774. Governor Martin issued a proclamation forbidding such a meeting, but it was unheeded. Though the notice was short, most of the influential members of the Assembly were present. Twenty-nine of the thirty-five counties were represented by seventy delegates. This congress denounced English legislation-especially the tax on tea, declared that the cause of Boston was the cause of all, and called for a continental congress and also appointed committees of safety in each county to see that such agreements as might be made at such a congress be enforced.

Governor Martin called for a new Assembly to meet at New Bern in April, 1775. Colonel Harvey called another provincial congress to meet at the same time and place. Governor Martin fulminated and proclaimed against this meeting also, but it was of no avail. Both the Assembly and the Congress met at the same time and place, and were composed largely of the same men. Colonel Harvey was elected speaker of the Assembly and also moderator of the Congress. On motion, the Assembly would transform itself into the Congress and vice versa. In reality the bodies were but one, though different records were kept. One, however, was legal, while the other was revolutionary. After a few days Governor Martin, in disgust, dismissed the Assembly. The Congress had adjourned the previous day. Soon after the adjournment came the news of the fight at Lexington. The news created excitement and indignation, and on May 20, 1775, was passed the famous Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, or, at least, the Mecklenburg Resolves of May 31.

Governor Martin was now ill at ease. His every action was watched by the New Bern Committee of Safety. He began to feel that his palace was only a prison. He sent his family to New York and himself went to Ft. Johnston on the Cape Fear, or as he expressed it, "sought safety under the protecting guns of the British sloop-of-war lying at the mouth of the Cape Fear." However, he had been in no personal danger, no threat had been made against him, and he could have remained in perfect safety in the palace, fully protected by his sheer helplessness. Thus ended Martin's four years of rule, and with his flight from the palace practically ended English rule in the province.

In August the third Provincial Congress met - not in the east, but in the west - at Hillsboro. This body consisted of one hundred and eighty-four members. It promptly declared that since the governor had "abdicated" it was necessary to create some form of temporary government. They proceeded to enlarge the committee system. There were created committees for each county, each judicial district, and a central committee for the whole province. The affairs of the province now passed into the hands of these popular bodies, and no semblance of royal authority remained. This Congress also put the province in military readiness to meet any emergencies. The militia was organized into six battalions, and two regiments of 500 men each were organized for the Continental Line. Aid was promptly sent to Virginia, to South Carolina and against the western Indians.

This military preparation was none too soon, for the English were making ready for a campaign against North Carolina. A fleet was to come to the mouth of the Cape Fear and make a junction with the loyalist forces that were to march down from the interior. In January, 1776, the loyalists began to assemble at Cross Creek, the centre of the great Scotch settlement. The object of the loyalists was to make the junction with the fleet by marching down the river. The provincial militia was collected at once under Caswell, Moore and others. An active campaign of a month began now. The provincials placed themselves across the line of march. After much marching and counter marching the two forces met, Feb. 27, 1776, at Moore's Creek Bridge, only a few miles from Wilmington. The battle was short, but fierce and decisive. The Scotch loyalists, or Tories, were completely defeated. In the engagement about a thousand provincials took part, though six thousand had been engaged in the manoeuvres. The Scotch loyalists numbered between two and three thousand. The failure of this uprising completely frustrated the plans of the fleet, which came, looked into the Cape Fear, took Governor Martin on board and sailed further south.

Soon after the battle the fourth Provincial Congress met at Halifax in April. The formation of a constitution and a permanent form of government was discussed, but was wisely postponed. The people of the province were now ripe for independence. As early as April, 1774, William Hooper had declared that the American colonies "were striding fast to independence." On April 12 this fourth Provincial Congress instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress - Hooper, Penn and Hewes - to vote for independence, complete separation from England. This matter was brought up in the Continental Congress, and the wisdom of immediate action was discussed from day to day. Many patriots doubted the wisdom of immediate declaration. John Adams tells how Joseph Hewes determined the matter: "One day while a member was producing documents to show that the general opinion of all the colonies was for independence, among them North Carolina, Hewes, who had hitherto constantly voted against it, started suddenly upright, and lifting both hands to heaven, cried out, `It is done and I will abide by it.' I would give more for a perfect picture of the terror and horror upon the face of the old majority at that critical moment than for the best piece of Raphael." To Jefferson, Adams wrote in 1819: "You know the unanimity of the states finally depended on the vote of Joseph Hewes, and was finally determined by him; yet history is to ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine!" Thus ended the royal province of North Carolina, and the old dispensation gave way to the new.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Ashe: Biographical History of North Carolina; Bassett: Regulators of North Carolina; Caruthers: Life of Caldwell (1842); Foote: Sketches of North Carolina (1846); Graham: The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence; Hoyt: The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.; Haywood: William Tryon; Jones: A Defense of the Revolutionary History of North Carolina (1834); Martin: History of North Carolina to 1776 (2 vols., 1829); McRee: Life and Correspondence of James Iredell (2 vols., 1857); Raper: North Carolina: A Study in English Colonial History; Sikes: Transition from Colony to Commonwealth (1898); Weeks: The Religious Development of the Province of North Carolina (1892), Church and State in North Carolina (1893); Williamson: History of North Carolina (2 vols., 1812); Colonial Records of North Carolina (Vols. HL-X., inclusive, 1886-1890); Waddell: A Colonial Officer and His Times (1890).

Professor of Political Science, Wake Forest College.

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