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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Minutes of the North Carolina Governor's Council
North Carolina. Council
August 13, 1768
Volume 07, Pages 800-806

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]

At a Council held at Hillsborough 13th August 1768.
His Excellency the Governor
The Honoble Alexander McCulloch Esquire
The Honoble Robert Palmer Esquire
The Honoble Samuel Strudwick Esquire

His Excellency was pleased to inform this Board, that at His arrival at Hillsboro he had agreeable to his promise issued a proclamation strictly forbidding all publick officers from taking more than the fees established by Law, and that having been five weeks in this Town without receiving any answer to his letter dated from the Council Chamber at Brunswick the 21st June addressed to the

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Inhabitants on the South side of Haw River, and having certain information that these people continue their unlawful assemblies and went on enrolling men, and confederating under a solemn engagement to obstruct the Laws, He had thought proper to direct Mr Harris the late Sheriff of Orange County to go to them at one of their meetings and demand the Publick Taxes, sending by him the following Letter to dispose them more cheerfully to submit to the payment of their levies.


In strict conformity to the promises I made you in my letter dated from the Council Chamber at Brunswick I issued a proclamation on my arrival at Hillsborough a copy of which I herewith transmit to you. I also gave Mr Attorney General, Orders to prosecute at Law all Publick Officers in your County for abuses in their Offices, on a application made to him by or in behalf of the parties injured.

It is therefore by my advice and consent that Mr Tyree Harris waits on you to proceed in the collection of the Publick County and Parochial Taxes of Orange County for the year 1767.

I have the fullest confidence that you will agreeable to the direction of my above mentioned Letter to you and in Justice to the principles of your engagement to abide by my decision in Council make it a matter of Honour and Conscience among yourselves that Mr Harris and his deputies shall not meet with any interruption in so essential and immediately necessary a discharge of his duty in obedience to the Laws of this Country.


Hillsborough 1st August 1768.

That the Sheriff at his return acquainted His Excellency that the Insurgents to a man refused to pay their taxes and threatened the life of any person who should attempt to distrain for them; these menaces had such an effect on the Sheriff and his deputy that they durst not proceed to a distress, That on the 5th of August His Excellency received a Letter from the persons stiling themselves Regulators by the hands of Messrs Hunter and Lowe as follows

May it please your Excellency,

In your Excellency's gracious Answer to our Petition &c by Messrs Hunter & Howell you were pleased to inform us that you

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had laid our papers before the Honble the Members of His Majesty's Council for which we return you our sincere & hearty thanks tho' had you conformable to your wonted Goodness graciously condescended to have laid them before the whole of that Board our thanks on this Occasion had been rather more unfeigned; your gracious promise of setting upon your arrival at Hillsborough a Proclamation forbidding all Officers the taking or even demanding illegal and exorbitant Fees on pain of your highest displeasure gave us some encouragement and hopes of redress especially on information you had really performed your promise but when we were assured the register had in open violence thereof taken nine shillings and four pence expressly contrary to Law for recording of deeds our hopes Vanished fearing your orders to the Attorney General may be as little regarded and that a poor man will get no real redress for, your Excellency may easily perceive how little regard these men pay to your injunctions how little dread your displeasure Neither does these Considerations alone deter us from a measure whereby to obtain Justice pointed out to us by your Excellency as the most salutary But our Gentlemen have got a trick of late of suing such as demand only their just debts and sue for them to some distant District when they are in the way of their business This was the case of poor Touchstone who having repeatedly dunn'd Colonel Fanning and his Agent to no purpose for a sum due to him and despairing to obtain it commenced an action against the Agent for which crime, the Colonel served him with a general Court Writ to appear at Halifax Superior Court and altho' the Colonel paid what costs accrued thereon yet poor Touchstone who lives in Anson by attendance, loss of time and expences to his very great damage and this we humbly apprehend must be the case with everyone who should enter into Law Contest with our powerful antagonists Pardon us therefore great Sir when we tell you in the anguish of our Souls that we cannot, dare not go to law as we are sure that step whenever taken will terminate inevitably in the ruin of ourselves & Families unless other means are established wherewith to ward off and invalidate these dreadfully dangerous consequences seeing therefore that these sons of Zeruiah are like to prove too hard for your Excellency as well as for us and seeing you are disregarded in everything you are graciously pleased to speak or act in our favour We have come to a resolution to Petition the Lower House as the other branch of the Legislature in order to strengthen your Excellency's hands that by the
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concurrence and timely aid of that respectable Body you may be enabled to curb the insolence and avarice of these overgrown Members of the Commonwealth and thereby haply for all Parties establish Peace, Harmony and Concord throughout the Country and as our dernier resort should this method fail us we have nothing left but to pass by the Injustice, stagger along under our heavy burdens & secretly and silently lament the Peculiarity of our fate which has made us the unhappy objects of oppression without affording us the most distant prospect or latent means of redress—Your Excellency is pleased to observe that you Hope again to be made happy on seeing a spirit of industry prevailing among us over faction and discontent. Great Sir, all that know us can bear witness for us that while we held anything we could call our own few People on earth were more industrious than we but alas since the iron hand of tyranny has displayed its baneful influences over us with impunity how has dejection, indifference and melancholy & Chagrin diffusively spread themselves far and wide among us and unless some propitious being in form either of your Excellency our Assembly or both graciously condescend to use your united efforts to extricate us, out of our present misery and secure us in our rights and properties the sullenness and gloom which we are already seized will fix deep in our intellects and a general disregard to everything here below ensue as a consequence thereof nor shall we strive after any more than barely to keep these our tottering frames from falling to pieces until death in compassion to our sufferings and in commisertation of our wrongs shall kindly appear in the shape of a Halter, Bullet, Sword or perhaps in his natural shape and remove us from this spot of dirt about which and its products there is so much contention and animosity till when and at all times hereafter may your Excellency's Portion be as the dew of Heaven and the fat things of the earth, ardently wish and sincerely pray your Excellency's Devoted Humble Servants

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Note.—The above letter was delivered to the Governor the 5th of August 1768 by Messrs Lowe and Hunter at Hillsborough, which letter was read in Council, this letter he promised to answer the 17th as he shortly expected the arrival of some Members of His Majesty's Council whom he chose to consult on the subject—That in the night of the 11th he had intelligence that a number of Insurgents said to be upwards of one thousand, were Assembled in Arms within twenty miles of Hillsborough, and were suspected to have formed some evil designs against the Town and its Inhabitants, for the prevention of which he had ordered in the nearest companies of Militia: But upon subsequent information that the Insurgents had collected themselves upon a false alarm and were actually dispersed, His Excellency had thought proper to dismiss the militia after having administered the following oath to upwards of four hundred Officers and men which they took with great expressions of Loyalty.

I, A B, Do solemnly promise and swear that I will bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Third. So help me God.

I, A B, Do sincerely and faithfully promise and swear that I will with heart and hand, life and goods, maintain and defend His Majesty's Government and the Laws and Constitution of the Province of North Carolina against all persons whatsoever who shall attempt to alter Obstruct or prevent the due administration of the Laws and the Public Peace and Tranquility of the said province. So help me God.

His Excellency therefore desires the opinion of the Council what measures they would recommend to be pursued [in] the present exigency.

The Board having taken the several matters before mentioned into their serious consideration are unanimously of opinion, That His Excellency should write the following Letter to the persons assuming the Title of Regulators, and that in case of their noncompliance with the requisition contained therein he should take the most effectual measures to preserve the public tranquility, and support the due Administration of the Laws by drawing out the Militia and employing them as may be most expedient for these salutary purposes,


I had every reasonable hope that my Letter to you from the Council Chamber of the 21st of June would have given you not

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only the most Cordial satisfaction, but have prompted you with the most ardent zeal to have immediately subscribed to every direction contained therein, conformable to the declared Resolution in your Address to me:

It is with a sincere Regret I at this time reflect on the disobedient and ungrateful return you have made me both by your disregard to every part of my directions in the above mentioned letter and your refusal to pay your Publick levies to Mr Harris late Sheriff who demanded them of you on the second of this Month at a general meeting in virtue of his Legal powers and in compliance with the letter I sent you by him urging the immediate payment thereof.

The candour with which I treated the rash and precipitate steps of your past conduct and the just means and effectual measures I pointed out for removing the causes of your complaints would have given ample satisfaction to every man who petitioned me with an intention to be satisfied with Justice.

By your letter delivered to me the 5th Instant by the hands of Messrs Lowe and Hunter, I have the mortification to find every lenient measure of mine has been prevented, and the friendly aid I offered to correct the abuses in public Offices (which it was my duty to tender) considered by you as insufficient.

The force of the proclamation was to caution public officers against and to prevent as much as possible extortion: It is the province of the Courts of Law to Judge and punish the Extortioner.

The dissatisfaction also you express that your address and papers were not laid before the whole Council is equally groundless with your declarations of the insufficiency of the proclamation.

By His Majestys Commission and instruction, three Councillors make a Board; and with five members business may be transacted of the highest Dignity: Whereas six gentlemen of the Council were present when your address and papers were laid before that Board.

The Resolution you have taken to petition the Legislative Body is extremely agreeable to me. My services on that occasion shall not be wanting to redress any real grievances.

It is necessary I should now inform you in humanity to your misguided passions, and in Justice to the Integrity of my intentions, that you are pursuing measures highly criminal and illegal; and it is a circumstance of real affliction to me when I consider you as acting upon principles no less void of Faith and Honour than inconsistent with every Moral and Religious duty.

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You have given occasion to every man of property and probity by the open and unreserved menaces you have thrown out against the lives and properties of many of the Inhabitants of this County to look upon your designs as bent rather upon destroying the peace of this Government, and the security of its Inhabitants, than a wish or intention to wait for any legal process against those you imagine have abused their publick Trust.

Upon these alarming prospects I esteem it my duty to provide for the safety of Government and to take care that the Publick receives no danger.

To prevent therefore as much as possible the heavy expence that must accrue to the Province by providing against the insults that are intended to be offered to His Majestys Superior Court of Justice, I am peremptory to require on your part, that at least twelve of your principals and those of the first property, wait upon me at Salisbury on Thursday the 25th of this month, and there execute in my presence a Bond of one thousand pounds as a security that no rescue shall be made of William Butler and Harmond Husbands at the Superior Court at Hillsborough they being under recognizances then to appear and take their tryal.