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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Article from the Boston Gazette concerning opposition to taxes and fees for public officials in North Carolina
No Author
July 22, 1771
Volume 08, Pages 639-643

[From the Boston Gazette of 22d July, 1771, 850, 2, 3.]

The accounts we have had from North Carolina give us abundant reason to think that the people in that province have been intolerably oppressed; and the government instead of duly attending to their repeated complaints, and redressing their grievances, have encouraged numbers to enlist as soldiers, and under the command of their late humane Governor, to stain their fields with blood. Nothing can equal the rancor of some of their writers in working up accounts of this tragical affair, to amuse mankind. Mr. Herman

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Husband, who from the accounts we have had of him, was a man of good reputation and fortune, and against whom the most inveterate slander has yet uttered nothing but that he was conspicuous in endeavoring, tho' in vain, “to obtain justice in their courts of law, for his poor oppressed brethren,” is stigmatiz'd as the CATALINE of that province; and as if designed to tantalize those miserable people, after their defeat, for having before failed in their incessant endeavors to get justice done in a lawful way, they are insultingly told, in one of their public papers, that “Alamance,” the place where the tragedy under the sanction of authority was enacted, “is made their Court of Record!” If the Governor and his party was in reality the faction, which is believed by many,—if the “artful and designing men who impiously attempted,” by trampling upon the liberties, and plundering the property of the poor people, “to subvert the constitution of the province,” were men who held places of authority, which is also believed; it is not at all strange to see the battle of Alamance so celebrated by the son of a Scotch priest, and the bravery of Tryon extolled beyond that of a Scipio or a Wolfe. The world has found by universal experience, that men in power are never without flatterers, who set their most infamous actions in a false glare; and flattery is always great in proportion as its patrons are bad. Of this we have been so fully convinced in these unhappy times, that we believe that every sensible American will suspend his censures of our unfortunate fellow-subjects in the back parts of North Carolina, till we can have a more circumstantial account of them than any which the advocates for Governor Tryon have yet given us.

The following is a copy of a Petition presented by the inhabitants of Orange County, in North Carolina, to Governor Tryon, just before the battle began; it appears to be written with plain good sense, and shows that the whole of their desire was, that the Governor would condescend to hear their former petitions and redress their grievances.

To his Excellency William Tryon, Esq; his Majesty's Governor in Chief in and over the Province of North Carolina.

The Petition of us the Inhabitants of Orange County, Humbly Sheweth,

First, That we have often been informed of late, that your Excellency is determined not to lend a kind Ear to the just Complaints

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of the People in Regard to having roguish Officers discarded, and others more honest propagated in their Stead; and Sheriffs and other Officers in Power, who have abused the Trust reposed in them, to brought to a clear, candid, and impartial Account for their past Conduct, and other Grievances of the like Nature, we have long laboured under without any apparent Hopes of Redress.

Secondly, That your Excellency is determined on taking the Lives of many of the Inhabitants of this County, and others adjacent to it; which persons being nominated in the Advertisement, we know them to be Men of the most remarkable honest Characters of any in our Country. These aspersions, tho' daily confirmed to us, yet scarcely gains Credit with the more polite among us; still, being so often confirmed, we cannot help having some small Jealousies abounding among us. In order therefore to remove them, we would heartily implore your Excellency, that of your elemency you would so far indulge us as to let us know, (by a kind Answer to this Petition) whether your Excellency will lend an impartial Ear to our Petitions or no; which if we can be assured of, we will with Joy embrace so favourable an opportunity of laying them before your Excellency, with a full Detail of all our Grievances, and remain in full Hopes and Confidence of being redressed by your Excellency in each and every of them, as far as lies in your power; which happy change would yield such Alacrity, and promulgate such Harmony in poor pensive North Carolina, that the sad presaged Tragedy of the warlike Troops marching with Ardour to meet each other, may, by the happy Conduct of our Leaders on each side be prevented. The Interest of a whole Province, and the Lives of his Majesty's Subjects, are not Toys, or Matters to be trifled with. Many of our common people are mightily infatuated with the horrid Alarms we have heard; but we still hope they have been wrongly represented. The chief purport of this small Petition, being to know whether your Excellency will hear our Petition or no: We hope for a speedy and candid answer. In the mean Time, your humble Petitioners shall remain in full Hopes & Confidence of having a kind Answer. As in Duty bound shall ever pray, &c.

Signed in Behalf of the Country,
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To this reasonable Petition the Governor sent the following Answer.

To the people now assembled in Arms, who style themselves Regulators

In answer to your Petition, I am to acquaint you that I have ever been attentive to the true interest of this Country, and to that of every Individual residing within it; lament the fatal necessity to which you have reduced me, by withdrawing yourselves from the Mercy of the Crown and the Laws of your Country, to require you who are assembled as Regulators, to lay down your Arms, surrender up the outlawed Ringleaders, and submit yourselves to the Laws of your Country, and then rest on the lenity and mercy of Government: By accepting Terms in one Hour from the delivery of this Dispatch you will prevent effusion of Blood, as you are at this Time in a state of War and Rebellion against your King, your Country, and your Laws.

It is observable that the Governor does not vouchsafe, even at so critical a time, when the effusion of Blood might have been prevented, and the honor of the government saved by it, to give them the least encouragement, that he would hear their petitions or redress their grievances; but on the contrary, if the following article from the Philadelphia Papers may be credited, he fired upon them with his artillery in breach of his own Terms:

Extract of a Letter from the back parts of North Carolina, May 26.

“If Governor Tryon had been as fond of checking the officers of government for their unheard of oppressions to the poor back inhabitants, as he was of shooting these unhappy people, Carolina would not now have felt the horrors of her children murdering one another. He pretended to give the oppressed people two hours to consider, whether they would fight or surrender, but as soon as their chief men got into a consultation, he began with a dreadful fire on them, from his artillery, with grape-shot, which did great execution.”

The Supreme Court of Oyer and Terminer, for the Tryal of the Regulators in the Back Country, began at Hillsborough the 30th of May, and continued to the 20th of this Instant June; during which, Twelve were tryed, and condemned for High Treason. The Governor was pleased to suspend the Execution of Six, till his Majesty's

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Pleasure be known; the other Six were executed on Wednesday the 19th Inst. at Hillsborough. Among these last, the most distinguished was Benjamin Merrill, who had been a Captain of Militia in Rowan County.

When the Chief Justice passed Sentence, he concluded in the following manner:

“I must now close my afflicting Duty, by pronouncing upon you the awful Sentence of the Law; which is, that you Benjamin Merrill, be carried to the Place from whence you came, that you be drawn from thence to the Place of Execution, where you are to be hanged by the Neck; that you be cut down while yet alive, that your Bowels be taken out and burnt before your Face, that your Head be cut off, your Body divided into Four Quarters, and this to be at his Majesty's Disposal; and the Lord have Mercy on your Soul.”