North Carolina. The Regulator Movement. 1766 - 1771. Class-conscious white farmers organized against wealthy and corrupt officials. They referenced themselves as, "poor Industrious peasants, "labourers," "the wretched poor," "oppressed," by "rich and powerful...." attempting to democratize local government in their respective counties. 

"The Regulators saw that a combination of wealth and political power ruled North Carolina, and denounced those officials, "whose highest Study is the promotion of their [own] wealth." They resented the tax system, which was especially burdensome on the poor, and the combination of merchants and lawyers who worked in the courts to collect debts from the harassed farmers. In the western counties where the movement developed, only a small percentage of the households had slaves, and 41 percent of these were concentrated..to less than 2 percent of households. The Regulators did not represent servants or slaves, but they did speak for small owners, squatters, and tenants."

When the Regulators organized to prevent the collection of taxes, or the confiscation of the property of tax delinquents, officials made military plans to suppress them. 
"In the three western counties of Orange, Anson and Rowan, where the Regulator Movement was concentrated, it had the support of six thousand to seven thousand men out of a total white taxable population [those who owned land] of about eight thousand."

In May of 1771, there was a decisive battle in which thousands of Regulators were defeated by a disciplined army using cannon. Six Regulators were hanged.

It seems that, as a result of this movement and the treatment its participants experienced, only a small portion of people in the Regulator counties participated "as Patriots in the Revolutionary War. Most of them probably remained neutral."

They must have been painfully aware (and therefore not susceptible to manipulation) that whether they fought for the Americans against the British or fought to keep the British in power, their own basic rights would continue to be actively denied by a powerful and entitled elite.



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