The Boy Spies with the Regulators (Illustrated)by James Otis
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It is not for one like me to make any pretense at trying to fashion a scholar's story out of the poor efforts of Sidney Hubbard, and myself, Clare Butler, to second the brave work of those noble men who, by enduring countless hardships and sparing not their own blood, finally rid the Carolinas of those leeches who claimed to be the king's servants—Governor William Tryon, Edmund Fanning and others of like brood.
I count to set down on these pages such an account as I may be able to give concerning what we of the Carolinas did in those dark days eight years before the first patriot blood was shed at Lexington, and this task is to be performed 2 simply that my descendants may, by reading our story, use their utmost efforts to preserve the fair country which has cost their forefathers so much of blood, anguish and bodily suffering.
To begin, Sidney Hubbard is my first cousin, his mother and mine being sisters. We lived, in 1768, on the Alamance, near where, later, was fought what may rightly be termed the first battle in the struggle of the colonies for independence. Our fathers were humble farmers, with a scanty store of this world's goods, and continually ground down by those whom the king had set in authority over us, chief among which may be reckoned the Irishman Tryon, and Fanning, who was born on Long Island, if I remember rightly.
I cannot set down in my own words a picture of the Carolinas at the time when Sidney Hubbard and I were come sixteen years of age, therefore, in order that all the conditions of public affairs may be fully understood, I shall copy here what was written many years later by one who may justly style himself a historian:
""The passage of the Stamp Act produced great uneasiness in the public mind in North Carolina, as well as in the other provinces. Already the extortions of public officers in the exactions of fees for legal services had greatly irritated the people, and they regarded the requirements of the Stamp Act as a more gigantic scheme for legal plunder.... William Tryon had been acting governor and commander-in-chief of the province from the death of Governor Dobbs, April 1st, 1765, and now began his career of misrule in America. He was appointed governor toward the close of the year. This was the same Tryon, afterward governor of New York, haughty, innately cruel, fond of show, obsequious when wishing favors, and tyrannical when independent; he was entirely incompetent to govern a people like the free, outspoken colonists of the Upper Carolinas.
""For several years previous to the Stamp Act excitement, rebellion had been ripening among the people in the western counties. The rapacity of public officers, and the corrupt character of ministers of justice, weighed heavily upon 4 the property and spirits of the people. The most prominent evils complained of were the exorbitant charges of the clerks of the Superior Courts, whereby these courts had become instruments of oppression; and oppressive taxes exacted by the sheriffs, and the outrages committed by those officers when their authority was questioned in the least. These evils everywhere existed, and every petition of the people for redress appeared to be answered by increased extortions.""
It was William Husband, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, who banded our people together in what was called ""A Regulation,"" and each member signed an agreement to pay no more taxes ""until satisfied they were legal; to pay officers no more fees than the strict letter of the law required, unless forced to, and then to show open resentment; to be cautious in the selection of representatives, and to petition the governor, council, king and parliament for a redress of grievances; to keep up a continual correspondence with each other; to defray all necessary expenses, all differences in judgment to be 5 submitted to the whole Regulation, the judgment of the majority to be final.""
Each member was bound by a solemn oath to stand faithful to the cause until matters had been brought to a true and just regulation. Meetings were held regularly in the vicinity of Hillsborough, and in a few weeks the Regulation was a permanent and a powerful body.
About this time ""the pride and folly of Governor Tryon led him to demand"" from the Assembly an appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars that he might build a palace, and this burden, together with the many which had been laid upon us, was most oppressive.
""The inhabitants of North Carolina were now thoroughly awakened to the conviction that both the local and imperial government were practically hostile to the best interests of the colonists. The taxes hitherto were very burdensome; now the cost of the palace, and the appropriation to defray the expenses of running the dividing line between their province and the hunting-grounds of the Cherokees, made 6 them insupportable.
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