Regulator movement - SISHurtTAPUSHistory

Regulator movement
Regulator movement, designation for two groups, one in South Carolina, the other in North
Carolina, that tried to effect governmental changes in the 1760s. In South Carolina, the
Regulator movement was an organized effort by backcountry settlers to restore law and order
and establish institutions of local government. Plagued by roving bands of outlaws and angered
by the assembly's failure to provide the western counties with courts and petty officers, the
leading planters, supported by small farmers, created (1767) an association to regulate
backcountry affairs. They brought criminals to justice and set up courts to resolve legal
disputes. The assembly and the governor, recognizing the legitimacy of the grievances, did not
attempt to crush the movement. By 1768, order was restored, and the Circuit Court Act of
1769, providing six court districts for the backcountry, led the Regulators to disband. The
movement in W North Carolina, with different causes, arose at the same time. Led by small
farmers protesting the corruption and extortionate practices of sheriffs and court officials, the
Regulators, strongest in Orange, Granville, Halifax, and Anson counties, at first petitioned
(1764–65) the assembly to recall its officers. When this failed, they formed (1768) an
association pledged to pay only legal taxes and fees and to abide by the will of the majority.
They won control of the provincial assembly in 1769, but with Gov. William Tryon, the
provincial council, and the courts against them they were unable to secure relief. At first
orderly, the Regulators resorted to acts of violence (especially at Hillsboro) after Edmund
Fanning, a particularly despised official, was allowed to go unpunished. Those actions
alienated large property holders and the clergy from the movement. On May 16, 1771, Tryon's
militia completely routed a large body of Regulators in the battle of Alamance Creek. Seven of
the leaders were executed, and the movement collapsed. One group of Regulators moved west
to Tennessee, where they helped form the Watauga Association, but most of them submitted.
Tensions remained, however, between the western farmers and the tidewater aristocracy.
See R. M. Brown, The South Carolina Regulators (1963).
Massacre of the Indians at Lancaster by the Paxton Boys
in 1763, lithograph published in Events in Indian History
(John Wimer, 1841).
The Paxton Boys were a group of backcountry Scots-Irish
frontiersmen from the area around the central
Pennsylvania, near the settlements of Paxton Church, Paxtang, Pennsylvania, the area now
defined as Dauphin County, who formed a vigilante group in response to the American Indian
uprising known as Pontiac's Rebellion. The Paxton Boys felt that the government of colonial
Pennsylvania was negligent in providing them with protection, and so decided to take matters
into their own hands.
As the nearest belligerent Indians were some 200 miles west of Paxton, the men turned their
anger towards the local Conestoga (or Susquehannock) Indians—many of them Christians—who
lived peacefully in small enclaves in the midst of white Pennsylvania settlements. (The Paxton
Boys believed or claimed to believe that these Indians secretly provided aid and intelligence to
the hostile Indians.) On December 14, 1763 a group of more than fifty Paxton Boys marched on
an Indian village near Millersville, PA, murdered the six Indians they found there, and burned
the bloody cabin in which the killings were done. Later, colonists looking through the ashes of
the cabin, found a bag containing the Conestoga's 1701 treaty signed by William Penn, which
pledged that the colonists and the Indians "shall forever hereafter be as one Head & One Heart,
& live in true Friendship & Amity as one People."
The remaining fourteen Susquehannocks were placed in protective custody by Governor John
Penn in Lancaster. But on December 27, Paxton Boys broke into the workhouse at Lancaster
and brutally killed and mutilated all fourteen. These two actions, which resulted in the deaths
of all but two of the last of the Susquehannocks, are sometimes known as the "Conestoga
Massacre". The Governor issued bounties for the arrest of the murderers, but no one came
forward to identify them.
Benjamin Franklin and the Paxton Mob
Outraged that the eastern establishment
leaders would, as they saw it, defend
Indians but not settlers, in early 1764
the Paxton Boys set their sights on
other Indians living peacefully within
eastern Pennsylvania, 140 of whom
fled to Philadelphia for protection.
About two-hundred and fifty Paxton
men then marched on Philadelphia in
January of 1764, where only the
presence of British troops and
Philadelphia militia prevented them from doing more violence. Benjamin Franklin, who had raised the
local militia, negotiated with the Paxton leaders and brought an end to the immediate crisis. A third of the
Indians subsequently died of smallpox contracted in the crowded barracks where they had been provided
Like the frontier vigilantes of the Regulator movement in North Carolina, the Paxton Boys reveal
the tension between the established societies of the Atlantic coast and the more precarious
areas of white settlement on the western frontier. One leader of the "Paxton Boys" was
Lazareus Stewart who would be killed in the so-called Wyoming Massacre of 1778