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North Carolina and King George II


Governor William Tryon
Governor William Tryon

In 1729 King George II of Great Britain (a union of England, Scotland, and Wales) bought out seven of the eight shares in the Carolina grant. One owner, John Carteret, refused to sell. A strip of land just south of the Virginia border was assigned to him and became known as Granville District. He continued making grants to settlers out of that tract. During the American Revolution (1775-1783), North Carolina abolished the district and confiscated its lands that had not yet been regranted.

Under the king, the quality of administration improved. In general, the royal governors demonstrated significant ability compared to the proprietary governors. The legislature became two-house, or bicameral: The council sat as the upper house, and the assembly as the lower house. The judicial system was enlarged by the creation of new courts but continued to be subordinate to the governor.

Through the Vestry Act of 1701 and subsequent acts, the legislature had established the Anglican Church as the official church of the colony. However, the church’s influence gradually weakened because of the rapid growth of Presbyterian, Quaker, Baptist, Lutheran, German Reformed, Moravian, and Methodist congregations.

The colony’s politics was marked by sectional controversies. There was an early north-versus-south sectional division of the Coastal Plain, but this faded in importance as these two eastern sections united in competition with the growing west. The east dominated the colony. New Bern, in the east, was chosen as the permanent capital.

Tryon’s Palace, the nickname for an expensive residence and statehouse erected for Governor William Tryon (1765-1771), was built in New Bern over the objections of the west. To the east’s advantage, local government was in the hands of the justices of the peace, who were appointed by the governor. The whole structure was conducive to abuses of power. In 1768 westerners organized the Regulator movement to resist arbitrary taxes and fees and to demand honest local officials.

In vain the Regulators sought redress of grievances through the courts and the legislature. Rioting erupted in several counties. In Rowan and Orange counties the Regulators declared that they would pay no more taxes and would tolerate no more courts. On May 16, 1771, Governor Tryon led the militia against a force of about 2,000 Regulators at Alamance Creek and defeated them. The movement was broken. Many Regulators left North Carolina, more than 6,000 were pardoned, and six were hanged for treason.

Conflicts with the governor were, in essence, conflicts with Britain. This became obvious after 1763, when the governor was required to enforce a new policy designed to strengthen the colonies but also to restrict them to colonial status. The colonists were aggrieved by two colonial tax laws, the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767, which were enacted without the colonies’ consent or vote in the British legislature, or Parliament. Armed members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret patriotic resistance organization, compelled all of the important North Carolina officials except the governor to agree not to enforce the Stamp Act. Nonimportation associations were formed to boycott British goods in protest against the Townshend Acts.

In December 1773 the assembly created a committee to correspond with the other colonies and coordinate resistance. When Massachusetts was punished for resisting the Tea Act of 1773, North Carolina sent supplies of corn, flour, and pork. A proposal by Massachusetts for a continental congress was opposed by North Carolina Governor Josiah Martin, who refused to call a meeting of the legislature to elect delegates. As a consequence, delegates were elected locally in counties and towns to the colony’s first provincial congress, which met in New Bern in August 1774. It declared any tax by Parliament on the colonies to be unconstitutional and chose delegates to the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 5, 1774. The second provincial congress met in New Bern early in April 1775. "North Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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