Just Who Were The Regulators?

download-11As in Outlander Seasons 1 through 3, we had the impending fate of war, The Battle of Culloden, driving the background storyline of our main characters drive to change history in the Outlander series. The Frasers had lost that battle and could not prevent the decimation of the Highlander way of life in Scotland. When the Fraser’s arrive in the British Colonies in America 20 years later, they land in another uprising, the prelude to the War of Independence called the War of the Regulation or The Regulator Movement. It was an uprising that lasted roughly from 1765 to 1771. It is considered the start of the American Revolution by some, with the famous Intolerable Acts sealing the fate of the colonies after the battle at Alamance. It all starts with the over taxation of the common man and political corruption, and the lawlessness of the back country. The colonies were often exploited by the Crown and there would be growing rebellion that simmered over the years.

South Carolina

The movement started in the colony of South Carolina. Partly it was due to religious beliefs in the back country. The Regulators did not want a revolution, and did not seek to change the government, only the fair treatment of the people it governed. They wanted a form of government that fit the back country and brought some order. By some it was considered a peasants rising, and not a true war. Some of the religious factions of the area, the Presbyterians and Baptists worked together to support the cause, with Herman Husband bringing the two sides together for their common cause. To this day he is considered the leader of the movement, as he regularly corresponded with Benjamin Franklin and there is documentation of what was going on in the area, and why there was conflict.

In the beginning, the Regulators started out mainly as a way to govern or regulate the area. Outlaw gangs were common in the back country and raided farmsteads. The Commons House and Governor had failed to provide protection with sheriffs and magistrates. Citizens began policing and creating their own court system. The Governor recognized some legitimacy to the regulation and in 1769 created legislation for reforms to help manage the back country. However, since 1765 the Regulators had become anti-government due to heavy taxation and no assistance with the marauding brigands or any judicial help. Regulators demanded representation, schools, jails, courts, and actual judicial districts. Eventually there were laws passed for a judicial regulation and by 1769 civil war was averted.

North Carolina

North Carolina, where the Outlander Series takes place, saw a different trend in it’s download-14Regulator movement. Different reasons caused the rising. And a great deal more violence. There were growing farming settlement concerns in the back counties, versus the tidal plantations and west, where growth in population was faster than in the eastern counties. The assessment of taxes and gaining representation were not successful in the back countries, and favored the rich plantation owners. The General assembly and Governor Tryon favored the wealthy plantation land owners with their laws, and a cultural divide grew.

download-13The Regulators sought to close down the law courts and to stop tax payments that they deemed as excessive. Eventually rioting broke out in several counties, as the Government had seized properties and businesses for tax payments. Governor Tryon in May 1771, led a militia group, encouraged by a bounty of 40 shillings, to suppress the Regulators at the battle of Alamance Creek. Of the 15 prisoners Tryon took, six were hanged. The movement did not last after the defeat, and a new governor Josiah Martin stepped in.

More on the War of the Regulation:


University of North Carolina


Alamance Battleground




2 thoughts on “Just Who Were The Regulators?

  1. Pingback: Season 5 Returns, Casting Calls? | An Outlander Muse

  2. Pingback: Episode Recap: Between Two Fires 502 | An Outlander Muse

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