Merchants Committees of Inspection

Written By North Carolina History Project

As means to protest Great Britain’s increased taxation legislation and regulation, various American colonists convened to protest.  In each colony, provincial associations agreed to boycott English goods (excluding a few essential items).   Yet many merchants ignored the boycott and continued importing British goods.   Under the auspices of the Sons of Liberty, Merchant Committees of Inspection were formed to enforce the boycott.

Although some northern ports such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had a “remarkable” record of non-importation, writes one historian, southern ports had a less stellar one.  In particular, North Carolina non-compliers prompted a Sons of Liberty meeting in Wilmington.  There in June 1770, leading North Carolinians pledged to “publicly condemn all non-compliers,” and the convention established Merchants Committee of Inspection chapters in six counties.  Major emphasis was placed in enforcing the boycott in Brunswick and Wilmington.  Under the influence of peer pressure and public condemnation, non-compliers started boycotting British goods, and in a few months, North Carolina began sending a stronger anti-taxation message to Great Britain.