Sons of Liberty

Written By North Carolina History Project

During the period of the Stamp Act’s enforcement, colonial governments nullified the law and the people’s actions, as evidenced in the protests in Wilmington, cancelled the law.  From 1765 to 1766, American colonists joined a group named Sons of Liberty.  The association met similarly to colonial assemblies, yet each each chapter declared more revolutionary measures than the official assembly.   In many ways, the Sons of Liberty’s existence reveals less dependence on the government and more on individual and community solutions to problems.   A decade later, the Sons of Liberty and similar groups such as the Sons of Neptune and the Philadelphia Patriotic Society, according to historian Larry Schweikart, “provided the organizational framework necessary for revolution.”   

After the Connecticut Sons of Liberty denounced the Stamp Act and pledged to fight, if necessary, the Sons of Liberty followed suit across the colonies.  In Wilmington, North Carolina, Sons of Liberty members pledged to resist the tax “with [their] lives and fortunes.”  As a means of protest, the Wilmington chapter held mock funeral processions.  Sons of Liberty members undoubtedly ignited the 1766 protests against the closing of North Carolina ports, especially the Wilmington port.

The colonial protests and refutation of Sir William Blackstone’s argument of parliamentary sovereignty led to the repeal of the Stamp Act.  The Sons of Liberty later played a major role persuading non-compliers to enforce a boycott of British goods.