Josiah Martin, the last royal governor of North Carolina, was born in Ireland in 1737. Due to his family’s connection to the British crown, Martin replaced Governor Tryon in 1771 as royal governor of North Carolina. Martin assumed a difficult position because Patriot colonists in North Carolina had long resented overwhelming British taxation and the War of Regulation remained fresh in the colonist’s minds. In May 1775, Martin fled the Tryon Palace in New Bern, and he joined Lord Cornwallis in his efforts to regain control of the North Carolina colony.
Subject: Revolution Era
The subject of Scottish folklore and myth, Flora MacDonald assisted Prince Charles Stuart in his escape from King George II during the Jacobite rebellion. In 1774, Flora and her family moved to the North Carolina colony, and Flora’s husband and son fought for the Loyalists during the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The Jacobite heroine returned to her native Scotland in 1779 where she passed away in 1790.
One of the largest and most ornate buildings in colonial North Carolina, the Tryon Palace was built in the late 1760s at the behest of its namesake, Royal Governor William Tryon. John Hawks was the architect, and the government assembly chambers and the house were dedicated on December 5, 1770. Increased taxes to pay for the palace’s construction angered many Piedmont colonists. After the American Revolution, the palace burnt down in a fire in 1798. In 1959, after efforts to restore the site, Tryon Palace opened as the state’s first historic site.
William Tryon, one of the most notorious royal governors of North Carolina, was born in England in 1729. Although he did not receive a formal education, Tryon’s family was well-esteemed, and his wife’s friendship with Lord Hillsborough led to his appointment as lieutenant governor of North Carolina in 1764. Tryon encountered heavy rebellion during the Regulator Movement and he was later relocated to serve as governor of the New York colony. He died on January 27, 1788, in England.
Labeled the “Lexington and Concord of the South” by many historians, the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge marked the first battle between Patriots and Loyalists in North Carolina during the American Revolution. Although the battle lasted only a short while, Patriot forces were able to prevent British soldiers from taking Moore’s Creek Bridge in present-day Pender County. The battle marked the end of royal government rule in North Carolina.
General Griffith Rutherford led a short but destructive march against the mountain-dwelling Cherokee in September 1776. Although casualties were relatively low on both sides, Rutherford’s army razed over thirty important Cherokee communities causing tribesmen and women to flee the mountains and start life anew elsewhere. Some historians claim that had the Cherokee recovered and fought with the British during the Revolutionary War, the conclusion may have been different.
Declared one of the most successful joint ventures by the Confederate Army, the Battle of Plymouth was fought in April 1864. General Robert F. Hoke led ground forces while the CSS Albermarle, a newly constructed ironclad, provided naval support.
Offering a different interpretation than presented by B.J. Lossing in his groundbreaking Pictorial Field Book of Revolution, Randolph County historian Mac Whatley argues that historians should do further research and regarding the Regulator Rebellion and the story of David Fanning and Bay Doe.
Though the American army under Baron DeKalb camped for weeks at Buffalo Ford in the summer of 1780 on its way to Camden, and Lord Cornwallis in 1781 spent several days after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse at Bell’s Mill on Deep River, by and large the official history of the Revolutionary War bypassed Randolph County. But far more active and far more destructive was the guerrilla war which took place in the county between neighbors of opposite political persuasions.
Wife of the fourth president of the United States, Dolley Madison was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, on May 20, 1768. A Southern belle and a charming social host, Dolley earned the distinction as one of the First Ladies to open up the White House to Washington politicians and foreign diplomats. One of the most intriguing tales of the First Lady remains her escape from the White House during the War of 1812, when she managed to save Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of George Washington.