Carteret County during the Revolutionary Period

by Jean B. Kell

For the best account of the times, this narrative has been transcribed in full from the first edition
1975 “author’s presentation copy.”   

Carteret County during the American Revolution 1765-1785

The Revolutionary period in Carteret County dates from March, 1765, when the British Parliament passed the fateful Stamp Act. The Stamp Act provided that official stamps be purchased and affixed to a variety of legal documents, including ship’s clearance papers and bills of lading.

Reaction and protest in the colonies was immediate and strong. It was certainly so in Carteret, where the effects of the Stamp Act could not fail to be felt. Shipping was the main business of its citizens, for every commercial activity depended on it. Naval stores were produced for shipping. Skins of deer and other animals were prepared for transportation to distant markets. Grain, corn, rice and other farm products were grown and fish caught and salted, no only for home consumption but to be traded for the necessities and luxuries of life.

Anything that concerned the sea affected the people of Carteret County. So when word was received that the British had closed the port of Boston, Carteret Countians joined with their fellow Americans in proclaiming that “the cause of Boston is the cause of all.”

The first record of activity growing out of these new concerns of the people of the County details the election of delegates to the First Provincial Congress, held in New Bern on August 25th, 1774. William Thompson and Solomon Perkins are listed as delegates from Carteret, but there appears to be some error in this. Solomon Perkins was from Currituck County, and it is believed that his surname was listed by mistake as that of the Carteret delegate. Solomon Shepard had been a Carteret representative to the Governor’s Assembly, along with Thompson, and was probably the second delegate to the Provincial Congress as well.

Thompson and Shepard took part in passing the resolutions of the Congress. When they returned to Carteret they brought word of the congressional resolves that after January 1st, 1775, no British or East India goods, except medicines, would be imported into the Colony, that the people would not purchase such articles, and that unless American grievances were redressed before the first of October, 1775, the people of North Carolina would cease exportation of tobacco, tar, pitch, turpentine and similar goods. They would, further, “not suffer East India tea to be used in their families” after September 10th, 1774. Any person in the province who refused to comply with these resolutions would be considered an enemy of his country.

Word of these resolves and others was quickly spread throughout the County. The resolve to the effect that King George the Third was rightful King no doubt gave hope that differences would soon be overcome, and that the delegates chosen to represent the Colony at the general Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, would help bring about reconciliation with Britain. A plan for committees to be set up in each county to enforce the measures taken was also resolved.