Welcome to the Official website of the Utah Society Sons of the American Revolution (Utah SAR).
Members of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) are direct descendants of those patriots that achieved the independence of the American people. We remember and honor our patriot ancestors sacrifice and devotion to the cause of liberty.
The objectives of our organization are intended to perpetuate a more profound understanding and appreciation for our founding heritage, the principles of liberty, freedom and self-government as established by our Founding Fathers.
Whether or not you have a Patriot Ancestor, we invite you to explore our website, to learn more about us, who we are, what we do, and how to become a Member or Associate.
In 2026 Americans will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the year America became an independent nation! In 2021 we will consider the events of 1771 leading up to July 4, 1776.
The Road to Independence
250 years ago – 1771
New England and the Southern colonies were growing and experiencing a calm in 1771; by this year, there were over two hundred miles of roads in New Hampshire alone and records indicate that at year’s end, imports to America from England totaled 4,200,000 pounds.
Since the colonies’ founding in the 1600s, British convicts were expelled to American shores. Most of them came from Middlesex, the county that includes London; by 1771 more than 50,000 had been sent to the American colonies (The British penal colony in Australia was not founded until 1788). Science was making progress in 1771; one notable event in the colonies was Benjamin Franklin’s appointment by the British Parliament to a committee to investigate how lightning rods might help protect gunpowder.
There was not much in the way of violent events occurring with one notable exception, which was the Battle of Alamance. A group of “rebels” called “The Regulators” had been at odds with North and South Carolina Government officials since 1765, whom they viewed as corrupt.
Cruel, Arbitrary, Tyrannical and Corrupt Government
In 1764, several thousand people from North Carolina, mainly from Orange, Granville, and Anson counties in the western region, were dissatisfied with the wealthy North Carolina officials, whom they considered cruel, arbitrary, tyrannical, and corrupt. With the arrival of Royal Governor William Tryon in 1765, volatile conditions in North Carolina increasingly worsened. Many of the officers were greedy and would often band together with other local officials for their own personal gain. The entire system depended on the integrity of local officials, many of whom engaged in extortion; taxes collected often enriched the tax collectors directly. The system was endorsed by Governor Tryon, who feared losing the support of the various county officials.
The effort to eliminate the system of government became known as the Regulator Uprising, War of the Regulation, or the Regulator War. The most heavily affected areas were said to be those of Rowan, Anson, Orange, Granville, Cumberland, and Dobbs counties. It was a struggle between mostly lower-class citizens, who made up most of the backcountry population of North and South Carolina, and the wealthy planter elite, who comprised about five percent of the population but maintained almost total control of the government.
The stated primary aim of the Regulators was to form an honest government and reduce taxation. The wealthy businessmen/politicians who ruled North Carolina saw it as a threat to their power. Ultimately, they brought in the militia to crush the rebellion and hanged its leaders. It is estimated that out of the 8,000 people living in Orange County at the time, some 6,000 to 7,000 supported the Regulators.
While small acts of violence had been taking place for some time, mainly out of resentment, the first organized conflict was in Mecklenburg County in 1765. Settlers in the region, who were there illegally, forced away surveyors of the region assigned with designating land. Minor clashes followed for the next several years in almost every western county, but the only true battle of the war was the Battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771.
The Battle of Alamance
Governor Tryon and his forces, which numbered just over 1,000, with roughly 150 officers, arrived at Hillsborough on May 9th. At the same time, General Hugh Waddell, supporting the governor, enroute with his contingent of 236 men, was met by a large contingent of Regulators under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Merrill. Realizing his force was outnumbered, he fell back to Salisbury. On May 11th, having received word of the retreat from a messenger, Tryon sent the force to support General Waddell. He intentionally chose a path that would lead his forces through Regulator territory. He gave strict orders that nothing was to be looted or damaged. By May 14th, his troops had reached Alamance and set up camp. Leaving about 70 men behind to guard the position, he moved the remainder of his force, slightly under 1,000 men, to find the Regulators.
About ten miles away, a force of approximately 2,000 Regulators (by some accounts, 6,000) without any clear leadership or supplies, was gathered mainly as a display of force and not a standing army. The general Regulator strategy was to scare the governor with a show of superior numbers to force the governor to give in to their demands. The first clash of the battle was on May 15th, when a rogue band of Regulators captured two of the governor’s militia soldiers. Governor Tryon had informed the Regulators that they were displaying open arms and rebellion, and that action was to be taken if they did not disperse. The Regulators did not understand the severity of the crisis they were in and ignored the warning. Despite hesitation from his own forces, Governor Tryon allegedly initiated the main battle of Alamance on May16th by shooting Robert Thompson, who was the first death of the battle.
The Regulators resistance crumbled somewhat quickly. The battle was over with nine deaths for the governor’s forces and about the same for the Regulators. Virtually everyone captured in the battle was fully pardoned in exchange for an allegiance to the crown; however, six Regulators were hanged for their part in the uprising, including some officers of the colonial militia who had joined ranks with the Regulator’s side. Those officers were Captain Robert Messer, Captain Benjamin Merrill, and Captain Robert Matear.
Although the Regulators were put down by Governor Tryon and the militia, disdain for government tyranny, arbitrary rule and corruption would continue to spread throughout the colonies. The Regulators War is considered a catalyst to the American Revolutionary War, and it was waged against corrupt officials representing king and crown. Almost 300 Regulators became part of the Patriot Movement, and only about 30 claimed loyalty to the British Crown.
Franklin Lightning Engraving: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franklin_lightning_engraving.jpg
War of the Regulation: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:War_of_the_Regulation.jpg