About two dozen county residents turned out to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Saturday afternoon to hear a Revolutionary War expert discuss a little-known group that he says provided the spark that initially started the battle for the country’s independence.
The program is part of the annual History Talks series.
Dr. Cory Stewart, the chair of the history department at Surry Community College, presented the informal discussion in the third-floor conference room at the museum, saying that even historians don’t completely understand the Regulator Movement.
Stewart said his interest began when he started researching his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“The movement is part of the start of the Revolutionary War, and this is a segment that I want to continue to expand on, so this talk is a chance to research it a little bit more,” he said.
According to Stewart, the Regulator Movement, a civil uprising that began in what he called the “backwoods country” that includes what is now Surry County, is merely a flicker in history.
“This movement was one of those things that ended up a footnote,” he said. “So people don’t really realize how important it was to the formation of our country,” he said. “These people were creating a society that was beginning even before Surry County was formed in 1771.”
That movement, and the anti-Regulator movement that included people who would later become Revolutionary War patriots, initially spilled over into what would become the Revolution.
“It was the largest uprising of people in the American Colonies before the Revolution itself,” he said. “And it was largely an agrarian revolt.”
The movement started out of chaos in the back country.
“Often, people didn’t know what side of the uprising people fell on,” he said. “They were protesting the tax structure, and often any civil disobedience that was so common back then would be attributed to the Regulators.”
Matt Edwards, director of the museum, said the History Talks series is a part of the museum’s effort to reach out to the community.
“This is part of our effort at community outreach,” he said. “Our mission is to collect, preserve and interpret our regional history, and this is part of that effort to get members of the community involved.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.