Port Cities

Research by Kaitlin Welch and Alexander Bateson

  1. “Reports from Wilmington,” Virginia Gazette, March 21, 1766.

This source is a collection of letters reporting on discontent over the restrictions on trade in Wilmington, NC. The first letter, dated February 9, concerns the seizing of two vessels, the “Patience” and the “Dobbs” without stamped documents en route to Cape Fear and discusses the removal of the seized vessels from Brunswick to Nova Scotia. The second letter, dated February 15, is a response from the colonists of  Wilmington warning that if the vessels are removed from the river, violent action will be taken. The third letter, dated February 16, from stamp collector William Dry, states his opposition to the Act but underscores his duty to do his job. The final letter, dated February 26, documents the protests against William Dry by the colonists of Lower Cape Fear.

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To view the complete document, click here.

2.  Wilmington, (North Carolina) November 21, The New York Mercury, January 13, 1766.

This article examines the events that took place when Governor Tryon invited fifty men from the counties of Brunswick, New Hanover, and Bladen counties. Tensions were erupting in Wilmington due to the implantation of the Stamp Act. In order to calm the tension, Tryon offers to pay the taxes of the stamped goods. The gentlemen refuse, as they are angry about the loss of the right to a trial by jury. As a result, the stamps are not collected at Port Brunswick and the trade routes in Wilmington and Brunswick are closed.

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To view the complete document, click here.

3. Naval defense of Ocracoke Inlet

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In order to defend the vulnerable ports of the North Carolina coast, committees formed in 1775 in the areas of Cape Fear, Edenton, and New Bern to arrange for some kind of naval defense. In 1776, North Carolina partnered with Virginia to provide and outfit two ships to reroute French ships from the West Indies from heavily guarded Virginia Ports to the Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina. Virginia sent two ships, the Washington and the Caswell, to monitor the inlet.