Alamance Battleground, North Carolina

Alamance Battleground preserves the site of an 1771 battle between armed farmers from the North carolina backcountry, called “Regulators,” and the colonial militia led by royal governor William Tryon. The Regulators had a number of grievances against the colonial government. These grievances were not yet, as they would be in a few years, with the form of the government itself, but rather with official abuses such as excessive taxes, dishonest sheriffs, imposition of illegal fees, and even the scarcity of money with which to pay the taxes and fees they owed. The association of “Regulators” was formed in the backcountry in 1768 to address the farmers’ grievances to officials in the eastern part of the colony. When their appeals to the government failed, the Regulators refused to pay taxes and fees, resisted administration of the law, and disrupted court proceedings. Governor Tryon mustered the militia, and marched against the Regulators in the spring of 1771. On May 16, the militia confronted about 2,000 Regulators on the banks of Alamance Creek in the heart of the backcountry. The relatively undisciplined Regulators were completely unable to hold their own against the colonial militia (who were about to prove in a few years that they could not stand in the field against real professional soldiers). The militia lost nine killed and sixty-one wounded; Regulator losses were much greater. Tryon executed seven of the fifteen prisoners he took. Many Regulators moved on to other frontier areas beyond North Carolina. Those who stayed were offered pardons by the governor in exchange for pledging an oath of allegiance to the royal government. Alamance Battleground is preserved today with a granite monument that was erected as a memorial in 1880. The park grounds also contain the Allen House, a log dwelling characteristic of the frontier, built by backcountry farmer John Allen around 1780 for his family. The house was moved to Alamance Battleground and restored after John Allen’s descendants donated it to the state of North Carolina in 1967.

Alamance Battleground is located in Burlington, North Carolina 27215. Burlington is in central North Carolina, off Interstate 40/85 between Durham and Greensboro. From Interstate 40/85 in Burlington take N.C. 62 south (exit 143). Follow the directional signs on N.C. 62 for approximately six miles. The site entrance is located on the right.

James K. Polk Memorial State Historic Site, North Carolina

James K. Polk was one of the most successful American presidents, at least in his own terms. He set out so complete the annexation of Texas, acquire California from Mexico, settle the boundary of the Oregon Territory, and lower the tariff. He accomplished these things, and went home at the end of one term to Tennessee. Unfortunately, his acquisition of the southwestern territories from Mexico ignited the last stage of the long dispute over the expansion of slavery, and resulted in Civil War just eleven years after Polk left office. Polk himself died less than four months after leaving office. This site is located on land once owned by Polk’s parents. The memorial commemorates significant events in the Polk administration: the Mexican War, settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute, and the annexation of California. Reconstructions of typical homestead buildings-a log house, separate kitchen, and barn-are authentically furnished. The Visitor Center features a film on Polk’s life and civic contributions.

The James K. Polk Memorial is located in near Charlotte, North Carolina. From Interstate 77 south of Charlotte take Interstate 485 east (Exit 2). At the Pineville exit take U.S. 521 south through the town of Pineville for about one and one-half miles. The Polk Memorial is on the left.

Somerset Place, North Carolina

Somerset Place is a classic antebellum southern plantation. The plantation at Somerset Place was active from 1786 to 1865. It cultivated rice, corn, and wheat and included as many as 100,000 acres during its history. The plantation was worked by more than three hundred slaves of African descent, including 80 who were brought to Somerset directly from their west African homeland in 1786 because of their experience with rice cultivation. The plantation house was built by wealthy planter Josiah Collins III, around 1830. The plantation declined immediately after the Civil War when the end of slavery deprived the plantation system of its economic viability. Today the main house at Somerset Place is furnished with period pieces, including a few that belonged to the Collins family. Outbuildings include the kitchen, smokehouse, dairy, and a small house which served as the residence for the Collins family until the mansion was built. Since the early 1950’s archaeological excavations have investigated the lives of the plantation gentry and the slave community. Living history reenactments depict the persistence of African culture and traditions in the slave community as well as the agricultural and domestic technology with which the slave laborers worked.

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Links: Somerset Place Plantation