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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by Richard Rankin, 2006

Atticus was the pseudonym employed by the author of a scathing, 4,500-word letter printed on the front page of the 7 Nov. 1771 issue of the Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg). Atticus accused North Carolina royal governor William Tryon of mishandling the Regulator uprising and called for an end to prosecution of the movement's leaders. Tryon's response to backcountry grievances, according to Atticus, exhibited a rashness, an arrogance, and a vindictiveness that infuriated the Regulators, deepened their antipathy toward the establishment, and contributed to continuing disorder.

Beginning with Francis X. Martin in his 1829 History of North Carolina from the Earliest Period, many historians have identified Atticus as Maurice Moore Jr., a colonial jurist, Whig pamphleteer, and member of an illustrious Lower Cape Fear planter family. Neither Martin nor subsequent historians, however, have offered documentation to support their claim. As colonel of a troop of Gentlemen Volunteer Light Dragoons, Moore accompanied Tryon in his first military expedition against the Regulators in the hinterlands. If indeed Atticus was Moore, Atticus's call for leniency reversed his earlier opposition to the Regulators as evidenced by his participation in Tryon's expedition against them.


William S. Powell, ed., The Correspondence of William Tryon (2 vols., 1981).

William S. Price Jr., "Maurice Moore Jr.," Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 4 (1991).

Additional Resources:

"Letter from "Atticus" to William Tryon [as printed in the Virginia Gazette]."  Colonial and State Records of North Carolina Volume 8. Raleigh. 1886. p.718-727. (accessed August 31, 2012).

"The War of the Regulation." The North-Carolina Journal of Education II. No. 11. November 1857.  p. 336.  (accessed August 31, 2012).

Boyd, William K. "Justice and Policy of Taxing the American Colonies in England (1765). By Maurice Moore: Introduction." Some eighteenth century tracts concerning North Carolina. Raleigh [N.C.]: Edwards and Broughton. 1927. p. 160.  (accessed August 31, 2012).