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REGULATORS were vigilantes. The term was used by the 5,000 to 6,000 Regulators in the Carolinas between 1767 and 1771, adopted from an earlier, short-lived London police auxiliary. Most American regulators sought to protect their communities from outlaws and tyrannical public officials. Some groups employed summary execution; more employed flogging and exile. Regulators were active in almost every state, peaking recurrently from the 1790s to the late 1850s. After 1865, a few Regulator groups flourished, mainly in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida. Some interfered with freedmen, but most concentrated on crime deterrence and punishment. Similar organizations included Slickers, law and order leagues, citizens' committees, vigilance committees, and committees of safety.


Brown, Richard Maxwell. The South Carolina Regulators. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963.

———. "The American Vigilante Tradition." In The History of Violence in America. Edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.

Powell, William S., James K. Huhta, and Thomas J. Farnham. The Regulators in North Carolina: A Documentary History, 1759–1776. Raleigh, N.C.: State Department of Archives and History, 1971.


See alsoVigilantes .

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