Wayne Lee examines how a society shapes, directs, restrains, understands, and reacts to violence, with particular attention to riot and war in 18th-century North Carolina. He links several riots, the backcountry rebellion known as the Regulation, and the War for Independence by examining each as an act of public violence, rooted in cultural practice and shaped by collective notions of legitimacy. Beginning with public riot, Lee describes the "rules of violence" shared by rioters, authority, and the public at large and shows how those rules were observed or violated and what the consequences were for rioters and society. Moving to the larger-scale War of the Regulation, 1768-71, he examines the competing use of violence by settlers and authorities, each playing to a politicized public whose expectations of violence shaped the course of the movement from public protest to organized battlefield. He then shows how military action, like its civil counterpart, struggled for legitimacy in the Revolutionary War, the Tuscarora and Cherokee Wars, and the "militias' war" of 1780-82.
For students of collective protest, Lee provides new case studies of violence in the colonial South and a more complete explanation for the course of the Regulation. He shows that such an event cannot be understood without addressing the forces shaping choices about violence. Similarly, he establishes a new paradigm for examining behavior in war, demanding careful consideration of individual incidents and the overlapping relationship between organized fighting bodies and the civilian population. He especially insists on a subtler understanding of "military necessity," demonstrating that, in the wide landscape of violence that is war, people's choices are regulated by a broad set of cultural pressures, of which necessity is only one.
Publisher: University Press of Florida