Carpenter, L. (2015). “Live by the Spirit:” Institutional Discipline for Crimes Against Order and Morals, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 1767 - 1839. Unc Charlotte Electronic Theses And Dissertations.
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina was located in the Carolina backcountry—an area frequently viewed as immoral, disorganized, and barbaric by contemporaries. However, this study demonstrates that institutions of authority—both legal and ecclesiastical—existed to maintain order and morality. Within and around these institutions, a vibrant community emerged, as did societal values. Morality had Anglican roots, but internal and external influences motivated these institutions to interpret these laws in their own way. These interpretations are evident in enforcement patterns of the crimes against order and morals—a classification defined by actions that Christians regarded as sins and that contributed to community disorder. A regional culture that differed from English tradition surfaced and society evolved due to localized conditions and influences. Core values carried over from England, but this study reveals that the court and church did not always follow the letter of the law. Instead, by employing free will in the maintenance of order, both institutions emerged as social centers that helped the society transition from the English way of life to backcountry survival.