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The Gourd Patch Conspiracy



The Gourd Patch Affair, or the Lewelling Conspiracy, was a failed uprising against North Carolina's Patriot government in the summer of 1777. A group of Martin, Tyrrell, Pitt, and Bertie County farmers met in a pumpkin patch and crafted a secret plot. Their aim? Assassinate North Carolina's governor, overthrow the state government, and protect the Protestant religion.


In the end their plot was discovered and the ring's leader, John Lewelling, was the first man ever granted clemency by the State of North Carolina.

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A field full of pumpkins

The Gourd Patch by the Numbers


North Carolinians






Daniel Leggett

Most Common Person Mentioned


"To Keep Out Popery:" Origins of the Gourd Patch Conspiracy

The Gourd Patch Conspiracy began as a religious organization dedicated to the ideals of preserving Protestantism, something Albemarle farmers thought their new patriot leaders were trying to attack.


"Sign of a Secret:" Recruiting to the Plot

The Gourd Patch Conspiracy's leadership used a variety of secret codes and signs to identify one another and convince more men to join their movement.


Gunpowder, Treason, & Plot: First Arrests

As membership grew, Lewelling and others formed a more radical plan. They planned to seize ammunition and assassinate the governor in Halifax, but it was not long before their secret got out.


Fight or Flight

When the State Government discovered the conspiracy, the group's leadership was faced with the choice of continuing the fight, or trying to flee from authorities to avoid punishment.


The Gourd Patch Conspirators on Trial

After the conspiracy's leading members were arrested, they were tried in the Edenton District Court of Oyer and Terminer. State officials had to decide: what was the cost of treason?


Aftermaths & Legacies of the Gourd Patch Conspiracy

What happened to the former members of the Gourd Patch Conspiracy? And what lessons did the state learn from John Lewelling's attempt?

Explore the Gourd Patch Documents