“Loyalist Trails” 2016-13: March 27, 2016

In this issue:
Week Eight Update: Loyalist Scholarship Fund Challenge 2016
Conference 2016
It All Started with a Petition, by Stephen Davidson
Borealia: The Canadian Turn in Early American History
JAR: How the Stamp Act did not Affect Virginia
Book: North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes
Film Project: “The Discovery of the Lost HMS Ontario
Can We? Reflections on “Refugees: Yesterday and Today”
Digital Gazette: Spring 2015 Available
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Week Eight Update: Loyalist Scholarship Fund Challenge 2016

What word best describes the 2016 scholarship fundraising campaign? “Success!” As of March 25 we have raised $5,131.00. But we’re not stopping there. Donations are still coming in and we look forward to sharing the grand total on April 1 when this challenge closes.

During the past eight weeks we have been excited by the support generated in social media, in Loyalist Trails, and through branch newsletters. This week we received donations from Assiniboine Branch, Bicentennial Branch, Colonel John Butler Branch, and Edmonton Branch. Thank you! Thank you to friends of UELAC who follow us on Facebook and Twitter who used canadahelps.org to give. Watch for a complete Donor Appreciation listing on the UELAC Scholarship website in the coming weeks.

During this campaign I shared the quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Your financial support today is building relationships with educational institutions and with committed students of Loyalist history. The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada is proud to participate in the academic achievements of dedicated historians.

Dr. Christopher F. Minty, our 2012 UE Scholarship recipient, is a firm advocate of bridging the gap between ‘academic’ and ‘public’ history. Chris is known to many as the author of numerous articles published in Loyalist Trails, and is a contributing writer to two group blogs on early North American history, The Junto and Borealia. You can read more about Chris and his accomplishments on our UE Scholars page.

The Loyalist Scholarship Fund Challenge ends April 1, 2016. In the coming months, we plan to establish a UELAC Loyalist Scholarship endowment fund that will generate investment income for scholarships. As C. William Terry UE (UELAC President 2000 – 2002) said in the early days of the award, “We must endeavor to support this fund if we are to be prepared to offer this worthwhile scholarship to worthy students of post-graduate Loyalist Studies.” Their goal in 2000 was $100,000.00. Today, in 2016, we are ready to act on that vision.

UELAC gladly accepts donations to the scholarship fund throughout the year. Please give now. With your assistance we have great expectations for the future of Loyalist scholarship.

For those on Facebook and social media, please use the hashtag #UEscholars to draw attention to the Loyalist Scholarship Fund Challenge.

…Bonnie Schepers, UE, Scholarship Committee

Conference 2016

The 2016 UELAC Conference in Summerside PEI will be hosted by the Branches of the Atlantic Region: Abegweit, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on July 7-10. Information about the conference is now available – read here.

A “welcome” stands by the gate to the Loyalist Country Inn.

It All Started with a Petition

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Sometimes the driest of documents can contain a fascinating story from the loyalist past. One example would be the petitions of early settlers for land in Sunbury County. Loyalist farmers from New York and Connecticut who had settled along the Oromocto River may have wondered why a British sailor like Abraham Roome had petitioned for land so far from the sea. It could be that Roome was distancing himself from traumatic memories as well as the broad Atlantic Ocean.

During the Revolution, Roome had served in the Royal Navy aboard the 44-gun ship, the HMS Charon under the command of Captain Thomas Symonds. Along with three other ships, the Charon had attacked the Honduran fortress of San Fernando de Omoa in the fall of 1779. The British captured two Spanish treasure ships and raided the fort, making off with booty worth two million dollars. But within just two years, the ship’s luck would take a drastic turn.

In October of 1781, the Charon was the largest of the British vessels anchored in Virginia’s York River. It could only be a menacing presence, for as the British were fortifying their positions at Yorktown, they had taken the Charon‘s guns. Constant artillery fire from patriot positions prevented the naval vessels from protecting Cornwallis’ forces. Then the French artillery joined the fray, firing on the British ships. They used red-hot shot, an incendiary munition usually reserved for siege warfare.

As it was such a large target, the Charon was hit time and again by the heated shot. Soon she was on fire; Roome and his crewmates could not stop the flames running up the masts, along the yardarms and into the frigate’s broad canvas sails. The Charon burned to her hull’s waterline, suffering “a considerable loss of life”. Flaming and adrift, the frigate rammed into three British transports, also setting them on fire.

Surrounded on land and sea, Cornwallis surrendered nine days after the destruction of the Charon. Unbeknownst to anyone at Yorktown, it would be the final battle of the American Revolution.

The enemy imprisoned Abraham Roome and the other survivors who had clung to the wreckage of the Charon. However, patriot prisons were never very secure, and Roome escaped to the safety of the British lines.

After 1783, Roome returned to England. In two year’s time, he took his wife and children to the loyalist colony of New Brunswick. The former crewmember of the Charon petitioned for land on the Oromocto River, but it is uncertain if this was ever granted. What is certain, is that Roome’s wife Catherine gave birth to a son, William Frederick, in Fredericton on May 5, 1807. Eight years later, Roome’s family relocated to Orford Township in Upper Canada. Abraham died sometime around 1818; his wife died in 1848. Their son had seven children. The third child, Dr. William Frederick Roome Jr., became the Member of Parliament for London, Ontario.

Little did the voters of London realize they might never have had their MP had his grandfather not survived the burning of the Charon in 1781.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Borealia: The Canadian Turn in Early American History

by Jeffers Lennox on March 21

The American Revolution wasn’t simply American. The Early National period was hardly national at all. From 1774 to at least 1815, regional linkages and continental strategies shaped the development of American states and British provinces as people, policies, and ideas traversed a porous and fluid border. Ironically, loyal British colonies were less foreign to Americans in the late eighteenth century than Canada is to Americans today. Colonial and early American newspapers carried news from Halifax and Montreal; Revolutionary politicians, military figures, and leading intellectuals paid close attention to developments in the northern colonies; and American geographies published in the 1790s had entries on (and maps of) most of the British colonies.

Historians, it seems, have gotten in the way. The emergence of national narratives on both sides of the border has bifurcated what was a shared history. Lately, however, American historians have begun looking north in ways that reflect the attitudes, curiosities, and ideas of their ancestors. Leading scholars at major American institutions have recently tackled the Acadians (expelled from their “American homeland”), loyalists and late loyalists, Joseph Brant and the Six Nations, and the War of 1812. Borealia, its American sibling The Junto, and those who contribute to these important resources have made crystal clear that the new generation of American historians considers Canada a worthy subject of inquiry. Read the full blog.

JAR: How the Stamp Act did not Affect Virginia

By Bob Ruppert, published March 21, 2016

On March 22, 1765, the Stamp Act was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 205 to 49. The Act caused both anger and resentment in the colonies — not so much because of its imposition of a tax, but rather because of its manner of enactment and means of enforcement. The colonists believed that it violated their rights as Englishmen. In Massachusetts John Adams claimed the Act was “utterly void, and no binding Force upon us; for it is against our Rights as Men, and our Privileges as Englishmen,” “an Act made in defiance of the first Principles of Justice.” Adams based his position on the argument used by Lord Edward Coke that “Magna Charta is such a fellow that he will have no sovereign” in Dr. Thomas Bonham v. College of Physicians.

In Virginia two men protested the Act’s passage in the strongest of words. The first was Patrick Henry, a young lawyer who had recently been elected to the House of Burgesses and was the author of the Virginia Resolves; the second was Richard Bland, a well-respected member of the House of Burgesses and author of the pamphlet An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies.

Read the full post.

Book: North to Bondage

North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes, by Harvey Amani Whitfield

Many Canadians believe their nation fell on the right side of history in harbouring black slaves from the United States. In fact, in the wake of the American Revolution, many Loyalist families brought their slaves to settle in the Maritime colonies of British North America.

North to Bondage traces the transition and movement of black people from slavery in the United States to continued slavery in the Maritimes. It is not an optimistic story of slavery to freedom but rather a narrative about forced migration, displacement, and the expansion of slavery in the British Empire.

Piecing together fragments of the archival record — drawn from court documents, newspaper articles, government documents, and oral narratives — Harvey Amani Whitfield illuminates how slaves drew upon kinship networks and found strength in traditions of survival and resistance to fight for freedom in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. While some local judges chipped away at slavery, Maritime slaves fought against the institution by refusing to work, by running away, by reconstituting their families, and by challenging their owners in court.

Whitfield’s book, the first on slavery in the Maritimes, is a startling corrective to the enduring and triumphant narrative of Canada as a land of freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad.

Details, review and ordering information at UBC Press.

Film Project: “The Discovery of the Lost HMS Ontario

Our film focuses on the HMS Ontario, the most powerful British warship on the Great Lakes during the American Revolutionary War. The ship last sailed on Halloween 1780 from Fort Niagara and disappeared for over two centuries, when two shipwreck hunters – Jim Kennard & Dan Scoville – finally found her intact and upright in the depths of Lake Ontario.

We are creating a feature documentary that will tell the story of the ship and the conflict to control the continent that erupted into the Revolutionary War. We will use personal stories and historic reenactments to give audiences a glimpse into the world around Lake Ontario during the American Revolution and the communities that would one day become part of Canada, including the United Empire Loyalists.

Read more.

Be sure to watch the video trailer (4 min).

Consider a contribution to the project, targeted for completion for Canada’s 150th in 2017.

Can We? Reflections on “Refugees: Yesterday and Today”

I was impressed by Gord Ripley’s editorial, “Can We? Reflections on Refugees: Yesterday and Today,” published in the Jan. 3 edition of Loyalist Trails, but puzzled by the subsequent lack of response or commentary.

In my opinion, his suggestion that the UELAC sponsor a Syrian refuge family is a worthy one, especially given that the UELAC membership share a similar desperate story in their collective past.

I believe the symbolism of the gesture to be important; even a modest donation total from all branches would help demonstrate that our country welcomes those fleeing persecution and hardship.

My great-great-great grandparents, Martha Hutchinson, and Marmaduke Hutchinson Sr., United Empire Loyalist, escaped his certain hanging for treason and fled to a fresh start in what became New Brunswick, in 1783. I am quite sure they would approve Mr. Ripley’s initiative.

My appreciation to Gord Ripley, as well David Moore and Stephen Davidson, who have also expressed sympathy for this latest wave of refugees.

Seems to me this is a perfect cause for the UELAC. Sincerely,

…Ruth (Hutchinson) Alsemgeest, UE; Richmond, B.C.

Digital Gazette: Spring 2015 Available

As you may recall, we began really creating in colour and making available a digital copy of the Loyalist Gazette in 2014. The two 2013 issues (mostly b&w) were also made available.

Two objectives:

• to offer our UELAC periodical – the Loyalist Gazette – in a digital format with enhanced features (colour) for those who prefer it.

• to contain and reduce costs when printing and mailing costs.

The digital version of the Spring 2015 issue of the Loyalist Gazette until now has been available only to members and Gazette subscribers. It is now available publicly, with a lot of colour. Have a look at the Spring 2015 issue. For more information and past copies, click here.

…The Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where are Carl Stymiest (Vancouver Branch) and Anne Redish (Kingston & District Branch)?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • Did you know many of the lost villages along the St.Lawrence River were settled by Loyalists? Follow #LostVillages or visit The Lost Villages Museum on Facebook
  • A list of some Loyalist online resources? The Loyalist Collection by the University of New Brunswick.
  • Note the Second Annual Conference: The American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley June 9 – 12 by the Fort Plain Museum at The Fulton Montgomery Community College and Mohawk Valley. See details and links to the registration form.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • On this day (March 25) in 1774, England passes the Boston Port Act closing the city’s port and fining it for the Boston Tea Party.
  • Way to Safety Thro’ Fields of Blood — A transcript of the Original Manuscript of the 1775 Massacre Oration, given by Dr. Joseph Warren on the fifth anniversary of the Boston Massacre, 5 March 1770.
  • Battlefields and military forts in Upstate NY: 12 historical sites to visit. Upstate New York has seen its share of military action over the years, and we have the forts and battlefields to show for it. Although there are over 100 notable military sites across Upstate New York, here are a dozen battlefields and forts that are particularly interesting.
  • @HappynGlorious a few pictures from each year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s life are being posted, each year in turn, presumably ending with the 90th day on her 90th birthday. “EIIR: 90 Years in 90 Days”. 1983: The Queen, by Anthony Buckley. The photo was later used on Canada’s banknotes
  • Do you like pets, or even just general interest stories. Here are some stories you might not know about the some of the USA Founding Fathers and their dogs. Some are directly about incidents in the Rev War.
  • Photo from the Nova Scotia Archives, days before life jackets but when one got around as best one could, even if that happened to be a cake of ice (I think).
  • Finished pair of shoes mailed off to Chawton House Library today – It’s called a figured silk and was very popular for shoes late 18th c.
  • Great to see the Government of Canada promoting history. Read about the history awards program, one for teachers and one for Grade 10/11 students. Deadline is April 23.
  • Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama. This is our fifth year for the program. Last year was our most successful to date with better attendance, great coverage and fantastic reviews. Now we are poised to build on that success. The production team is already hard at work preparing for this year’s shows. We have returning cast, crew and staff members from last year plus we added a Production Manager. Together, we have set a goal to double last year’s attendance. Things are moving very rapidly toward show time already. Auditions are slated for April 2nd and we have a smorgasbord of promotional cast appearances to savor. The performance dates are Aug 1 & 2; 8 & 9. Near Mohawk NY. Visit Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama for details.