“Loyalist Trails” 2016-34: August 21, 2016
In this issue:
– Carleton’s Book of Negroes: A Ledger’s Legacy (Part 1), by Stephen Davidson
– The Memorial of Sir John Johnson Baronet of Johnson Hall
– The Butler Papers Online at Brock U. Special Collections
– JAR: Top 10 Banastre Tarleton Myths
– Borealia: How the Quebec Act enhanced, not weakened, the British Empire
– America in Class: Experiences of the War
– Ben Franklin’s World: Taylor Stoermer, Harvard U. & Colonial North America
– Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin & Women’s Experiences in Revolutionary America
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
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, including the registration form, is now available read here.
© Stephen Davidson, UE
The Black Loyalists of the American Revolution numbered between eight and ten thousand – more than all of the loyalists who settled in Upper Canada. One in ten loyalist refugees who arrived in the Maritime Provinces were of African descent – a population of four thousand. The names and circumstances of over two thousand Black Loyalists who left New York City in 1783 can be found in a ledger known as The Book of Negroes. Commissioned by Sir Guy Carleton, this ledger also includes the names of slaves of loyalists and indentured African servants. An invaluable tool to genealogists and historians, Carleton’s ledger was the inspiration for an award winning novel as well as a television mini-series. Let’s consider the significance of The Book of Negroes and its lasting legacy.
The headquarters of the British forces since 1776, New York City became a haven for thousands of white and black loyalists as the American Revolution drew to its end. Evacuating the British army and its support services was a daunting task. Added to this was the ever-swelling number of loyal refugees who required transportation to sanctuary in other parts of the British Empire. Sir Guy Carleton could be forgiven for feeling that he had been given a “great and complicated business”. No one had told him that he would also have to decide on the fate of thousands of escaped slaves. Were they patriot property or emancipated loyalists?
The peace treaty that enumerated the conditions to end of War of Independence included Article 7 which stated that “All Hostilities both by Sea and Land shall from henceforth cease all prisoners on both sides shall be set at Liberty and His Britannic Majesty shall with all convenient Speed and without Causing any destruction or carrying away any Negroes or other Property of the American Inhabitants withdraw all its Armies, Garrisons, and Fleets, from the said United States.”
The American patriots considered that all freedom-seeking slaves who had crossed British lines during the revolution were nothing more than property – property that should be returned at the end of hostilities. However, as early as 1775, the British had promised emancipation to any patriot’s slave who served the crown for a minimum of a year. Having lost the war, would the British honour their promise or soothe ruffled feathers and hand the slaves back to their patriot owners?
Fortunately for the Black Loyalists, Carleton was a principled man. “Property”, to him, meant those Africans owned by patriots when the peace treaty was signed. Any man or woman who had responded to the British offer of freedom before 1783 was no longer “property” but a free person. “The Negroes in question” said Carleton “I found free when I arrived at New York, I had therefore no right, as I thought, to prevent their going to any part of the world they thought proper.”
Although patriots argued with Carleton’s interpretation, they could not dissuade him from making (in his words) “a notorious breach of public faith”. To assure the Americans that he was only evacuating Black Loyalists and the slaves of loyalists, Carleton notified the patriots that he was establishing a ledger in which his officers would record the names and circumstances of every person of African descent leaving New York City during 1783.
If the British government sided with the patriots’ interpretation of “property” in the months following the loyalist evacuation, slave owners could refer to the Book of Negroes. They could then demand the return of their slaves or receive financial compensation for them. The British Secretary of State later said that the rescue of Black Loyalists was “certainly an act of justice due to them from us” and that it could in no way be deemed an infraction of the peace treaty. As it turned out, no former slave was ever returned because of The Book of Negroes.
The Book of Negroes lists the details of 2,744 Africans who were evacuated in over a hundred ships between April and November of 1783. While giving historians invaluable information about the occupations, ages, colonies of enslavement, years of service to the crown, and the destinations of Black Loyalists, the ledger does not record data on every African who left the United States. Hundreds of unrecorded Black Loyalists left Charleston and Savannah in 1782. Others travelled on merchant vessels and troop ships. Historians’ conservative estimate for the number of Black Loyalists who left New York in 1783 is at least four thousand – about half of which are recorded in the Book of Negroes.
So although Carleton’s ledger can only give historians a glimpse into the lives of some of those who were part of the greatest slave emancipation in early American history, it is nevertheless an important document. Despite being over 230 years old, historians have only tapped The Book of Negroes in the past 40 years. Early 20th century scholars knew nothing of it, and therefore made guesses about which passengers on a loyalist ship’s manifest were of African descent. Esther Clark Wright, who made such an incredibly detailed study of American refugees in her 1955 classic, The Loyalists of New Brunswick, does not mention the Book of Negroes, while Robin Weeks only refers to an unidentified ledger in his 1971 book, The Blacks in Canada. However, by the mid-1970s scholars could search through microfilm versions of the ledger that had been purchased by provincial and university archives. The two original copies of the 156-page Book of Negroes can be found in Britain and the United States, but keen researchers can access transcripts of the ledger at several Internet websites.
The ledger, compiled by Carleton’s staff from the spring to the fall of 1783, reveals the racism of the day, referring to Black Loyalists as rascals, quadroons, mulattos, mustees and wenches. Only seven females were given the dignity of being called women.
A very quick review of Carleton’s ledger reveals a host of fascinating details. The Black Loyalists who are listed in its pages often served the crown for the entire revolution, acting as trumpeters, drummers, sailors, shoemakers, and teamsters. They originated in every colony with the exception of New Hampshire. One ship sailed away with a passenger list that was 38% men, 28% women and 33% children. Its youngest passenger was three weeks old; its oldest was seventy. Evacuation ships carrying Black Loyalists sailed to Nova Scotia’s Port Roseway, Port Mouton, Fort Cumberland, Annapolis Royal and the mouth of the St. John River. Others found new homes in six different German states, Quebec, and Abaco in the Bahamas.
This examination of the Book of Negroes concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
That Your Memorialist by the Death of his Father the late Sir William Johnson Baronet became Possessed of the Greatest part of his ample Fortune and as he was well known to be annimated by the same Principles of Loyalty and the same Zeal for his Majesty’s Government, which his Father had manifested in a long Series of Faithful Services, and by which he had acquired an extensive Influence not only among the Inhabitants of the Country which he had been so Conspicuous in Civilising and Setling but also among the Various Tribes of Savages.
Your Memorialist as His Representative became an early Object of the Jealousy of the Leaders of the Rebellion.
That in the Winter of the Year 1775 in Consequence of a Special Order of the Provincial Congress of New York, General Schuyler with a large Body of Militia from the County of Albany and the Borders of New England Compelled your Memorialist and a number of the Kings Friends in the Neighbourhood of Johnson Hall to deliver up their Arms.
That Conceiving this to be a Prelude to Measures of greater Severity and having Information that it was determined to Seize his Person by which he would have been deprived of the means of Rendering himself usefull to the Royal cause. Your Memorialist in the Spring 1777 Abandoned his Family and property and with a Body of one Hundred and Twenty Men composed Chiefly of his own Tenants at an inclement Season effected his escape through the Wilderness to Canada.
Soon after this Lady Johnson and two Infant Children were apprehended and detained as Hostages to deter your Memorialist from active Exertions in the Kings Cause, for the Space of nine months, when fortunately She not without great Difficulty made her Escape to New York.
That on his Arrival in Canada, your Memorialist Immediately made a Tender of His Services to Sir Guy Carleton by whom he had the Honor of being appointed to the Command of a Battalion which was the first of the Provincial Corps raised to the full Compliment of Five Hundred Men, a great proportion of them being his own Tenants and he has since been so far Successful as to Raise a Second Battalion.
That your Memorialist was at the siege of Fort Stanwix in 1777 and Commanded the Detachment which Defeated the Rebel Troops who were on their march for the Relief of the Garrison near the German Flatts. That he has had the Command of Two Seperate Expeditions from Canada in which he Penetrated into the Country so far as within Thirty Miles of the City of Albany. For his conduct in these several Enterprizes, as well as for his Readiness and alacrity upon all Occasions to promote the Kings Service by every Exertion in his power to Presume he may with Confidence appeal to His Majestys Commander in Chief and to every General Officer who has Served during the war in the Northern Department.
That soon after your Memorialist departed to Canada his Property was Sequestered and by an Act of the 22nd October 1779 it has been Confiscated and his Person Attainted.
Your Memorialist presumes it will be unnecessary to enter into a Detail of His Fathers Services which were Honored by such Repeated Marks of the Royal Approbation his Conduct in the field particularly at the Repulse of Baron Dieshaus at Fort William Henry in 1755 and at the taking of Niagara in both which Instances (in the Letter after the Death of General Predeaux) he had the Chief Command is too well known to be enlarged upon. The unfortunate Conclusion of the American War has indeed deprived the Mother Country of the Beneficial Effects of his Labours, But your Memorialist trusts that it will not be forgot that Sir William Johnson was Devoted to the Service of His King and Country, that the Settlement of the Colony of New York was greatly promoted by his Exertions and that his Distinguished influence among the Savages whose affections to the British Government he had Conciliated to a degree not to be Parall[el]ed, Contributed very materially to the Security of the Frontiers of the British Colonies, neither a Scene of Dangers his Person was exposed to from his Residence in an Uncivilised Savage Country nor the difficulty and Hardships inseperable from a new Settlement detered him from the great Objects Of his Pursuits, and he lived to see the Success of his unwearied Efforts in Establishment of Flourishing Settlements in a Country which but a few years before was a Perfect Wilderness. This his arduous undertaking could not be accomplished without very great Expence, and the Fruits of all his Services, and the Acquisitions of his whole Life were applied to the Advancement of it, and are now by the Revolution lost to his Posterity for ever.
From the Active Scenes in which your Memorialist has for many years been Engaged and from the Loss of all most all his papers with his Title deeds it will easily be Considered that it has been out of his Power to pay attention to his Private Concerns and therefore he is Conscious that the Schedule he even now Exhibits of his Property is very Imperfect.
Your Memorialist therefore prays his Case may be taken into Consideration, that under your Report, he may Receive such Aid or Relief as his Services and Losses may be found to Merit.
This and the “Examination and Evidence on the foregoing Memorial of Sir John Johnson Bart.” have been included in the Loyalist Directory – the document available here.
[Transcription by Todd Braisted, HVP UELAC]
The Directors of the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University are delighted to announce a significant addition to the Collection.
Several years ago, Bill Smy, a Director of the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University donated his research notes, The Butler Papers, to Brock University Special Collections.
His very popular reference book “An Annotated Roll of Butlers Rangers 1774 — 1781 with Documentary Sources ” was the final product of this massive research project. Many UELAC members have benefited from this work when they were researching their Loyalist ancestor.
With his permission Special Collections Staff formatted and digitized the 4 volume set of his Butler Papers and it is now accessible online as part of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University.
You can search the entire collection or you can search each individual volume. Remember that “creative spelling” was acceptable in those days so you might want to try various spellings for names.
The Directors of the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University and researchers everywhere sincerely thank the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada for their ongoing support. The Association has provided many generous grants to make the Collection one of the foremost collections of primary United Empire Loyalist historical records. In the future the digitalization of records will make the Collection available to researchers from around the world.
…The Directors, Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University
(By John Knight August 18, 2016) He was arguably the greatest “anti-Hero” produced by either side during the Revolutionary War. From Washington Irving to Mel Gibson, so much has been written about the career of Banastre Tarleton that it is difficult, even today, to separate man from myth. Yet many of the most persistent and damning indictments of him are also those most easily refuted as historically exaggerated, or even quite simply, untrue. Here we look at ten of the most damaging or obstinate myths about the British Cavalry leader absolutely no contemporary called “Bloody Ban!”
• He made his living before and after the war as a slave trader;
• He was an arrogant, detached, brutal martinet;
• Tarleton ordered the Waxhaws Massacre;
• and more.
Read the rest of the list and the accompanying commentary
(By Aaron Willis) The relationship between Britain and supranational structures has consistently raised questions of authority and sovereignty. While the E.U. has provided the most recent theatre for debates over these political concepts, in the eighteenth century it was the expanding empire that generated political crises and the attendant debates. The concept of sovereignty, often in the British context parliamentary sovereignty, repeatedly reared its head as a central concern of these political contests.
Yet in the decade between the Treaty of Paris (1763) and the passage of the Quebec Act (1774) officials formulating policies for incorporating the French Catholics of Quebec into the empire gave it limited consideration. Sovereignty appears as an abstract concern of those raging against outside influences from the continent; whether the papacy, the Jesuit leadership, or the polluting influence of French law. Sovereignty was an ideal debated as part of political contests within Britain and the empire, but, perhaps because of the central place of theorists like Montesquieu (as opposed to Hobbes, the English champion of ‘undivided sovereignty’), it was not a functional concern for those tasked with instituting governance in Quebec.
In some images the war is depicted from a distance. An individual soldier is a vertical line among many, his identity irrelevant in the artist’s attempt to evoke the reality of a battle, a march, a surrender. For the soldier, of course, reality was the comrade next to him—and the enemy he was to kill. “The eighteenth-century battlefield was, compared with the twentieth, an intimate theater,” writes historian George Middlekauff. “The killing range of the musket, eighty to one hundred yards, enforced intimacy as did the reliance on the bayonet and the general ineffectiveness of artillery. Soldiers had to come to close quarters to kill; this fact reduced the mystery of battle though perhaps not its terrors.” In this section we view the battlefield reality of Revolutionary War soldiers and their experiences as scouts, spies, aides, commissaries, guards, and prisoners. The contents:
• Pension narratives of Revolutionary War veterans;
• Philip Freneau, The British Prison Ship, poem;
• Boyrereau Brinch, enslaved black soldier in the American army;
• Boston King, fugitive slave in the British army.
What can the collections of the Harvard University Libraries teach us about our early American past? It turns out, quite a lot.
Taylor Stoermer, a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, takes us through the Harvard Libraries’ new digital and free-to-use history archive: the Colonial North American Project. During our exploration, Taylor reveals what the Colonial North American Project is and details about the records in contains; The history of the Harvard University Libraries and John Hancock’s relationship with the university; And, how we can best navigate the Colonial North American Project when we want to explore its holdings.
(By Mira Hayward, Intern, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library)
Hannah Lawrence Schieffelin was, in many ways, an exceptional woman. A prodigious poet, she used her talents to provoke the British by depositing, anonymously, her mocking, anti-British poem in front of Trinity Church.
At twenty-two, she rebelled on the domestic scale, renouncing her family’s Quaker faith in order to marry Jacob Schieffelin, a young British officer. Less than three months later, the newlyweds left New York for Detroit, beginning what would be a seven-month journey through Canada. Along the way, Schieffelin recorded her observations of the Canadian wilderness, its fledgling cities, and its rough-hewn inhabitants. Her literary talents make the narrative a compelling, rich historical source.
The account covers a wide range of topics, from Native American lifestyle, to modes of traversing icy rivers, to etiquette at British garrisons. Notably, the account also describes a number of the women Schieffelin met along the way, including French- and British-Canadian women, women from a variety of tribes living around Quebec and Detroit, and female missionaries.
As in every primary source, these accounts are colored by the author’s own perceptions, perceptions which can tell us about both the author and the time period in which she lived. For Hannah Schieffelin, appearance, character, status, and the connection between these three attributes were most important in describing and evaluating the women she encountered.
Read more about Molly Brant and about the Farmer’s Daughter.
Where are Arthur and Barbara Pegg of Col. Edward Jessup 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- Loyalist House servants’ quarters opened for first time. Visitors can now get ‘Downton Abbey’-style glimpse at working-class lives at Saint John national historic site. Scroll down to “More on this story” to play an audio recording.
- Profiles of Martin’s Station (1775): “Nancy Ward”. 1775 was a tumultuous time for all living on the western frontier of Virginia. Native Americans were in a constant struggle between the demands of a changing world and protecting their old ways. Colonists wrestled with liberty and loyalty. But one thing remained common for all: the instinct for survival. We cannot…we must not ignore history. Ranger Jackie Fischer of Historic Martin’s Station in Ewing, VA, explores the collision of cultures leading up to the Cherokee War of 1776. She delivers a stirring first-person interpretation of Nancy Ward, the “Beloved Woman of the Cherokee.” Watch video – 6 minutes. For more information on Historic Martin’s Station, visit www.HistoricMartinsStation.com
- How long after July 4 did it take for the Declaration of Independence to circulate through the colonies? Watch to go.
- Photo of Gravestone of Loyalist Rev. John Wiswall at Old Holy Trinity Church in Middleton, Nova Scotia (Brian McConnell UE)
- The American Revolution in Unexpected Places By Jacqueline C. Reynoso. At the time of the revolution, British America consisted of twenty-six colonies, not thirteen. The imperial connections that cut across their separate boundaries often kept individuals politically, commercially, and even personally tied to events and individuals throughout the empire. And although only thirteen colonies did eventually break away from the British Empire, neither their fate nor their number was ever predetermined. Read this perspective, and see a list of books related to this. From Backlist.
- Stamping haversacks and kettle bags ahead of reenacting at Fort St. Jean (photo) By 1st Foot Guards
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Johnson, Sir John – information from Todd Braisted
- Pickering, William – from Alan Streit (Volunteer Sandra McNamara)