“Loyalist Trails” 2016-46: November 13, 2016
In this issue:
– The Fury of the Mob: Pennsylvania, by Stephen Davidson
– The American Revolution Through the Eyes of King George
– Borealia: Why National History Matters
– JAR: Society at Auction: Coffee-House Culture in Occupied New York
– What we are Taught: War of 1812
– Notes on Hostages to Fortune, by Peter C. Newman
– Fall 2016 Issue of the Loyalist Gazette
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
© Stephen Davidson, UE
In the theory, the patriot mobs that regularly threatened the lives and property of loyalists throughout the rebelling thirteen colonies were supposed to be agents of persuasion. Potential violence was a way to help loyalists see the error of their ways and join the cause of liberty. However, in some cases, mob violence had the opposite effect. It pushed those who would have remained outside of the conflict as neutrals into the loyalist camp. Pennsylvania, the home of many pacifist Quakers, provides examples of where the fury of the mob worked against the patriot cause.
When Arthur Thomas of Philadelphia sought compensation from the British government for his losses as a loyalist, he affirmed that what he said was true rather than swearing an oath to his honesty. This was the common practice of Quakers, and thus indicated Thomas’ denominational background.
Before the war, this Quaker was a leather dresser and a maker of breeches. When the “Troubles” broke out, Thomas declared his loyalty to the crown, refusing to sign an association, a document that supported the patriots. His later refusal to help fund the rebel attack on Quebec made the Quaker “particularly obnoxious.”
In June 1776, a mob “collected and beset” the house of a Philadelphia loyalist by the name of Solman. The latter was taken prisoner and “carried about the town…merely on account of his loyalty”. Arthur Thomas tried to have the local militia save Solman “from the fury of the mob” when suddenly his own house came under attack. Thomas later recalled “when the mob broke into his house, they rifled and plundered it.” The Quaker’s two sons immediately fled while Thomas was forced to hide in the homes of different friends for several days.
A month later, rebels captured Thomas, imprisoning him for almost two months. Being discharged on bail, the loyalist found sanctuary in New York City, but returned to Philadelphia when the British occupied the city. There he helped with the “barracking and quartering” of the king’s army. When the British withdrew from Philadelphia, Thomas and his family once again settled in New York. Halifax, already a refuge for many Quakers, eventually became the home of the Thomas family.
It was the actions of the mob that stood out in the testimony of the two men who acted as witnesses at Thomas’ compensation hearing. Philip Marchington “remembers his house plundered and money and goods rifled and stole, it was on account of his loyalty… he lost from the mob from £300- £500.” William Austin testified that Thomas was “certainly a loyalist. Remembers the claimant’s house rifled and plundered by the mob…he lost money, furniture and several things belonging to his trade.”
John Meredith was a loyalist from Bucks County, Pennsylvania who eventually settled in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. When he was “obliged to quit his home”, he served as both a spy and a member of the loyalist militia during the remainder of the revolution. He “lost horse, wagon and wearing apparel taken and plundered by the mob”. His witness, Isaac Hutchinson, “heard he was plundered by mob on account of his opposing the measures of rebels.”
Joseph Galloway had once been the speaker in the Pennsylvania house of assembly. He was a well-known loyalist, noted for trying to persuade his colony to reject the measures adopted by the rebel Continental Congress. In 1775, Galloway received a box with a letter. Its words read “hang yourself or we will do it for you.”
Despite this threat, he remained in his house until December of 1776. “He considered himself in great danger and was in a degree imprisoned in his own house. Two or three mobs came to his house with a view to tar and feather him, but were diverted by his friends. The last mob was thirteen Dutchmen who, getting drunk, quarreled whether they should tar and feather or hang him.”
The mob, it turned out, was hired by Samuel Adams, a patriot who had signed the Declaration of Independence. In the end, Galloway left his home; following his departure, it was destroyed by the mob.
Rebels made John Brooks a prisoner in Philadelphia in October 1775 on suspicion of espionage. He was so fearful of a personal attack because “the enraged state of the mob” that he had the colony’s attorney general bring him before the Committee of Safety to face charges. By then, the “resentment of the multitude was lessened”. One can appreciate why Brooks would have preferred to prison to having to face the mob. 725 days later, the rebels released Brooks. His memory of his sentence was that he was “treated in a most rigorous manner, not suffered the use of pen, ink, or paper or to have conversation with any person whatever.”
It could certainly have been worse. His cellmate was Dr. John Kearsley, a surgeon in Philadelphia. This loyalist died the day after his release from the rebel jail. On the day of his arrest, Mary Kearsley watched the mob destroy her husband’s surgical office, shelves of medicine, the doctor’s library, and the Kearsleys’ home, wrecking havoc on a “great part of their furniture”. Mrs. Kearsley found sanctuary in England in 1778 with her daughter and son-in-law. Seven years later she was compensated for all that she had lost because of the “fury of the mob.”
The great majority of loyalist refugees had once called the colony of New York their home. In next week’s Loyalist Trails, we will let their testimonies tell the tales of all that they suffered at the hands of the monster known simply as “the mob.”
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
(The Smithsonian) A treasure trove of nearly 350,000 documents, about to be released to the public, reveals new insights about how George III lost the colonies Shortly after the Revolutionary War, a British father of 15 sat down to think about the world “turned upside down.” He had never seen the American continent, and rarely set foot outside London. But his private papers reveal that he closely tracked the war’s path in maps and regiment lists. A man of routine, he dated his daily letters to the minute as the conflict raged on. He tried hard to picture the England that his children would inherit. “America is lost! Must we fall beneath the blow?” he wrote in a neat, sloping hand. “Or have we resources that may repair the mischiefs?” These were the words of George III—father, farmer, king—as he weighed Britain’s future.
Many Americans, as colonists-turned-citizens, might have been surprised to hear George’s inner thoughts on the war that brought about their new nation. He was, after all, the same ruler that revolutionaries had blisteringly indicted in the Declaration of Independence. There, they called George a “Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant,” one whom they deemed “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Over the centuries, popular culture has depicted “America’s last king” in critical fashion. His illness steered the plot of Alan Bennett’s 1991 play, The Madness of George III. More recently, the hit musical Hamilton pictured George III penning a breakup letter to the colonies, titled “You’ll Be Back.”
Now, for the first time in over two centuries, you’ll be able to read the king’s side of the American Revolution and its aftermath from the comfort of your own castle. George III’s essay on the loss of the colonies is part of a private cache totaling more than 350,000 pages, all currently preserved in Windsor Castle’s Royal Archives after a century or so of storage in the cellar of the Duke of Wellington’s London townhouse. In April 2015, Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the trove to scholars, along with plans for the Georgian Papers Programme to digitize and interpret documents for a new website, launching in January 2017.
Nations matter. National cultures matter. And national histories matter. As we try to understand what has happened in the United States, we should keep those three things in mind. There will be endless discussion of all the proximate causes of Donald Trump’s victory — such as the conduct of the Director of the FBI, mistakes by the Democrats, dislike of Hillary Clinton, economic problems in the rust belt — but little of it will confront a critical underlying issue: the national culture of the United States. Trump’s margin of victory is too big and too broad to be written off as simply a failure of the Clinton campaign, or a conspiracy engineered by rogue elements of the FBI to embarrass her in the final days of the election. There is something much larger and deeper going on, something rooted firmly in American history.
(By Jonathan Bayer) In 1779, three years into the British occupation of New York during the American Revolution, a man returned to the city to “attend the usual hours of business at [Merchants’] Coffee House.” He must have been destined to pursue his particular trade, for his name was “William Tongue, Licensed Auctioneer.” The institution to which the rather aptly named Mr. Tongue returned was already well established as the economic center of Revolutionary New York, but despite its fame as a mercantile hub, the coffee-house was far more than a mere auction block. In 1775, nine months before the Declaration of Independence, when British naval superiority was severely weakening American trade in Patriot-held New York, a citizen signing only as “A Friend to the City” made a public call for customers by espousing the societal value of a place like the coffee-house. When the auction business exploded following British occupation and a resurgence of trade, but public meetings had declined due to the association of such assemblies with fomenting rebellion, the Loyalist proprietor of Merchants’ published a promise to once again make the establishment a place of social gathering. Whether the merchants themselves were profiting or not, Merchants’ thrived because it was also regarded as the city’s preeminent social node, a reputation the proprietors of the coffee-house worked keenly to establish and maintain.
I was really interested in reading about American History as taught in schools in last week’s issue of Loyalist Trails. Last February while vacationing in South Carolina, four university students rented the next unit. They were from Baltimore so I asked if they knew that the words to their national anthem were written during the battle. Oh yes, they knew… It was during the war when England tried to take over America.
They were inquisitive students so I asked about the War of 1812. They were astonished that America invaded Canada. I suggested they read Brig. General Hull’s proclamation. One student took out his ipad and found it. Then he showed it to his friends. They said it was not the way they were taught.
…Doris Ann Lemon, UE
Some of you may have read part or all of the book by now. Any comments are welcome. Here a couple:
• It is fun to look at the history of the insurrection from the other side. Newman minces no words. My favorite is “Canadians are Americans with no manners.”
• On UELAC, A physician he interviewed in his research said something like: “Acquiring the distinction (UE) was harder than my original medical training.” [Note: with the dearth of records in much of Canada though the mid-nineteenth century, finding the genealogical proofs can be not only difficult, but impossible on occasion. Others though have been able to find their documentation in a matter of hours.]
• He hasn’t mentioned yet that officers of the Colonial Army still toasted the King in their Mess until about half-way through the Revolution.
A Simon & Schuster sweepstake is live now. You can enter to win two finished copies of Hostages to Fortune with signed bookplates by Peter, two free tickets to tour Fort George in Niagara on the Lake, and a family membership to Heritage Toronto for next year. Enter the sweepstake.
The Fall Loyalist Gazette is at the mailing house and should be in the mail early this week.
As a paid-up member or a subscriber to the Gazette (published twice each year), you can still request the digital copy.
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.
- Recognizing 108th Birthday of NS Branch United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada member Evelyn Denton.
- The new Westport, NS ferry is named Margaret’s Justice for Loyalist Christiania Margaret Davis who stood up for her rights. Digby County Courier; CBC report.
- The Book of Negroes (1783) data collection is available in an open format for the first time: Nova Scotia Government
- Brian McConnell at the United Empire Loyalists monument in Middleton, Nova Scotia
- First Battalion of Pennsylvania Loyalists commanded by His Excellency Sir William Howe, K.B.
- In November of 1777, cut off, short of food, with the weather getting colder, the British-held posts of Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence made the hard decision to withdraw back to Canada following the surrender at Saratoga. At this special Living History event (was held Sat Nov 12) join the German soldiers, who formed the core of the Ticonderoga Garrison, and prepare to evacuate the “Gibraltar of the North.” Royal Artillerymen aid these Brunswickers to determine what to take, and what to destroy to prevent falling into enemy hands.
- Gorgeous plum sack back gown & petticoat brocaded with flowers & lace, France, 1765-70 from Victoria and Albert Museum
- Green Bean Tarts, Really? – 18th Century Cooking. Today’s recipe comes from John Nott’s 1724 cookbook “The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary.” On the surface these tarts seem rather normal, a standard lemon tart made with puff paste. But there is another ingredient that we’re sure will surprise you! It really sets this dish off!