“Loyalist Trails” 2019-09: March 3, 2019

In this issue:
UELAC Conference: The Capital Calls, May 30 – June 2, Ottawa
Black Loyalists Bid Farewell to Savannah: Part One, by Stephen Davidson
In Search of Refuge During the American Revolution, This Enslaved Black Man Joined the British Army
Why Do The United Empire Loyalists Matter? By Brian McConnell, UE
The Fort Wilson Riot and Pennsylvania’s Republican Formation
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: William Paine’s Instructions for Inoculation
Borealia: Joseph Bouchette, Copiste
JAR: “To Huts”: British Winter Cantonments around New York City
Washington’s Quill: Mythbusting with Martha
The Junto: Call for Papers: Early American Music and the Construction of Race
Ben Franklin’s World: Copyright & Fair Use in Early America
Loyalist Resources: Personal or Local Websites
Where in the World?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


UELAC Conference: The Capital Calls, May 30 – June 2, Ottawa

Join fellow Loyalists and friends at UELAC Conference 2019 “The Capital Calls,” May 30 – June 2, 2019, at DoubleTree by Hilton Gatineau-Ottawa, 1170 chemin Aylmer, Gatineau, Quebec, hosted by Sir Guy Carleton Branch.

On Friday 31 May, three concurrent tours are on offer:

See more details, including a flyer, the schedule, speakers, venue, directions, and the registration form. Registration is now open!

Black Loyalists Bid Farewell to Savannah: Part One

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The news of the British defeat at Yorktown in October 1781 caused one southern loyalist to remark that “nothing could exceed the distress to which the Loyalists were then reduced.” If they remained behind, they risked “the harshest treatment from an enraged enemy”. Persecution, torture, loss of property and humiliation may have been new experiences for the white Loyalists of Georgia as they fled the colony in the summer of 1782, but these hardships were commonplace for the lives of Georgia’s enslaved Africans.

Lt. Col. Stephen DeLancey described the treatment of Blacks at the hands of Savannah’s white population in a 1779 letter that he wrote to his wife. “”The Negroes and Negro Women are inhumanly treated, are two-thirds naked, and are very disgusting to the Eye and another Sense. Tho’ I begin to be more habituated to the Sight, yet I cannot be to the great Cruelty made Use of to the poor ignorant Wretches. Indeed the Title of the Overseer is a sufficient Explanation of the Whole. He is styled a Negro Driver. These circumstances of Cruelty to these People render the Persons who exercise it disagreeable, nay odious to me.”

The Loyalist officer was not describing how Patriots treated their slaves – it was a general description of slavery in Savannah. As the previous four articles have demonstrated, Loyalists were also slave owners. When two thousand white loyalists left Savannah, noted Thomas Allen in his book Tories, they took 5,000 slaves with them. 1,278 loyalists in Charleston took 2,613 slaves to Jamaica. Maya Jasanoff reports that 3,000 loyalists took 8,000 slaves to Jamaica. The loyalists who left the United States took with them a total of 15,000 enslaved Blacks.

None, however, had as many slaves as the colony’s royal governor, Sir James Wright. When he sought compensation for his wartime losses, Wright testified that he had once held as many as 523 Africans in slavery. Patriots seized these men, women and children in 1778. Wright managed to recover 323 of them, resulting in an actual loss of 200 slaves. He valued his enslaved Blacks at £52, 15 shillings each, but admitted that the average price in the colony was £40 – £45. Wright also had 43 slaves taken or killed at different times during the revolution, citing the shooting of his “best carpenter” as a particular loss. At one point, Wright had bought insurance for his slaves in case they were lost at sea when he had them taken out of Georgia. He felt that about 3% of his slaves died each year.

The cold, inhumane tone of the governor illustrates the way in which enslaved Africans were regarded in Georgia – as property and nothing more. It comes as no surprise, then, that when the British crown offered freedom to Blacks who had been enslaved by Patriots, they seized the opportunity with fervour. Service in the royal army or navy was their ticket to lives as free men and women. Their brothers and sisters who were enslaved by Loyalists would never be given this opportunity.

Finding stories about Black Loyalists who once lived in Savannah is difficult. If Scipio Handley’s adventures are common to even a dozen other freed Africans, then we have lost some fascinating chapters in loyalist history. His January 13, 1784 petition to the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists tells a remarkable story.

Unlike the majority of Blacks in the southern colonies, Scipio Handley was born free the son of a free woman. Mrs. Handley sold gingerbread, and when her son delivered her baked goods to a British ship, the local Patriots assumed that he was also bringing Lord William Campbell intelligence on the rebels. They put Handley in jail for six weeks. Once free, Handley fled Charleston, South Carolina to serve the British forces based in Barbados. He admitted that he feared angry Patriots would put him to death if he was caught, but he eluded capture and was able to safely flee to the West Indies.

When Handley learned that the British had taken control of Savannah, Georgia, in 1778, he returned to serve the crown on more familiar soil. There he “remained until the rebels and French troops came and laid siege to the town” in the fall of 1779. Handley described Savannah’s population as being employed in the “endeavor to keep them off” for if the Patriot forces “succeeded in their attempt, they would have no mercy on many.” Having had his life threatened four years earlier for merely running away, Handley was sure of being hanged for aiding the British cause.

In the following year during the six-week “siege of Georgia”, Handley worked at the armory shop, making grapeshot and delivering it to the redoubts and batteries throughout the city. At one point, Handley was hit in the right leg by an enemy’s musket ball. He clearly remembered the time – four o’clock on a Saturday morning in 1780. The surgeons “thought they would be obliged to cut it off, but after a long and tedious while it got healed, though far from being entirely well”. At times the pain was so great that Handley had to stay in bed for two or three days, making it completely impossible for him to work.

Handley fled the South with the British troops in 1782 and eventually made his way to Britain. In 1784, he implored the king’s commissioners to “take the case of a poor infirmed stranger into consideration and grant him such assistance as {they} would judge proper.” If they granted the Black Loyalist his request, Scipio Handley would ever “consider himself in duty bound to pray for {their} honours health, happiness and prosperity”. Handley received compensation, but – like many white Loyalists – not for the total of all of his losses.

David George, a Baptist minister, was another Black Loyalist whose story is rich in details. George had been preaching at Silver Bluff until the British captured Savannah in 1778. George’s master, was “an anti-loyalist”, so he fled with other Patriots, leaving his slaves behind. Perhaps to keep them from running away, George and his family were put in prison, remaining there until the British released them.

When Savannah later came under siege by Patriot forces, a cannon ball flew through the roof of the Georges’ home. They moved to nearby Yamacraw, making a cellar their home until the siege was over. Having escaped death at the hands of Patriot guns and cannon, George confronted the most deadly threat of the revolution – smallpox.

Learn more about David George and other Black Loyalists who escaped from Savannah in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

In Search of Refuge During the American Revolution, This Enslaved Black Man Joined the British Army

By Todd Braisted, a historian, author and researcher of Loyalist military studies.

(Note: This is about the same Bernard E. Griffiths as was described in last week’s Loyalist Trails – “Trumpeter Barney of the Queen’s Rangers, Chelsea Pensioner, and Freed Slave.”)

The American War for Independence was a complex birth of a nation, steeped in both noble ideals and confusing contradictions. The founding document boldly declared that all men were created equal, but in reality, some of those same men owned fellow men, just of a different color.

For people of color, what was their best option? What good would the freedom of a nation be to them if it did not involve their personal freedom?

Questions of loyalty and allegiance were not limited to any one race or ethnicity. Thousands of colonists from every background for one reason or another chose to retain their loyalty to that of the only government they had ever known – the British. Whatever grievances colonists had, and all had some, they figured an armed rebellion against their kin was not the solution. Loyalties could shift as well (see: Benedict Arnold), adding to the complexities of the conflict.

Read more.

Why Do The United Empire Loyalists Matter? By Brian McConnell, UE

As a member of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada you might think I would not have any difficulty answering the question: Why do the United Empire Loyalists matter?

I believed I did not primarily for two reasons. First, on a personal level they matter to me since I enjoy learning about my roots as a descendant of a Loyalist soldier who served in Jessup’s Rangers during the American Revolution. Second, as a life-time student of history and resident of Canada I am interested in learning more about the role the United Empire Loyalists played in the country’s development. Nonetheless, when I was asked this question a few years ago by a Newspaper Reporter it caused me to pause and I began to give it more consideration.

Read more (PDF).

The Fort Wilson Riot and Pennsylvania’s Republican Formation

By Kevin Diestelow, 28 February 2019

“There has been hell to pay in Philadelphia,” exclaimed Samuel Shaw, referring to the Fort Wilson Riot of October 4, 1779 in a letter to Winthrop Sargent. The riot was the culmination of three years of factional political tension within the city of Philadelphia. Members of the city’s “lower sort,” nominally backed by politically powerful men of middling means, took to the streets to protest high prices and unfair treatment from the political elite. Although they marched without a clear plan of action, the house of James Wilson, an esteemed lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, became the target of their rage. Inside the house, remembered in history as “Fort Wilson,” Wilson joined with other leading citizens to combat the crowd’s advance. Ultimately, the riot resulted in the deaths of one person in the house and several members of the crowd. Following the event, the political leaders of the city, men of moderate station who had risen to prominence in the turmoil of the 1760s and 1770s, withdrew their support from the crowd. The escalation of heated rhetoric into actual skirmishing stunned the residents of Philadelphia; the resulting change in attitude among “the middle sort” would have serious implications on the political trajectory of the city.

Read more.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: William Paine’s Instructions for Inoculation

By Somer Stewart, 27 February 2019

Throughout the eighteenth century smallpox was sweeping the Americas and Europe, and in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths, physicians were practicing inoculation on those who were not ill in order to keep them from becoming sick with smallpox, much like today, when we receive vaccinations in order to avoid sickness. In 1772 while studying medicine in Worcester, Massachusetts, William Paine wrote medical notes on how to perform inoculation and also how to care for patients in the days following inoculation, giving us a firsthand account of how physicians used this practice in the eighteenth century. Paine’s medical notes show us that inoculation was not just a quick process like vaccination today, but that patients who had been inoculated required constant care in the days after this procedure as well.

Read more.

Borealia: Joseph Bouchette, Copiste

By Alban Berson, 25 February 2019; English translation by Google Translate

It is common for an individual to draw the attention of a heritage library to an old document that they hold. This person has somehow obtained a book, a map or a manuscript, and would be willing to dispose of it in favor of the library. It is then necessary to evaluate the heritage and market values and, if the document is interesting, to negotiate the terms of acquisition: gift against tax receipt, purchase, or a combination of both. It is a relatively common process by which heritage libraries enrich their collections.

Read more en français, or read in English by Google Translate.

JAR: “To Huts”: British Winter Cantonments around New York City

By David M. Griffin on 25 February 2019

The British Occupation of the New York City region during the Revolutionary War was the longest continuous occupation of any area of the entire war. After the fall of New York in 1776 and the British retreat from Philadelphia in 1778 the British and American armies surrounding the New York region were at a stalemate. Neither army was able to lure the other into a decisive battle. American brigades were quartered north of the city in camps stretching from New Jersey in the west to Connecticut in the east. The British forces housed troops within New York City and farther north on Manhattan island, eastern New Jersey, across the East River and into Long Island. New York and its adjacent areas had become a British stronghold, requiring permanent lodging for troops for several years.

Thousands of men spent warmer months in tent camps and the harsher months in barracks and in cantonments, that is, collections of huts.[1] Barracks were available within the city, but the British forces outside of the city developed their winter establishments to both shelter the army from weather and locate troops near places where they might be required.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: Mythbusting with Martha

By Katharine Pittman, 1 March 2019

“Have you heard the one about George Washington’s wooden teeth?!” Yep, I’ve heard it. I’ve also heard the one about the cherry tree, and (to my amusement) the one about Martha Washington actually being a man and George a woman – yes, you read that correctly. I hear a lot of myths surrounding the Washingtons since I have the honor of portraying Martha Washington for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the opportunity to bring her story to life every day through first-person interpretation. It’s a job I cherish, partly because it has led me to meet many wonderful people who are dedicated to telling the Washingtons’ story with truth and passion like the good people at The Washington Papers. A vital part of our shared passion is to take these age-old myths that have defined the Washingtons for generations and find the truth (or fiction) behind them.

The Washingtons are ensconced in American lore. Even before their deaths, wild stories surrounding both George and Martha circulated throughout the country. It seems everyone has a family story with a Washington connection, and it seems like George Washington slept in almost every tavern and private home in America.

Such stories have also made the rounds through Williamsburg over the years. My favorite goes as follows…

Read more.

The Junto: Call for Papers: Early American Music and the Construction of Race

Conference Oct. 11-12, 2019 at the University of Pennsylvania

Racial ideology is baked into the cultural and music history of early America. Native peoples and colonists heard each other’s music as indicators of difference, friendliness, or danger. The regulation of song and dance was integral to the subjugation of enslaved people. And, in the United States, a vested interest in forming a nation of white citizens was underpinned by pious and genteel repertoire. This workshop seeks to provide a space for the cultivation of new areas of inquiry into the intersection of race, music, and American cultural history. While the interrelated relationship between race, modernity, and American music is of enduring interest to scholars – especially those focused on the twentieth century to today – this workshop is dedicated to tracing these long-term themes in the earlier period from colonial encounter to the Civil War.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Copyright & Fair Use in Early America

Kyle Courtney, a lawyer, librarian, and Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, will serve as our guide through the early American origins of copyright and fair use.

During our investigation of these principles, Kyle reveals details about the legal concepts and principles of copyright and fair use; Precedents and influences of British American and early United States copyright laws; And, why the founders viewed copyright as important enough to include a provision for it in the United States Constitution.

Listen to the podcast.

Loyalist Resources: Personal or Local Websites

Brian McConnell’s maternal ancestors were United Empire Loyalists, and their history interests him. Brian wonders if there are other websites that focus on Loyalist era history? See Brian’s “Loyalist History of Nova Scotia” which he updated recently. Email Brian at brianm564@gmail.com.

Where in the World?

Where is newsletter editor Doug Grant, of Gov. Simcoe 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.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Privateer Cove appears on early map showing lands granted to Loyalists at Digby, Nova Scotia
  • Planning your trip to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown? Don’t miss our daily flintlock musket demonstrations at quarter to and quarter after the hour.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 2 Mar 1776 “Between ten and eleven,” the Continental artillery on Cobble Hill, Lechmere’s Point & Lamb’s Dam in Roxbury opened up on British positions in Boston and Charlestown. This cannonade did little damage but made a lot of noise.
    • 1 Mar 1769 The Pennsylvania colony, under authority of the Penn family, issues £16,000 worth of paper currency.
    • 1 Mar 1781 The Articles of Confederation ratified, forming first national gov’t for new United States of America.
    • 28 Feb 1776 Washington prepares to take heights above Boston, writing that it will “bring on a rumpus” with British.
    • 27 Feb 1776 Richard Caswell leads 1,000 Patriot troops in the successful Battle of Moore’s Creek over 1,600 British Loyalists. It would go down in history as the first American victory in the first organized campaign of the Rev. War.
    • 27 Feb 1782 British House of Commons votes against continuing war in America.
    • 26 Feb 1776 Spain orders West Indies fleet to observe and detain British merchant shipping to gather intelligence.
    • 25 Feb 1778 George Rogers Clark heads to Ft Sackville in present-day IN, ending British hold on Western frontier.
    • 24 Feb 1782 American forces, surprised by British attack, try retreat across Wambaw Bridge in SC; bridge collapses.
    • 23 Feb 1778 Prussian Gen. von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge to drill Continental Army into a professional force.
  • Townsends: Wine on Fire in History – 1650s Recipe
  • 18th Century folding sales book of resplendent sample buttons, French
  • Rear detail of 18th Century dress, Robe a la francaise, c.1760’s via the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
  • 18th Century dress, 1778-80, This winged polonaise is so small that it must have been worn by a girl of no more than 14 years old
  • 18th Century 1780s gown, via National Museums Northern Ireland
  • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, c.1790, velvet waistcoat has a simple design that celebrates the ritual of hunting.
  • Detail of gentleman’s 18th Century waistcoat and frockcoat, 1770-90
  • What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today? (New-York Journal 3/2/1769)
  • Knitted mittens in terracotta-pink silk and linen, dating from about 1700-1725. You can read more about the Spence Collection at the Fashion Museum. This week we are celebrating the opening of our brand new display Glove Stories with one of its star objects; a beautiful pair of knitted mittens in terracotta-pink silk and linen.
  • Eighteenth-century fans once introduced to Europe quickly became popular and it was also not long before France became the center for fan design and production… Learn more…
  • The African School sampler. This embroidered sampler is a rare example of this schoolgirl art form to have an attribution to the nineteenth century African Nova Scotian population through the African School (1836 – c.1858), Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Museum has over 80 samplers in its collection, but to date, none of them have been attributed to African Nova Scotian makers. Read more…
  • Mysterious underground vault discovered on grounds of N.S. legislature. Archaeologist says the large chamber isn’t mentioned in any records or maps. CBC. Read more…