“Loyalist Trails” 2019-32: Aug. 11, 2019

In this issue:
Loyalists and Canada’s First Residential School, Part 2: The Meductic Model, by Stephen Davidson
JAR: “That Damned Absurd Word Liberty”: Les Habitants, the Quebec Act, and American Revolutionary Ideology
The Junto: Writing – Revise and Resubmit
Ben Franklin’s World: Virginia, 1619
Benedict Swingate Calvert: A Privileged Loyalist Who Didn’t Leave
Hair Powder: History of Its Popularity and Unpopularity
Where in the World?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Loyalists and Canada’s First Residential School, Part 2: The Meductic Model

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Within three years of the creation of the Loyalist colony of New Brunswick, seven schools for Indigenous children had been established by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and Parts Adjacent in America. The New England Company appointed commissioners to oversee the schools and to hire teachers – all but one of whom were Loyalist refugees.

While little is known of the day to day operations of the schools in Chatham, Fredericton, St. Andrew’s, Westfield and Sheffield, a number of historical records shed light on the “station” that operated in Meductic near Woodstock, New Brunswick. As the New England Company sponsored all of these schools, it is reasonable to assume that the colony’s Indigenous institutions of learning would have operated along the same lines as the Meductic school.

Its teacher was Frederick Dibblee, a Connecticut Loyalist who would go on to become Woodstock’s first Anglican minister. His mandate was to teach the children of such “Indians as should profess the Protestant religion, and to place such Indians in English families or with English teachers to be instructed in the English language and in the trade and mystery of some lawful calling and in other liberal arts and sciences.”

Dibblee opened the Meductic school in 1788. In addition to children, Wolastoqiyik adults (old, young, married and single) attended classes in a log building that measured 26 feet by 22 feet. It had a window on each side, three doors, and a log-lined cellar for storing the various supplies that were distributed to students and their families.

The Wolastoqiyik, the Indigenous Nation that lived along the St. John River, had once been the allies of the Acadians. Many had adopted the Roman Catholic faith, and so were wary of the Protestant, English-speaking Loyalists who were establishing settlements along the upper river.

Therefore, Frederick Dibblee’s job description included creating good relations with the Wolastoqiyik, and much of this was done – as one historian put it – by “his personal influence and judicious distribution of presents and provisions… The supplies of provisions and clothing served the purpose intended, securing the confidence and good will of the natives and paving the way for the establishment of a school … Whatever may have been the prejudices of the Indians against receiving instruction at the hands of English teachers, the charms of the … goods provided by the New England company proved irresistible.”

The first shipment of these supplies included 50 blankets, a barrel of gunpowder, 100 lbs. of lead and 50 flints. The second consignment included 50 blankets, 100 lbs. lead and flints, blue blanket fabric, 40 bushels of corn, 2 barrels of pork and 4 bushels of salt. The third consignment included 50 blankets, a barrel of gunpowder, 200 lbs. of lead, more blanket material, 4 hoes and 4 axes.

In a report that Dibblee completed in November of 1789, he noted that there were 337 Wolastoqiyik in Meductic – 98 men, 74 women and 165 children. (The number of Loyalist families who had settled in nearby Woodstock was only about twenty.) The Loyalist schoolteacher had a total of 22 students: five married men, two married women, five girls and ten boys. The eight families whose members attended the school lived in tents on the school property.

This early experiment in Indigenous education was not a residential school where children were separated from their parents. The children returned to their homes each afternoon where they could live and speak as Indigenous people. Although Dibblee taught his lessons in English, he is noted as having made “considerable progress” in learning the Wolastoqiyik language and was “able to converse with them quite readily after a time”.

Dibblee was pleased with the progress of his “scholars”. He reported that “They are constant in their attendance and exceeding quick in receiving instruction, five of them in particular are amazingly so, having made great improvements both in spelling and writing. They are continually making applications to be received and there are now thirteen who are making their wigwams with the idea of becoming scholars and receiving provisions and clothing. I believe there is no doubt but there will be a constant school, for their prejudices are removed and they appear to be ambitious of learning, and the whole of them will become scholars if they can receive provision and clothing.”

The regular provisions supplied by the New England Company certainly made an English Protestant education appealing to the Wolastoqiyik. Dibblee noted that his students “receive for five persons one bushel of corn and one piece of pork per week, and there are forty-seven individuals. They often want beans and potatoes, and then they are deducted out of the corn, half a bushel of beans and two of potatoes equal to one of corn – which is the difference when they purchase them. They have received 2.5 yards of blue cloth for coats and stockings, and 2.5 yards of linen for shirts, and thread each; hats and books what I had received.”

While some students applied themselves to their studies and learning skills, others recognized that living at Meductic was a “comfortable and profitable way” of getting through the harsh New Brunswick winter. It was a practical solution to the negative consequences of Loyalist settlement as land was being cleared for farms and the number of game hunted for food began to decline.

Dibblee’s report indicated Wolastoqiyik families were small, averaging only two or three children. John Manduelmet and his wife had nine children, but the families in which there were more than five children were exceedingly rare.

During his first three years as a teacher of Indigenous students, Dibblee spent at least $2,000 for the benefit of the Wolastoqiyik, “of which by far the larger part went for provisions and supplies”. After the school was established, only those families who had members enrolled as students were entitled to receive goods from the New England Company.

This more benign form of Indigenous education did not last. By the early 1790s, the commissioners for the New England Company decided to close six of the colony’s Indigenous schools and make the school at Sussex Vale the central academy for Wolastoqiyik students. Because it was far from the Native communities along the St. John River valley, the Sussex Vale site became a residential school.

Henceforth, it would provide room and board for Wolastoqiyik youngsters whose only chance for an English Protestant education necessitated living far from their families. It would be the first Indigenous residential school in what is now Canada – and was a foreshadowing of an all too familiar program of assimilation that would be repeated in the centuries that followed.

The story of how the Loyalist teachers of New Brunswick’s residential school tried to assimilate its Wolastoqiyik students through a program of instruction and apprenticeship will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

JAR: “That Damned Absurd Word Liberty”: Les Habitants, the Quebec Act, and American Revolutionary Ideology

By Sebastian van Bastelaer, 5 August 2019

The American invasion of Quebec of 1775-1776 failed to achieve its primary objective: to bring into the fold what the Continental Congress referred to as “the only link wanting, to compleat the bright and strong chains of union.” While Canada would not join its southern brethren in outright rebellion, the Americans’ campaign furnishes important insight into the early stages of the Revolution and the appeal it held both in the thirteen colonies and abroad.

Pro-American sentiment was widespread and polymorphous. In the early stages of the invasion, French-Canadian habitants (peasants) provided assistance in various ways to the Continental troops, even if it meant turning on neighbors and flouting traditional societal hierarchies. But why? Were the habitants, as some claim, merely opportunistic? Did they simply choose whichever side appeared to be winning in order to personally prosper and avoid punishment from the victorious army? Did the transatlantic political debates that provided the impetus for the Revolution have any bearing on the habitants’ decisions? And if so, were they merely fooled by the war of words between the two sides? One study claims that the peasants’ acted as they did because they were “frightened, misled and completely demoralized by American propaganda.” This view, however, reduces the large group of peasants to one ignorant bloc. It also echoes some of the elitist rhetoric of the time period: one letter written by an administrator in June 1775 read, “one need not be a great orator to persuade these poor fellows.” It also runs counter to historical evidence, which shows that a thoughtful rejection of the 1774 Quebec Act and a partial embrace of the revolutionary ideology of liberty did in fact take place in the province in response to American appeals. The habitants, it appears,were not blindly committing acts of wanton violence or simply transacting out of economic and military expediency. Instead, they were often making considered choices about the belligerents’ ideologies and taking risks to fight for the American cause.

Read more.

The Junto: Writing – Revise and Resubmit

By Carla Cevasco, 6 August 2019

It’s August, and for academics hoping to get some writing done this summer, it’s go time.

In conversations with my writing group colleagues, who come from fields as diverse as information sciences, business, community health, and religion, we spend a lot of time discussing ways to respond to a “revise and resubmit”. Some of us charge right in, addressing comments the day we receive them. Some of us (in the more quantitative fields) make tables of reviewer comments and check them off one by one. Having spent years in the trenches as a writing tutor, and continuing to teach writing, I’m always fascinated by the different methods writers use to approach challenges such as interpreting and implementing reviewer feedback.

In the spirit of the many posts here at the Junto on the nuts and bolts of academic writing, I’ve written up my own process for tackling referee feedback in a revise and resubmit.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Virginia, 1619

Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a scholar of African American and American History and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Norfolk State University, leads our investigation of why the creation of the first representative assembly and the arrival of the first African peoples in English North America were significant events.

During our exploration, Cassandra reveals details about the Virginia Company and the establishment of Jamestown and the Virginia Colony; When and why the Virginia Company ordered its colonists in Virginia to found a limited representative legislature; And information about how and why the First African peoples arrived in Virginia and about their experiences and impact in the young colony.

Listen to the podcast.

Benedict Swingate Calvert: A Privileged Loyalist Who Didn’t Leave

Benedict Swingate Calvert (January 27, 1722 – January 9, 1788) was a planter, politician and a Loyalist in Maryland during the American Revolution. He was the son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, the third Proprietor Governor of Maryland (1699-1751), and may have been the grandson of King George I of Great Britain. He was certainly a descendant of Charles II through Charlotte Lee, Countess of Lichfield, the daughter of Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, one of the king’s mistresses. As he was illegitimate, he was not able to inherit his father’s title or estates, which passed instead to his half brother Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore.

Benedict Calvert spent most of his life as a politician and planter in Maryland, though Frederick, by contrast, never visited the colony. Calvert became wealthy through proprietarial patronage and became an important colonial official, but he would lose his offices and his political power, though not his land and wealth, during the American Revolution.

In 1742, aged twelve or twenty years, the young Benedict was sent to the Calverts’ proprietary colony of Maryland, which in the mid 18th century was still a somewhat sparsely settled, largely rural society. In 1730 the population of Annapolis was just 776. The population of colony was 120,000 at the time.

Through his family connections Calvert was able to benefit from considerable proprietarial patronage, at least until the American Revolution in 1776 ended proprietarial rule in Maryland. In 1745, aged around 15 years, he was appointed by his father the Patuxent district customs collector and naval officer.

On April 21, 1748 Benedict and his cousin Elizabeth were married in St Ann’s Church by the Reverend John Gordon. The couple, aged 18 and 17 years respectively, moved into a house at State Circle, Annapolis.

In 1751 Calvert’s father Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore died, leaving his illegitimate son the 10,000-acre estate of Anne Arundel Manor in Anne Arundel County. Unfortunately, Lord Baltimore’s legitimate son and heir, Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore, successfully challenged the will and invalidated Benedict’s bequest, apparently worth £288 per annum.

In 1751 Calvert inherited a 4,000-acre plantation known as Mount Airy, originally a hunting lodge for his great-grandfather Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, near Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he grew tobacco. Mount Airy was most likely a gift from his father, Lord Baltimore, who had ensured that Calvert would be provided with lands and revenues. Calvert began construction on the house at Mount Airy in 1751, expanding it considerably, to create the house which still survives today. Building continued in spite of a fire, rumored to be arson, in 1752.

In 1769 his half-sister Caroline Calvert married Robert Eden (the last royal governor and ancestor of Anthony Eden, British Prime Minister) who in the same year succeeded Governor Horatio Sharpe as Governor of Maryland. Eden and Calvert shared a love of horse racing and Benedict Swingate Calvert would soon find himself appointed to the Governor’s Council.

By the 1770s Benedict Swingate Calvert controlled a large and profitable estate of around 4,000 acres, with upwards of 150 slaves.

In 1774, Calvert’s daughter Eleanor Calvert (1758-1811), married John Parke Custis, son of Martha Washington and the stepson of George Washington. Washington himself did not approve of the match owing to the couple’s youth, but eventually gave his consent, and was present at the wedding celebrations, which took place at Mount Airy.

As a member of the Maryland political establishment, Calvert was a Loyalist, and he soon found himself on the losing side of the Revolutionary War, the consequences of which would effectively end his political career. Calvert did not leave Maryland, nor did he involve himself in the fighting, even though many other Maryland Loyalists went on to form a Maryland Loyalists Battalion. On occasion Calvert supplied the Continental Army with food and provisions.

After the war’s end, Calvert had to pay triple taxes as did other Loyalists, but he was never forced to sign the loyalty oath and his lands and property remained unconfiscated.

Calvert’s Loyalism does not appear to have affected his cordial relations with the leader of the Revolution, George Washington. Most likely this was because of the marriage of Washington’s stepson to Calvert’s daughter. In 1783, after the war was over, Washington stayed with the Calverts at their Mount Airy plantation, shortly after resigning his commission in Annapolis on December 23. Because Calvert was a known Loyalist, the visit drew much criticism from Washington’s political enemies.

Read more on Wikipedia.

Hair Powder: History of Its Popularity and Unpopularity

By Geri Walton, 9 August 2019

Hair powder was at one time used as an ornament for powdering a person’s hair or wig. It was sometimes perfumed and generally made from pulverized starch or Cyprus powder, although the poor classes were known to use flour…

From the mid- to late-1770s, huge hair that was powdered was the popular fashion for women. The towering hairstyles that women wore were created using a thin metal frame and a cushion or toque as a support. False hair pieces were intertwined with a woman’s real hair and the combination was curled, waved, or frizzed. It was piled high on the head and once the style was finished, the hair was powdered before decorations were added…

Although women mainly augmented their own hair with false hair pieces, men tended to wear full powdered wigs, called perukes. The reason these even became popular was because of venereal diseases that resulted in patchy hair loss and because of Louis XIV’s thinning hair.

Americans similarly embraced the fad. Although no royalty roamed the streets, upper class and middle class people were all powdered. This was mentioned in The American Monthly Magazine related to dress and hair fashions in 1792…

Hair powders came in a variety of colors. There were black and brown powders with the black powder being created from black ink and brown hair powder achieved by using various colors of umber. In addition, “poudre-maréchale … was of a sparkling reddish brown, and had such an effect in heightening the complexion that actresses took to it kindly, and abused it outrageously.” Men typically used white or gray hair powders whereas most women wore an off-white color.

Where in the World?

Where is Nova Scotia Branch member Brian McConnell, UE?

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

  • There 20 dead Haligonians in the crypt below Halifax’s oldest building, St Paul’s Anglican Church (1750.) The church is a museum of remembrance with more memorial plaques and hatchments than any other church in North America. Consider this a sneak peek of some tweets in future weeks about this remarkable piece of Canadian History that intersects with the American Revolution, the War Of 1812, Le Grand Derangement and so much more
  • Today in History: Some from Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos) – items with links are from different places:
    • 10 Aug 10 1775, the Massachusetts legislature proposed to establish a naval force. Gen. George Washington didn’t think much of the idea: “You Gentlemen will Anticipate me in pointing out our Weakness & the Enemy’s Strength at Sea.”
    • 9 Aug 1780 Spanish fleet captures 55 ships of British convoy, crippling East Indies commerce.
    • 8 Aug 1778 American land forces & French naval forces besiege Newport RI; land delays & weather defeat them.
    • 7 Aug 1782 Washington creates Purple Heart commendation for exceptional merit; awards only 3.
    • Quote of the day – Concord minister William Emerson’s diary 7 Aug 1775: “Many sick with dysentery – sickness continues and increases and in general prevails in this and other Colonies.” This “camp fever” cut through the New England countryside during the siege.
    • 6 Aug 1777, the Battle of Oriskany was fought and marked the Oneida’s split from the Six Nations Confederacy. Thaonawyuthe, known as Chainbreaker or Governor Blacksnake, and fellow Senecas fought with Loyalists against a force of Americans and Oneida Indians.
    • 6 Aug 1777 Patriot Gen. Herkimer mortally wounded in ambush; attempting to relieve besieged Fort Stanwix.
    • 5 Aug 1779 Bitter fight between Loyalist & Patriot forces for Bronx results in destruction & capture of Loyalists.
    • 4 Aug 1776 King George congratulates himself on securing a German corps “much Cheaper than if raised at home.”
    • 3 Aug 1780 Benedict Arnold appointed commander of West Point; already collaborating with British.
  • Townsends
  • J. Smith & Co., wigmakers & hairdressers, brought fashions of (relatively) big city Boston to much smaller town of Norwich Landing, CT. Consumer revolution was not an urban event only. Reached into countryside as purveyors of goods & services cultivated customers in 18th century.
  • A 1765-1770 Robe à la Française Sumptuous purple silk, brocaded with flowers and lace. Nothing like exquisite pattern matching to start the day – the use of the lace pattern is especially beautiful.
  • A chipper brocaded silk Robe a la francaise c1770; perfect pattern matching & floss fringe/passementerie. boxpleats (aka watteaupleats) From the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum
  • Rear view of 18th Century dress, Robe à l’Anglaise, ivory silk faille is brocaded with three types of silver thread, delicate flowers and asymmetrical cartouches. Believed to have been worn as a wedding dress in 1747, but altered in the 1770s
  • 18th Century men’s Court suit, French c.1790, dark brown velvet tailcoat with magnificently embroidered and irridescent paste studded flower heads and foliage
  • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, Blue silk embroidered with large flowers & leaves in gold & polychrome c.1740s
  • A rather flamboyant 1770-80 suit, which grabs as much attention as the popular and lavishly embroidered suits of the 18th century. More restrained and practical styles of dress were becoming adopted during the latter half of the century, in relation to as the states ‘broader political values and the greater personal liberty that French philosophers, such as Voltaire (1694-1778), associated with Great Britain.’ The focus on tailoring rather than ornamentation, and the vivid dye hints at some of the fashionable vogues that would become so popular during the 19th century.
  • 18th Century men’s coat, velour decorated with cream satin appliqué, gold silk, silver metallic embroidery and spangles, c.1780s
  • 18th Century men’s frock coat of grey striped wool, 1790s
  • Further to my photos of St Winifrede’s well in Holywell, Wales I will share two18th-c. drawings of the well in use. 1. (1782) shows people taking a dip and others drinking the waters, as though in Bath. 2. (1790) people are washing their clothes in the outfall from the spring.