In this issue:

Connect with us:


Black Lives Hanging in the Balance – Part One of Three
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
George Washington didn’t know about it.
Indeed, it came as quite a shock when he discovered what had happened just nine days before he sat down with Sir Guy Carleton. The British commander-in-chief for Britain’s forces in North America met with Washington in Orangetown, New York on May 6, 1783 to discuss the evacuation of royal troops and American Loyalists. Congress had ordered Washington to “make the proper arrangements with the Commander in Chief of the British forces . . . for obtaining the delivery of all Negroes and other property of the inhabitants of the United States in the possession of British forces” or of other British subjects.
A slave-owner himself, Washington was keenly interested in insuring that enslaved Blacks belonging to Americans were not among those being evacuated from the new republic.
On Sunday, April 27th, the last of a fleet of evacuation vessels left New York City carrying “upwards of 6,000 persons”, including an unspecified number of British troops. To Washington’s horror, among the Loyalist refugees were 504 Blacks bound for Nova Scotia and 158 Blacks sailing for the mouth of the St. John River (in today’s New Brunswick).
According to Washington, this should never have happened. Those Blacks were considered the property of American Patriots. By the seventh article in the provisional peace treaty between Britain and the new United States, “His Britannic Majesty shall withdraw his armies, etc. without causing any destruction, or carrying away any Negroes or other property of American inhabitants“.
In a letter written on the day of their conversation in Orangetown, Washington told Carleton that the transporting of the Blacks “is totally different from the letter and spirit of the treaty … I find it my duty to signify my readiness … to enter into any agreement or take any measures which may be deemed expedient to prevent the future carrying away of any Negroes or other property of American inhabitants.”
Thanks to Carleton, 662 Blacks had escaped being recaptured by their American enslavers. But if Washington had his way, they would the very last Blacks to ever leave the port of New York on British ships. Washington clearly wanted to “prevent the future carrying away of any Negroes.
Thousands of Black lives now hung in the balance. Had Carleton actually ignored the peace treaty? Would he ever be able to justify what Washington clearly considered a violation of the treaty?
Carleton, it seems, must have been a bit of a chess player. He was already five moves ahead of Washington and other slave owners who wanted to recapture their lost “property”. He responded to Washington’s outrage by calmly restating what had happened after both sides ceased hostilities.
Carleton told Washington that when it was apparent that the British would be leaving the former 13 colonies, he put out requests for ships to “assist in the evacuation of this place”. In addition, American prisoners of war were released. Carleton was savvy enough to realize that Americans might suspect that troops and Loyalists were intent on carrying off Patriot property. “I wrote to the Minister for foreign affairs to request that Congress would be pleased to empower any person or persons, on behalf of the United States to be present at New York and to assist such persons as should need it and superintend all embarkations, which the evacuation of this place might require and that they would represent to me every infraction of the Letter or Spirit of the Treaty, that redress might be immediately ordered.
In other words, Carleton was saying that he had gone through all the proper channels. He was as “transparent” as one could be in the 18th century.
He went on to tell Washington that he personally selected Daniel Parker, a man who supplied the Continental Army with provisions, and Major Hopkins, the American commissary of prisoners, to “undertake the business”. Carleton saw to it that the whole process of nominating American inspectors for the evacuation fleet was published in the Gazette, a paper distributed within New York City.
So Carleton had selected inspectors who were personally known to Washington and published his evacuation plans. His final defence was that he had seen to the creation of a ledger that contained the names of every Black who boarded an evacuation vessel.
Wrote Carleton, “… an accurate register was taken of every circumstance respecting them, so as to serve as a record of the name of the original proprietor of each Negro, and as a rule to judge of his value; By this open method of conducting the business, I hope to prevent all fraud and whatever might admit of different constructions is left open for future explanation or compensation. Had these Negroes been denied permission to embark they would in spite of every means to prevent it, have found various methods of quitting this place, so that the former owner would have been no longer able to trace them and of course would have lost in every way all chance of compensation.
Carleton almost made it sound as if he had done Washington a favour in creating a ledger of departing Black Loyalists. Registering the names and circumstances of over 600 Blacks would have occurred at least a week prior to the April 27th departure of the evacuation vessels. To be ignorant of the appointment of inspectors, the publication of the evacuation process, and the registration of departing Blacks may have been difficult for Washington to admit.
Washington’s response was rather feeble. He complained that it would be impossible to ascertain the value of the lost slaves because the value of a slave consisted “in his industry and sobriety”. Washington also thought there would be difficulties in identifying the slave “supposing him to have changed his name, or to have given in a wrong name to his master”.
Again, Carleton had an irrefutable rebuttal. “If the Negroes were left to themselves without care or control from him, numbers of them would very probably go off and not return to the parts of the country from whence they came, or clandestinely get on board the transports in such manner as would not be in his power to prevent … but as business was now conducted {the ledger}, they {the slave owners} had at least a chance for compensation“.
Carleton had won the opening gambit, but Washington was determined to win the game.
On May 8th, Washington wrote a letter in which he stated that he had appointed three men who would henceforth serve as “commissioners on the part of the United States, to attend and inspect the embarkations that may in future be made at New York, previous to the final evacuation of the city.
For all intents and purposes, it seemed as if Washington had gained the upper hand. Having to deal with inspectors chosen by Washington, it looked as if Carleton’s days of helping Black Loyalists escape to freedom were over. If George Washington had his way, the 662 who had fled on the evacuation vessels in April would be the last of the Black Loyalists. Black lives were hanging in the balance.
But Carleton did not give up easily.
Next week’s Loyalist Trails will continue the story of Carleton’s efforts to secure the freedom of the Black Loyalists who had sought refuge under the British flag.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Canada’s Governor-General Mary Simon’s Father – A Reason Why She Is Exceptional
Born in Kangirsualujuak (George River) in northern Quebec in 1947, Mary Simon spent much of her first 15 years moving with her family from camp to camp by dog ​​team or canoe. Her Manitoba-born father, Bob May, went north as a Hudson Bay manager.
Simon is an Inuk from Kuujjuaq, a small hamlet on the coast of Ungava Bay in northeastern Quebec. She was born to a local Inuk woman and an Englishman fur trader father who worked at Hudson’s Bay. Bob May, Father of Mary Simon
Jan 8, 2009, to BOB MAY: FUR TRADER, TRAPPER AND OUTFITTER, Hudson’s Bay Company post manager was a legend of the Eastern Arctic/
One of the last HBC apprentices, he went North at 17 and stayed there all his life, becoming a heroic figure among Inuit elders. He later founded a successful hunting and fishing camp
…. WHIT FRASER on January 8, 2009
KUUJJUAQ, QUE. – Bob May was one of the last Hudson’s Bay Co. boy apprentices. At 17, he left the comforts of the South to become, in the original wording of the company’s 1670 royal charter, a “gentleman adventurer.” He remained in the North for the rest of his life and is considered a hero among many Inuit elders in the Quebec Arctic.
After leaving the HBC, he became an outfitter and was widely recognized for his contribution to tourism in northern Quebec. Visitors to Kuujjuaq, Que., formerly known as Fort Chimo, often stopped by hoping to hear adventures or view the huge trophy caribou antlers hanging on his walls. He was hospitable, but would remain first and foremost modest. For a man who once saved a community from starvation, he shared his good deeds and generosity only in the intimacy of his diaries — and sparse details, even then.
The son of a park ranger, he was born in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park, where, as a boy, he so disliked his given name of Robert that he insisted on always being called Bob. He came by his wilderness interest willingly, however. His parents were both committed naturalists. His father, John May, was an entomologist who put together one of the world’s most impressive collections of insects and butterflies. About 1930, he accompanied his parents on a long drive across the Prairies to spend a summer exploring the back country of Banff National Park on horseback and collecting mountain invertebrates.
While he embraced his parents’ values ​​on nature, he was mesmerized by notions of the Arctic and the visions of adventure, mystery and exploration its vastness then suggested. No one was surprised when, at 17, he joined the Hudson’s Bay Co. After spending 1935 training in northern Saskatchewan, he found himself on a ship bound for the company’s mostly northerly outpost: Arctic Bay on northern Baffin Island. He arrived three months short of his 19th birthday.
The HBC post contained the only permanent buildings in the community, as the Inuit lived a traditional hunting life in tents and igloos. Read more…

American Battlefield Trust: 1782: A Bloody Partisan War
One of the biggest misconceptions readers usually have about the American Revolution is that things ended after the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781. Our minds imagine someone hitting the ‘off switch’ when the British colors were presented to American general Benjamin Lincoln. This, of course, is not the case. As the British under Cornwallis were marched back to New York as prisoners, Washington remained ever aware that the war was still ongoing. Though Yorktown was perhaps the single greatest British defeat next to Saratoga, that did not mean the British government was willing to finally accept American independence.
First, we must recall that news was very slow back then. At best, sea travel across the Atlantic could be under a month. Most voyages lasted two. Dispatches with reports of the British surrender at Yorktown would not reach London until the end of November. When they did arrive, it is said that Lord North collapsed, gasping, “My god, it’s all over.” Read more…

JAR: Did the Signers of the Declaration of Independence Engage in a Treasonous Act?
by Marvin L. Simner 25 August 2021
Speaking on Independence Day, 1821, John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the Unites States and the son of John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, stated that the Declaration

was merely an occasional state-paper. It was a solemn exposition to the world, of the causes which have compelled the people of a small portion of the British empire, to cast off their allegiance and renounce the protection of the British king: and to dissolve their social connection with the British people.

Although at the time it may have been “merely an occasional state-paper,” in recent years the Declaration has been referred to as a “war document”; and because of its message, historian Pauline Maier summarized its impact in the following words: “From the viewpoint of those who opposed its message, the Declaration was nothing less than a public confession of treason.” In view of the seriousness of this public confession historian Fawn Brodie even provided her readers with the following detailed description of the horrendous penalty for treason which did not change until March 17, 1813, when Parliament approved a bill to include only hanging or beheading as a more humane form of punishment.
You are to be drawn on hurdles to the place of execution, where you are to be hanged by the neck, but not until you are dead; for, while you are still living your bodies are to be taken down, your bowels torn out and burned before your faces, your heads then cut off, and your bodies divided each into four quarters, and your heads and quarters to be then at the King’s disposal; and may the Almighty God have mercy on your souls.
Given the brutal nature of this early punishment, coupled with their “pledge to each other (of) our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” as stated in the Declaration itself, it is certainly not surprising that the fifty-six delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia who signed the Declaration have long been considered among the most heroic figures in American history. The author of an 1857 publication titled “American’s Own Book” characterized their lives and the personal consequences of performing this deed in the following manner. Read more…

Borealia: Stewarding a Canadian Culture of Comity
By Elizabeth Mancke – well worth repeating today
The election of Donald Trump as US president raises concerns about the impact on Canada: on trade, energy policy, currency exchanges, pipelines, climate change. Most anxiety inducing is the toxic turn of civic discourse, as the US political process tolerated expressions of racism and sexism, as well as outright lies and intimidation.
The contaminating effects, we fear, may spread north. Although Canadians now have a cultural confidence about their differences from Americans, and believe that they should be protected, the task is complicated by the difficulty of identifying these differences.
At a very mundane level, Canadian “niceness” might be undermined. That niceness, however, is not from Canadians spending more time in Sunday school (lower than in the US) or table time with parents over supper. It reflects a culture of comity, of courtesy and consideration in civic discourse, dating back to the Loyalists of the 18th century. As refugees from a war they opposed, these Americans moved north armed with words not weapons as the primary tools to rebuild shattered communities and forge deliberative governments.
Loyalists are tricky to define. Read more…

JAR: Book Review: Crisis at the Chesapeake: The Royal Navy and the Struggle for America, 1755-1783
Author: Quintin Barry (Warwick, UK: Helion and Company, 2021)
Review by John R. Maass 23 August 2021
Although the main title of this book implies a focus on the 1781 naval operations in the Yorktown campaign, the subtitle is more accurate: a comprehensive look at the Revolutionary War and the Royal Navy primarily from the British perspective. The author provides quite a bit of detail on naval operations, strategy, and the navy’s role in major campaigns, including Charleston, New York, the crucial year 1781, and, of course, the West Indies. The several maps provided are useful as well. Moreover, Quintin Barry writes with an authoritative voice familiar with naval warfare, although at times he uses of maritime terminology that may not be known to many readers.
As part of Barry’s narrative, he provides excellent biographies at appropriate moments in his story, and examines the often-contentious relationships between Royal Navy and French admirals, and their counterparts on land. Read more…

Loyalists and the Birth of Libraries in New England: The Marriage of Martin and Abigail Howard
Abby Chandler, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell
Martin Howard was a Revolutionary War era Loyalist from Newport, Rhode Island, while Abigail Greenleaf was the daughter of Stephen Greenleaf, the last Suffolk County, Massachusetts sheriff to receive a royal appointment for his position. Howard’s political beliefs led to a short exile in Britain in 1765 during the Stamp Act crisis and a permanent one following his second departure from North America in 1777. Abigail Greenleaf Howard shared her husband’s second exile until her return to Massachusetts in 1783 following Howard’s death and the end of the war. The Howards’ political beliefs dominated their personal geographies but their shared cultural interests in literacy and libraries continued to root them in New England, even as their lives were turned upside down. Howard served as librarian for the newly formed Redwood Library in his native Newport, Rhode Island in the early 1750s, while Abigail Greenleaf Howard helped found the Boston Library Society in 1794, an organization which later merged with the Boston Athenaeum.
The eighteenth century was a period of ever expanding intellectual interests which is often known as the “Age of Enlightenment.” Investing in libraries became a way for communities to publicly demonstrate their commitment to Enlightenment ideals, including the betterment of society, the exchange of knowledge, and the building of cultural discourses. Bob Harris notes that libraries provided “a distinct, but not uniform, body of ideas communicated primarily through published books and periodicals . . . a process linked, but not equivalent, to changing patterns of cultural transmission and the pursuit of improvement; and, finally, as a set of values and practices potentially inscribed in the changing nature of townscapes and urban society.”1 While this process began in Europe, it became particularly important in the British North American colonies as British colonists endeavored to demonstrate that they too were part of the intellectual metropole spanning out from London, a process which began long before the American Revolution but would ultimately became part of the revolutionary movement.2 If Martin and Abigail Greenleaf Howard’s political beliefs placed them out of step with many of their neighbors in the 1760s and 1770s, a shared love of books and libraries brought them back to their communities. By examining the involvement of Martin Howard with the Redwood Library in the 1750s and Abigail Howard with the Boston Library Society in the 1790s, this paper considers the intertwining of British identity and intellectual pursuits both during and after the American Revolution. Read more…(or download pdf directly)

Textile Wall Coverings at a Manor House in 1758
IK Foundation 1 Sept 2019
The research of a detailed Inventory at a manor house in southernmost Sweden, will continue to focus on walls from a textile perspective. Silk damask, broadcloth, striped woven linen, painted oilcloth and undecorated walls — were all represented in this historical document. Two of these wallhangings are preserved to this day, which will illustrate the essay together with a contemporary portrait with connections to the Piper family as well as a few details from correspondence in the 1760s. Flor’s Linen Manufacturer in the province of Helsingland, also played a major role in the interior wall decorations at Christinehof manor house, judging by the listed textiles in 1758.
For the Yellow Bed Chamber on the second floor one of the most expensive fabrics was listed: ‘The room is covered in yellow East India Furnishing Damask’. Furthermore bed-curtains and upholstering on chairs matched the walls in materials as well as colours, which seem to have been quite common and desired in 18th century Swedish aristocratic homes. A letter from the son Carl Gustaf Piper to his father Carl Fredrik in 1763 also gives some enlightening facts about prices at an auction in Stockholm of similar exquisite silk fabrics. He wrote: ‘…purchased the soft yellow furnishing damask for my dear father’s account which included 21 lengths in total 89 1/4 aln (1 aln = c. 60cm) á 23 Daler Copper coin per aln, and two pair of yellow damask curtains of 42 1/2 aln for 21 Daler Copper coin, together with a yellow damask canapé for [1072?] which in my opinion as well as others became too expensive.’ Read more…


Gov. Simcoe Branch “The Loyalists of New York Province” by Todd B

Todd Braisted noted historian and author will speak about The Loyalists of New York Province – at 7:30PM EDT
At the time of the American Revolution, New York was one of the most heavily populated colonies in America. Then, as now, it had a diverse population, ethnically, racially and politically. It also provided more soldiers for the British Army than any other province, making New York’s battles a true civil war. Join us as we examine the roles of New York’s Loyalists in their attempts to subdue their rebellious countrymen and their fate at the end of the war.
Todd Braisted is an author and researcher of Loyalist military studies. His primary focus is on Loyalist military personnel, infrastructure and campaigns throughout North America.
Register today, and see more about Todd as well

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Douwe Ditmars Jr., stated on March 25, 1786 to Loyalist Claims Commission he had been a Spy for the British on Long Island, New York. When he came to Nova Scotia as a refugee he became one of founders of Clementsport in Annapolis County. Brian McConnell UE
  • (probably) the oldest inn sign in Canada: the British Standard, frequented by British Loyalist refugees (from US) in Nova Scotia late 18th c
  • 1 Apr 1776 Halifax, NS Some 1,200 Loyalist refugees from New England arrive. The first wave of an eventual tally of 40,000 who will escape north during the course of the war and its conclusion.
  • Return of the number of Refugees that receive Provisions from 29th December 1779 to 23rd Feby. 1780 in New York. Shows number of men, women and children by week From Todd Braisted’s “On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
  • The oldest headstone in Halifax belongs to Malachi Salter. He died August 14, 1752, aged two years, six months. The stone is well preserved in part because it spent most of its life under the sod. It was found during conservation work at the Old Burying Ground.
  • This Week in History
    • 26 Aug 1765 a Boston mob ransacks the house of Lt Gov Thomas Hutchinson in protest of the Stamp Act, passed earlier in the year. See photos from my recent visit to the location of the house, and as it looked in 1765.
    • 24 Aug 1774, Gen. Thomas Gage summoned the Salem committee of correspondence. As governor he ordered them to cancel that day’s unauthorized town meeting. The meeting proceeded to elect delegates to an Essex County convention before dispersing.
    • 21 Aug 1775 Quartermaster-General in Cambridge issues broadside requesting provisions.
    • 22 Aug 1775, general orders: “The General does not mean to discourage the practice of bathing, whilst the weather is warm enough to continue it; but he expressly forbids, any persons doing it, at or near the Bridge in Cambridge, where it has been observed and complained of, that many Men, lost to all sense of decency and common modesty, are running about naked upon the Bridge, whilst Passengers, and even Ladies of the first fashion in the neighbourhood, are passing…”
    • 23 Aug 1775 King George III declares American Colonies to be in “open and avowed rebellion,” demands suppression.
    • 24 Aug 1775 USS Hannah, first ship of the Continental Navy, acquired.
    • 27 Aug 1776 British are victorious at Battle of Brooklyn Heights, but fail to capture American military commanders.
    • 22 Aug 1777 British Colonel Barry St. Leger abandons Fort Stanwix for Canada as Arnold’s forces approach.
    • 26 Aug 1779 3500 American forces depart Ft Sullivan to complete destructive sweep through Haudenosaunee in New-York.
    • 25 Aug 1780 The “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion rescues 150 prisoners, only 3 of whom opt to return to the American Army.
    • 24 Aug 1783. By Abigail Adams. “Our son Charles is just recoverd from the measles, tho it has proved very mortal in Boston. Tis said 300 children have been buried since last March.”
    • 24 August 1791 (another source says date was 10 June 1791), the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act, which divided Canada into two provinces, Upper and Lower, each with its own lieutenant-governor and legislature. The act was made necessary with the great influx of United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution. The English-speaking settlers did not want to live under French law or the Roman Catholic church. Calgary Herald, This Day in History
    • 24 August 1814 In 1814, British troops burned the White House in Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. The British action was taken in retaliation for the American sacking and burning of York, now Toronto. A British fleet had landed earlier that August in Chesapeake Bay, and the troops under Gen. Robert Ross easily routed the 5,000 militiamen assembled to defend Washington. Ross’s troops were unsuccessful in a later attempt to take Baltimore. Calgary Herald, This Day in History
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Townsends
  • Miscellaneous

Editor’s Note: Delivery issues with some networks
About 40 messages were not delivered last week to people on a variety of networks, mainly,, and a few on others. If you missed it past issues from 2021 are at Loyalist Trails

Published by the UELAC
If you do not now receive this free newsletter directly but would like to, you can subscribe here.