A Sweeping, Dramatic History of the Americans Who Chose to Side with the British in the Revolution
The American Revolution was not simply a battle between independence-minded colonists and the oppressive British. As Thomas B. Allen reminds us, it was also a savage and often deeply personal civil war, in which conflicting visions of America pitted neighbor against neighbor and Patriot against Tory on the battlefield, the village green, and even in church.
In this outstanding and vital history, Allen tells the complete story of these other Americans, tracing their lives and experiences throughout the revolutionary period. New York City and Philadelphia were Tory strongholds through much of the war, and at times in the Carolinas and Georgia there were more trained and armed Tories than Redcoats. The Revolution also produced one of the greatest—and least known—migrations in Western history. More than 80,000 Tories left America, most of them relocating to Canada.
John Adams once said that he feared there would never be a good history of the American Revolution because so many documents had left the country with the Tories. Based on documents in archives from Nova Scotia to London, Tories adds a fresh perspective to our knowledge of the Revolution and sheds an important new light on the little-known figures whose lives were forever changed when they remained faithful to their mother country.
If you thought the American Civil War of the 1860's was our first civil war, Thomas B. Allen's latest book, 'Tories, Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War' will correct your notions of our civil wars. It is well known that history is written by the winners and this is never more true than regarding our war for independence.When pressed to name an American Loyalist (aka Tory) the name Benedict Arnold might come to mind. However, at the onset of our struggle with King George the country (aka colony) was very much divided over how to resolve the dispute. Many of the most influential leaders of industry, merchants, law and wealthy class landowners favored a more measured approach of negotiation and compromise. Clearly a common characteristic, though not universal, of this group was that they had the most to lose in a struggle with England. But, in addition, they also identified themselves as Englishmen.On the other side of the conflict were a relative handful of learned leaders and large number of Americans with the least to lose. These Patriots saw the struggle as way to a brighter future with rewards of hard work and sacrifice. This group was the first to consider themselves Americans.With these two divergent views of relations with England, Allen goes on to describe the struggle between the Patriots and Loyalists (Tories). The most revealing aspect of this history is the scope of inter-American conflict. Throughout the Revolutionary War, Loyalists organized themselves and actively support English forces. In nearly every battle of the war Loyalist military units were in forefront of the action. Thus, Americans were killing Americans throughout the conflict. Even non-combatants served to provide logistics support to English troops and many became active information sources spying on Patriot troop movements.In summary, Allen's book fills in a little known chapter in our Revolutionary war history.read more
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Drawing on letters, diaries, and other primary sources, historian Allen (George Washington, Spymaster) challenges the traditional notion that all the colonists wanted to overthrow the oppressive British government. Instead, he argues that a substantial portion of Americans remained loyal to Britain. Even families were divided, making the Revolution a civil war that often pitted sons against fathers and brothers against brothers. Yet Patriots and Loyalists changed constantly with the varying fortunes of the war. [ For example, Stephen Jarvis, a young farmer, initially joined the Patriots' Connecticut militia in order to defy his Tory father; when his regiment was temporarily released from active duty, young Jarvis fought with the Tory army on Long Island. After the war, 80,000 Tories left the new United States, many starting new lives in Canada; in 1792, about 2,000 ex-slaves given their freedom for joining the Loyalists, sailed to Africa, founding what is now Sierra Leone. Allen's thorough research and fast-paced narrative provide fresh ways of thinking about the Revolutionary War and shed new light on the lives of those, from bankers to small tradesmen, who remained loyal to the throne in the face of vigorous opposition and persecution. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.