July 4, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: STAY LOYAL, BUT LEAVE:

Loyal to a Fault (MAYA JASANOFF, 7/03/07, NY Times)

Loyalists are the American Revolution's guilty secret: rarely spoken of, hauntingly present. At least one in five Americans is believed to have remained loyal to Britain during the war. They expressed their opinions passively and actively: refusing to forswear allegiance to the king, signing petitions or joining loyalist military regiments -- as nearly 20,000 men did -- to defend their vision of British America. In retaliation, they faced harassment from their peers, most vividly (if rarely) by tarring and feathering. Some would suffer for their loyalty in open battle; others faced sanctions from state legislatures, which could strip them of their land and possessions, imprison them or formally banish them.

The Tories, as the patriots pejoratively called them, are still often caricatured as elitist and out of touch, foreign, even treacherous. Granted, their dream of a continued imperial relationship with Britain had none of the political innovation that gave rise to the new republic. And yet it bears stressing that our "self-evident" founding principles were not seen that way by fully one-fifth of the population. Many of the United States' first and most passionate critics were Americans themselves.

After the Revolutionary War ended, thousands of loyalists blended into the nation, and their descendants participated in shaping American society. But many -- as many as 1 in 30 Americans -- did not. Feeling insecure and unwelcome in the United States, and attracted by British promises of land and compensation, some 80,000 loyalists left their homes to build new lives elsewhere in the still-vigorous British Empire.


Yet folks are surprised that Iraq similarly needs to go through a process of getting rid of those who've remained loyal to the prior regime?
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[originally posted: 7/03/07]


Posted by at July 4, 2013 12:21 AM
  

A good friend at work, a Canadian, is a descendent of one of these 1 in 30, I discovered recently. I'd imagine a number of Anglo-Canadians are.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at July 4, 2008 12:11 AM
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