The United Empire Loyalists : A Chronicle of the Great Migration eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 97 pages of information about The United Empire Loyalists .
had been emptied, the idea gained ground that the Revolution might be financed by the confiscation of Loyalist estates.  Late in 1777 the plan was embodied in a resolution of the Continental Congress, and the states were recommended to invest the proceeds in continental loan certificates.  The idea proved very popular; and in spite of a great deal of corruption in connection with the sale and transfer of the land, large sums found their way as a result into the state exchequers.  In New York alone over 3,600,000 pounds worth of property was acquired by the state.

The Tory who refused to take the oath of allegiance became in fact an outlaw.  He did not have in the courts of law even the rights of a foreigner.  If his neighbours owed him money, he had no legal redress.  He might be assaulted, insulted, blackmailed, or slandered, yet the law granted him no remedy.  No relative or friend could leave an orphan child to his guardianship.  He could be the executor or administrator of no man’s estate.  He could neither buy land nor transfer it to another.  If he was a lawyer, he was denied the right to practise his profession.

This strict legal view of the status of the Loyalist may not have been always and everywhere enforced.  There were Loyalists, such as the Rev. Mather Byles of Boston, who refused to be molested, and who survived the Revolution unharmed.  But when all allowance is made for these exceptions, it is not difficult to understand how the great majority of avowed Tories came to take refuge within the British lines, to enlist under the British flag, and, when the Revolution had proved successful, to leave their homes for ever and begin life anew amid other surroundings.  The persecution to which they were subjected left them no alternative.



It has been charged against the Loyalists, and the charge cannot be denied, that at the beginning of the Revolution they lacked initiative, and were slow to organize and defend themselves.  It was not, in fact, until 1776 that Loyalist regiments began to be formed on an extensive scale.  There were several reasons why this was so.  In the first place a great many of the Loyalists, as has been pointed out, were not at the outset in complete sympathy with the policy of the British government; and those who might have been willing to take up arms were very early disarmed and intimidated by the energy of the revolutionary authorities.  In the second place that very conservatism which made the Loyalists draw back from revolution hindered them from taking arms until the king gave them commissions and provided facilities for military organization.  And there is no fact better attested in the history of the Revolution than the failure of the British authorities to understand until it was too late the great advantages to be derived from the employment of Loyalist levies.  The truth is that the British officers did not think much more highly of the Loyalists than they did of the rebels.  For both they had the Briton’s contempt for the colonial, and the professional soldier’s contempt for the armed civilian.

Project Gutenberg
The United Empire Loyalists : A Chronicle of the Great Migration from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook