While the Women Only Wept: Loyalist Refugee Women in Eastern Ontario

Synopsis

Janice Potter-MacKinnon traces the story of Loyalist women through their lives in the American colonies before the revolution, their experience as Loyalists living in a society increasingly antagonistic to the British Crown, their forced exodus from the colonies in the late 1770s and early 1780s, and their eventual settlement around present-day Kingston in Eastern Ontario. Potter-MacKinnon argues that the importance of the women's endeavours was obscured in the historical record because most accounts of the Loyalist experience were provided by Loyalist men attempting to explain to themselves how they had come to be exiled. She documents the women's vital services to the Crown in providing information and refuge to Loyalist lighters, maintaining open communication with Native allies, and helping provision the Loyalist forces. When the Loyalists sought to recoup their losses from the British government, however, these same women were depicted as weak supplicants who deserved help from the British government not for their deeds but because of their weakness and suffering. While the Women Only Wept contributes an important new perspective to Loyalist literature and adds a further chapter to women's history.