The American Tory

The American Tory

The American Tory

The American Tory

Excerpt

The Loyalists in the American Revolution suffered a most abject kind of political failure, losing not only their argument, their war, and their place in American society, but even their proper place in history. As early as 1797, Jonathan Boucher, one of the few Loyalist historians of the Revolution, complained of the 'shameless partiality' towards the Revolution of the principal historians of the day, both English and American. Indeed, it was not until a full century after Boucher's lament that the Loyalists obtained their first sympathetic hearing from a major historian in the pages of M. C. Tyler Literary History of the American Revolution (1897). Tyler's work and, later, that of C. H. Van Tyne helped rescue the Loyalists from ignominy without, however, explaining the depth of their quarrel with their fellow Americans, or the totality of their defeat. It is this that I have tried to examine and, in some part, account for.

Some explanation is necessary about my use of the terms 'Tory' and 'Loyalist'. After the beginning of open war in the spring of 1775, the people whom their opponents called Tories usually denied the name and called themselves Loyalists. During the years of mere argument before 1775, these people occasionally admitted to being Tories, but preferred to call themselves 'friends of government', or 'moderate men', or even 'the loyal party'. For the sake of convenience, however, and also because I believe the term relevant, I have used 'Tory' generally for the period preceding the War of Independence, and sometimes for the later period as well.

I began work on the Tories some years ago as a graduate student at Columbia University, and I am grateful for many kindnesses and much help to two men then at Columbia, Professor Robert Livingston Schuyler and the late Professor John Bartlet Brebner. My wife, Barbara Nelson, encouraged . . .

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