Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The New York Loyalists

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The New York Loyalists

Article excerpt

PHILIP RANLET. The New York Loyalists. 2nd ed. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2002 (originally published in 1986 by University of Tennessee Press). Pp. xiii + 253, "A Note on Scholarship Since 1986," index. $48.00 (paper).

This is the second edition of a book which was first published in 1986. This reviewer admits to never having read the first edition and so cannot compare the two. The author himself has not given us any clue as to why he has written a second edition, other than to say that scholarship since the first edition has proved him correct, nor does he claim that he has made any substantive changes in his argument or sources. He has, however, included a brief appendix, "A Note on Scholarship Since 1986," more of which later. He has also, unfortunately, omitted the bibliography which appeared in the first edition. This seems strange inasmuch as Patricia Bonomi praised it in her review in the October 1987 issue of the American Historical Review.

As to Ranlet's thesis, it can be stated simply: the extent of loyalism in New York (both city and colony) has been greatly exaggerated. Amplifying this are two sub-theses. The first claims that many of those identified as loyalists were actually moderate rebels whose commitment to the cause seemed lukewarm in comparison with their radical brethren, such as Isaac Sears, hotheaded leader of the local Sons of Liberty. His second sub-thesis claims that British forces greatly overestimated the assistance local Tories would or could give them, a miscalculation with "fatal consequences" (81) to their military campaigns. …

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