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American tradition would have you believe that there was almost no opposition of the Revolutionary War. John Adams estimated that roughly a third of the American population supported the Revolution, a third remained loyal to the Crown, and a third was uncommitted. There was strong opposition to the war of independence in parts of the 13 colonies. Hence, in every county, you were likely to find someone who was a "Loyalist." Loyalists were especially strong in New Jersey and South Carolina.

United Empire Loyalists (UEM) were, understandably, labeled traitors by the new government. A tory was considered to be more or less sympathetic towards the Loyalist cause, but not necessarily a threat to the revolutionaries. Tories were, for the most part, treated better than their Loyalist neighbors, whose land and property were frequently confiscated by the representatives of the fledgling nation.

 

After the war, about 80,000 Loyalists—including substantial numbers of former slaves--emigrated from the United States, mainly to Canada. One of the Revolution’s consequences was to create not only the United States, but also the modern nation of Canada.

There are exceptions to the basic make-up of those who chose to remain loyal to the British Crown. However, many were successful merchants, lawyers, or held a political office of some sort for the British government. Their religious persuasion tended to be Anglican (The Church of England), although there were many exceptions to this. British sympathies were strong in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and North Carolina. They were strongest, however, in New York, New Jersey, and Georgia. They were least likely to be found in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut. Large landowners of every socio-economic strata tended to feel it was in their best interest to be sympathetic to the Crown. Those who stayed in the colonies were removed from positions of prominence.

 

Some Loyalists immediately left for England, where they rallied King George III's subjects for their cause. Others went to Canada. But many, perhaps most, remained in America. Some fought their neighbors or agitated local Indians against the Americans. Others did little to support the troops who fought for their cause, often from fear that their property would be confiscated and sold.

From the first days of the American Revolutionary War, many of those who believed that the British should continue their rule of the American colonies fled to Canada. Nova Scotia was their principal destination. This was especially true if they were forced from their homes by the American government. At the end of the war, facing even more repercussions for treason and living under a government they did not support, thousands more settled in Quebec and Ontario.


Following the American Revolution of 1776, individuals who had supported Britain or had wished to remain neutral on religious and ethical grounds were persecuted, deprived of property and often their lives. Survivors fled to areas of British protection around the globe. Those who had fought with the British joined the exodus. The first legal British settlement in Canada other than military establishments took place in western Quebec and what is now eastern Ontario. The settlers were made up of soldiers from volunteer regiments , European mercenaries and civilians. Many were from lower New York State and the Mohawk Valley and included many Mohawk Indians. They suffered terribly from cold, starvation and disease but persevered to become major participants in the formation of Ontario and ultimately Canada.

 

The American Revolution, like its later counterpart, the American Civil War, was a war of the people that divided families and communities. When it became obvious that the war was a lost cause of the UEM, many left for Canada, the Bahamas, and other remaining English colonies. It's estimated that 80,000 fled the country during or immediately following the end of the American Revolutionary War.


In 1784, the American government began allowing Loyalists to return to their homes without fear of repercussions. Some did return; others stayed. In fact, some Loyalists from Dutchess County, New York, chose to stay, but filed legal claims against their former neighbors for illegally confiscating and disposing of their land and goods.

 

Those Loyalists who remained in Canada were allotted land according to sex, marital status, and military rank. Officers received 300 - 1000 acres. Non-commissioned officers received 200 acres; their wives could apply for an additional 200. Private soldiers and heads of households who proclaimed they were Loyalists were granted 100 acres with each family allotted an additional 50 acres. Unmarried men received 50 acres. Land had to be occupied for one year before a deed was granted.

 

In 1789, it was decided that Loyalist children should be granted 200 acres. For the sons, it would be on their 21st birthday. Daughters recieved their allottment upon marriage or their 21st birthday, whichever came first. Hence, in the absence of vital records, a Loyalist child's birthdate can be determined, or at least estimated, by when they received their 200 acres. This is referred to as the Order in Council (OIC).

The American Times

When Faction, pois'nous as the scorpion's sting,
Infects the people and insults the King;
When foul Sedition skulks no more concealed,
But grasps the sword and rushes to the field;
When Justice, Law, and Truth are in disgrace,
And Treason, Fraud, and Murder fill their place;
Smarting beneath accumulated woes,
Shall we not dare the tyrants to expose?


Bad are the Times, almost too bad to paint;
The whole head sickens, the whole heart is faint;
The State is rotten, rotten to the core,
'Tis all one bruize, one putrefying sore.


Hear thy indictment, Washington, at large;
Attend and listen to the solemn charge;
Thou hast supported an atrocious cause
Against thy King, thy Country, and the laws;
Committed perjury, encourag'd lies,
Forced conscience, broken the most sacred ties;
Myriads of wives and fathers at thy hand
Their slaughter'd husbands, slaughter'd sons demand;
That pastures hear no more the lowing kine,--
That towns are desolate, all -- all is thine.


I swear by Him, who rules the earth and sky,
The dread event shall equally apply;
That Clinton's warfare is the war of God,
And Washington shall feel the vengeful rod.


O! may that hour be soon! for pity's sake,
Genius of Britain, from thy slumber wake,
Too long has mercy spoke, but spoke in vain;
Let justice now in awful terror reign.

Jonathan Odell ( a song of the Loyalists of '76)

 

References

Loyalists and British Songs


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