Before I even start this thread I want to make it clear that I am not a raging anti-American hell bent on publicizing radical propaganda against the
founding fathers or American ideals. I am creating this thread to show the inhumane treatment of innocent fellow Americans during the revolution by
the ‘Patriots’. Horrible mob attacks and unnecessary persecution was directed towards those Americans who simply expressed their viewpoint on the
issue of Revolution or Loyalty.
Loyalists were mostly upper middle class and older as well as generally wealthy. They were quite Conservative as well. Recent immigrants from Europe
made up a large section of this group. Loyalists constituted roughly 15-20% of the American population at the time and were divided into two camps;
Pacifists and Activists. The Patriots accounted for roughly 40-50% of the American population and the rest were neutral.
In 1765 Sam Adams founded the ‘Sons of Liberty’ in that same year the Lieutenant (acting) Governor Hutchinson was going to enforce the Stamp Act
as a result the Sons of Liberty attacked and raided his home and library then attacked and raided his brother-in-law’s home as well. Broke down the
doors with axes, destroyed the furniture, stole the jewelry and money, scattered papers and books, drank the wine in the cellar, and dismantled the
roof and walls.
According to Loyalists side of the story the Boston Massacre was instigated by the Patriots who pelted and insulted the British troops and mocked them
with commands of “fire!” They supposedly knew very well that the British troops were given strict order not to fire so they mocked them until they
did fire a shot which killed a few people. The future President John Adams who was a young lawyer at the time risked his career by defending the
In New York the Patriot mobs attacked Loyalist pamphlets, stole their cattle and their personal property. As the Sons of Liberty group spread to
virtually every town in the thirteen colonies persecution grew more violent with past times for mobs to ‘tar and feather’ Loyalists to publicly
humiliate them for their political beliefs calling them “obnoxious Tories”.
When they would tar and feather a Loyalist they would first heat the tar then strip the Loyalist naked in public where they would pour the hot tar on
the victim’s head, shoulders, chest and back. The victim was then covered in feathers on these tar soaked areas. The Patriots would then placed in a
cart and shown around the streets for all the townspeople to see what happens when your political beliefs support the British government.
Another form of humiliating torture for Loyalists was ‘riding the rails’. This involved being placed on two sharp rails, one leg on each, each
rail was carried on the shoulders of two tall men. This was the punishment for Seth Seeley, a Connecticut farmer, who in 1776 was punished for signing
a declaration to support the King’s laws. He was placed on rails and carried through the streets, put into stocks and was besmeared with eggs and
robbed of his money for entertainment.
Other acts of torture against Loyalists, who were punished for their political beliefs, included being hoisted up a ‘liberty pole’ with a dead
animal on it; forcing a Loyalist to ride a horse with his head at the horses tail and coat turns inside out; sitting them on lumps of coal; whipping,
cropping ears, placing them in a pillory of stockade. This does not include whatever else might have occurred to the victim due to bouts of rage among
In December 1776 the Provincial Congress of New York ordered the Committee of Public Safety to order as much pitch and tar as necessary.
Even later President George Washington apparently thought such acts as ‘riding the rails’ was a good punishment for criminals of thought. In 1776
General Israel Putnam, one of Washington’s Generals, met a group of Sons of Liberty whilst they were parading Loyalists around on the rails in New
York, Putnam attempted to halt what he deemed was an inhuman punishment. When George Washington learned of this he reprimanded Putnam stating:
"to discourage such proceedings was to injure the cause of liberty in which they were engaged, and that nobody would attempt it but an enemy
of his country."
In early 1776 the Continental Congress which had no basis in law recommend all of the Loyalists be disarmed which the committee then enforced.
Loyalists suffered immense punishments besides public humiliation and torture such as arrested, exiled, exiled to other districts, imprisoned, and in
extreme instances in Southern colonies they were hung.
On July 4, 1776 when the United States declared its independence it effectively laid the framework for Loyalists to be treated as committing treason.
After the Declaration of Independence cam the Test Laws which required everyone to pledge allegiance to their state and a list of names was kept and
all those not on the list were subject to possible imprisonment, confiscation of property, banishment and sometimes death.
All the Loyalists who refused to sign the oath of allegiance were effectively treated as an outlaw. If they had a career in a high profession they
could not work that way anymore, they could not be the executor of a person’s estate or the administrator, he had no right to redress of grievances,
and no family or friend could leave an orphaned child to him.
Some Whigs at the time were in opposition to the Test Laws and some even went as far as to leave the Revolutionary party such as Peter Van Schaak a
Moderate Whig from New York State who wrote this about the Test Laws:
"Had you," he wrote, "at the beginning of the war, permitted every one differing in sentiment from you, to take the other side, or at least to
have moved out of the State, with their property...it would have been a conduct magnanimous and just. But, now, after restraining those persons from
removing; punishing them, if in the attempt they were apprehended; selling their estates if they escaped; compelling them to the duties of subjects
under heavy penalties; deriving aid from them in the prosecution of the war...now to compel them to take an oath is an act of severity."
On November 27, 1777 Congress recommended the states appropriate the property of all Loyalists who refused to pledge allegiance to the Revolutionary
government. The Treasury was empty at the time so when Congress passed a bill to confiscate all Loyalist property and direct it towards the treasury
it was the first pumping of money into the economy.
When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783 and the Treaty of Paris was passed it guaranteed protection and equal rights to the Loyalists. However even
with articles 5 and 6 strictly requiring that the Congress and state Congresses return what rightfully belonged to the Loyalists and give them back
their rights the courts did not obey those requirements and the states continued to confiscate Loyalist property and no court would defend the
Any justice for the Loyalists was denied in the United States so between 1783 and 1789 the British government established commissioners in Halifax,
St. John, Quebec, Montreal, and in London to hear the claims of exiled Loyalists. They did not have documentation so all their testimonials had to be
judged by their stories.
5,072 claims were heard throughout England and Canada which represented around 5% of all Loyalists. The claims totaled £8,026,045 with only 1/3rd
allowed. 303 of the exiled were provided with pensions for life.
Between 1780 and 1781 the Provincial Government of New York established commissioners to hunt down Loyalists and required that any true Patriot report
the names of any Loyalist or be sent to prison. Loyalists who were found were arrested.
Between 1778 and 1781 John Melchoir File and his neighbors were fined heavily for assisting Loyalists in their escape to Canada. This is how File
described his experiences:
"I, John Melchoir File, of the Hudson Valley, New York, father of a large family, was a persecuted loyalist. With many of my fellow German
neighbours, I fought at the Battle of Saratoga and witnessed the sad defeat of the British soldiers and the slaughter of young mercenary Hessian
soldiers who did not understand the terrain of our area. My second son, John File fought with Butler's Rangers and the New York Royal Regiment.
"From 1778 to 1781, my oldest son Christoper and I were fined heavily for helping Loyalists to escape to Canada, supplying the British army and the
Indians with food. Our last imprisonment was for helping Blacksmith Andries Stohl and Farmer Harper Lansing escape from the cruel confinement of Serg.
Elijah Adams, a continental officer.(14) Serg. Adams enjoyed the cruel Sport of finding loyalists for the Commissioners because they gave him a fat
fee for each loyalist's name.
"During these commission trials my beloved wife Elizabeth Hunsinger died of grief. My sons Corporal John File and his brother Melchoir fled to Canada.
The Patriot neighbours also harassed son Jacoab so he and his family fled to Brant County after the War of 1812-1814. "In my opinion, we, Tories or
Loyalists, were the most persecuted group of the American Revolution. You must try to walk in our shoes in order to understand the effect persecution
had on our lives. Oil did gradually take off the tar and feathers from the skin of victims but the psychological effect of this cruel treatment lasted
a lifetime. The experience of imprisonment in the Albany Jail will always remain with me."
edit on 12/8/2010 by Misoir because: (no reason given)