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Persecution of the Loyalists during American Revolution

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posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 03:36 AM
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 British troops.

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 the mob.

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 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 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 Loyalists.

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)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:04 AM
So, in effect, they were committing the very offenses they were fighting against. It seems that they were trying to dissuade open opposition to the war by doing this. Thanks for posting this. It's not something you often find in history books.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:09 AM
reply to post by Skid Mark


They were committing the very same offenses they were fighting to free themselves from and called unjust. I really don't know what to think anymore about the United States. How am I supposed to honestly believe the intentions of our founders when they were doing the exact same thing to their fellow Americans that they comdemned the British of doing.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:23 AM
reply to post by Misoir

I heard somewhere that revolutions tend to swallow those that are revolting. Look at Cuba, for example. The revolted against their government and are now a dictatorship. I can't believe that that's what the people originally intended to happen.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:30 AM
reply to post by Misoir

Out with the old tyrant and in with the new... I have always wondered [hope you don't mind me saying] what would have happened if the colonies [and by default ALL of the colonies] had been given the rights of Englishmen and representation in the British Parliament.. Would we have had almost an NWO back then based out of the Palace of Westminster?? always wondered about that one... sorry that it is off topic..

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:41 AM
reply to post by thoughtsfull

I doubt it would have been a NOW but the British would have owned most definitely over half of the world and held almost unimaginable power. The King should have realized the great possibilities of keeping the colonies to England only if they would have given them representation and ended the whole revolution before it even began. They thought they were undefeatable and thus would never have to give into the demands of a million rebels.

Of course we see where that got them.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:43 AM
It's like that song Won't Get Fooled Again by the Who. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 05:48 AM
reply to post by Misoir

Thanks for the reply, sorry for the off topic.. always been interested in the revolution as Thomas Paine started his political career and pamphlet writing here in Lewes.. his views are still representative of the liberal view in this area..

Always find your threads deeply interesting, keep up the great work

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 06:12 AM
You did start a well thought out thread topic. It explodes with ideas just by reading the opening lines, so I stopped reading as to better follow my own instincts.

I recall hearing of 'the gravity of the evils' doctrine. The teacher was at a high school level history class, and was well worded and well liked. Among other things, he said there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. I cannot recall at what time, nor from which country this 'gravity of the evils' doctrine stemmed. It was basically a law that said what is being advocated is so evil in nature that it cannot be tolerated.

We have this directive in place at the moment, indeed it may be difficult to historically avoid finding it in different forms, by way of the OS and MSM/zionist government conglomerate. You are a traitor if you doubt the OS, according to o'reilly. Or, if it makes treason seem more homey, then read some 911 OS worshiper's remarks on the many killed off threads here on ats. The holocaust (the one that jews acknowledge at the cost of others being ignored) uses this 'doctrine' to brand those who disagree with them. I needn't list further examples.

The question is: who WILL control it. At the moment it is in the hands of tptb, because they know they will be knocked back into the stone age, should they for two seconds remove from the ship's wheel their grasp. They may have the weapons, and control of many governments, such as the USA, but they will be HATED! And history will be repeated.

Same old same old, basically. The king was standing ready with power to kill any resistance. The crown was already well established and in power worldwide. Everyone knew what the punishment for failure was to be. It is no surprise that extreme counter measures were taken by those freeing themselves from such tyranny.

Great idea for a thread.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 06:35 AM
Seem acceptable way to treat extortionists and their supporters.

Just a shame they didnt make George W "ride the rails" when he trampled a bunch of PA farmers in the name of extortion.

Consistency would have been nice.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 06:41 AM
Revolutions are ugly, messy things.

It is this history that changed my approach to our current problems. I used to think we needed to raze Washington DC, and remove anyone with a statist agenda from power by force...But honestly, we've been kicking statist ass in the free market of ideas for three years now..

The violence will come from them.


Many terrible things happened to loyalists at the hands of the British as well. Many loyalists defected, some from the British ranks themselves, due to the cruelty of the Crown's Army.

Much of the nastier acts committed against loyalists were in response to cruelty and criminal behavior by the British against American colonists as well...

A lot of the Revolutionary War looked not much different than the sectarian violence we witnessed in Iraq following the US-led invasion in 2003. There was reciprocity in violence between and among families, people who, were it not for the dividing lines of Revolutionary America, would never have taken up arms against their neighbors.

I look at it like this:

The founders did it so that we and future generations don't have to.
I hope that lesson was learned. Now we have to convince the socialists
to abandon the idea of violent revolt...
edit on 8-12-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 09:10 AM

Originally posted by Misoir
reply to post by thoughtsfull

I doubt it would have been a NOW but the British would have owned most definitely over half of the world and held almost unimaginable power. The King should have realized the great possibilities of keeping the colonies to England only if they would have given them representation and ended the whole revolution before it even began. They thought they were undefeatable and thus would never have to give into the demands of a million rebels.

Of course we see where that got them.

"Lack of Representation "
was not the biggest offense committed by the crown and its soldiers. The stamp act allowed soldiers to write their own search warrants just like the feds can today.They quartered troops in peoples homes.They were an oppressive garrison.

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 09:35 AM
reply to post by 46ACE


These grievances described in the Declaration of Independence were not just a difference of opinion on policy, but a whole different moral code. The British who would be quartered among the people would rape women, kill the men, steal, and burn down whole villages..And this was WELL BEFORE the Revolution.

That's why this line was written in the Declaration of Independence and I quote:

"....But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

This had been going on for decades before the Revolution. People got sick of it, they got angry, there was no one in power listening to the concerns of the colonists, and the loyalists among them were the ones reaping the benefits from the theft perpetrated by the Crown, among other crimes, some far more grievous than even the Stamp Tax.
edit on 8-12-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 09:42 AM
One thing I find funny is how America calls it self the land of the free, but to me it only looked free until the place got built up, and now it is run like European country.

Its like someone said, here you go people have this land, go build city's and all that and when your finnished we will step in and run it for you.
edit on 8-12-2010 by ThePeopleParty because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 09:55 AM
Well - the thing to remember is that not all of the Patriots were the lower, poor or middle class.

Many of the founding fathers were pretty well off.

How rich were the founding fathers?

In today's dollars they would be worth. From -> The Net Worth of the U.S. Presidents
George Washington- $525 million
John Adams - $19 million (a relative pauper in the crowd)
Thomas Jefferson - $212 million
James Madison - $101 million

On the whole the Patriots were not as wealthy as the loyalists. However, there were some *very* wealthy individuals on the patriot side. It seems that even back then the upper levels of politics and war were a rich man's game.

I'm not saying that Washington, Jefferson, etc didn't have some great ideas for a better society that helped people of all income levels. But, many of the top players on each side were rich - as is still the case today.

edit on 8-12-2010 by Frogs because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 12:36 PM
reply to post by Frogs

And maybe, just maybe, their primary motivation was the retention and enlargement of their personal fortunes?

Manipulation and Spin are not new concepts.
edit on 8/12/10 by Freeborn because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 8 2010 @ 01:22 PM
reply to post by Freeborn

Heh - maybe.
The concepts are not new as you say. They were played by those in power long before the American Revolution and are still in primary use today.

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