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Famous Loyalists

Tarring and feathering
The Tar and Feathering of George Hewes by Phillip Dawe

A great deal of history is told from the Patriots' side of the story, and with good reason. Without the efforts made by the Founding Fathers, there would never have been a United States of America. Yet, choosing to go against King and country, and join a cause that at the time seemed hopeless, wasn't the most simple of decisions. At the time, England was the strongest empire in the world, and promised prosperity and longevity to all the colonies who would support her. The Loyalists who believed in this promise were also known as "Tories" and "King's Men."

One of the most prominent group of Loyalists were, maybe not surprisingly, the African-American slave population. The British promised them freedom and station in Great Britain in return for their support during the Revolutionary War. It gave many slaves the opportunity to start over, and begin a new life for themselves away from the days of slavery in the United States.

The Loyalists are men whose names have been largely erased from history on this side of the Atlantic as they were seen as traitors to the cause. In the late Eighteenth century, Loyalists were driven from their homes, their estates burned, and many were tarred and feathered. This practice was not supported by many of the Founding Fathers, because they believed that such behavior would hurt their case.

Here is a list of a few of the men who stood with England in opposition to the case for independence.

John Malcolm (2 May 1769 - 30 May 1833) was a sea captain, army officer, and British customs official who was the victim of the most publicized tarring and feathering incident during the American Revolution. It is he who is depicted in the painting above, a print by British artist Philip Dawe published in Great Britain. Malcolm was subjected to the treatment twice, with the second one being the more brutal. An angry mob dragged him from his home in the middle of the night after a fight with Patriot George Hewes. They tarred and feathered him and threatened to cut off his ears. To avoid this fate, he promised to resign his post as customs official and returned to England. He died in 1788 in Great Britain.

Lt. Col. James Chalmers (1734 - Oct 3, 1806) was a Commander of First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists and the author of a pamphlet entitled "Plain Truth" in 1776. The pamphlet was written to oppose the work of American Rebel supporter Thomas Paine, "Common Sense," which argued that Great Britain did not have the right to govern America. Chalmers wrote under the pseudonym "Candidus", so he wouldn't be found out. Because he was seen to be on both sides of the conflict, he wasn't respected by other British Military commanders. Also, "Plain Truth" did little to quiet the waves of revolution which were already stirring. After the war, Chalmers returned to London where he lived out the rest of his life, continuing to write pamphlets against the works of Paine.

Joseph Brant Thayendenegea
Joseph Brant

John Butler (1728-1796) was the commanding Colonel of Butler's Rangers in the Mohawk Valley, a regiment of Tories and former Black slaves fighting in the American Revolutionary War on the side of the British. Butler and his regiment were held primarily responsible for the Wyoming Valley Massacre of July, 1778. At Wyoming Valley, Butler's Rangers and the Seneca who fought alongside took 227 scalps, and burned 1,000 houses. His son Walter would go on to do even greater damage at Cherry Valley in November of the same year. After the year, Butler returned to farming in Southern Ontario. He went onto play a large part in the development of that area.

Sir John Johnson of the King's Royal Regiment
Sir John Johnson

Joseph Brant (Thayendenegea) (March 1743 - November 24, 1807) was a Mohawk war leader who fought on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War. Brant was the most famous American-Indian of his time, and his education and connections allowed him to achieve what he did during his lifetime. He was often blamed for the massacres at Cherry Valley and Wyoming Valley, even though he had been one of the few who tried to stop the attacks from escalating. These false accusations granted him the nickname "Monster Grant." After the war, he spent his days clearing his name and aiding the development of his people. He died in his home at Lake Ontario in 1807.

William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin
William Franklin

Sir John Johnson (November 5, 1741 - January 4, 1830) was commander of the King's Royal Regiment of New York and Canadian politician. Fearing for his life, Sir John removed to Canada at the start of the American Revolutionary War. His wife, Lady Johnson, was held hostage by the Colonists in New York for that year to ensure Johnson's "good behavior." Later, he formed the King's Royal Regiment, which was significant n the siege of Fort Stanwix. At the end of the war, he was forced into permanent exile in Canada.

Thomas Hutchinson
Thomas Hutchinson

William Franklin (ca. 1730 - 17 November 1813) was the Governor of New Jersey, the illegitmate son of Benjamin Franklin, and a staunch Loyalist throughout his lifetime. William and his steadfast Patriot father, Benjamin, would never be able to overcome their differences in opinion. William was imprisoned during the War for Independence and later exiled to London, never to return to the Colonies.

Thomas Hutchinson (September 9, 1711 - June 3,1780) was a leading Boston merchant from an old American family, who served as governor of Massachusetts. Viewed as pro-British by some citizens of Boston, Hutchinson's house was looted and burned in 1765 by an angry crowd in protest against the Stamp Act. Hutchinson and fellow Loyalist Sir Francis Bernard had tried to dissuade Britain from levying both the Sugar and the Stamp Act, but their voices were not heard. Because Hutchinson would stand against the acts in public, the Colonists believed Hutchinson was not on their side. As matters escalated, Hutchinson was eventually forced into exile in England.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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