American writers have further unfairiy questioned the motives of the Loyalists. They have denied to their enemies that
freedom of choice which they reserved to themselves; they have charged the loyalists with being "Tory office-holders";
they have declared that the possession of offices of emolument from the Crown was the sole reason which prevented
these "office-holders" from taking up arms in company with the "victims of Britain's injustice." On the other hand,
according to these writers no eulogy is too strong, no commemoration is too extensive for the "Patriots" who, in the face
of fearful odds, swept the British army from the plains of Yorktown, and planted the standard of liberty on the erstwhile
down-trodden and benighted land.
A more impartial age has brushed away the deception of a century. The honor of the Loyalists has been amply vindicated.
It is seen that those who were called weak, were strong enough to leave all they held dear for the sake of principle; those
who were called cowards, fought to the bitter end of a losing struggle; those who were called unnatural, were not as
unnatural as the matricidal sons who took up arms against the Motherland; and those who were called in malicious hatred
the outcasts of society, have since been acknowledged the brightest and best of their age.
It is noticeable that the bulk of the Loyalists were men in no mean positions in their native states; men who possessed a
high moral ideal and an elevated mind, men of education and of unsullied honor. Even American historians are now
coming to admit that they were of the noblest descent and of the most upright character. Colonel Sabine says, in his well
known work, "It is evident that a considerable proportion of the professional and editorial intelligence and talents of the
thirteen colonies was arrayed against the popular movement." (Vol. I, p. 50)
Their favorite pastime was the burning of the homes of the Loyalists. Often the houses were set on fire in the middle of
winter and the occupants forced to take shelter the woods, every door being shut against them, some were frozen to death.
Frequently torture of various kinds was resorted to, in order to make the victims tell where their money or valuables
were concealed, or their dear ones in hiding. The family of Maby, which came to Long Point, suffered grievously, as will
be told in a subsequent chapter. There is nothing more pathetic than the story of this unceasing and determined
Nor were other states very far behind Massachusetts in point of unpunished lawlessness. The blood of the murdered
cried from the ground unceasingly for vengeance. The governments of the different states winked at, if they did not
sanction, this terrible ill-treatment of the Loyalists. All trod the blood-stained path of cruelty, and the pen of anguish
writes its history.
The Convention of the State of New York in 1776 enacted that any being an adherent of the king of Great Britain, should
be guilty of treason and should suffer death.
[Dr. Ramsay, "History of United States", Vol II Chap II.]
But this enactment of the Legislature seems to have been too extreme, and was not carried out in its entirety, the Loyalists for the most partbeing given an opportunity to quit the country. However, in all the states there was a vast amount of lawlessness by organized mobs, who had at least the passive sanction of the executive councils. The saying became common among these bands of "Loggers and Sawyers," that "The Lord commanded us to forgive our enemies, but said nothing about forgiving our friends." This went on so far that the State of North Carolina, in 1780, passed a law to put a stop to the robbery of people under the pretence that they were Tories, "a practice carried on even to the plundering of their clothes and household furniture."
[Hildreth, "History of United States", Vol III Chap 41.]
In New York State this rage for plundering grew so strong that it demoralized the American army, and affected even the
officers, who, from first opposing it, came to take afterwards an active share in despoiling Loyalist homes. [Dr. Ramsay,
"History of United States,", Vol. II, p. 159.]
"We hold," says the Declaration of Independence, these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of
And yet, in the same year in which that precious document was promulgated, the State of New York passed an Act
whereby severe penalties were pronounced on all adherents of the king. This then was the liberty they allowed their
opponents. They had one gospel for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. It matters so much whose ox falls into the
From the UEL Association:
A Short History of the United Empire Loyalists
Ann Mackenzie M.A.
Over two hundred years ago the American Revolution shattered the British
Empire in North America. The conflict was rooted in British attempts to assert
economic control in her American colonies after her costly victory over the
French during the Seven Years War. When protest and riots met the British
attempts to impose taxes on the colonists, the British responded with political
and military force. Out of the struggle between between the Thirteen Colonies
and their mother country emerged two nations: the United States and what
would later become Canada.
Not all the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies opposed Britain. The United
Empire Loyalists were those colonists who remained faithful to the Crown and
wished to continue living in the New World. Therefore, they left their homes to
settle eventually in what remained of British North America.
Who were the Loyalists?
The Loyalists came from every class and walk of life. Some depended on the
Crown for their livelihood and status and had considerable wealth and property.