Friday, June 23, 2017

"Purest Principles of Loyalty to My Late Sovereign" - Why Loyalists Remained Faithful to the Crown

Despite popular belief most loyalists did not support the crown out of blind loyalty or a misguided sense of patriotism. Instead, most chose to remain loyal due to a variety of personal, societal and religious principles. For some, religious teachings demanded loyalty to the Crown. For others, economic opportunity guided fealty to King George. For more than a few, cultural beliefs dictated support of the British government. Yet regardless of their respective motivations, the American loyalists found themselves quickly at odds with their “patriot” counterparts.

One guiding principle which influenced Tories to remain loyal to the Crown was religious beliefs. Regardless of religious affiliation, many loyalists followed interpretations of the bible and religious teachings that required solemn allegiance to the Crown. For Anglicans, many ministers firmly believed they were bound by oath to be loyal to the king. The Reverend Benjamin Pickman insisted he had to remain loyal out of the “purest Principles of Loyalty to my late Sovereign”. Fellow minister John Amory refused to support the American cause because: “ I could not with a quiet conscience...take an Oath that I would bear Arms against the King of Great Britain to whom I had already sworn Allegiance.”

Likewise, not all Congregationalists supported the revolutionary rhetoric that was frequently espoused from the pulpit in New England. Isaac Smith justified his loyalty to the crown upon religious principles. He argued his position at Harvard and his profession as Congregational minister forbade him to be disobedient to his king or Parliament, because they obliged him to “liberal enquiry.”

Sandemanians, a pacifist sect of Congregationalists, believed that the bible commanded absolute loyalty to the Crown. Samuel Pike, a prominent Sandemanian, personified this belief when he declared in 1766 that every Christian must be a loyal subject to civil authority, even if that ruler was tyrannical. In turn, many Sandemanians became outspoken critics of the American cause and quickly became embroiled in the political crisis of the 1760s and early 1770s. The Sandemanians were the first to brand the Sons of Liberty and other political organizations as traitors to the Crown. Sandemanian minister Colburn Barrell declared that the Boston Massacre was the direct result of treasonous Congregationalist ministers who defied the laws of the land.

Roman Catholics, often seen as the scourge of the British Empire, quickly found themselves being forced to side with the Crown. Following the aftermath of the French and Indian Wars, many Catholic priests who resided in the upper regions of New York Colony openly welcomed black slaves and local Mohawks into their parishes and churches. With the passage of the Quebec Act of 1774, the practice of the Catholic faith was no longer subject to restrictions in certain regions of North America. The concept of Roman Catholics openly practicing their religious beliefs in New York, let alone with slaves and “savages”, deeply concerned their Congregationalist and Anglican neighbors. Members of the New York Provincial Congress quickly warned, “the indulgence and establishment of Popery all along the interior confines of the Protestant Colonies tends not only to obstruct their growth, but to weaken their security.”

Yet religious principles were not the only motivating factor to remain loyal to the crown. Often, economic dependency and patronage dictated one’s loyalty. Political appointees like William Woolton, Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver naturally sided with the British government because their respective colonial posts ensured potential profit. For many merchants, siding with the rebel mobs almost guaranteed financial ruin. Joseph Hooper, also known as “King Hooper”, of Marblehead was heavily dependent on trade with England. John Amory feared economic losses if he ended his business relationships with England. Amory was among the merchants who protested against the “Solemn League and Covenant of 1774,” suspending all commercial business with Great Britain. A business trip to England, which he coincidentally made during the Battle of Lexington, branded him a “Tory” in the eyes of his countrymen.

However, loyalty to the Crown so as to preserve economic profit was not limited to wealthy businessmen. Many tenant farmers of Albany, Ulster and Tryon Counties, New York were heavily dependent upon their loyalist land lords for continued economic success. In short, if rebel policies and practices drove their masters to financial ruin, economic destruction would surely follow for the tenants as well.

Likewise, economic opportunity in the form of recruitment bounties attracted many to the loyalist cause. Bounties were offered to prospective recruits; however, more important was the promise of freehold land. As early as 1775 recruiters for the Royal Highland Emigrants, a corps of loyalist Scot Highlanders, promised 200 acres of land to prospective soldiers. In March 1777 the governor of Quebec promised loyalists who “shall continue to serve His Majesty until the rebellion is suppressed and peace restored ... His Majesty's bounty of 200 acres of land.” In May 1781, when recruiting was more difficult, recruits were promised the same land after only three years of service and were given six guineas for enlisting. Recruiters in Bergen County, New Jersey, were even more generous, promising 200 acres of land for each adult male, 100 acres for his wife, and fifty acres for each child. Promises of land were also made by loyalist officers. Ebenezer Jessup, lieutenant-colonel of the King's Loyal Americans and a large landowner, pledged 24,000 acres of his land to those who “would serve faithfully during the War ... and 20,000 more to such of my officers as shuld merit the same by their good conduct.” 

A desire for public safety and order also influenced many colonists who remained loyal to the Crown. Looking back at the origins of the American Revolution, key players such as Jonathan Sewall viewed the original conflict not with the Stamp Act Crisis or the attempt by the British government to collect on its debt from the French Wars. Instead, many loyalists saw the Writ of Assistance case as the ignition of conflict. To many loyal to the Crown, the Writ of Assistance case was viewed as an attempt by ambitious politicians to overthrow the political establishment and replace it with a lawless or populist mob.

Most loyalists detested the mob rule that spread from Boston and New York City to the countryside and abhorred the lack of order. As tensions grew between the colonies and England, many colonists attempted to remain neutral. However, as radicals seized power, neutrality became impossible. Dr. William Paine gave up his neutrality and declared himself a loyalist after he experienced "too many abuses" and "insults" from Patriots. Samuel Curwen, Judge of Admiralty, complained Whig “tempers get more and more soured and malevolent against all moderate men, whom they see fit to reproach as enemies of their country by the name of Tories, among whom I am unhappily (although unjustly) ranked.” The Reverend Samuel Seabury of Westchester, New York, lashed out at the patriot mobs who routinely and illegally entered and searched loyalist homes:

Do as you please: If you like it better, choose your Committee, or suffer it to be
Chosen by half a dozen Fools in your neighborhood – open your doors to them
let them examine your tea canisters, and molasses-jugs, and your wives and 
daughters pettycoats – bow and cringe and tremble and quake – fall down and 
worship our sovereign Lord the Mob . . . and shall my house be entered into 
and my mode of living enquired into, by a domineering Committee-man? Before
I submit I will die, live you and be slaves.

For many loyalists in the New York region, especially those of Scottish descent, loyalty to the Crown was determined by cultural beliefs. Following the conclusion of the French and Indian War, many Scottish veterans from the 42nd, 77th, and 78th Regiments settled in the Albany area. Almost immediately, these newcomers clashed with their Dutch neighbors who sided with the rebels. In a society where clan ties were often paramount, many Scottish residents in the Albany area viewed King George III as their Laird or clan chieftain. As a result, most refused to sign “association” documents or loyalty oaths put forth by the Tory Committee due to the fact such documents were viewed as breaking an oath of allegiance to the King. As Captain Alexander McDonald, formerly of the 77th Regiment, warned “I am determined to be true to the trust reposed in me and discharge my duty with honour . . . as long as I live.”

Finally, for those colonists who attempted to remain neutral or initially sided with the “patriot” cause, the Declaration of Independence instead drove many individuals over to the side of the Crown. Seen as either a radical document or an extreme reaction to the dispute with the Crown, men such as Justus Sherwood, renounced their affiliation with the American cause and took up arms for the King.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ale Flip Recipe

Happy Father's Day!

Nothing says "I love you dad" like plying him with Ale Flip! To make this 18th drink that was extremely popular in Newburyport, you'll need:

Boston shaker or 2 pint glasses
1 1/2 fl. oz. (3 tablespoons) rum
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg
8 fl. oz. (1 cup) dark beer such as brown ale, porter, or stout
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Pour the rum and molasses into one of the pint/shaker glasses. Crack the egg into the other glass and beat well with a fork. Warm the beer in a small saucepan over low heat just until it begins to froth and steam; don’t let it come to a boil.

Pour the beer into the glass filled with rum, then pour the egg into the beer. Continue to pour the drink back and forth between the pint glasses until smooth and well-blended, then transfer to a mug or other clean and heat-safe drinking glass.

Grate fresh nutmeg over the flip and serve immediately.


Monday, June 12, 2017

"To Cruise Against the Enemies of the United States" - The Privateer General Arnold

The Privateer General Arnold was a two hundred and fifty ton merchant vessel that was converted into a privateer in early 1778.  It was owned by Nathaniel Tracy of Newburyport and authorized on April 16, 1778 by the State of Massachusetts "to cruise against the enemies of the United States."  She was commanded by Captain Moses Brown and was armed with 18 guns.

This ship was NOT the same General Arnold that was destroyed in Plymouth Harbor during a blizzard in December, 1778.

The privateer departed Newburyport in early May on its first cruise.  Shortly thereafter, an accident occurred.  According to Captain Brown, "The first gun that was fired burst and killed or wounded all my officers"   As a result, Brown and his crew were forced to return to Newburyport.

The ship was refitted with new guns which apparently were worse than the originals.  "They  proved my guns, and burst four more of them"  After some delay, Brown was able to secure proper cannons and set sail in early August.  "Cruised three months and took a brig, which was re-taken, and returned in November."

By February, 1779, the General Arnold was already on its third cruise.  It appears the ship had multiple engagements and secured several prizes.  Sailing master Thomas Greele described one such encounter.  "March 28th Sunday at 6 A. M. St Michaels bore S. S. E. distant nine or ten miles. Saw a sail under St. Michaels which gave us chase. At ten she came up with us and proved to be the British ship Gregson, a Liver pool privateer, mounting twenty twelve pounders and one hundred and eighty men. After an action of two hours and fifteen minutes, she sheared off and made sail; but we could not come up with her as our spars, rigging and sails were much cut up; her loss unknown but from appearances it must have been deplorable indeed."

Two months later, Captain Brown and his crew was cruising off the coast of Spain.  "April 4th took the ship William, Capt. John Gregory, from Gibralter, bound to New York; put Mr. Samuel Robinson on board as prize master. . . April 19th anchored in Corunna, in Spain, refitting till May 19th."

On May 20, 1779, the General Arnold attacked the Nanny off the coast of Cape Finisterre, Spain.  Its captain, Thomas Beynon, described the encounter.  "The following are the particulars of an engagement we had with the General Arnold, Captain Moses Brown, of eighteen six pounders and one hundred men on the 20th of May off Cape Finisterre. Saw a ship in chase of us, and being resolved to know her weight of metal before I gave up your property I prepared to make the best defence I could. Between 8 and 9 o'clock he came along side with American colors, and three fire pots out, one on each fore yard arm and one at his jib boom end. Hailed and told me to haul down my colors. I desired him to begin and blaze away for I was determined to know his force before I gave up to him. The battle began and lasted two hours, our ships being close together, having only room to keep clear of each other. Our guns told well on both sides ; we were soon left destitute of rigging and sails. As I engaged under top sails and jib, and we were shattered below and aloft, I got the Nanny before the wind, and fought an hour that way, one pump going, till we had seven feet of water in the hold. I thought it then almost time to give up the battle, as our ship was a long time in re covering her sallies, and began to be water logged. We were so close that I told him I had struck and hauled down my colors."

Shortly after surrendering, the Nanny sunk.  "By the time we were out of the Nanny, the water was up to her lower deck. When Captain Brown heard the number of men I had he asked me what I meant by engaging him so long. I told him I was then his prisoner and hoped he would not call me to account for what I had done before the colors were hauled down. He said he approved of all I had done and treated my officers and myself like gentlemen and my people as his own."

However, the General Arnold did not emerge unscathed either.  According to Beynon, "The privateer [General Arnold] was in a shattered condition; his fore yard shot away in the slings and lying on her fore castle and a piece out of his main mast, so that he could make no sail until it was fixed: all his running rigging entirely gone, and a great part of his shrouds and back stays. None of his sails escaped except his main sail."

Despite the damage sustained, the privateer was still able to capture two more vessels off the Spanish coast on May 30th and June 1st.  Unfortunately, on June 2, 1779, the General Arnold encountered the 50 gun ship HMS Experiment.  The privateer was in no condition to fight.  As Sailing Master Greele correctly surmised the General Arnold "was captured by His Britannic Majesty's ship, Experiment, fifty guns, Sir James Wallace, commander. So ends our cruise."

Captain Brown and his crew were first taken to Madeira, Portugal and then to Savannah, Georgia.  Upon arrival, they were confined to a prison hulk.  They were released in 1780.  Brown returned to Newburyport in January, 1781.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"With the Design, Probably, To Spread Infection" - Rumors of Biological Warfare During the Siege of Boston

When General George Washington assumed command of the American army in July, 1775, one of his primary concerns was preventing his troops from being exposed to the smallpox virus. From Washington's perspective, "smallpox is in every part of Boston. The [British] soldiers who have never had it are, we are told, under inoculation, and considered as a surety against any attempt of ours to attack. If we escape the smallpox in this camp, and the country around, it will be miraculous. Every precaution that can be is taken, to guard against this evil, both by the General Court and myself."

Although smallpox was present in 1775 Boston, it did not reach the catastrophic levels Washington believed existed. Nevertheless, the general and his staff were concerned that the British army could utilize the disease as a biological weapon. Historians and period accounts have suggested British authorities occasionally explored the use of smallpox as a means to weaken or eradicate enemies. For example, evidence suggests Lord Jeffery Amherst authorized a plan to expose Native Americans to smallpox. General Thomas Gage allegedly approved a bill in 1763 for "Sundries got to Replace in kind those which were taken from people in the Hospital to Convey the Smallpox to the Indians." In 1777, a British officer suggested to defeat the American rebellion the military should "dip arrows in matter of smallpox, and twang them at the American rebels.... This would ... disband these stubborn, ignorant, enthusiastic savages.... Such is their dread and fear of that disorder." 

Of course, many colonists believed the British army planned to intentionally introduce small pox to the Massachusetts population. One Boston resident noted as early as January, 1775 that "soldiers try all they can to spread the smallpox but I hope they will be disappointed." Seth Pomeroy wrote in May 1775, "If it is In General Gages power I expect he will Send ye Small pox." On December 3, 1775, Robert H. Harrison noted that "four [British] deserters have just arrived at headquarters giving an account that several persons are to be sent out of Boston . . that have lately been inoculated with the smallpox, with the design, probably, to spread infection to distress us as much as possible."

Washington received reports in early December, 1775 that the British army was exploring germ warfare to weaken the American siege. However, the general suspected that any biological attack was not to designed to decimate the Massachusetts countryside but rather cripple the American army outside of Boston. On December 14, 1775, Washington complained to John Hancock, that "smallpox rages all over the town. Some of the military [British] as had it not before, are now under inoculation. This, I apprehend, is a weapon of defense they are using against us."

Washington's suspicions were corroborated when he received a report that "General Howe is going to send out a number of the Inhabitants. ... A Sailor says that a Number of these coming out have been inoculated with the design of Spreading the Small pox through this Country and Camp." Three days later, the general grimly reported to Congress "the information I received that the Enemy intended spreading the smallpox amongst us, I could not suppose them capable of; I now must give some credit to it, as it has made its appearance on several of those who last came out of Boston."

Fortunately, Washington was proactive in combating the spread of the disease. Less than twenty four hours after his arrival outside of Boston, the general cautioned soldiers against travelling to infected areas "as there may be danger of introducing smallpox into the army." By July 20th, Washington noted in correspondence to Congress that he had "been particularly attentive to the least Symptoms of the Small Pox, hitherto we have been so fortunate, as to have every Person removed so soon, as not only to prevent any Communication, but any Apprehension or Alarm it might give in the camp. We shall continue the utmost Vigilance against this most dangerous Enemy."

Lieutenant Colonel Loammi Baldwin was ordered to "prevent any of your officers from any intercourse with the people who ... came out of Boston . . . there is great reason to suspect that the smallpox is amongst them, which every precaution must be used to prevent its spreading." The efforts appeared to have been somewhat successful as General Horatio Gates later commented to Artemas Ward that Washington had "taken every possible precaution in his power ... to prevent the Enemy from communicating this infection of the Small pox to this Army."

Photograph by Jack Boudreau
As the siege progressed, the threat of smallpox remained an issue for Washington. Even as the British army prepared to evacuate, the general expressed some reservation that the enemy may coordinate a biological attack. A spy reported to the general in March, 1776 "our Enemies in that place had laid several schemes for communicating the infection of the small-pox, to the Continental Army, when they get out of town." In response, Washington ordered "that neither officer, nor Soldier, presume to go into Boston, without leave.... As the enemy with malicious assiduity, have spread the infection of the smallpox through all parts of the town, nothing but the utmost caution on our part, can prevent that fatal disease from spreading thro' the army, and country, to the infinite detriment of both. . . Therefore no officer or soldier may go into Boston when the enemy evacuates the Town."

Two days after the British fled from Boston, Washington ordered Israel Putnam and one thousand Continental Soldiers to occupy a key position outside of the town. The general was so concerned about exposure that he also specified that all of the troops assigned to Putnam must have already had smallpox and thus were immune to the virus.