Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War

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Overview

The American Revolution was not simply a battle between the independence-minded colonists and the oppressive British. As Thomas B. Allen reminds us, it was also a savage and often deeply personal civil war, in which conflicting visions of America pitted neighbor against neighbor and Patriot against Tory on the battlefield, on the village green, and even in church.

In this outstanding and vital history, Allen tells the complete story of the Tories, tracing their lives and experiences throughout the revolutionary period. Based on documents in archives from Nova Scotia to London, Tories adds a fresh perspective to our knowledge of the Revolution and sheds an important new light on the little-known figures whose lives were forever changed when they remained faithful to their mother country.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing on letters, diaries, and other primary sources, historian Allen (George Washington, Spymaster) challenges the traditional notion that all the colonists wanted to overthrow the oppressive British government. Instead, he argues that a substantial portion of Americans remained loyal to Britain. Even families were divided, making the Revolution a civil war that often pitted sons against fathers and brothers against brothers. Yet Patriots and Loyalists changed constantly with the varying fortunes of the war. [ For example, Stephen Jarvis, a young farmer, initially joined the Patriots' Connecticut militia in order to defy his Tory father; when his regiment was temporarily released from active duty, young Jarvis fought with the Tory army on Long Island. After the war, 80,000 Tories left the new United States, many starting new lives in Canada; in 1792, about 2,000 ex-slaves given their freedom for joining the Loyalists, sailed to Africa, founding what is now Sierra Leone. Allen's thorough research and fast-paced narrative provide fresh ways of thinking about the Revolutionary War and shed new light on the lives of those, from bankers to small tradesmen, who remained loyal to the throne in the face of vigorous opposition and persecution. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The dissenters in popular wars (e.g., those who supported "America First" before World War II) can be neglected by war historians—often because victors write the history books. And so to a large extent forgotten are those Americans who remained loyal to the Crown in the Revolutionary War. Allen (George Washington, Spymaster) tells their stories here, showing that Americans were far from united against the British, even after the shot heard round the world. And the American revolutionaries were just as cruel, brutal, and intolerant as revolutionaries everywhere always are. Allen doesn't sugarcoat the record: the colonists—of both loyalties—committed outrages in the pursuit of their causes. As the 70 pages of end matter show, Allen has extensively researched his subject. It is a scholarly book, heavy on detail. Too often it comes across as a military history of the war from a Tory perspective, rather than by a disinterested author. VERDICT This book is most suitable for students seeking the alternate perspective on the Revolutionary War, and interested readers of military history.—Michael O. Eshleman, Allen Law Firm, Mason, OH
Kirkus Reviews

Veteran historian Allen (Remember Valley Forge: Patriots, Tories, and Redcoats Tell Their Stories, 2007, etc.) offers a lively account of the colonists who remained loyal to King George during the Revolutionary War.

At the war's outset, George Washington believed that Tories were merely deluded, insufficiently alert to Parliament's encroachment on their liberties. By the spring of 1778, after watching Tories and their sympathizers feed the British occupiers of Philadelphia while the Continental Army starved at Valley Forge, Washington favored shooting some infamous Loyalists as a way of striking terror into those who might be similarly inclined. Sometimes we forget that America's revolt against the British was quite literally a family quarrel, a civil war that became decidedly uncivil and often descended into savagery. From prewar acts of intimidation that featured kidnapping of the king's agents, tarring and feathering and "smoking" (securing a victim in a locked, chimney-blocked room, then building a fire), to the skull breaking, scalping, massacres, terrorism and give-no-quarter battles of the war itself, Allen charts the increasing ferocity of this fight between those who remained faithful and those who opposed the king. Many Loyalists left the colonies once the war began in earnest. Others stayed and, having forfeited their land, homes and businesses, knew their only chance at restoration was for the British to win. They took up arms against their Patriot neighbors—as did many Native Americans and a number of slaves offered their freedom for fighting on the British side—and served as spies and scouts for the occupation forces. The author treats the war chronologically and reports especially well on the colonies, where loyalty to the monarch remained particularly robust. He highlights Benedict Arnold's betrayal, tells the tale of Benjamin Franklin's Tory son, examines the religious divide that mirrored the conflict among colonists and explains how colonial governors and British generals sought to enlist the aid of "good" Americans to subdue the bad.

The war's bitterness memorably recaptured.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061241802
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas B. Allen is the author of numerous history books, including George Washington, Spymaster and Remember Valley Forge. A frequent contributor to Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Military History Quarterly, Military History, Naval History, the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings, and other publications, he lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Preface: "Little Less Than Savage Fury" xiii

1 Two Flags over Plymouth 1

2 Arming the Tories 19

3 Flee or Fight 39

4 "To Subdue the Bad" 54

5 The War for Boston 75

6 Into the Fourteenth Colony 93

7 The Farewell Fleet 110

8 Beating the Southern Drums 133

9 "Broadswords and King George!" 141

10 War in the Loyal Province 157

11 Terror on the Neutral Ground 184

12 "Indians Must Be Employed" 209

13 Treason Along the Chesapeake 235

14 Vengeance in the Valleys 252

15 Seeking Southern Friends 276

16 Despair Before the Dawn 291

17 Bloody Days of Reckoning 298

18 And They Began the World Anew 323

Acknowledgments 335

Notes 339

Bibliography 415

Index 445

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Recommend: The story of American colonists loyal to their King

    This book addresses the reality of those in the American Colonies who remained loyal to King George. Many returned to England if they could while others emigrated to another British colony, Canada. Still others were tormented and sometimes killed for their loyalty to the king. This is their story. The facts revealed in this book help us "rebel colonists" to understand why Canada did not want to join the US during the War of 1812. The book is written from the perspective of the Torries some of whom can also trace their ancestry to the Pilgrims. They were colonists like the early citizens of the US, but they kept their loyalty to the crown and suffered the consequences.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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