More Amazing Correlations Between Us During the Revolution and Today.

by Daniel Russ on August 25, 2019

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“can tell a Tory by his looks,” Lewis Howell, a surgeon with the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, wrote his father in late June. The good doctor evidently had remarkable diagnostic powers, given the physical resemblance of loyalists and revolutionaries. Both breeds were drawn from all strata of their society, high, low, and middling. The war, as the historian Edmund S. Morgan wrote, “cut sharply across nearly all previous divisions, whether regional, ethnic, religious, or class.” Moreover, loyalty was a fluid concept, ebbing and flowing with circumstances and convictions. “No man knows his nearest friends’ real sentiments,” observed William Smith, the loyalist chief judge in New York. Many good men were divided in their own hearts, but ambivalence in a civil war was a limited virtue. Political moderates confronted a harsh internecine calculus: those not with us are against us.”

“Perhaps half a million Americans remained committed to the Crown. One scholarly computation asserted that loyalists made up 16 percent of the total population—or about 20 percent of white colonials. Of roughly 3.2 million Americans alive from 1775 to 1783, 513,000 demonstrated loyalty by supporting the British cause, fighting with one of two hundred loyalist units, or eventually going into exile.”

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