THE BRITISH-AMERICANS: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789 by Mary Beth Norton

THE BRITISH-AMERICANS: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789

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Within the confines of its genre, a very well-written and well-documented descriptive dissertation on the hard-core Loyalists who were impelled by self-interest and rebel policy to emigrate to England. Norton gives a full and sympathetic picture of duress and delusions. It was not until 1774 that the goal of independence drew a hard line between Tories and Patriots; previous to that time one could be both a conservative and a vehement critic of Britain's imperial policy. Norton notes the anti-democratic political biases of the Loyalists, without dwelling on them. She stresses the fact that ordinary families as well as Crown officials and big landowners chose exile, but doesn't say why, leaving the excavation of politicoeconomic motives to other students of Loyalism. Driven from British-held cities to the motherland, the exiles hoped to effect a reconciliation between Crown and colonists, but, beyond providing stipends, the King's ministers were less than solicitous of their native allies' views and interests. The Saratoga defeat was taken as a signal to disperse from London and settle down for good in England; though a few Tories returned to the United States, and many more felt great regard and nostalgia for their lost homeland, Norton emphasizes the tenacity of the exiles' belief that the War of Independence was a minority conspiracy, with all the rationalizations this entailed. A readable supplement to deeper studies of the Tories' world-view and their passive and uncomprehending reactions to revolutionary developments.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1972
Publisher: Little, Brown