THE LOYALISTS IN REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA 1760-1781 by Robert M. Calhoon

THE LOYALISTS IN REVOLUTIONARY AMERICA 1760-1781

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Half a million American colonists were known to have Loyalist sympathies; 19,000 of these actively served with British or Loyalist units. Calhoon looks for ""the compelling reasons, influences, predispositions, and dictates of self-interest, temperament, conscience, intellect, fear and plain confusion that impelled the Loyalists to act as they did."" About half the book is devoted to character sketches of two dozen or so Tory leaders before the outbreak of war. Calhoon finds them bound by theories of empire, law and order, British invincibility, pacifism, conciliation, religion, and bald self-interest. But the sketches seem historically and psychologically incomplete. Few actual motives are sought behind the individuals' self-declarations. . .with the exception of Egerton Leigh of South Carolina, who described himself as a ""downright placeman,"" a seeker of sinecure. Calhoon fails to probe the religious objections to revolt: were they based on group loyalty, class ideology, or profound religious feeling? The Quakers and Mennonites seem to have had genuine scruples of conscience, but the Anglicans receive no sharp scrutiny. When the conflict began, Calhoon says it was never a true civil war, because the Loyalists could not form a coherent fighting opposition; the British preference for limited war compounded this weakness. Engaging in the manner of all dense colonial history, but pedestrian and perhaps a bit too credulous of the Tories' stated motives. An entry in the Founding of the American Republic Series.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1973
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich