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TORIES by Thomas B. Allen

TORIES

Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War

By Thomas B. Allen

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-124180-2
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

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.