Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City during the Revolution (Jeffersonian America)

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Completely different sets of legal responses emerged in the various colonies, at variance not only with the Crown, but with each other. Except when this exception became its own problem. The ship in question, groaning with treasure, was the property of the Grand Mogul of India, then the richest monarch on Earth and an ally of the British East India Company. In one stroke, a British pirate had managed to commit a felony, an outrage, a blasphemy, and a disastrous interference with highly profitable international trade. Every became the object of a world-wide man-hunt.

He also became a huge folk hero, on both sides of the Atlantic. And the reason you may never have heard of him is that Henry Every got away with it. No one really knows what happened to the man, but the envious suspicion was that he lived a long and blissful life on a secluded tropical beach, sipping rum punches with bevies of girls in grass skirts. It was then, when pirates began indiscriminately harassing the ships of American colonists, that all sympathy for them very quickly disappeared, colonial lawyers and governments reversed themselves, and it was all over save the shouting by However, he contends, the decades of complete defiance of political and legal mandates of the empire persisted through the 18th Century with respect to smuggling issues, and ultimately contributed to American readiness to secede from the empire in The Politics of Piracy is very well-researched and very fluidly written.

It was published in by Alfred A. The author is a British journalist with two other books on the history of gardening to her credit, plus a more recent history of 18 th Century astronomy. I should confess, straight off, that yours truly, a life-long urban apartment-dweller who has never studied botany, is hardly the individual to do justice to this essay.

My one horticultural experiment, decades ago, culminated in the brutal murder of a begonia. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though the author references many people of the founding generation, she concentrates on four men—our first four presidents—with great detail on an aspect of their lives commonly given short shrift. At the time, they were the best of chums.

In frustration and disgust, they opted to depart London, and take a one-week vacation together. Did they opt to visit the stately homes of the great? Did they dutifully examine the impressive naval facilities of Portsmouth and Chatham? Did they travel to the Midlands to inspect the factories of the nascent industrial revolution? Did they tour the famous historical and cultural sites high on our lists today—Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford?

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The great universities of Oxford and Cambridge? Adams and Jefferson rumbled through England in a horse-drawn conveyance, on a garden tour! These two middle-aged American family men, whom we remember primarily as political actors, having all these other options available, elected to take a garden tour! Yet for each, there was a substantial aesthetic aspect.

Their correspondence shows intense awareness of relative size, juxtaposition, color, texture, and even fragrance of crops, trees, and flowers. As the subtitle suggests, the focus of the book is more on the post-Revolutionary period. But with a few nods to Franklin and other founders, we keep returning to the three Virginians and John Adams.


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  5. Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City During the Revolution by Ruma Chopra.

All four kept extensive notes on dates, locations, weather, cross-breeds, and the results of their plantings. All four maintained a constant and extensive correspondence on the subject, reading voraciously, eagerly exchanging seeds and cuttings. They loved the new seed-drills and threshing machines. Jefferson designed moldboards many times before he was satisfied.


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  • As you can imagine, each also perceived political ramifications of his endeavors. Washington tried to subdivide his holdings by renting whole farms to tenants, in the hope that it would reduce the overall reliance on slave labor.

    Adams promoted state and national farm boards. Jefferson risked a great deal to smuggle contraband seeds out of Europe. After he and Madison toured Vermont, he became excited by the notion that the sugar maple might be replicated all over the USA, and that its sugar production might rival that of the Caribbean without the need for slave labor that sugar cane required.

    The Rebellion is Justified

    They made consciously symbolic choices for their gardens. Washington was the first to insist that he would use only natively North American trees and shrubs on his property, eventually insisting on at least one tree from each state. He, and Adams and Jefferson, deliberately created landscape vistas facing to the west. Even Hamilton, building The Grange here in New York, pointedly decided to frame his property with thirteen trees. You might wonder what a British writer is doing essaying these rebels.

    You might also doubt that such a slight, young, and attractive-looking a woman would have the scholarly chops to match her subject. Very highly recommended! It was published in by the University of Virginia Press as part of its Jeffersonian America series. The idea, as the subtitle suggests, is to tell the story of the Revolutionary era from the point of view of the loyalists, particularly those crowded into the premier loyalist sanctum, our own New York City.

    The American-born or at least American-resident people who came to be known as loyalists—like their relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who supported the revolution—were a disparate group, defined retrospectively by their one make-or-break decision of Religiously, they were predominantly but not overwhelmingly Anglican; while the patriots were predominantly but not overwhelmingly dissenters. Among the loyalists were even individuals who had been members of the First and Second Continental Congresses … who balked only when the final choice for secession from the empire became official.

    In the first two chapters, Prof. Chopra traces the development of conflict over the decade leading to the revolution, and details the few common beliefs of loyalists:. Nevertheless, independence was declared, and the ten or twelve months in which the radicals had completely dominated New York City came to an abrupt end in September New York became a city of refugees.

    Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City During the Revolution

    Those of the original residents who remained, holding the preconception of all militarists that one good thrashing would put an end to the conflict, thought the direct British rule that began that month would bring instant relief from the oppression they had felt from the revolutionaries. Among other things, they thought that military government of the city was of course very temporary, that civilian rule would be restored at any moment.

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    This was their first disappointment: martial law in the city lasted all seven years, until the evacuation. The British, for their part, discovered they could never do anything right, as far as the loyalists were concerned.

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    If they were lenient, loyalist hard-liners complained that they were prolonging the war. If they were harsh, loyalist moderates objected that they were preventing any possibility of reconciliation, and thereby … prolonging the war. Despite their miserable situation, the loyalists of New York City believed well into that somehow everything would come out all right for them, even as the population of refugees swelled to forty thousand and Parliament announced the cessation of all military operations.

    Kidd, a professor of history at Baylor University in Texas who has also published five books on religion in American life. I confess I am not a regular reader of biographies, but it is surely a worthwhile practice occasionally to study an individual life whole , rather than as one actor among many in a public drama or one innovator in a historical movement.

    Patrick Henry was a controversial figure all his life, and he remains so as a historical memory. Yet by his own lights, he was completely consistent. Patrick Henry was born in , four years after Washington, and died six months before him, in He lived his entire life in half a dozen residences all over the state of Virginia.

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    His first wife died, he married again, and with the two he fathered seventeen children. Not bad for a man who complained of weak health all his life! Patrick Henry came from a hardscrabble background and had money problems— think seventeen kids—all his life. He was a not particularly successful planter who educated himself to be a lawyer, and like many prominent contemporaries, he dabbled in land speculations. By the way, he was also supported by—and supporting—sixty to seventy slaves. He was barely out of debt when he expired at the age of sixty-three.

    Henry was far more seriously religious than the other Founders. He was an Anglican—later an Episcopalian—with strongly traditionalist leanings. Despite these, he was much affected by the revivalist movement he witnessed in rural Virginia, which the author suggests encouraged his famous oratorical ability.

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