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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-30: July 28, 2013

Articles

Acknowledging Loyalist Racism, by Stephen Davidson

While there are many things that can inspire pride in loyalist ancestry, a descendant of the American Revolution's refugees must recognize that some aspects of the loyalist heritage deserve condemnation. Not all of their beliefs were admirable; some were the cause of incredible suffering. The loyalists were racists; they belittled and enslaved people of African descent. Rather than denying or hiding this unpleasant fact of history, it is important that loyalist descendants acknowledge and condemn such racial discrimination.

Consider these three facts. No one has ever brought more enslaved people into what is modern-day Canada than the loyalists. When they founded the first incorporated city in British North America, loyalists institutionalized segregation in its royal charter. The first race riot in all of North America occurred in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The latter was in its day the largest loyalist settlement in the world. There is no room for pride in this heritage of bigotry.

The British colonists of North America were no different than the people who lived in European countries. Unless one's religious convictions caused a person to assert the equality of all humanity, the belief commonly held in the white world was that Africans were not truly human. Exploiting them as slaves was simply a way to get work done economically. The fact that loyal American colonists were living in a racist society does not absolve them from holding those views. They stood up for unpopular political principles and were persecuted for them; they could have shown the same courage by challenging the evils of slavery and the belittlement of fellow human beings. They did not.

There were those among the writers of the Declaration of Independence who recognized the discrepancy between maintaining slavery in a new republic while asserting that a citizen's "unalienable rights" included "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Those colonists who opposed the American Revolution maintained that British law already included all of these freedoms. However, instead of extending British liberty to slaves, the loyalists were as blind to the evils of slavery as were their rebel counterparts. The patriots of the American Revolution missed their opportunity to establish a slave-free state in 1776. The loyalists also failed to create a new type of society as they founded new colonies throughout the British Empire after 1783 – a society based on the equality of all people.

By the end of 1783, Shelburne, Nova Scotia was the largest city in British North America. Its 12,000 loyalist citizens made it larger than Quebec, Montreal or Halifax. With a cross-section of settlers from the rebellious thirteen colonies, the loyalists of Shelburne had the opportunity to create a city that would be a showcase for all of the best British values. Its lawyers, clergymen, tradesmen, and merchants knew the flaws of the republic that they had fled; what would they create in their new home?

Unfortunately, Shelburne's citizens did not recognize the fundamental rights of all human beings. By the summer of 1784, the loyalist settlers were frustrated and bitter. The land that they expected to receive had not been surveyed or allocated. The promises of a prosperous port city that would draw on a rich fishery and fertile farming communities were impossible to fulfil. And as so often happens in a time of discontent within the white community, the blacks would bear the brunt of its anger.

Conditioned by lives spent in slavery, the black settlers of Shelburne charged less for their labour than did the disbanded loyalist soldiers. Local employers readily exploited this cheap work force, stoking the anger of white workers who expected higher wages.

Added to this economic envy was the fear of the integration of blacks. It all began when a Black Loyalist minister named David George decided to immerse white converts. This was the first step to their joining his predominantly African Baptist congregation. What could have been the beginning of a society in which black and white could worship together became, instead, the spark that ignited ten days of rioting.

On July 26, 1784, a mob armed itself with muskets and tackle from sailing ships. Using ropes, they pulled down George's house and began to do the same to neighbouring African homes. There was talk of burning down the minister's meetinghouse, but it was easier to simply beat and plunder Shelburne's black settlers. Rioters pursued George into a swamp and beat him senseless. Hundreds of free blacks fled to the safety of nearby Birchtown. But the riot did not stop with the destruction of Shelburne's black neighbourhood.

The mob attacked anyone of African descent, whether they were lone travellers or refugees of the riots. The terrorizing of the black loyalist population lasted ten days, but racial attacks continued intermittently for an entire month. Finally, troops arrived from Halifax to restore order. And when the rule of law was re-established, the government's only action was to placate the white loyalists; it did not offer aid to the persecuted blacks or provide restitution for their lost property and belongings.

While the Shelburne race riots were started by a mob that was a minority of the population, the fact that the number of rioters grew and was unchecked by the rest of the white population over ten days underscores the racist attitudes of Shelburne's 12,000 citizens. All it took for evil men to succeed was for good men to do nothing. And whoever the virtuous loyalists of Shelburne were, they did nothing to stop the violence against those of African descent.

A year later, a royal charter incorporated the two loyalist settlements at the mouth of the St. John River in New Brunswick into the city of Saint John. Among its citizens were graduates of Harvard as well as common folk raised on Christian teaching. Would they create a fairer society than their contemporaries in Shelburne? Sadly, these loyalists were as racist as any on the continent.

Saint John's charter declared that "American and European white inhabitants" could be free citizens of the city and enjoy "all the liberties, privileges and pre-eminences of freemen". (A free man was someone who had permission to practise his profession within a city.) However, "people of colour or black people ... are ... excluded the privilege of being or becoming free citizens."

In other words, they could not become merchants, tavern keepers, tanners, carpenters, bakers, or blacksmiths as white "freemen" could. The very skills that made some of the Black Loyalists such valued allies of the British during the American Revolution could not be exercised in a settlement that proudly called itself the Loyalist City.

60,000 loyal colonists fled the United States during the course of the American Revolution. Suffering for their political choices, many left with little more than the clothes on their backs. However, a significant proportion of loyal refugees escaped to sanctuary with some of their possessions – including slaves. Loyalists left the United States with a total of 15,000 enslaved blacks – that's a ratio of one enslaved African for every four loyal refugees. The loyalists who settled in what is modern day Canada have the shameful distinction of participating in the largest importation of slaves in our country's history.

Racism is not a part of loyalist history that can be admired or celebrated. It needs to be acknowledged and vigorously condemned. An awareness of loyalist racism in the past should inspire loyalist descendants in the 21st century to be among the most vocal champions of racial equality in both Canada and the world at large.


To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Old Hay Bay Church Annual Pilgrimage Service

This annual service at Old Hay bay Church on the south shore of Hay Bay and north of Adolphustown, will be held Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Rev. John Young who is currently an Assistant Professor and the Chair of the Theology Program at the Queen's School of Religion, where he also teaches in the areas of Church History and Ministry Studies. He was a nominee for Moderator at the last General Council and was the runner-up to Gary Paterson. He has served as President of the Rural Church Network of the United States and Canada.

Old Hay Bay Church is the oldest surviving Methodist building in Canada. It was erected in 1792 by settlers, including United Empire Loyalists, who had recently arrived and established the community of Adolphustown (in modern-day Greater Napanee). Here, one can imagine, travelling saddlebag preachers thundered forth in their sermons. Here local residents gathered for worship and fellowship at Canada's first Methodist camp meeting in 1805. More at www.oldhaybay.com.

...Kathy Staples

Loyalist Day in B.C.

The UELAC celebrated BC's second annual Loyalist Day in Vancouver on July 21 (photos are on dropbox; apologies if they are not accessible to all).

The day was marked with all due pomp at a special flag-raising outside Chilliwack City Hall on July 22. Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz and MP Mark Strahl joined members of Chilliwack Branch UELAC to rase the "First Union Flag" at 9am. "The date of July 22 was chosen by the BC UELAC branched to commemorate the explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who was the first European to cross North America north of Mexico" says Shirley Dargatz, branch president of the Chilliwack chapter of the UELAC. They were especially pleased the day also coincided with the royal birth, she added.

In picture (left to right): "MLA for Chilliwack-Hope Mark Strahl, Shirley Dargatz UE President Chilliwack Branch, Marlene Dance UE, Vice President, Genealogist and Newsletter Editor, Pacific Regional Councillor and Her Honour Mayor Sharon Gaetz gather for reading of the proclamation at the raising of the Loyalist Flag to mark BC Loyalist Day on Monday, July 22nd at 9:00 am on the steps of Chilliwack City Hall. Piper Jim McNeil opened the ceremonies and continued to play as standard bearer, Alan Reid UE, led a youthful entourage carrying the flags and the Loyalist Day Proclamation. Following the proceedings, we were thrilled to witness our First Union Flag raised and fluttering in the wind alongside the Canadian and B.C. Flags! After lots of picture taking, a contingent of participants gathered across the street for brunch at Jimmy J's restaurant."

...Marlene Dance

Book: Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia's First Free Black Communities

Black Loyalists: Southern Settlers of Nova Scotia's First Free Black Communities, by Ruth Holmes Whitehead.

During the American Revolution (1775--1783), the British government offered freedom to slaves who would desert their rebel masters as a way of ruining the American economy. Many Black men and women escaped to the British fleet patrolling the East Coast, or to the British armies invading the colonies from Maine to Georgia. After the final surrender of the British to the Americans, New York City was evacuated by the British Army throughout the summer and fall of 1783. Carried away with them were a vast number of White Loyalists and their families, and over 3,000 Black Loyalists: free, indentured, apprenticed, or still enslaved.

More than 2,700 Blacks came to Nova Scotia with the fleet from New York City. Black Loyalists is an attempt to present hard data about the lives of Nova Scotia Black Loyalists before they escaped slavery in early South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and after they settled in Nova Scotia -- to bring back into our awareness the context for some very brave and enterprising men and women who survived the chaos of the American Revolution, people who found a way to pass through the heart, ironically, of a War for Liberty, to liberty and human dignity.

See product details at Amazon. ISBN-10: 1771080167; hardcover, 240 pages, Nimbus Publishing.

Proxy Votes Disrupt UELAC AGM – 1935

It has been years – well, at least five – since arguments became highly inflamed at the Annual General Meeting of UELAC or even the Dominion Council. Passion definitely surpassed reason back in 1935. According to a newspaper article in the UELAC Archives (source not identified), the 10 January 1935 meeting of the United Empire Loyalists at Hamilton's Royal Connaught Hotel was adjourned when "an impasse was reached in a discussion of the legality of proxy votes presented by the Toronto and Hamilton branches". "After two hours of preliminary discussion as to the legality of the meeting itself, the session was called to order. The by-laws of the association were revoked in their entirety." "When a motion was introduced by Hamilton members to proceed with the election of officers, another heated discussion began. It was claimed that as the association had no by-laws, it could not legally have an election." Unlike the proposal of a slate of officers at the AGMs of today, a full ballot was prepared for that meeting. There was no further information how that challenge was handled, but the next day, the Dominion President submitted his resignation. Delegates to the 2013 AGM will agree that discussions were quite civil in comparison to those of 83 years ago.

...FHH

After Conference, Hamilton Branch Makes Donation to Backpack Project

The Annual Meeting hosted by the Hamilton Branch at the Burlington Holiday Inn, although very successful in many ways did not draw as many participants as hoped for. We had used the numbers from the Brockville and Winnipeg Conferences for our budgeting and planning. Being very optimistic meant we had a surplus of three-ring binders. What will we do with these binders became a post Conference problem. They were obtained at a great price just as what we wanted but non-returnable.

Appleby United Church in Burlington has a Backpack Project for those needy students on their return to school in the Fall. As of June this year applications from 400 applicants across Burlington had been received for a backpack. The Branch President, Pat Blackburn, called Joni Raunig, Chairman of the Backpack project and offered the surplus binders for her project. She was thrilled to hear of this offer. To receive 90 binders left money available to assist another project this summer for kids to participate in day camp. The money, not spent on backpacks will be spent instead on sandals, running shoes, shorts and tees, etc.

The photo shows Pat Blackburn and Joni Raunig, unloading binders at Appleby United Church. The insert from the Conference on the front cover of each binder was left in place. Hamilton Branch's Education Committee covers the Loyalists' story and the Loyalist Monument in the Pioneer Life presentations for Grade 3. It was felt that many students should recognize this front cover.

...Pat Blackburn, President, Hamilton Branch

Where in the World?

Where is Maggie Stubbs?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

Increase in Ontario UELAC Licence Plate Subscribers in July

In March 2012, Dominion Council approved a project to help promote both our Loyalist heritage and UELAC through Ontario graphic licence plates. The unique design will utilize the UELAC badge as the license plate graphic. A year later, when the goal of filling 200 orders surpassed 50%, Dominion Council offered a small subsidy grant to allow the signing of contracts by July 1, 2013.

Since the AGM in June, there has been an additional response. The number of subscribers now stands at 121. Delivery for these special licence plates has been promised by MTO for November 2013. If you would like to place your order now, see all the details here or click on the licence plate on the Dominion website homepage.

...Ben Thornton, plates@uelac.org

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added a new entry for Mary McCormick, daughter of John and Mary Cornwall, UE (and wife of William McCormick).

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org. Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Loyalist Directory: Descendant Names From June Approvals Posted

On the UELAC website, there is a directory (by no means complete) of Loyalists, possible Loyalists and even a few who have been proven to not be UE Loyalists, but are related.

When a descendant proves to a Loyalist, UELAC at that point officially acknowledges that the ancestor was in fact a UE Loyalist. The record in the directory is so noted.

For several years, people have been welcome to submit information about any person in the Loyalist Directory, or to add an appropriate new person. These are noted in this newsletter as they are posted.

When a certificate is issued, the "Proven Descendants" field in the record is subsequently updated to show that a certificate has been issued.

Recently, the names of the applicants whose application had been approved during June have been added to the directory - all applicants this month gave permission to include their name. The date of approval, branch name and applicant name have been added.

We may not get to this every month, but will try to keep reasonably current in the postings.

Would you like to add your name? If you are a proven descendant and would like your name added to your loyalist ancestor's record, please send an email to loyalist.trails@uelac.org with the following:

- Loyalist ancestors name as it is in the directory

- The branch to which you belonged when you received your certificate

- The date the certificate was issued (should be on the certificate; approx. will work)

- Your name as it would be on the certificate

- your name as you would like it in the record (explain if different)

In the email subject line, put "LD name: [ancestor's first and last name] by [your name]

...Doug, Chair of the Loyalist Information Committee

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