Connect with us online:

Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2020 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

“Loyalist Trails” 2020-27: July 5, 2020

Articles

The View from Here: Kelly A. Grant, PhD candidate, Concordia University

I want to take this opportunity to thank you very much for your support over the past three years. I am now in the final stages of writing, thankfully, though it is a bit of a struggle. I was about to leave for my final, long term, research excursion to Nova Scotia when Covid hit. As a result, I have been in thinking mode to determine how this will affect my final dissertation document. Living history has done some interesting things that will need to be addressed, for sure. Exciting methods of interpreting history and presenting it to audiences that may have otherwise not been able to participate if visitors were able to attend in person. We are using social media now more fully than ever before. My research-creation project may reflect this change to being able to access collections online more than before.

I might be able to get back to Nova Scotia in the future, but until then, I hunker down with the rest of Canada, and am thankful for that final disbursement cheque to pay for my remaining tuition and living expenses for a bit.

...Kelly Arlene Grant, 2018 Loyalist Scholarship recipient

2020 Scholarship Challenge Update: Week 6

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” – Kathy Calvin, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation

Are we there yet?

We are almost there! These are the final days of this year's scholarship fundraising challenge. As of July 4th, donations total $7,185.00. This amazing result is due largely to individual donors and we are sincerely grateful for your contributions. UELAC members and friends should feel proud of the number of lives positively impacted each year through the Loyalist Scholarship program. Over the past weeks we have shared some of their stories here.

With restrictions due to COVID-19 we understand that branches have postponed regular meetings so the opportunity to promote branch giving has been limited. Again, we salute Assiniboine Branch, Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch, Governor Simcoe Branch, Kawartha Branch, and Vancouver B

ranch for their vision in supporting the 2020 Scholarship Challenge.

We have now passed our Canada Day deadline, however we will gladly accept donations in the coming weeks in hopes of reaching our goal. See how to donate and take a moment to view the growing list of donors on the 2020 Scholarship Challenge page. We thank you! The official 'wrap party' is scheduled for next week. As we are unable to applaud you in person, please know that there will be imaginary bells, whistles, and fireworks in your honour.

Stop and Smell the Roses

We received nine emails from persons interested in purchasing a cutting of the Lawrence Loyalist Rose. Patricia Groom, Senior VP and UELAC Promotions Chair, is working with Mary Williamson on preparation and distribution of the cuttings. Stay tuned. We will be in touch with information on timing, pricing, and shipping costs. Proceeds from the sale of the roses goes to the Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Thank you!

...Bonnie Schepers, UE, UELAC Scholarship Chair

Decoding the Book of Negroes (Part 4 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

According to arrangements made with the victorious Americans, all British troops and Loyalist refugees should have evacuated New York City by the end of August 1783. Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander in chief, purposely dragged his feet, delaying the withdrawal to maximize the number of Loyalists he could send off to safety. Since April, he had overseen the largest migration of refugees to that point in North American history. 60,000 Loyalists and their 15,000 slaves had left the thirteen colonies over the course of the war. Of that number, 29,000 left the United States through the port of New York City. Thanks to Carleton's efforts, evacuation ships were able to whisk away both white and Black Loyalists from danger right up until the end of November.

The American inspectors who had been overseeing the departure of Black Loyalists submitted their final report to Carleton on November 30, 1783. They noted that they had visited the last five evacuation vessels and could verify that 142 men, 90 women and 54 children had been "certified" and permitted to leave the United States. These ships were the last ones entered in the Book of Negroes. Although the ledger's column headings remained the same as the headings that were first used in April, it is evident that by November, certain protocols were loosening up.

Carleton's earlier requirement that a white Loyalist would accompany each Black Loyalist had, by late 1783, lost its importance. Two of the five ships taking on free Black passengers at Staten Island had no white escorts whatsoever.

There were eleven Blacks on the Peggy, a ship bound for Port Mouton, Nova Scotia. With the exception of Gilbert Lafferts who "proved to be the property" of James Henderson, the other ten all had General Musgrave certificates (GMC) and had the Wagon Master General Department as their escorts. General Thomas Musgrave succeeded General Birch in August of 1783 and thus became responsible for issuing the official documents that certified the freedom of Black Loyalists.

It is not surprising that the Black members of the Wagon Master General Department would be among the last Loyalists to leave the United States. They had provided vital ground transportation all through the American Revolution, moving British munitions, food, tents, and the wounded. Both the patriots and the British had their own wagon departments. The Wagon Master General looked after the entire "fleet", with wagon masters under him who were in charge of smaller units made up of 40 wagons.

In the last months of the British occupation of Manhattan, Long, and Staten Islands, the Black teamsters were in high demand for moving both military and civilian goods to the evacuation vessels tied up at New York's wharves. It was loyalist teamsters who had to transfer the evacuees' livestock, furniture, munitions, and personal effects from the flatbeds of their wagons, and then, after joining the ship's passengers, had to abandon their teams and wagons to the victorious rebels.

Carleton and his army left New York City on November 25, 1783 – the same day that George Washington and his victorious Continental Army marched into the city to the cheers of hundreds of Patriots. The last members of the British forces and civil service who had been stationed in New York since the fall of 1776 took refuge on Staten Island. In five days' time, they would leave, never to return. Sir Guy Carleton's own ship sailed for England on December fifth.

While the departure of British soldiers and sympathizers was winding down at the end of November, so too was strict adherence to the usual entries in the Book of Negroes. All of the free Black passengers on board the Peggy now had their wagon department – rather than an individual – as the "the Persons in whose Possession they now are."

The Danger was inspected on the same day as the Peggy. With only a few exceptions, all of its Black Loyalist passengers had GMCs or were born free. One hundred twenty-seven of them had either the Royal Artillery Department or the General Hospital Department as their "possessors" rather than white escorts. (The only such escorts were three Loyalist slave owners and a doctor who accompanied a free woman described as a "servant to the general hospital). Three free Black women were noted as simply being "passengers on the ship". Despite the lack of individual escorts, the American inspectors allowed the British military departments to stand in place of the usual white loyalists, and let the Black Loyalists leave. Was it a measure of expedience? A general loosening of regulations? Again, the Book of Negroes still has many puzzles waiting to be decoded.

Just as the teamsters in the Wagon Department had played vital roles right up to the end of the British occupation, so too had the staff of the military hospital and those who worked with the artillery to defend the British headquarters. It is not surprising that these would be among the last to leave New York City.

The third last ship recorded in Carleton's ledger was the Concord. Every one of its 23 Black passengers had an escort. This may be explained by the fact that the white Loyalists and British officers on board the brig were all members of the commissary department. The latter saw to the acquisition, storage, and distribution of everything that the British troops required while stationed in the rebellious colonies. Like the wagon, artillery and hospital departments, the staff of the commissary would be needed right up to the last minute. Where white escorts may have been in short supply on the other three ships departing from Staten Island on November 30th, there were enough on board the Concord to meet the Book of Negroes' requirements.

The Diannah had 28 Black Loyalists noted in Carleton's ledger. All of them carried either a GBC, a GMC or were born free within British lines. Four had white Loyalist escorts, but all of those who had served with the Wagon Master General Department were considered to be "accompanied" by that department.

The last evacuation vessel to be recorded in the Book of Negroes was "His Majesty's Ship, L'Abondance". It carried 82 Black Loyalists, all of whom had the Black Brigade listed as their escorts. The elite guerrilla force had formed in New Jersey under a former slave named Titus (Colonel) Tye. Patriots feared this Black Loyalist regiment more than they did the bayonet-bearing British army. After Tye's death in 1780, Stephen Blucke became the brigade's commander. Like the passengers on board the L'Abondance, Blucke would make his new home in Nova Scotia.

While most of the L'Abondance's passengers were certified as free people by the commandant of New York City or by virtue of being born free, there were six exceptions. Fifty year-old Belinda had been set free by her master, so presumably she had a certificate to verify this.

Five Black Loyalists had no such documentation but were allowed to leave New York City under the auspices of the Black Brigade. Nothing in their past accounts for why the American inspectors certified them as legitimate evacuees. Tom had been a French merchant's servant, Thomas Holmes had escaped slavery in South Carolina, Peggy had been enslaved in Virginia, Sally Wilson left her master when she was 15, and Isaac Taylor had been with the British since 1776.

By examining just one column in the Book of Negroes, this four-part series has attempted to decode some of the more puzzling parts of this amazing ledger. While we've been able to gain a better understanding of how Sir Guy Carleton tried to placate American slave owners by designating escorts for almost every Black Loyalist refugee, even more questions have been raised about how escorts and Blacks' relationships were established, monitored, and finally concluded. Further "decoding" is clearly required. But no doubt the British commander in chief would be pleased that the Book of Negroes became an important instrument in securing the freedom of the empire's Black allies.

"The Negroes in question I found free when I arrived at New York, I had therefore no right, as I thought, to prevent their going to any part of the world they thought proper." – Sir Guy Carleton

(Editor's note: See a transcription of the Book of Negroes.)


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

Coronavirus, BLM, and Trump: What Hidden Secret of July 4th Can Save Us?

By Alan N. Kay

Freedom is not free. How many times have you heard that before? And of course that's true, but that's only a start and a vast oversimplification. What is Freedom? What is its cost? How do we protect it? Are we losing it even now?

Freedom is complicated, messy, and even contradictory. From one crisis in America today to another our freedoms are under attack from the left and the right. We see liberals upset at President Trump for attacking free speech when he instructs the NFL to discipline Colin Kaepernick or when Trump threatens the "Black lives matters" protesters with military intervention. We see conservatives upset at what they call Government overreach of their freedoms when dealing with the coronavirus. We see the posts on Facebook, we hear the shouts in the media and we wonder if Americans will ever agree again. Yet debating these issues is the essence of being an American and essential to a healthy free society. We grow as a people and as a society when we learn from each other's opinion. Unfortunately, as so many of us know, listening to each other's opinion is a rare commodity in 2020!

How then can the origin of that freedom, July 4th help us understand these issues and listen to each other? Is there anything we can learn from our founders? Is there anything they can teach us to help us with these difficult issues today? Most people of course say no. To the average American while July 4th commemorates our very first struggle to be free, it is not any more complicated than that. July 4th is about fireworks, barbecues and pool parties.

This could not be further from the truth. Indeed it is the opposite of the truth. If we can truly learn July 4th, if we can get past the fireworks and hot dogs to find the hidden secret within this story, America could grow perhaps like never before.

The freedom that we declared on July 4, 1776 was hardly simple or obsolete. It was a freedom that took more than five years to finally arrive, was in doubt until the very end and embroiled the nation in its first Civil War destroying livelihoods, families and friendships.

It was a freedom that came at the expense of freedom. It was complicated, paradoxical and could only have been achieved by denying that very same freedom to others. It was the core issue of the revolution. It was the issue that all of the founding fathers: Hamilton, Madison, Washington, Jefferson and especially Benjamin Franklin understood and mostly agreed on. It was an issue that meant their very survival. It was the issue of freedom of conscience.

Do we have the freedom of conscience? Do we have the right to believe what we want to believe, to live our life the way we want to live it? Of course we do! Every American would answer the question the same way. But what if your beliefs threatened the very freedom others wanted? What if you believed that George Washington was wrong? What if you were not sure? What if you were too busy taking care of your family that you did not want to pick a side? Could you disagree? Could you state your mind? Could you decide to think about it or sit this one out?

The answer of course was no! You could not sit this one out. You had to proclaim your loyalty to the United States government. State legislatures throughout the country passed what they called "Test Acts" that demanded people sign a loyalty oath. Failure to do so could result in a fine, loss of property and even jail time. Self-appointed committees and chairmen gathered friends and neighbors together and enforced their will on other neighbors. Brother literally turned on brother and many times arguments ended in violence or even death. In addition, merchants, shopkeepers and smiths were forced to sell only to the rebels, paid in worthless paper money that spawned the phrase "not worth a continental".

Read more.

Editor's Note: An article well worth reading in this era of seemingly increasing polarization in so many places. It does further explain some aspects of the American Revolution, and the impact on Loyalists.

Loyalist Quarterly Newsletter, June 2020, by Paul J. Bunnell, UE

Published since 2004, the June 2020 issue is now available. At twenty-one pages, it features:

• Editor's Comments

• Loyalists who Married French Canadians

• Strange & Haunted Stories of Loyalists & Other Revolutionary Characters.

• Poor Treatment To loyalists

• Loyalist Muster Rolls

• Did You Know

• Loyalist Battle Account

• Martin v. Hunter's Lessee

• Loyalist Attempt to Reclaim Land

• James Moody & the Loyalists of Weymouth

• Some of Many United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada Branches

Vol. 17 Part 2 June 2020 Quarterly Issue "In Publication since 2004"

Editor: Paul J. Bunnell, UE, Author, Koasek Abenaki Chief; BunnellLoyalist@aol.com; 978-337-9085, 49 Pleasant St., #106, Alstead, NH 03602

The Only U.S. Newsletter Devoted to The study of The American Loyalists

Subscription Rate: $22 U.S. $24 Can. $5 each copy – (March, June, September, December issues)

Deborah Sampson: The Female Soldier

Deborah Sampson is best known for disguising herself as a man to serve in the Continental Army from May 1782 to October 1783. She was also one of the first women to receive a pension for her military service and the first woman to go on a national lecture tour of the United States.

Born on December 17, 1760, in Plympton, Massachusetts, Sampson grew up in poverty. Her father abandoned the family when Sampson was five. She was sent to live with relatives until the age of ten, when they could no longer afford to care for her. She was then forced to become an indentured servant to the Thomas family in Middleborough, Massachusetts. As an indentured servant, she was bound to serve the Thomas family until she came of age at eighteen. In exchange for serving them, she was given food, clothing, and shelter. Once she was free, she supported herself by teaching and weaving.

On May 23, 1782, at the age of twenty-one, Sampson disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtliff and enlisted in the Continental Army under the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment.

Read more.

Teaching American History With NYPL Digital Collections: Revolutionary New York

By Julia Gloria, 11 June 2020

A seven-year insurrection that transformed a distant English colony into an independent country. An enduring patriotic rallying point. The defining event in a long and complex narrative of American exceptionalism. An intellectual revolution that gave new meaning to ideas of "freedom" and "liberty" – yet revealed their racial and gendered limits. The American Revolution holds a lot of complicated meanings for historians and citizens alike.

Few realize that the first major battle of the Revolution took place right here in New York.

Early in the morning on August 27, 1776, in what is today the borough of Brooklyn, shots were fired in the first major battle of the American Revolution. The Battle of Long Island proved to be a humiliating defeat for the Continental Army; the only silver lining was the narrow escape of General George Washington across the East River in the dead of night on August 30, allowing him to fight another day. Within a month of the battle's end, the British had taken control of Manhattan and the surrounding areas.

For the next seven years, New Yorkers lived under British military rule. Patriots were imprisoned, while loyalists supported and often benefited from British control. But the majority of New Yorkers navigated the gray area in between, biding their time as the war wore on. On November 25, 1783, New Yorkers cheered as the British Army departed, replaced by the newly-victorious Continental Army. "Evacuation Day," as it came to be called, marked the end of over seven years of military occupation.

Read more.

Book: The Rebel and the Tory: Ethan Allen, Philip Skene, and the Dawn of Vermont

By John J. Duff, H. Nicholas Muller III, and Gary G. Shattuck (Vermont Historical Society: Barre, VT, 2020)

Review by Gene Procknow 11 May 2020

Every polity requires a founding saga to help form its societal identity. Oft recounted, Vermont's foundation story starts with a group of democratic, yeoman farmers fending off the aristocratic, feudal New York landlords to create a progressive, independent-minded state and citizenry. Led by the heroic, larger than life Ethan Allen, the fabled Green Mountain Boys opposed the devious Yorker land speculators who used spurious legal tactics to displace the rightful Vermonters. Although a bit rough and tumble at times, Allen and the Green Mountain Boys successfully overcame long odds and powerfully entrenched interests to carve a new republic, offering more freedom than the surrounding states.

However pleasing a legendary narrative, if you want to know the real story, read The Rebel and the Tory chronicled by a trio of discerning historians steeped in the history of the eighteenth-century north country. Using newly discovered primary sources, the authors prove that what really happened does not comport with the fabled founding story told and re-told by over two hundred years of Vermont historians.

Read more.

JAR: Lessons from an Outbreak: Smallpox in the Hudson Highlands, 1781

By Steven Elliott, 1 July 2020

On January 20, 1781, near New Windsor in the Hudson Highlands of New York, Dr. Samuel Adams wrote a brief entry in the diary he had kept throughout his service as a surgeon attached to the Continental Army's artillery: "inoculated my waiter and three children of Mr. Smith for the smallpox." Adams did not seem to take any special notice of this event, for it was one of many medical procedures he recorded in his near-daily diary entries. He was not aware that he was witnessing the early stages of what would become one of the most significant health crises experienced by the Continental Army during the War of Independence. By March, hundreds of his comrades would be ill with smallpox. The army's medical staff and supplies would be stretched to the breaking point attempting to provide care for them. The commander in chief, Gen. George Washington, would be forced to make difficult decisions regarding whom to treat for this much-feared illness. Exploring why the Continentals experienced a sharp increase of smallpox in 1781 and how they responded has much to teach us about how organizations respond to public health crises.

Smallpox, the disease caused by the variola virus, intermittently struck communities in North America throughout the eighteenth century. It was deadly, highly contagious, and often left its survivors with scarred skin. More positively, smallpox survivors also acquired immunity to the disease. Inoculation, the deliberate infection of a patient with variola, stood out as an effective means of providing this immunity to large populations in a controlled manner. Recipients of inoculations, also known as variolations, typically began to show symptoms after twelve days and then remained contagious for a further two weeks. Thus, a patient would be laid low for nearly a month, but generally experienced much milder symptoms than if he or she contracted the disease naturally. If inoculated people moved around freely before fully recovering, however, they risked infecting others in uncontrolled environments, promising deadlier results

Most studies of smallpox and inoculation in the American Revolution focus on the war's early years. The disease spread rapidly in densely-populated cities and military camps, striking occupied Boston in 1775 and the Patriot forces invading Canada in 1776.

Read more.

JAR: Superheroes of the American Revolution

By Greg Aaron, 2 July 2020

Every nation has an origin story. In the popular imagination, the American Revolutionary War has been a tale of heroes who were forged in adversity, overcame an arch-enemy, and carried their new-found virtue and power into the world. In other words, the Revolutionary War is a perfect match for superheroes. In the early days of the comic books, some superheroes drew their power from the War of Independence, giving inspiration to Americans who were living through another dire conflict.

The superhero comic book was born of war. The genre took off – quite literally – with the introduction of Superman in Action Comics#1, which hit the newsstands on April 18, 1938 and became an immediate hit. By that month, Nazi Germany had annexed Austria, and the forces of Imperial Japan had pushed far into China. As the world descended into darkness, comic book creators hearkened back to America's past for inspiration. The times called for patriotism, and the magic of the comics could deliver it.

Surprisingly, the first superhero creation that was inspired by the Revolution wasn't clad in red, white, and blue. Instead, he was the famously dark Batman. Writer Bill Finger recalled how he co-created the character in 1939.

Read more.

Borealia: Remembering the First World War

By Cynthia Wallace-Casey, 29 June 2020

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. This was a significant centenary year for Canadians, as the anniversary sparked a great deal of interest in commemorative activities and programmes. Of particular interest to my research is the Canadian War Museum's Supply Line First World War Discovery Box, which became highly sought after by educators across Canada, as a useful tool for remembering the war. What made Supply Line particularly effective as a classroom resource was the use of museum artefacts, reproductions, and images that enabled students to experience war in tactile ways. Because of its popularity, however, access to the discovery box became highly competitive, and this popularity has since not waned at all. Every year, teachers across Canada vie to be included on the museum's circulation schedule.

As the "war to end all wars" fades from living memory, an international research network known as the Teaching and Learning War Research Network has been working since 2017 to explore concepts of war remembrance among young people. It is in this international context that new questions have arisen about 1) the ways cataclysmic events are taught in the 21st century; 2) what commemorative narratives exist in education; 3) how young people respond to and interpret such messages; and 4) the relationship between education and commemoration. These questions point to complex ways of remembering the First World War.

Read more.

Ben Franklin's World: Whose Fourth of July?

With Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, and Christopher Bonner, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech to an anti-slavery society and he famously asked "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

In this episode, we explore Douglass' thoughtful question within the context of Early America: What did the Fourth of July mean for African Americans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?

Listen to the podcast.

Recreating Revolutionary Cities: An Interview with Serena Zabin

More and more academics have turned to digital humanities to interrogate early modern history, which has led to an influx of 3D modeling projects of early urban spaces. Serena Zabin's video game, Witness to the Revolution, is one great example. Set in 1770 Boston right after the Boston Massacre, the game investigates many historical questions that have stemmed from Zabin's recent book, The Boston Massacre: A Family History. It has also served as a teaching and learning tool in her classes at Carleton College. As another academic trying to recreate colonial urban space using 3D modeling, I thought it would be insightful and inspiring to see how others have approached the task of visualizing the past.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where are Kawartha Branch members Grietje McBride, Bob McBride, Bill Russell, and Bill Atkinson?

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 your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

St. Alban's Church: Update and Open for Tours

Friends of St. Alban's are excited to tell you that we have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase St. Alban's Church from the Anglican Diocese of Ontario. While negotiations are underway, we are leasing the church.

St. Alban's will be open Saturdays 10am to 1pm throughout the summer. We invite you to stop in to tour the church, to chat, or to enjoy the cool summer stillness in meditation – all easy to do while respecting physical distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.

Your suggestions on how to make St. Alban's a valued resource for everyone in the community are very welcome.

We look forward to communicating with you about our further progress.

In the meantime, consider following us on Facebook or contact us at info@friendsofstalbans.ca.

Canada launches Historic Places Day

Did you hear about the recent study Canadians and Heritage Places? It's a fact: The top three things Canadians value about historic places are stories, stories, and more stories – and what they want most is to experience heritage places for themselves.

Well, Saturday, July 4, 2020, Canada Historic Places Day delivers – with hundreds of historic places across the country sharing richly diverse stories and experiences – virtually, and in-person where socially distancing is possible and permitted. And it's much more than just a day! This year, it's a summer-long celebration with contests and prizes that will continue through July and August.

Read more.

Tell us about something that you learned in your real or virtual visit. Be specific. We would like to publish these from across the country; add a picture of your self from the last year ore two with something UELAC (clothing, certificate) or in period clothing (historical, need not be Loyalist), and we will use either for Where in the World, or here. Submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Fort Plain Museum's American Revolution Mohawk Valley Conference

Originally scheduled for mid-June, the event has been since moved to Sept 10-13, 2020. Registration is open. June registrations are being honoured, or refunded by request. If the event is again deferred or cancelled, fees will be returned. See details.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Barnabas McIntee - contributed by John Haynes
  • Nicholas Peterson [1] Sr. - contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin
  • John Hickey (Sr.) - contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin

Please help us build the directory by contributing information. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for guidance.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now