History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson
During the Oriskany Campaign
Annotated by Wm. L. Stone
With an Historical Introduction illustrating the Life of Johnson by J. Watts De Peyster, and Some Tracings from the Foot-Prints of the Tories, or Loyalists in America by T. R. Myers.
Joel Munsell, 1882
"At the conclusion of a long war, how are we recompensed for the death of multitudes and the expense of millions, but by contemplating the sudden glories of paymasters and agents, contractors and commissaries, whose equipages shine like meteors, and whose palaces rise like exhalations." * DR. JOHNSON.
"Thus perished the party of the Gironde;
reckless in its measures, culpable for its rashness, but illustrious from
its talents, glorious in its fall. It embraced all the men who were philanthropists
from feeling, or Republicans from principle ; the brave, the humane, the benevolent.
But with them were also combined within its ranks numbers of a baser kind
; many who employed their genius for the advancement of their ambition, and
were careless of their country provided they elevated their party. It was
overthrown by a faction of coarser materials, but more determined character,
* * * Adorned by the most splendid talents, supported by the most powerful
eloquence, actuated at times by the most generous intentions, it perished
* * * Such ever has, and ever will be, the result of revolutionary convulsions
in society when not steadily opposed in the outset by a firm union of the
higher classes of the community ; in the collision of opposite factions the
virtuous and the moderate will too often be overcome by the reckless and the
daring. Prudence clogs their enterprise ; virtue checks their ambition ; humanity
paralyzes their exertions. They fall because they recoil from the violence
which becomes, in disastrous times, essential to command success in revolutions."
ALISON'S "History of Europe," II., ix., 214, 2.
Fortunately for the colonies, Carleton was not in favor with the British authorities at home, and Burgoyne, substituted in 1777, had neither the wisdom nor the generosity to develop an element of strength which Carleton had found so efficacious and trustworthy. Clinton, in this regard,
* This sentence was adopted as the motto of a somewhat scarce" History of the First Ten Years of George III.," London, 1788, written by (Robert ?) Macfarlane, who kept an academy at Walthamstow, in Essex County, England, seven miles N.N.E. of London.
imitated Burgoyne. The German, Knyphausen, strange to say, was the first to perceive the truth and organize a military organization of the Loyalists that could be relied on upon every occasion. He raised, in 1779-80, six thousand good troops among the citizens of New York, which made this city-the grand base of the British forces-secure. A course similar to that of Carleton, after the capture of Savannah by Campbell, in December, 1778, enabled Prevost to convert Georgia almost entirely from rebellion to loyalty. Clinton, in 1777, was as unwise on the Lower Hudson as Burgoyne had been on the Upper. Cornwallis had all the sense of Carleton without his astuteness. His advice to the Loyalists of the Carolinas was admirable. He counselled them not to take up arms and embody until he was near enough at hand to protect and support them ; until they had gathered strength to stand and go alone. His, policy in this regard would have worked wonders, had it not been for the intervention of a new element, which had not entered into the calculations of any of the Royal commanders. This was the appearance upon the scene of the mountaineers of the Alleghanies, who were aroused to action by the fugitives from the districts occupied by the temporary victors. Cornwallis, although severe, was just; and it is somewhat remarkable that it was not until 1866 that a little book appeared, entitled "The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina," in which justice is done to the previously misrepresented Marquis. Cornwallis did hang a number; but American historians are very careful not to state that those hanged were taken "red hand," "with American arms in their hands and with British protections in their pockets." It was only through the generosity of Cornwallis that the Loyalists with him in Yorktown were enabled to get off with safety when the place was taken.
The whole of this matter is misunderstood, and has never been clearly placed before the people.
Too many of the influential Loyalists acted in 1775-6 like the French nobility in 1790-2. Louis de Lomenie, in his '' Comtesse de Rochefort et ses Amis'' (p. 297), has some remarks on this subject which are pertinent.
"To explain so prompt a downfall of the French aristocracy of the eighteenth century, writers have often urged the irresistible impetuosity of the Democratic movement. We do not deny this impetuosity, but it is nevertheless necessary to recognize that if this aristocracy, in place of being a mere shadow of what it should have been, had retained the vigor of an effective patriciate (higher or better class) and a living body, it would not without utility, perhaps, for the cause of liberty, have tempered the revolutionary movement, or, at least, have opposed to it a stronger resistance than it did. It was broken at the first shock, because this formerly flourishing branch of the great national tree."
was not true to itself. Lomenie goes on to give other reasons which were peculiar to France, whereas in America, although the causes were apparently different, they were at bottom the same, viz.: the better classes had "given hostages to fortune,'' and this, according to the proverbs of all time, unnerves men until it is too late.
It is inconceivable how the Loyalist strength in the colonies was misapplied, frittered away or wasted. The result only shows that in all revolutions the Middle or Neutral-generally styled the Conservative-party only embarrass the Ultras on one side in support of the government, and aid the Radicals, on the other side, by attempting to arrest or mediate; thus affording time for the organization of the latter, which converts rebellion into revolution.
In all political crises or cataclysms, a renaissance through blood, the best, the conservative class, the champions of right, pure and simple, furnish the first and the bulk of the victims. Thus it was in America. The daring and reckless with comparatively little to lose, with grand exceptions, it is true, fell upon the intellectual and wealthy, who adhered to the government under which they had thriven. The myrmidons of the Crown-selfish, indolent, self-satisfied professionals-were as cruel in their inaction as the leaders of faction were merciless in their exactions. The persecution of the Tories -was determined with cold-blooded calculation, since the Saxon can not plead in excuse the excitability of the Celtic or Latin races ; what he does he does advisedly. Nor was the desertion of the Loyalists at the Peace of Paris, 1783, less disgraceful on the part of Great Britain. It was fiercely denounced in the House of Commons; it was justly stigmatized in the House of lords. Even Lord St. Germain redeemed himself in a measure by his eloquent advocacy of the brave party who had abandoned everything for honor-principle, the mother-country; its highest representative of these, the Crown. Lorenzo Sabine has demonstrated all this, laid open the iniquity, revealed the truth, vindicated the Loyalists or Tories; for the term Tory, as used in regard to a party adverse to Rebellion or Revolution, during 1775 to 1783, is a title of honor and not a term of reproach.
When the difficulties between the Crown and the Colonies first began to develop into positive ideas of ultimate resistance on the side of the latter, the party for independence was in a comparatively small minority and confined to particular disaffected localities. If the whole population had then resolved itself into two camps, the matter might have been decided promptly and for many years to come. As it happened, those who had much to lose were too timid to act instantly and resolutely; and those who had little or nothing to lose became bolder and bolder in the presence of an irresolute antagonism, which was not backed by a military force sufficient absolutely to overawe. Massachusetts was unquestionably in earnest from the first; but antagonism to the Crown was its normal condition. It had always been the hotbed of what might be harshly termed, from a British point of view, sedition. Although the first bloodshed occurred in New York, on the 19th-20th January, 1770, it would not have led to any comparatively general outbreak, had it not been for the terrible uproar following the second bloodshed at Boston, 5th March, 1770, and the consequences which ensued from the latter. The very assemblage which considered the Declaration of Independence, in 1776, did not unanimously vote or agree in the act to sever the connection between the colonies and the mother country. The date accepted, 4th of July, is incorrect; and the Declaration was juggled through, and the signatures were appended from time to time throughout the year, if not a longer period. This accounts for the irregular manner they appear on the document, since the latest were inserted wherever a vacant space was found. It became a sort of test oath.
The Judge published an admirable burlesque, or parody, or caricature of Trumbull's famous picture of "The Signing." It depicts the representatives in very dilapidated conditions, with blackened eyes, bruised bodies, torn clothes and general tokens of an affray, drawing near to affix their signatures at the table where Hancock presides looking like the genius of an Irish wake. There is as much truth as poetry in the conception, for the Declaration was not agreed to with anything like unanimity or the generally conceived harmony.
There is something very curious about the respect attached to this "4th of July." The first Congress of the Colonies signed a "Compact, of Union" (R. W. G.'s G-.W. and his Gens.," II., 15), on the 4th of July, 1754, at Albany. This may account for the selection of this day in 1776. The fact that two of our ex-Presidents, who had signed the Declaration, died on the same date, added additional significance, which a series of victories, from East to West along the whole line on the same day, in 1863, confirmed in the minds of the people.
The Loyalists, confiding in the power of the Crown, did not take up arms as soon as their adversaries; and thus, when they did begin to embody, they were at once crushed by stronger and better organized masses. The British professional leaders-as a rule throughout all time, and especially in this country-with the usual arrogance of their caste, neither sought to utilize, support nor protect their friends when they did come together, and even treated them with superciliousness and neglect, if they did not absolutely sacrifice them when they appeared as auxiliaries. Carleton was the first who had the wisdom to call this element into play, and through it he saved Canada, just as the French had previously lost New France through a contrary course to his, amounting to the same subsequent lack of judgment on the part of the royal British military governors.
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