Saint John Globe - 1882-02-24

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The Loyalist Idea
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To the Editor of the Globe: Sir-A descendant of Loyalists, I have too much respect for their memories to attempt to make them more or less than what they actually were. They were neither Gods nor Demi-gods, nor did they spring from the Pilgrim Fathers. Their ancestors were British Tories, who came to America impressed with the idea that their mission was to establish Church and State in it, and who left that idea as an heirloom to their descendants. Their attempts to accomplish this sowed the seeds of discontent in each of the thirteen Colonies, which in due time ripened into the rebellion against the mother country. The stamp and tea taxes were not the cause of the rebellion, but the breath that fanned the smouldering elements into a flame. About this no careful student of American history can be mistaken. If I am right in my premises, and I can produce historical data for their correctness, the revolution had been brewing for two hundred years, when the stamp act and tea duty brought it to a crisis. During most of that time there was considerable intercourse between the thirteen colonies and Nova Scotia. Many of the volunteers sent to the latter from New York and New England, to conquer the French and Indians, remained after the war, and kept up a correspondence with their relations and friends, inducing numbers to follow them. When it had become evident that the war could not be averted, the more timid in the rebellious colonies looked for a place of refuge from its approaching dangers. From what they had learned of Nova Scotia from former emigrants, and it being far removed from the disturbing elements, they concluded it was a safe place, and fleeing to it, earned for themselves the name of “refugees.” Some of these refugees had traces of both pilgrim and puritan blood in their veins, and were despised alike by loyalists and rebels, both regarding them as too cowardly to join either side. They showed more courage and less discretion after they had been awhile in Nova Scotia, and at the commencement of the war got up a little rebellion on their own account, because in their new home they did not get that recognition they thought they deserved by being appointed to the offices in the gift of the government. Had not their courage failed them, or their scaling ladders proved too short for the ramparts of old Fort Cumberland – it is difficult to say which, but I am afraid it was the former – they might have landed us in the American Union, and saved all the present agitation about annexation. I revere the history and courage of my great-grandfather who, with six comrades, all that Gorham could spare from the few in the beleagured fort, stole by night through the rebel’s lines, and embarked at Au Lac, sailing down the Chignecto and up Minas Basin and the Avon walked from Windsor to Halifax to procure reinforcements, and embarking them in schooners sailed to Cumberland Point to find the village in flames, but in time to relieve the straitened garrison, and the next day marched out with his small force, outflanking the enemy at Mount Whatley, and drove all of them that did not escape to the French and Indians as captives into the fort, afterwards escorting them to Halifax, to purge their rebellion by going down on their knees before the Commandant, and taking the oath of allegiance. These refugees after this little episode in their history became the King’s most loyal subjects in after years, filling many of the most important offices in the gift of the Crown. I presume they all died childless, as I have never met a man or woman who would acknowledge he or she descended from them. It is true their names are very common among us but those who own them cannot all claim to be their descendants as they all claim to be of loyalist stock. I must not say more or I may spoil the chances of some who expect to see their names on the proposed loyalist monument, and to pass as blue blood loyalists in 1883. The Loyalists, as I before intimated, were the descendants of British Tories, who came to America impressed with the idea that they would become the Lords paramount of the country. Seeing in the revolution a chance to realize the dreams of their forefathers, they unhesitatingly took the side of the King, and all capable of bearing arms joined his army as volunteers. They felt they had two strings to their bow. If the rebellion was crushed they would be made the nobility of America, receive the forfeited lands of the conquered rebels, reducing the latter to “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” and build on the ruins of all dissent their longed for State Church. If the rebels succeeded, which seemed improbable, British would have to provide for the men who had espoused her cause and fought her battles. These Loyalists were no cowards. They fought well and bravely, and received many honorable wounds in the fore front of the hottest battles. The regulars at times felt scandalized by their excesses and the rebels feared and hated them, giving them the name of “cow-boys” (a term of reproach to this day on the other side of the line) on account of their raids on barn-yards. So obnoxious did they become that on the surrender of Cornwallis, the victors refused to accord to them the same privileges they did to the other soldiers. At the close of the war they left because it was not safe for them to remain. Some went to England, some to the West Indies and others came to Nova Scotia, where they commenced a political war for supremacy and a State Church, which they kept up until the advent of responsible government. After that they rested for thirty years, and then renewed the war under the guise of Confederation. The Loyalist idea is to-day a State Church and a Royal Court, and a scion of the Royal family on the throne of Canada, with our C. B.’s and K. C. B.’s raised to the status of Lords with hereditary titles, a Utopian dream that will never be realized. Tens of thousands of the descendants of the Loyalists have ceased to dream of Church and State, and floated away in the ever-increasing exodus to the neighboring republic, and thousands have been swallowed up in the ever growing ranks of nonconformity. Ere another fifty years have passed away the Loyalist idea will sleep in the tomb of oblivion.