The Loyalists

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The Loyalists
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The Loyalists On the 18th May, 1783, twenty vessels with three thousand souls, men, women and children, chiefly from the eastern portions of the thirteen revolted colonies, landed in the harbour of St. John, and although they found some people here then, this was in reality the foundation of the city. When the Loyalists landed here they did not find a thoroughly inhospitable land. There had been settlements before. The French had made some progress in cultivation. On the western side of the harbour there was quite a village. Still, the work done in a hundred years by the Loyalists, and those who have settled here since, has been very great, for not only is it to be taken into account the wharves, houses, halls, churches, erected, but as well the streets laid out, the railroads built, and the ships whose pathway is on the ocean. The wealth created has been very great – a good proof that there have been few idle men. The founders of St. John were men above the average in force and in intellect. In the localities in which they lived they had espoused the royal side with considerable vigor, as men of strong wills ever do the side which they take up; many of them were leaders, and a majority of these were leaders because they were intelligent, educated and were possessed of natural power. Men of less capacity – of meaner powers – would not have been as sorely pushed as they were. No doubt the Loyalists did not, as a whole, expatriate themselves from the revolutionary colonies as a matter of choice, although some of them may have done so. The principles for which the British subject will give them credit were in them before their expatriation; and they had to leave largely because they stood by these principles. At the close of the war the Tories, as they were called, were held in hatred, by the successful party. On both sides much bitterness had been manifested, and very often the native Royalists were more determined adherents of the King than any of His Majesty’s regular troops. They had pursued the rebel Whigs with the bitterness peculiar to the civil war. The atrocities of the time on both sides are wisely forgotten. But, it is well to remember that in many cases where the King’s forces were quartered they turned the Revolutionary party out of their houses and off their lands; and when opportunity offered the Revolutionists retaliated with interest. Around New York, which remained in the hands of the English until the close of the war, whole districts were depopulated of the Revolutionary party, and the adherents of the Crown took possession of their houses. When the war was at an end it was next to impossible to restrain the fury of those who had been harshly treated by the King’s adherents, and many of the Loyalists left rather than subject themselves to it.