American Revolution in New York

I discovered an old book treasure in a used book store a while back–The American Revolution in New York:  It’s Political, Social, and Economic Significance written by a group of scholars at University of the State of New York (Albany: 1926).  And this little volume is truly a treasure for understanding the impact of the Revolutionary War on New York ancestors.

New York was a Loyalist stronghold. Between 1776 and 1780, New York City was a mecca for Loyalists–from all over the country. The city was the headquarters of the British High Command and a place where the officers and men of the British Army congregated–for entertainment, for supplies, and for orders. Civilian loyalists were fed, protected, clothed, granted annuities, and appointed to specific offices. They were able to live a semblance of a normal life–within the boundaries of the City.

Loyalism paid only so long as the British were in control of New York. When the British were forced to leave, the Loyalists had to leave too. Outside the city of New York, the exodus of persons loyal to the British Crown began as early as 1774–when war seemed imminent–to Canada, to New Brunswick, to Nova Scotia, to the West Indies, and to England. A few left for South America as well. About 35,000 Americans left the state. The British Parliament appointed five commissioners, in 1783, to classify the thousands of petitions for compensation and help.

By 1784, ten years later, the whole area changed substantially:  2/3rds of the voters were disfranchised in New York, Richmond, and King Counties. All of the Borough of Westchester, 1/5th of Suffolk County. Lawyers could not practice; physicians were boycotted.

Those known to support the British often had to flee in the night to avoid arrest and imprisonment. Your favorite New York Genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS I am compiling a piece on being Loyalist in America. Stay Tuned! As I share my findings.

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