AMERICA’S FIRST CIVIL WAR
When most Americans hear the term civil war, they might think of the war fought from 1861-1865, when our nation was torn apart by those sympathizing with either the confederate or the union leaning states. In reality our first civil war, The Revolutionary War, was fought nearly one hundred years before. Like the Civil War of the 1800’s, the Revolutionary War divided families and communities in their loyalties.
John Adams was known to have said that about thirty-three percent of the American populace supported the Patriot cause, thirty three percent sided with the Loyalists, and thirty-three percent were undecided. Historians later estimated that only twenty percent of the colonists desired to stay united with England. Obviously, those who supported the patriot cause were influential and intent on pursuing independence. Those who remained neutral wavered in their support depending upon which side appeared to be winning at the time. There were a myriad of reasons why people aligned themselves with the Loyalist or the Patriot cause.
Who remained loyal to the crown, and why?
Those who held jobs by virtue of their allegiance to the crown:
~Lords and some of the gentry
~Leaders of the Anglican Church
Other groups who supported the Loyalist cause:
~Those whose financial interests and business connections were tied to Britain
~Those who considered themselves British or had close family ties with England
~Some Native Americans believing England would win, and hoping the “invaders” would leave
~Some black slaves who were promised their freedom if they joined the British side
~Those who could not imagine the colonies winning against the world’s greatest navy and army
Who sided with the Patriot cause and why?
~Those who felt unjustifiable taxes were imposed on them without the requisite representation in the British Parliament
~Those who preferred the previous government’s attitude of laissez faire, and resented George III’s growing interference in the life and commerce of the colonies.
~Those who were influential lawyers, planters and merchants as well as everyday men and women who believed they were entitled to live independently of English rule.
~Some Native Americans sided with the colonists, particularly when they were winning, and when the new Congress made a strategic plan to halt the settlement Indian lands at that time.
~Some black slaves were promised freedom by the Americans, others went to war with their masters or continued working where they were. Some black and white men fought together in the same units.
Many families were divided in their loyalties during the American Revolution. Join me next month when I share about two very influential families that experienced such division.