Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 11:54 am
I was interested in this book because there has been little information about what happened to the lives of the Loyalists. The author's research is amazing. BBB

Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World
by Maya Jasanoff

Book Description

On November 25, 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing the American Revolution to an end. Patriots celebrated their departure and the confirmation of U.S. independence. But for tens of thousands of American loyalists, the British evacuation spelled worry, not jubilation. What would happen to them in the new United States? Would they and their families be safe? Facing grave doubts about their futures, some sixty thousand loyalists—one in forty members of the American population—decided to leave their homes and become refugees elsewhere in the British Empire. They sailed for Britain, for Canada, for Jamaica, and for the Bahamas; some ventured as far as Sierra Leone and India. Wherever they went, the voyage out of America was a fresh beginning, and it carried them into a dynamic if uncertain new world.

A groundbreaking history of the revolutionary era, Liberty’s Exiles tells the story of this remarkable global diaspora. Through painstaking archival research and vivid storytelling, award-winning historian Maya Jasanoff re-creates the journeys of ordinary individuals whose lives were overturned by extraordinary events. She tells of refugees like Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who spent nearly thirty years as a migrant, searching for a home in Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. And of David George, a black preacher born into slavery, who found freedom and faith in the British Empire, and eventually led his followers to seek a new Jerusalem in Sierra Leone. Mohawk leader Joseph Brant resettled his people under British protection in Ontario, while the adventurer William Augustus Bowles tried to shape a loyalist Creek state in Florida. For all these people and more, it was the British Empire—not the United States—that held the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet as they dispersed across the empire, the loyalists also carried things from their former homes, revealing an enduring American influence on the wider British world.

Ambitious, original, and personality-filled, Liberty’s Exiles is at once an intimate narrative history and a provocative new analysis—a book that explores an unknown dimension of America’s founding to illuminate the meanings of liberty itself.

Editorial Reviews From Booklist

As well as a war of independence, the Revolutionary War was a civil conflict in which the losers, white, black, and Indian loyalists, paid dearly. Facing retribution from the victorious patriots, tens of thousands fled the new U.S. to havens in the British Empire.

Jasanoff positions her history as the most comprehensive treatment of this topic; accomplished as scholarship, it appeals to general-interest readers through her narrative accounts of several refugee's fates after mass evacuations in 1783. And it will strongly appeal to black-history readers because of Jasanoffs sifting of abundant documentary evidence generated by Britain's wartime promise to emancipate slaves who fought in its ranks. Free black loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia, where racial tension impelled some to settle in Sierra Leone, while enslaved black loyalists suffered even harsher consequences, their white loyalist owners forcing them to relocate to Florida, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. Wherever loyalists started their lives anew in Britain, Canada, India, and even Australia Jasanoff dramatizes their travails in this discerning social and political history of an overlooked side of the American Revolution. --Gilbert Taylor

Reader Review:

By P. R. Smith "Always curious"

Any serious student of the American Revolution should read this book. It brings to life the struggles and trials faced by Colonial Americans who chose to remain loyal to the English crown during the revolution and departed with the British after it ended. The book provides profiles of several loyalists who were uprooted from their native America and departed for distant British lands. All faced difficult times in new lands and often harsh conditions. I found myself wondering if I could have done what they did after a protracted war on American soil only to be uprooted and transported to new places that were more often than not wilderness. Those who went to England were on the one hand loyalist who had stood by the crown yet were Americans regardless and for that looked upon differently. In the final analysis, the 60 to 75 thousand departing Americans had a continuing impact on British rule. That England stood by those who had supported its cause in America says much about the morality of British government at the time. Until now, this had largely been a lost story but thanks to the efforts of Maya Jasanoff it has been rescued from obscurity.
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