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The Original Patriot Act

 
 
Greyfan
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2004 02:50 pm
From Smithsonian, January 2004:

"To keep Tories (a derisive 17th-century term first applied by English Puritans to supporters of Charles II that came to define people who disagreed with the Revolution) in line once the Declaration of Independence was signed, most states enacted restrictive "Test Acts" that required their citizens to formally renounce the British Crown and swear allegiance to his or her resident state. Those who failed to take the oath were subject to imprisonment, double and triple taxation, confiscation of property and banishment. Neither could they collect debts, buy land or defend themselves in court. Connecticut made it illegan for these Loyalists to criticize Congress or the Connecticut General Assembly. South Carolina required supporters of the Crown to make reparations to victims of all robberies committed in their counties. Congress quarantined the entire population of Queens County, New York, for its reluctance to join patriot militias.

George Washington described fleeing Tories as 'unhappy wretches' who 'ought to have...long ago committed suicide.' When one of his generals tried to put a stop to physical violence directed against Loyalists, Washington wrote that 'to discourage such proceedings was to injure the cause of Liberty in which they were engaged, and that nobody would attempt it but an enemy to his country'.

Though neither side was blameless when it came to gratuitous cruelty, probably no combatants sufferend more than those in Loyalist regiments. British, Hessian and American officers all loosely adnered to an accepted code of conduct that held that soldiers were prisoners of war who could be exchanged or released on parole if they promised to refrain from further fighting. But Tories were viewed as traitors who, if caught, could be banished to the frontier, imprisoned indefinitely or executed.

After the October 1780 battle at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, in which nearly 200 Tory militiamen died, victories patriots lynched 18 Loyalists on the battlefield, then marched the remaining prisoners north. After a week on the road, the starving, ragtag procession had traveled only 40 miles. To speed up the pace, patriot officers summarily convicted 36 Tories of general mayhem and began stringing them up three at a time. After nine Tories were hanged from the limb of an oak tree, the killing was halted, to the distress of one colonial who remarked, 'Would to God every tree in the wilderness bore such fruit as that.'"
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