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tv   Loyalist Resistance During the American Revolution  CSPAN  July 3, 2021 4:28am-5:30am EDT

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go underground to see a reconstructed german bunker. >> our first speaker is a good friend of mine, travis shaw, the current director of education for the virginia piedmont heritage area. he brings two decades of experience in the field of historic preservation and museum education. working with tribe and public education, he spent time at the maryland archaeological conservation, and mount vernon and oaklands historic site and gardens. he holds a b.a in history and an m.a. in history from american university. he has written numerous articles for the american bafford trust. if you look closely you might spot him in numerous historical films, including mount vernon. travis is pretty famous online because travis did three or four
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videos a week during these covid times. travis is well-versed in doing virtual presentations. it is my honor to welcome travis as he presents disaffected and dangerous persons. travis: it is a pleasure to be here today. with that, i will go ahead and jump right in. let me get the screen share going here. let's see. everybody see that all right? good. so, 1936, the american author stephen vincent binet releases one of my favorite works of american literature and quite a famous short story, and that is the "the devil and daniel webster," a story about a new hampshire farmer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for prosperity. and when the devil comes to
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collect his due, the farmer enlists the famous orator daniel webster as his defense. to get out of this compact with satan. there is a really well done film version from 1941. but even if you have never seen it or never read the short story, you're probably familiar with it because it has been parodied dozens of times in pop culture. probably most famously on the simpsons. really great episode. one of the central themes of this story is that during the trial for this man's soul the jury is made up of the greatest villains in american history. in the case of "the simpson's," richard nixon, lizzie borden. the 1976 philadelphia flyers. in the original story, however, it is villains from america's founding.
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you have people like the notorious pirate blackbeard. you have thomas dale, the heavy-handed governor of the jamestown colony. you have king philip, the native american leader namesake of king philip's war. most prominently you have a number of american loyalists from the revolutionary war. you have simon gertie. you have walter butler. at one point, they ask, where is benedict arnold? he is away on other business. otherwise he would be the foreman of the jury. here we are in the early 20th century and yet the greatest villains in american history include these loyalists. throughout the 19th and 20th century, loyalists are portrayed as the arch villains of america's past. they are people who resisted the founding of the republic. they are portrayed as proud, very petty, sometimes clownishly incompetent.
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sometimes bloodthirsty savages. really all of these stereotypes play into the popular conception of american loyalists. even hundreds of years after the conflict had ended. and in many ways this obscured the reality of american low realism -- loyalism. american loyalism is incredibly complex. so, what we are going to do today is take a look back at two events that occur in 1781 that i think help give a more complete, more well-rounded view of the types of people that resisted american independence, and perhaps give the more complex view of the events surrounding our nations birth. before we do that, i would like to spend a few minutes giving an overview of the loyalists. this image here is kind of a
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rough sketch of a later painting showing britain receiving her loyal subjects after the end of the war. you know, in most modern scholarship, most modern people who study loyalism put the number of loyalists in america during the revolutionary war at 25% of the population. so, we're certainly not talking about a majority, but we are talking about an incredible, sizable minority of people in the colonies. 20% to 25%, we're talking about at least half a million people in the american colonies could be defined as loyalists. now, whether that means passive loyalism in the sense that maybe they are resisting continental, the continental congress, giving intelligence and giving supplies. giving shelter to british forces, refusing to pay their taxes, or to submit to continental congress's demands
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for goods or men. or active loyalism. in that case we are talking about men taking up arms and fighting on behalf of the crown. a substantial number of people. so, i guess the question really becomes why? where are these people coming from? why do they make the choices they make? and in general, we can kind of break these motivations down. some of these motivations do overlap substantially. but there are a few core principles at work. the first and the biggest is political conservatism. it's important for us to remember now, we're talking in hindsight, hindsight being 20/20. at the start of the american revolution british subjects are really kind of the freest and
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the least taxed, greatest political rights of any people in the western world. most british subjects could point across the english channel and say, look at france. look at spain. look further on the continent to the habsburg monarchy or to russia. these are absolutist powers. in england, we have a constitution. we have rights that are guaranteed for englishmen. even across the atlantic and the -- in the american colonies, the subjects are being taxed less than any subjects within the british empire or certainly within the rest of the european system. so there are very deep kind of conservative political roots to this. for most 18th-century englishmen the ideas of a republic or democracy is akin to anarchy. there is a saying that "better
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one king 1000 miles away then 1000 kings one mile away." representative government gives way to mob rule. these loyalists would see themselves as the forces of law and order in an anarchic society. for other loyalists, it is a more personal connection. many people living in the american colonies still had family ties to those in britain. economic ties. the hotbed of loyalist them here -- loyalism here in virginia is going to be seen as the southeastern part of the colony, around norfolk. this is an area that is very cosmopolitan, very dependent on shipping and economic ties. so, even if you're not a wealthy merchant, you might be a shipbuilder or a rope maker or a ship chandler, someone whose livelihood is tied to this kind of global economic system that revolves around british empire. -- around the british empire. and that is certainly true and a lot of other colonies. i think we have a perception that most loyalists are incredibly wealthy people. people who have status and money to lose.
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but the reality is we are going to see people from across the spectrum, from every political class and station in life, who have some sort of tie to britain or to the empire. geography can be very important. we are going to see that in the events that i'm going to discuss later on. certain areas are geographically tied to the empire. we tend to see a lot of loyalists in the large cities on the seaboard, cities full of recent immigrants from the british isles. but we also see large numbers of loyalists on the frontier. these are areas that are most directly receiving the protection of british soldiers. they do not see soldiers as an occupying force. they see them as a means of protection. we are going to see a lot of religious and ethnic minorities turned to loyalism.
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that fear of mob rule, the fear of the mob is going to subsume them. you see, as far as ethnic groups go, in particular of course native americans are going to look to the crown as the stabilizing and protecting force. a lot of african-americans will turn to the crown as a means of gaining their freedom from enslavement during the war. in the carolinas and in western virginia, many of the scots are going to be associated with loyalism. in virginia, in a lot of 18th-century documents the word scotsman or scot is almost always associated with being a tory or a loyalist. religious groups like quakers, nonviolent pacifist groups, their nonviolence will be seen as kind of a suspicious trait, a
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backdoor into passive loyalism. these people do not want to support the war effort against the british. therefore, they must be with the british. lastly, simply opportunism. a lot of people will be a loyalist when the british army is in the neighborhood. and then when the continental army comes marching through they will all of a sudden change their tune. this is perhaps, i think, one of the most misunderstood aspects of loyalism and something we will see in the events that we talk about is that loyalism is not a static thing. it is not set in stone. people's political convictions waiver over time. they can change over time. there is definitely a sliding scale or spectrum of loyalist versus patriot support. and one of the biggest factors that is going to influence that is who is in charge at this particular moment in time. we see this constantly throughout the war. a really great example is going
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to be during the british occupation of philadelphia. as the american army is huddled outside the city at valley forge, locals are going to be bringing food and other supplies into the city and selling them to the british because the british are in power. the british seem like they are on the winning side. they have hard money to pay. so there is definitely some opportunism. and lastly, i call it personal retribution. we are going to see time and time again that, for some people, the american revolution is not necessarily a political struggle. it is going to be a personal struggle. and this is played out brutally throughout the carolinas during the latter part of the war, in new jersey, along the frontier. for many people, your enemy is whichever side your neighbor might happen to pick. if you have a problem with the guy, years ago he stole land from you or you had gotten into
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it over cattle or whatever other personal problems you might have with these people, that could definitely play out under the guise of this conflict between rebels and loyalists in the sense that it gives you legal cover to exact retribution. many of these can be intertwined. many of these overlap. but they are going to be important motivators for loyalists. i would say that there is just as many motivations as there were loyalists. everybody has their own kind of combination of these factors. that play into their decision , so with that, we are going to look at two events that occurred in the mid-atlantic in 1781. the reason i chose these events is our theme is hindsight. and with hindsight we look at the year 1781 as the year the revolution is won. the year of the surrender at yorktown, the end of major
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hostilities here in the north american continent. but, for the people living through 1781, the future was a lot murkier. you have to remember in 1781, at the beginning of the year, have -- you have cornwallis leading an army to the carolinas. and, although he will suffer several setbacks, the americans are unable to stop or destroy his army. of course, charlston, the most important city in the south, had fallen the previous year. washington and his army are kind of stuck outside of new york. they are not powerful enough to take new york from the british but the british cannot be left unattended. the french alliance that so many people had put their hopes on really had not amounted to much in terms of battlefield success. the angl--excuse me franco- -- franco-american forces had been turned back to savannah and in rhode island.
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so, this alliance that had begun with such promise really had fizzled out up until this point, at least in terms of battlefield success. and here in virginia, of course, early in 1781, you have a large british and loyalist force under the command of benedict arnold. cornwallis is going to join forces with this force and basically bring the war to virginia in a way that virginians had not experienced before. so there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in 1781. we like to think it was all said and done at that point but that is not the case. and that is going to directly lead to the events of both claypool's rebellion in virginia and this wider conspiracy in maryland that both occur in the spring and summer of 1781. so we'll begin with claypool's rebellion.
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claypool's rebellion, to set the scene here, the part of virginia that we are going to focus on is an area known as hampshire county. it is now in eastern west virginia but at this point in 1781 it's about a generation or so removed from truly being the frontier. we are seeing sparse settlement, particularly along the major rivers. the south branch of the potomac river, the lost river, o r -- the cakupon, or however you say that, i am not a west virginian, but this area is really kind of the leading edge of heavy settlements, particularly along the rivers, along the few turnpike roads first built out into the area. as with much of the southern frontier we are talking about scots irish immigrants coming from ulster in northern ireland. scots coming from scotland proper. and a lot of german settlers as well.
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this is kind of the ethnic mix that we see in western pennsylvania, coming down from the great valley of pennsylvania spreading into the shenandoah valley and westward into these river valleys in hampshire county. just to put it in some modern context, this is the area we are talking about. warfield, west virginia, is the heart of this area. petersburg, west virginia. the lost river valley towards wardensville. so, just over the mountains from the shenandoah valley. so, in april of 1781, colonel garrett van meter the commanding colonel of the militia in hampshire county writes a letter to governor thomas jefferson. in it, he is going to describe basically the panic that is
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sweeping across this area in the early part of 1781. so, we are talking a, oops. "a dangerous insurrection has lately arisen in this county. occasioned by the execution of the late acts of assembly for recruiting the states quota of troops to serve in the continental army, and the act for supplying the army with clothes, provision, and wagons. in consequence of which, the collector of the tax under the former act has been opposing the -- has been opposed in the execution of his duty and has been obliged to desist from any further proceedings therein." so, there is a lot going on here. and what he is referring to is this new tax that has been passed to help support the war effort. the war has been going on for six years. virginia has up until this point been more or less untouched by the war. so virginia is serving as the bread basket for the continental army, supplying everything from grain and meat, cattle,
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livestock, wagons, any kind of supplies that are going to keep the army in the field. at this time, around 1781, a tax has been passed at 80% of your personal property. if you own 100 pounds of property you will be taxed 80 pounds on that to help keep the army in the field. this is an incredibly onerous tax on anyone living in virginia at this time. we're also talking about the requisitioning of men and supplies. so on top of this tax that is being paid in money, you are expected to supply the army with livestock, food, and men. you know, van meter prior to this was actually complaining that he sent 50 of the local militiamen south to help assist with nathanael greene's army and they were taken into the army rather than serving their term and being returned to hampshire county.
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so, you know, husbands, brothers, fathers are being taken from their farms and put into the army to serve. so, this is going to be hugely important in 1780-1781. another thing that is important to point out is this is not the first loyalist disturbance that has occurred in this area. in 1777, three years prior, four years prior, a force of 70 men was raised by william hinton, one of the settlers in rockingham county. they were being raised to fight for the british. this is put down. the ring leaders put in jail. everyone is dispersed. but it is going to snowball effect along the western virginia frontier. arrests and retribution's will continue into the 1780's. in april of 1780, a year prior
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to this, a guy name sebastian hoover was killed by a loyalist neighbor of his. this kind of violence -- this kind of tit for tat violence will start spreading through 1780 and really primed the -- prime the people of western virginia for what will occur in spring of 1781, more widespread resistance. to this day, there is an area in randolph county in west virginia called tory camp creek, because many of these people who resisted these efforts to tax, these efforts to raise men and supplies, would actually just up and flee into the hills and into the hollows of this very mountainous and sparsely populated area. so, there's a lot of minor disturbances going on, but this time in april of 1781. it is very different. this time we actually have a british army in virginia that is operating in virginia. so, what had previously been
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kind of isolated incidents not -- now is seen as part of much of a much wider conspiracy to raise men to join cornwallis and kind of overthrow congressional authority in virginia. and this is, again, one of the main impulses. van meter is out in the colonies trying to raise 250 men. that will kick off what is known as claypool's rebellion. so, april 11, van meter writes this letter to jefferson saying there is resistance. i can't get my tax collector out to execute this duty because the people are upset. when the tax collector comes through the lost river area, they are going to be confronted by a group of armed men. this group of armed men is under the leadership of a local settler, john claypool.
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and they are going to quote "declare they would not make up any clothes, beef, or men for the congressional forces." and then claypool will distribute liquor and they are going to drink to king george iii's health and damnation to the congress. this may not seem serious but within the context of what is going on with cornwallis's army in virginia, people start to panic in richmond, and over the mountains in the eastern part of virginia. a few days later, the sheriff is sent to arrest claypool for this little display he had put on. and he shows up with a posse of 50 men to put claypool in irons. and when they arrived at claypool's rendezvous spot, they are confronted by an even larger group of armed men, probably 70 or 80 armed men.
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and wisely, the sheriff kind of agrees to back down at this point. but claypool's rebellion has begun in earnest. so, what do we know about john claypool? not a whole lot. we know he was born in 1733. accounts differ as to where he comes from. some say he was born in rockingham county in west virginia. other sources say maybe he was born in delaware and his parents had moved to the area as a young man. he's described as a scotsman. again, as i mentioned earlier, scots are heavily associated with toryism or loyalism. they are almost an alien, alien in the sense they are different people, different culture that is not to be trusted. many of the most prominent scotsman in virginia at the
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start of revolution are loyalists. lord dunmore the last governor of the colony is a perfect example. we do know that claypool had settled along the lost river in the 1750's. his family is very locally prominent with a lot of connections to local government. so, certainly not a poor farmer. a well-established family at this time. pretty middling in the sense of the type of people we see in this area. certainly not poor. fairly well-connected. so, the epicenter of claypool's rebellion is going to be the farm of a man named john brake. unlike claypool, john brake is a german immigrant and certainly a very prominent man. probably more prominent then claypool. he owns a lot of land, he owns a mill, some other industries
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there along the river about 15 miles south of modern day morefield. the brake farm is going to become a rendezvous point for claypool and his rebels. when we look at the men making up this rebellion, it is a lot of immigrants, german immigrants, scottish immigrants, these people are fairly poor. these are the people that 80% tax is going to fall very heavily on. these are the people they are -- that are actually being called up into military duty. at this point virginia has instituted a levee system where men can be taken from the militia and forced to serve in the continental army. so many men dessert. they resist this. one of the local informant said "i am informed there are several deserters amongst those people.
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some are english prisoners." so we prisoners from the british army held in charlottesville or winchester, who made their way over the mountains to escape. we also have some 18 months men and 8 months men, drafted into the army for a period of time and do not want to go and serve. so, they are going to join this rebellion. there is some claim that they -- there are english agents trying to convince these men to rebel. whether or not there is any proof has never conclusively been proven. as with any kind of conspiracy like this, there is a lot of theories that are floating around, a lot of misinformation and a lot of panic. but the fear is -- has a very real effect on the virginia government. there is fear that these men will join with cornwallis, fear they might burn hagerstown to the ground. so, there is a lot of going on in the spring of 1781.
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and here's a modern view of where the brake farm is today courtesy of google. the log building is an original 18th century building but there would've been a much larger farm and mill complex located here. it also gives you an idea of what the terrain looks like it -- like. this is an area of very heavily wooded area. a lot of hills and hollows. the perfect place to lead an insurrection. it's here at the brake farm that colonel van meter is going to send a mounted column of militia to again break up this rebellion before it takes off. when they arrive at the brake farm they are greeted by an exchange of gunfire. van meter and his force are going to be pushed back in an
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armed exchange. and this is at the point where virginia authorities decide something more seriously needs to be done. and so, they are going to call upon virginia's second greatest hero of the revolution after george washington himself, and that is going to be daniel morgan, the old wagoner. in early 1781, daniel morgan has left the army. he has returned home to winchester, to the winchester area. he's suffering from a lot of really, a lot of health issues. he has been passed over a few times for command. he feels like he has not gotten his due. but certainly his health at this point is beginning to fail him. but morgan agrees to raise a group of men to march over the mountains into the lost river valley into the south fork valley and put an end to claypool's rebellion before he -- before it can snowball out of control. so, he will assemble 400 men
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from the surrounding counties. they will march over the mountains. and, if you look at the map, you can see the winchester area. over the mountains and into the south branch valley. and they are going to first stop at john claypool's property as they are marching out and it is here that claypool and his rebels confront daniel morgan. there is a brief exchange of gunfire. john brake, claypool's second-in-command, is killed in the exchange. claypool himself and most of the other men under his command will scatter. they will head to the hills, head to these remote hollows and valleys and absolutely flee in terror in the face of daniel morgan and this much larger, much more, much better trained and equipped force of men. the next stop on daniel morgan's march will be the brake farm.
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he and his men will make themselves quite comfortably for the next few days living off of the brake families livestock and crops. as they are occupying this area, many of the men who have resisted, who had taken up arms in support of john claypool, will begin to turn themselves in. they really don't have the stomach for a fight. and so, over the next three weeks, most of the rebels will turn themselves in. and this is going to include john claypool himself. so what we refer to as the claypool rebellion is not a huge disturbance. and certainly, i think, daniel morgan was right in striking at the heart of it, going after the ring leaders, breaking it up
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-- before -- breaking it up before this rebellion can really grow into a much more serious threat. so, the aftermath of the rebellion. most of the men are pardoned. most of them plea to the virginia authorities that they have been misled, that their quarrel was not with, you know, that they were a people who were really rebelling not because they were against the revolution but because they were against the taxation and the hardship that the war was bringing and they had been misled by these people and wicked ring leaders who kind of put them on this path towards supporting the british. and many of the men who had taken up arms actually agreed to form a company and march off in support of lafayette's army as a way of showing good faith towards the american cause. many of the ring leaders are going to petition directly to the governor of virginia, who is
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governor harrison, for clemency. and we can see there is a transcription of that petition here. they say they were induced to join the late conspiracy against the state. the object was to refuse the payment of taxes and oppose the act for raising troops. again, they are couching this not in terms of support for britain but opposition to taxation and drafting of men. both colonel van meter and daniel morgan themselves will support this movement towards pardoning the rebels. daniel morgan says, "i can truly say this is the first time i ever spoke in favor of a tory and ever wish their life spare them but humanity and policy urges me to say something in favor of claypool and wish he may obtain forgiveness." so, even daniel morgan is arguing for leniency.
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and claypool himself, the ring leader of this kind of nascent rebellion on the virginia frontier, will be pardoned by the governor of virginia. he is released from captivity and claypool and the rest of his conspirators will go home to their homes along the lost river, along the south fork. and claypool will actually live in peace for the remainder of his life. he dies there at the age of 89 in total peace and prosperity for the rest of his life. this will not be the case for our next group of loyalists we are going to discuss. so, going to talk about a conspiracy referred to as the frederick seven. there is no good, sexy or exciting name for this rebellion, because it is much wider, but at the same time, much less well-formed than claypool's rebellion.
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so, june of 1781, very similar letter arrives. this time the government of maryland. the information is given. "this board has good reason to believe that henry newcomer and and bleachy washington -- are disaffected and dangerous persons whose going at large may be detrimental to the state." again, we have this kind of information arrives that there is this nebulous idea these dangerous people are afoot, and that they are plotting against the state. this conspiracy grows out of the same disaffection that's affecting those in virginia. again, six years of war have taken a heavy toll on the people of western maryland. we are talking about again, men, supplies, food, livestock being taken from these communities to support the war effort. and heavy taxation to support the war effort.
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the area that we are talking about is a wide area, basically from modern frederick, maryland, west to hagerstown, maryland. a lot of the small towns, sharpsburg. this is going to be the heart of this plot. so one of the first identified leaders is one of the guys in that letter, henry newcomer. one night, henry newcomer is going to confide to one of his neighbors that "they raised a body of men for the service of the king." there's a dutch man in frederick who is going to lead this body of men to join with lord cornwallis. unfortunately for newcomer the man he confides in is christian orondorf, an officer in the
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continental army. he has been captured early on. but released on parole. he is returned to sharpsburg. and he is going to play this up. orendorf is going to feign disgust and disappointment with the continental cause and he is going to start pumping newcomer for more and more information on this plot. "how can i get involved? who else is involved? what men have you enlisted for this plot?" predictably he will turn around and report what he had learned straight to the maryland authority. it's going to become clear as just as with claypool's rebellion in virginia, disaffection is really spread far and wide throughout western maryland. one of the conspirators who's caught up in this claimed they had gotten oats of allegiance to
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the crown -- oaths of allegiance to the crown from 6000 individuals. i think he is probably lying about this, but that certainly plays to the belief that this is a widespread and very deep conspiracy against the american cause. whether or not they had 6000 people involved, they do start making arrests. the maryland authorities will start picking up dozens of people and imprisoning them in washington county and frederick county, maryland. the authorities quickly zero in on seven ring leaders associated with this plot. nicholas andrews, john graves, adam graves, two brothers, yost plecker, henry shell, his english or german name, peter sueman and caspar fritchie. you will notice a few things
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about these names. again, there are a lot of germans on this list. again, german immigrants are going to be associated with this plot just as they had been with claypool's rebellion. this is, again, these people are a lot of recent immigrants. also, there are a lot of germans who are fighting alongside the crown. german auxiliaries, the feared hessians fighting with the british. so, there is a lot of anti-german sentiment that goes into this conspiracy. peter sueman in particular is a member of the brethren church a pacifist sect. here's someone who is suspect to begin with because he has refused to support the continental cause because of his pacifist beliefs. so, these are the seven ring leaders. and one of the local militia commanders, thomas sprigg, summed up the feelings towards the seven men when he said they
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have "admitted to administering the old of allegiance to many persons. they confess very freely that they expect and deserve to be hanged. i pray god they may not be disappointed." unlike claypool's rebellion, where the ring leaders are pardoned, the state of maryland is not going to take as kind of a view of the seven ring leader. the ring leaders are brought to the courthouse in frederick where they face a special tribunal. a court of oyer and terminer. it is a special court where they will not be tried by a jury but instead tried by a panel of men specifically appointed for crimes like treason. the judges selected were james johnson, local militia commander, the brother of governor thomas johnson.
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alexander hanson, the son of the maryland continental congress member. and upton sheridan, a. local judge and state senator , and all three are known for being very, very, very committed to the continental congress, to the american cause, and for having an extremely harsh stance towards any suspected loyalists. there is no semblance these men are being tried by an impartial court. the deck is stacked against them. christian orendorf, the continental officer who overheard all of this to begin with, he is going to basically be the star witness. he is going to testify against these men. and, within a matter of a few days, the trial is over and all
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seven men are going to be found guilty. the sentence. "you shall be carried to the jail, and hanged, your entrails shall be burned while you are yet alive, your head will be cut off, your body shall be divided in four parts. and your heads and body should be placed where his excellency the governor shall appoint." this is a punishment we associate with a much more brutal age. to call back to some pop-culture here. anyone who is seen end of the movie "braveheart," knows exactly what we are talking about. we are talking about them being hung, cut down, ripped apart. a message to anyone else who might consider rising up against the continental or congressional
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authority within the state of maryland. this is a punishment that is reserved for the worst of traitors in kind of the absolutist kingdoms of old europe. here's the thing, though. we don't know if it was actually carried out. we do know, and here is the writ for sueman that survives telling the sheriff to carry out this brutal punishment. we do know that three of the ring leaders, fritchie, plecker and sueman were brought out in front of the courthouse. this is the modern city hall in frederick which stands where these executions were taken -- taking place. on friday, august 17, those three were brought to the courthouse. and we know they were executed. the local papers, contemporary sources, just say that they were killed.
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family lore and the legend says that at least sueman was hung, drawn and quartered according to the punishment put out by the court. some say that the crowd and the executioners lost their stomach after witnessing such a barbaric execution and the other two were simply hanged until they were dead. whatever the case, three of the men were killed. the other four, however, were pardoned. or at least, they had their stay of execution. rather than being hung or executed, they will be released and actually sent to the french navy. the french warships are in the chesapeake bay. these men are given a reprieve. they are being told, you will serve the rest of your life on a
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french warship, impressed as a sailor. if you ever set foot on maryland again, you will be executed immediately. we know this because three of those men later escaped. the graves brothers and one of the other men, i believe it is andrews, later escaped and find their way to british held new york. those three are given loyalist claims. those three file claims with the british government. so, not everyone was a lucky. everybody had their property confiscated. this was hard on the fritchie family. it left behind his widow and 11 young children. later on, in the 1790's, both sueman, his widow will have some of that property returned to her and many think that that might be in response to the realization that he probably did not have much to do with this
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conspiracy. he was simply a pacifist who got caught up in this mania against the suspected loyalist plot. in case anyone is super into the civil war out there, the name caspar fritchie might ring a bell, caspar is the father of john caspar fritchie who later marries barbara, the flag waving heroine of that campaign. so, in conclusion, what can we take from these stories. we're talking in hindsight. we're talking about looking at the misconceptions of the past. as i mentioned earlier, one of the main takeaways is we look back at 1781 as the end of the revolution in many ways, at least the revolutionary war. for the people of 1781, this was
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not the case. it's easy for us to look back and say that things were done, the writing was on the wall. the situation was still up in the air enough that people in maryland and virginia were willing to put their lives on the line to support british cause. it was still in their view likely that the british would win this conflict. it's a perfect example of how loyalism is not a clear-cut set in stone division in society. there are men who participated in claypool's rebellion and in this uprising who had served for the continental cause. but, by 1781, they are facing taxation, they are facing all of the burdens of the war of and congress's authority, and they decide that they are going to change their mind. we also see men who participate in both of these events that end up then turning around and
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serving in the patriot cause later on. they've seen the error of their ways. they've been faced with this choice that you serve for the patriot, you serve the patriot cause, or else you will be punished. and i think the most important take away is that sometimes patriots and loyalists were kind of fighting for the same thing. the american rebels would've claimed that they were fighting for self-government, they are fighting for, against arbitrary government, arbitrary taxation, the tyranny that has been imposed upon them by the british government. well, the participants of claypool's rebellion and this western maryland conspiracy absolutely were fighting for the same thing. these are men who probably were never taxed harder or called upon more by the government had the government imposed restrictions on their lives more
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strenuously than they did in 1781, than they did by the governments of maryland and virginia versus the crown of great britain. so, there's a lot of, i think, kind of common cause in why these men were taking up arms, why they were resisting. they were just resisting in, they took two very different paths towards what they thought would assure them the greatest amount of freedom and prosperity. and i think that certainly adds an extra layer of complexity of two -- to how we look at the american revolution. with that, i ran up on some time but if anybody has some questions, i would love to answer them. host: thank you, travis. actually, don't have that many questions.
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one person did ask, i'll just ask you for your opinion of this. how would you define mid-atlantic? which colonies do you consider mid-atlantic. virginia is considered southern in some aspects. but probably more mid atlantic. what are your thoughts on that? travis: oh man. if i was to be 100% very geographically strenuous about this, i would say definitely pennsylvania, new jersey, delaware, maryland. maryland. western maryland has a lot more in common with pennsylvania whereas eastern maryland is closer -- the chesapeake is in the 18 century more in common with the south. again with virginia, certainly the tidewater is very much culturally politically, economically the south. the area i was discussing, hampshire county, out across the
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mountains, i would say culturally is much more in tune with western maryland and pennsylvania. that is where the settlers are coming through. that is where a lot of their economic and cultural ties are, too. you know, i kind of use that is -- as a broad term just to kind of, how can i best to find this tiny little area in western maryland and western virginia? but the mid-atlantic is a broader region. i certainly would not call all of virginia or maryland mid-atlantic. host: one question coming up. i will get that to that in a second. kind of a generic, broad question. you know, you mentioned what happened to some of these men after claypool's rebellion. and up there in frederick, the frederick seven. some of them go back to the continental army, which is crazy. we do not even think about that today. we think, you are either british.
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or you are a patriot or a whig. the complexities of the situation highlight the civil war aspect. this is a civil war in many respects. if you do not know this i am putting you on the spot so that is ok. how many of these loyalists do you think when the war was over and the united states was created, how many do you think actually leave and go to canada or go someplace else, just totally leave, refused to stay here and they just leave? travis: as far as the men involved in these two episodes? host: that or just in general. travis: in general kind of the numbers that scholars today give to the number of loyalists who actually leave the new united states is somewhere in the number of 80,000. so, it's a pretty substantial number of people, most will go to canada. some will go to the west indies. very few return to britain because these people are not
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really british. in many cases these families had been here for generations, over a century. america is home to them. about 80,000 total loyalists will leave. as far as in these particular instances, claypool's rebellion and this maryland conspiracy, we do not really know for sure. i imagine very few of them. i think these people are the rank and file if we want to call them that, pretty, we're talking about poor farmers, artisans, middle-class people. they had not necessarily bet everything on the british army. they had not gone over and enlisted, actually joined with cornwallis. so i think it was easier for them to kind of reintegrate back into society. they definitely play up this,
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"we were deluded, led by these ring leaders. we didn't really mean it." my good friend stephanie walters has done a lot of research on virginia loyalism. she's found at least one account of one of these loyalists in western virginia who's later involved in, i think it is, either a suicide or a murder that happens like 20 years down the road. and it was related back to the stance he had taken during the war. i think for the most part, the people, the ones who are part -- pardoned at least make a good-faith effort to reintegrate into society. some of these guys, especially the deserters, they go back into the army. say, we were wrong. we will help the war effort. it really falls most heavily on the ringleaders. host: we will ask one more
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question. we have a couple other questions we do not have a lot of time for. i will email them to you. we will get the answers. i will get you blane's question. were these other loyalist groups aware of any activities or activists in other parts of the colonies? did they ever create a loyalist network, these pockets of rebellions and loyalists, did they ever try to get together in some kind of fashion and work together? travis: that is a great question. host: it is, is it not? travis: that is a really good question. in the minds of the congressional authorities, they absolutely believed that this was part of a widespread conspiracy, that there was coordination between these groups. that is kind of the difference between what is happening in 1781 and what happened earlier in the war, this belief that this is part of something bigger. in reality, probably not as much.
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as i said, there is some fear that there is english agents operating with claypool's guys, whipping them into a frenzy. early on in the war in 1776, -- 1775, 1776, they start rounding up suspected loyalists in maryland and virginia because there is this idea they will raise groups of indians on the frontier that are going to link up with them, and they will march east and burn everything in the tidewater. there is a fear of this conspiracy but there is very little actual evidence this is happening in maryland or virginia. in places where the british army is well-established and where loyalism is stronger and you see the raising of provincial regiments, yes, there is much more coordination. northern new jersey, new york city, in the carolinas when the british army arrives, there is a bit more coordination, but that seems to take place mostly
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wherever the british army and the british political infrastructure exists. out here on the frontier, it is kind of like, these things are kind of every man for himself. host: ok. great. thank you, travis. i knew a little bit about claypool but not as much as you just covered. i knew nothing about the frederick seven. which is amazing. great story. i know you love frederick. it is very apropos you brought that up. thank you for that. we will see you at the end of the day for the panel. some of these other questions we may bring up in the panel. travis: unfortunately, you will not be seeing me at the panel. i have another commitment. please my email, email
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