tv Loyalist Resistance During the American Revolution CSPAN July 6, 2021 10:25am-11:25am EDT
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television companies support c-span 2 as a public service. >> during the revolutionary war colonists took up arms to try to gain their independence from england, however, there was a portion of the population that opposed the quest for independence and organized rebellions throughout the colonies. up next travis shaw looks at the causes of these uprisings and how these loyalists may have been misunderstood by history. mr. shaw is the education director for the virginia piedmont heritage area, the office of historic alexandria in partnership with emerging revolutionary war hosted this talk and provided the video. >> our first speaker is a good friend of mine, travis shaw. travis is the current director of education for the virginia piedmont heritage area, he brings in two decades of experience in the field of historic preservation, archeology and museum education. working with both private and public institutions prior to
joining the virginia piedmont heritage area travis spent time mt. vernon and the historic site and gardens. he holds a ba in history and history with a concentration in public history from american university. he has written numerous -- numerous articles for the american trust. if you look closely you might spot him in numerous historical films including mt. vernon and the boston tea party ships and museums. also he is famous on youtube and online because i think you do three or four videos a week virtual programs during this covid times. travis is well-versed in doing virtual presentations. it's my monitor welcome travis as he presents disaffected and dangerous persons loyalist resistance in the mid-atlantic. travis? >> thank you so much, rob and liz, it's 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 in 1936 the american author steven vincent benoit releases a famous short story and that is "the devil and daniel webster." it's a story about a new hampshire farmer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for prosperity and when the devil comes to collect his due, this farmer enlists the famous order daniel webster as his defense to try and get out of this compact with satan. there is a really well-done film version from 1941, you can see here, but even if you have never seen it, even if you have never read the short story, you're probably familiar with it because it has been parodied
dozens and dozens of time in pop culture, most famously on the simpsons, really great episode. one of the central themes of this story the devil and daniel webster 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 simpsons you have richard nixon, lizzie borden, the 1976 philadelphia flyers. in the original story, however, it's villains from america's founding. you have the notorious pirate black beard, you have thomas dale the heavy handed governor of the jamestown colony, you have king phillip the native-american leader name sake of king phillip's war. and most prominently you have a number of american loyalists from the revolutionary war. you have simon gerdy, you have walter butler, at one point they
asked where is benedict arnold, he is away on other business otherwise he would probably be a foreman of the jury. so here we are in the early 20th century and yet the greatest villains include these loyalists. they are portrayed as kind of the arch villains of america's past, they are people who resisted the founding of the republic, they are portrayed as proud, very heady, sometimes kind of clown i wishly incompetent, sometimes blood thirsty savages. really all of these stereotypes play into the popular conception of american loyalists, even hundreds of years after the conflict had ended. and, you know, in many ways this obscures the reality of american loyalism, american loyalism is incredibly complex, so what we're going to do today is we're
going to take a look back at two events in particular that occur in 1781 that i think helped give a more complete, more well-rounded view of the types of people that resisted american independence and perhaps gave a more complex view of the events surrounding our nation's birth. before we do that i'd like to spend a few minutes giving a general overview of the loyalists. this image here is kind of a 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 about 20% to 25% of the population, so we're certainly not talking about a majority, but we are talking about an incredibly sizable minority of
people in the colonies. you know, 20% to 25%, we are talking about at least half a million people in the american colonies could be defined adds loyalists. now, whether that means pass i have loyalism in the sense that maybe they're resisting continental -- the continental congress in passive ways, you know, giving intelligence, giving supplies, giving shelter to british forces, refusing to pay their taxes or to, you know, submit to continental congress' demands for goods or men, or active loyalism. in that case we are talking about men who are actually 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 that they make?
and in general we can kind of break these motivations down. some of these motivations do overlap substantially, but there's a few kind of core principles at work here. the first and kind of the biggest is political conservatism. it's important for us to remember now, you know, we are talking about hindsight, hindsight being 2020, at the start of the american revolution british subjects are really kind of the freest and least taxed, greatest political rights of any people in the western world. most british subjects could simply point across the english channel and say, well, look at france. look at spain. look further on the continent to places like the habsburg monarchy or to russia. these are absolutist powers. in england we have a constitution, we have rights that are guaranteed for englishmen. and even across the atlantic here in the american colonies,
as i said, 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 english men the ideas of a republic or democracy, that's akin to anarchy. there is a feeling or a saying that better one king 1,000 miles away than 1,000 kings one mile away and that representative government pretty quickly gives way to mob rule. you know, these loyalists would certainly see themselves as the forces of law and order in a kind of an arc i can society. for other loyalists it's a more personal connection. many people living in the american colonies still had family ties to those over in britain. economic ties. certainly the hot bed of loyalism here in virginia is going to be seen as the southeastern part of the colony
there around norfolk. this is an area that is very cosmopolitan, very dependent on shipping and economic ties. so even if you are not a wealthy merchant, you might be a ship builder or a rope maker or a ship handler, someone who's livelihood is tried to this global economic system that revolves around the british empire and that's certainly true in a lot of other colonies. we have a perception that most loyalists are incredibly healthy people, people who have status and money to lose, but the real is we're 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're going to see that in the events that i'm going to discuss later on. certain areas, again, are geographically tied to the empire. with he tend to see a lot of loyalists in the large cities on
the seaboard, again, cities that are tied to the global trade of the empire. cities that are 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 don't 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 turn to loyalism. again, that fear of mob rule. the fear that the mob is going to kind of subsume them. you see as far as ethnic groups go in particular of course native americans are going to look to the crown as kind of a 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 scots are going to be associated with loyalism, particularly the highland scots. in virginia in a lot of 18th century documents the word scotsman or scot is almost always associated with being a torrey or being a loyalist. religious groups like quakers, nonviolent passivist groups their nonviolence is going to be seen as kind of a -- a suspicious trait, kind of a back door into pass i have loyalism, these people don't want to support the war effort against the british, therefore, they must be with the british. and then 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're going to see in the events we will 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 a spectrum of kind of loyalists versus patriot support, and one of the biggest factors that's 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 to be during the british occupation of philadelphia. as the american army is kind of 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 simply because the british are in power, the british seem like they are on the winning side at this point, they have hard money to play. there is definitely some opportunism at play. lastly i call it personal
retribution, we are going to see time and time again, including in the events i'm going to talk about, that for some people the american revolution is not necessarily a political struggle, it is going to be a personal struggle. this is played out brutally throughout the carolinas during the latter part of the war, it's going to play out in new jersey, it's going to play out along the frontier. for many people your enemy is whichever side your neighbor might happen to pick. if you've got a problem with the guy, if you -- you know, years ago he stole land from you or you've gotten into it over cattle or whatever other personal problems you might have with these people, that could definitely play out kind of under the guise of this conflict between rebels and loyalists in the sense that, you know, it gives you an opportunity -- it gives you kind of legal cover to exact retribution. so all of these factors as i said many of these can be intertwined, many of these overlap, but they are going to be important motivators for
loyalists. you know, i would say that there's 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 i said we're going to look at two events that occurred in the mid-atlantic in 1781 and the reason i chose these events is, again, our theme this year is hindsight. and with hindsight we look at the year 1781 as the year the revolution is won. it's the year of the surrender at yorktown, the end of major hostilities here in the north american continent. but for the people living through 1781 the future certainly was a lot murkier. you have to remember that in 1781 at the beginning of the year you have cornwall lass leading an army through the carolinas and although he's going to suffer several setbacks the americans are unable to stop or destroy his army and of course charleston 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 there certainly can't 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 anglo -- excuse me -- franco-american forces had been turned back at savannah, they had been turned back in rhode island. 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 landed under the command of benedict arnold. that's going to be reinforced throughout the spring. corn wallace 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 that it was all kind of said and done by that point, but that was 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 will begin with claypool's rebellion. claypool's rebellion to set the scene the part of virginia that we are going to focus on is an area known as hampshire county, it's 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 in the area, particularly along the major rivers. we are talking about the south branch of the potomac river, we're talking about the lost
river, the kakapon or however you say that is correct i'm not a west virginian, but this area is really kind of the leading edge of heavy settlements, particularly along the rivers, particularly along the few turnpike roads that are kind of first being built out into the area. as with much of the southern frontier, we are talking about stroch-irish immigrants coming from ulster and northern ireland, scots coming from scotland proper and a lot of german settlers as well. this is kind of the ethnic mix that we see in western pennsylvania, we see kind of coming down from the great valley of pennsylvania, spreading into the shenandoah valley and westward across the mountains into these river valleys in hampshire county. just to put some modern context, this is the area we are talking about. so warfield, west virginia, is the heart of this area, down to
petersburg, west virginia, the lost river valley towards whartonsville. so just over the mountains from the shenandoah valley. so in april of 1781 colonel garrett van meter who is the commanding certainly of the militia out in hampshire county writes a letter to governor thomas jefferson and in it he is going to describe basically the panic that is sweeping across this area in the early part of 1781. so we are talking a -- he says, quote -- oops. a dangerous insurrection was lately arisen in this county. occasioned by the execution of the late ax of assembly for recruiting this state's quota of troops to serve in the continental army. and the act for supplying the army with clothes, provisions and wagons. in consequence of which the collector of the tax under the former act 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 at this point, virginia has kind of up to this point been more or less untouched by the war so virginia is serving as a bread basket for the continental army, supplying everything from grain and meat, cattle, livestock, wagons, you know, any kind of supplies that are going to help keep the army in the field. well, at this time around 1781 a tax has been passed at 80% of your personal property. so if you own 100 pounds worth of property you will be taxed 80 pounds on that to help keep the army in the field. this is an incredibly onerous
task on anyone living in virginia at the time. we're also talking about the requisition thing 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 just prior to this is actually complaining that he sent 50 of the local militiamen down south to assist with nathaniel green's army and they are being taken into the army rather than serving their term and being returned to hampshire county. 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's important to point out is this is not the first loyalist disturbance that has occurred in this area. in 1777, three years prior -- or
four years prior, a force of 70 men was raised by william hinton one of the settlers in rocking ham county. they are being raised to fight -- arrested, put in jail, everyone is disbursed, but it's going to start a snowball effect along the western front -- western virginia frontier. these arrests and retributions are going to continue through the late 1770s and into the 1780s. in april of 178 0rks just a year prior to this, a guy named sebastian hoover was killed by a loyalist neighbor of his. this kind of violence, this tit for tat violence is going to start spreading through 1780. really prime the people of western virginia for what will occur in spring of 1781 as more widespread resistance. you know, to this day there's actually an area in randolph county now in west virginia called forry 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's very different. this time we actually have a british army in virginia that is operating in virginia. so what had previously been kind of isolated incidents now is seen as part of a much wider conspiracy to raise men to join cornwall lass and to kind of overthrow congressional authority in virginia. and this is, again, one of the main impulses. van meeter is out in the county trying to raise 240 militia to march to williamsburg to help defend the colony and that's
really what is going to kick off what is known as clay -- claypool's rebellion. they say there is resistance, people don't want to pay the taxes, 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, a guy named john claypool and they are going to, quote, declare that they will not make up any clothes, beef or men for the congressional forces, and then claypool is going to distribute liquor amongst these men and they are going to drink to king george iii's health and damnation to the congress. now, this may not seem like a serious incident, but, again, within the context of what's
going on with cornwall lass'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 that he had sent to arrest claypool. he shows up with a posse of 50 men to put claypool in irons. they're going to be confronted by an even larger group of armed men, probably 70 or 80 armed men. wisely, the there have agrees to back down, but claypool's rebellion has begun in ernest. we know he was born in 1733. accounts differ as to where he comes from. some say he was born in rockingham county in western
virginia, although other sources say maybe he was born in delaware and that his parents had moved to the area as a young man. he's described as a scotsman. scots are associated with toryism. there's the sense that they're a different culture not to be trusted. lord dunmore is a perfect example of this. we do know that claypool settled along the lost river in the 1750s & his family is very prominent. certainly not a poor farmer. well-established family at this
time. pretty middling in the sense of the type of people we see out 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. john brake, unlike claypool is a german immigrant and he's a very prominent man, probably more prominent than claypool himself. he owns a mill, some other industries there along the river about 15 miles or so south of modern day morefield. when we look at the men making up this rebellion, it's a lot of immigrants, german immigrants, scottish immigrants. these people are fairly poor.
these are the people that that 80% tax is going to fall very heavily on. these are the people actually being called up into military duty. at this point, virginia has instituted a levy system. so many men desert. they resist this. one of the local informants said i am informed there are several deserters amongst those people. some are english prisoners held in the charlottesville area or the winchester area who have made their way over the mountains to escape. we have men drafted into the army for a period of time and do not want to go and serve. they are going to join this rebellion. there is some claim that there are english agents circulating through the area trying to
convince these men to rebel. whether or not there's any proof of that, really has never been conclusively proven. there are a lot of theories floating around, a lot of misinformation, a lot of panic. but the fear has a very real effect on the virginia government. there's fear these men are going to join with cornwallis. there's a lot going on in the spring of 1781. here is a modern view of where the brake farm is today, courtesy of google. the building on the left is an original 18th century building, but there would have been a larger complex and farm here. it gives you an idea of the terrain.
this is a very heavily wooded area, a lot of hills and hollows, the perfect place to lead an insurrection. here's here at the brake farm that colonel van meter is going to send a mounted column of militia to break up this rebellion before it takes off. when they arrive at the brake farm, they're actually going to be greeted by an exchange of gunfire. van meter and his force are going to be pushed back in an armed exchange. this is at the point where the virginia authorities decide something more seriously needs to be done. so they are going to call upon probably virginia's second greatest hero of the revolution after george washington himself. that is going to be daniel morgan, the old waggoner. daniel morgan has left the army, he has returned home to the winchester area. he's suffering from a lot of
health issues. he's been kind of passed over a few times for command. he feels like he hasn't quite gotten his due. 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 it can snowball out of control. he will assemble 400 men from the surrounding counties. they will march over the mountains here. if you look at the map, we can see the winchester area. over the mountains and into the south branch valley. they are going to first stop at john claypool's property as they're marching out preponderate it's here that claypool and his rebels will confront daniel morgan.
there's a brief exchange of gunfire. john brake, claypool's second in command, is killed in the exchange. claypool himself and most of the men under his command will scatter. they will head to the hills, they will head to these remote hollows and valleys and absolutely flee in terror in the face of daniel morgan and this much larger, much better trained and equipped force of men. the next stop on daniel morgan's march will be the brake farm itself. he and his men will make themselves there quite comfortably for the next few days living off of the brake family's livestock and crops. as they are occupying this area, many of the men who had 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. so over the next three weeks most of the rebels will turn themselves in. this is going to include john claypool himself. what we referred to as the claypool rebellion really is not a huge, huge, huge disturbance. i think daniel morgan was right in striking at the heart of it, going after the two main ringleaders, breaking it up before this rebellion can grow into a much more serious threat. the aftermath of the rebellion, most of the men are pardoned. most of them plea to the virginia authorities that they had been misled, that their quarrel was not with -- they were 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 evil and wicked ring leaders who put them on this path toward supporting the british. 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 their good faith towards the american cause. many of the ringleaders are going to petition directly to the governor of virginia, who at this point is governor harrison for clemency. there's a transcription of that petition here. they say they were induced to join the conspiracy against the state, the obviously of which was to refuse the payment of taxes and to oppose the act for raising troops. again, they're couching this not in terms of support for britain, but opposition to taxation and drafting of men.
both colonel van meter, the militia colonel, and daniel morgan himself will support this movement toward pardoning the rebels. daniel morgan says, quote, i can truly say this is the first time i ever spoke in favor of a tory and wished their lives spared them. the humanity urges me to say something in favor of claypool and wish he may obtain forgiveness. even daniel more began is argue ing for leniency. claypool and the rest of his conspirators will go home to their home to the river along the south fork.
claypool will live in peace the rest 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're going to discuss. talk about a conspiracy. i refer to it as the frederick seven. there's 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. so june of 1781 a similar letter arrives, this time at the government of maryland. the information is given to this board to have good reason to believe that henry newcomer of frederick county are disaffected and dangerous persons whose going at large may be
detrimental to the state. again, we have this information arrive that there's this nebulous idea that these dangerous people are afoot and 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're 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. the area we're talking about is a wide area basically from modern frederick maryland west to hagerstown, maryland. a lot of the small towns in between. 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, a guy named henry
newcomer. he lives in sharpsburg. the newcomer farm is one of the landmarks of anti-tum. there's a dutch man named frichy over in frederick who is going to lead this body of men to join with lord cornwallace. the man he confides in is christian orndorff. he's been captured early on in the war but released early on parole. he's returned to sharpsburg. he's going to really play this up. orndorff 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, like how can i get
involved, who else is involved, what kind of men have you enlisted for this plot. predictably, he is going to turn around and report everything he has heard from newcomer straight to the maryland authorities. and it's going to become clear that 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 later claimed they had gotten oaths of allegiance to the crown from over 6,000 individuals. i think he's 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 6,000 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. authorities quickly zero in on seven ringleaders associated with this plot. nicholas andrews, john grays and adam grays, yost pleker, peter sueman and casper frichy. there's a lot of germans on this list. again, german immigrants are going to be associated with this plot just as they kind of had been with claypool's rebellion. again, these people are a lot of recent immigrants. also there's a lot of germans fighting alongside the crown,
german auxiliary. peter sueman in particular, he is a member of the brethren church, which is a pacifist sect. here's someone who is suspect to begin with because he has up until this point refused to support the continental cause because of his pacifist beliefs. so these are the seven ringleaders. one of the local militia commanders a guy named thomas sprague summed up the feeling toward these seven men when he he said they admitted to administering the oath of allegiance to many persons, they confessed freely they expect and deserve to be hanged and i pray god they may not be disappointed. so unlike claypool's rebellion where the ringleaders are pardoned, the state of maryland is not going to take as kind of a view of these seven
ringleaders. the ringleaders are brought to the courthouse in frederick where they are going to face a special tribunal. this goes back to the medieval days. it is a special court where they will not be tried by a jury, but instead will be tried by a panel of men specifically appointed for crimes like treason. the judges selected for james johnson, local militia commander, also the brother of governor thomas johnson. alexander hanson, the son of john hanson, one of the first presidents of the congress. and upton sheridan, a local judge and state senator. all three of these men are known for being very, very committed to the continental congress, to the american cause and for having an extremely harsh stance toward any suspected loyalists.
there's really no semblance these men are being tried by an impartial court. the deck is stacked against them. it is not going to take long for them to reach a conclusion in this trial. christian orndorff, the continental officer who had overheard all of this to begin with, he is basically going to be the star witness. he is going to testify against these men and within a matter of just a few days the trial is over and all seven men are going to be found guilty. the sentence, you shall be carried to the jail of frederick town and hanged therein. you shall be cut down to the earth alive. your entrails shall be taken out and burnt while you are yet alive. your head shall be cut off. your body shall be cut into four parts. this is drawing and quartering.
this is positively medieval stuff here. this is a punishment that we don't really associate with the american revolution. we associate with a much more brutal age to, again, kind of call back to some pop culture. anyone who has seen the end of the movie brave heart knows what we are talking about. hanged, cut down, cut apart, beheaded. this is a message to anyone else who might be considering rising up against the continental or congressional authority within the state of maryland. this is a punishment 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 this is the writ for sueman himself which still survives telling the
sheriff to carry out this brutal punishment. we do know that three of the ringleaders, frichy, pleker and sueman were brought out in front of the courthouse onto the grounds. this is the modern city hall in frederick, which stands on the courthouse grounds were these executions were taken place. on friday, august 17th, those three were brought to the courthouse and we know they were executed. local papers, contemporary sources just say they were killed. family lore and the legends say at least one of them, 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 horrific and barbaric execution and the
others were simply hanged until dead. 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, drawn, quartered or executed, they will be released and actually sent to the french navy. the french warships are, of course, in the chesapeake bay at this time. these men are being told you're going to serve the rest of your life on a french warship as a sailor and if you ever set foot in 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's andrews later escape and find their way to british held new york. those three are given loyalist claims. they file claims with the
british government. so not everyone was as lucky as those three. everyone had their property confiscated. this was particularly hard on the frichy family. it left behind his widow and 11 young children with no means of support. sueman's family suffers a similar fate. later on in the 1790s sueman's widow is going to have some of that property returned to him. many think that might be in response to the realization that he probably didn't have much to do with this conspiracy. he was simply a pacifist who got caught new this mania against this suspected loyalist plot. in case anyone is super into the civil war out there, the name casper frichy might ring a bell. casper frichy is the father of john casper frichy, who later married barbara hower, the famous barbara frichy, the
flag-waving heroine of the 1862 campaign. we're talking about hindsight, we're talking about looking back on some of the misconceptions of the past. as i mentioned earlier, one of the main take-aways is we look at 1781 as the end of the revolutionary war. for the people of 1781 this was not the case. although it's easy for us to look back and say things were kind of 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 the british cause. it was still, in their view, likely that the british would win this conflict.
it'sing 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 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 and of congress's authority, and they decide 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 serving in the patriot cause later on. they've been faced with this choice that you serve for the patriots, 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 have
claimed that they eesh fighting for self-government. they are fighting against arbitrary government, arbitrary taxation, the tyranny that has been imposed upon them by the british government. the participants of both 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 strenuously than they did in 1781, than they did by the government of maryland and virginia versus the crown of great britain. so there's a lot of kind of common cause, at least in why these men were taking up arms, why these men were resisting. they were just resisting -- they
just took two very different paths towards what they thought would assure them the greatest amount of freedom and prosperity. that certainly adds an extra layer of complexity to how we look at the american revolution. with that, i know i've kind of ran up on some time here, but if anybody has any questions, i would love to answer them. >> all right. thank you, travis. actually, don't have that many questions. one person did ask -- and i'll just ask you for your opinion of this. how would you define the atlantic? which colonies do you consider mid atlantic? i know virginia is considered southern in some aspects, but probably more mid atlantic. what are your thoughts? >> i think if i was to be absolutely 100%, you know, very
geographically strenuous about this, i would say pennsylvania, new jersey, delaware. maryland, you know, western maryland i think has a lot more in common with pennsylvania whereas eastern maryland -- the chesapeake is, at least in the 18th century, more in common with the south. again with virginia, certainly the tidewater is culturally, politically, economically the south. the area that i was discussing, hampshire county across the mountains i would say culturally is much more in tune with pennsylvania, with western maryland. that's where these settlers are coming through. that's where their economic and cultural ties are to. you know, i kind of use that as a broad term just to kind of how can i best define this tiny little area instead of western maryland, western virginia.
the mid atlantic is a broader region. i certainly wouldn't call all of virginia or maryland at this time mid atlantic. >> i have one question coming up. it's kind of a generic broad question. you mentioned what happens to some of these men after claypool's rebellion and with the frederick seven. some of them go back into the continental army, which is crazy. we don't even think about that today. you're either a patriot or a whig or a loyalist. the complexity just highlights the civil war aspect, this is basically a civil war in many respects. i'm putting you on the spot here. how many of these loyalists do you think when the war was over and the united states was created, how many of them do you think actually leave and go to canada or go someplace else and
just refuse to stay here and just leave? what do you think? >> as far as the men involved in these two episodes? >> that or in general. in general. it's hard to answer but in general. >> in general, kind of the numbers that scholars today give to the number of loyalists who leave the new united states is somewhere in the number of about 80,000. 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. 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 don't really know for sure. i imagine very few of them.
generally, the rank and file are poor farmers, small family farmers like artisans, middle class people, they had not necessarily bet everything on the british army. they hadn't joined with cornwallace. i think it was easier for them to kind of reintegrate back into society. you know, they definitely play up this, oh, we were deluded, we were led by these ringleaders who talked us into this, we didn't really need it. my good friend stephanie seal walters has done a lot of research on virginia loyalism in particular. she's found at least one account of these suspected loyalists out in western virginia who's later involved in either a suicide or
a murder that happens like 20 years down the road and it was in some ways related back to the stance he had taken during the war. but i think for the most part, these people, the ones who are pardoned at least, make a good faith effort to reintegrate into society. some of these guys, especially the deserters from the army, go back into the army, say we were wrong, we'll go help the war effort. it really falls most heavily on the ringleaders. >> sure. one more question. we have a couple of other questions that we don't have a lot of time for. i will e-mail them to you and we'll get the answers. >> sure. >> i will get to blaine's question here. were these and other loyalist groups aware of other groups in the area, activities or activists in other parts of the colonies? did they ever create some kind of loyalist network, pockets of
rebellions? did they ever try to get together in some fashion and work together? >> that's a great question. that is a really good question. in the minds of the congressional authorities, they absolutely believe this was part of a widespread conspiracy, that there was coordination between these groups. that's kind of the difference between what's 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. as i said, there's some fear that there's english agents operating with claypool's guys, kind of whipping these guys up into a frenzy. early on in the war in 1775 and 1776, they start rounding up suspected loyalists because there's this idea they are going to raise indians on the frontier that are going to link up with
them and march east and burn everything in the tidewater. there's a fear of this conspiracy but very little evidence this is happening in maryland or virginia. in places where the british army is well establish edestablished is much more coordination, places like new jersey, places like new york city, in the carolinas when the british army arrives there is a bit more coordination, but that seems to take place mostly wherever the british army and the british political infrastructure exists. out here on the frontier, these things are kind of every man for himself. >> right. okay. 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. great story.
i know you love frederick. it's very apropos that you brought that up. thank you. we will see you at the end of the day for the panel. >> unfortunately you will not be seeing me at the panel. i have another commitment. >> that's right. >> e-mail these questions to me. it has been an absolute pleasure. thank you guys so much. tonight on american history tv, a look into a supreme court landmark case plessy versus ferguson. scholars look at its impact on education and housing and how we still live with the legacy of the decision. we'll also look at the life and legacy of thurgood marshall and his impact on u.s. history. watch tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
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