cover image Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War

Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War

Thomas B. Allen, Harper, $26.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-124180-2

Drawing on letters, diaries, and other primary sources, historian Allen (George Washington, Spymaster) challenges the traditional notion that all the colonists wanted to overthrow the oppressive British government. Instead, he argues that a substantial portion of Americans remained loyal to Britain. Even families were divided, making the Revolution a civil war that often pitted sons against fathers and brothers against brothers. Yet Patriots and Loyalists changed constantly with the varying fortunes of the war. [ For example, Stephen Jarvis, a young farmer, initially joined the Patriots' Connecticut militia in order to defy his Tory father; when his regiment was temporarily released from active duty, young Jarvis fought with the Tory army on Long Island. After the war, 80,000 Tories left the new United States, many starting new lives in Canada; in 1792, about 2,000 ex-slaves given their freedom for joining the Loyalists, sailed to Africa, founding what is now Sierra Leone. Allen's thorough research and fast-paced narrative provide fresh ways of thinking about the Revolutionary War and shed new light on the lives of those, from bankers to small tradesmen, who remained loyal to the throne in the face of vigorous opposition and persecution. (Nov.)