Looking back at wars, especially ones on our land and revered in history, it seems that each could have been avoided and was in a hypothetical sense unnecessary. Ours is, however, not a hypothetical world, but rather is one we manage badly.
Our glorious Revolutionary War and its aftershock, the War of 1812, was two wars in one simultaneously, without even considering the aftershock. It was a revolt against the grossly misconceptualized and ineptly managed British colonial empire, and that alone would make it paramount in our history, but it was also a very bloody civil war. It pitched North Americans against North Americans, Tories against Whigs, loyalists against patriots, Native Americans against Native Americans, slaves and freedmen against fellow Americans. It was a bloody mess.
Maya Jasanoff, author of Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World, writes it, “seems safe to estimate the total loyalist emigration from revolutionary America at 60,000 individuals,” and, “to conclude that loyalists carried some 15,000 slaves out.” Our spirit of 1776 became the spirit of 1783 for British North America, which in the very long view was good for both the United States and Canada as well as the growing British empire; but in the short view it was misery for most of the new emigrants.
Broken promises, frustrated expectations, unfamiliar and hostile environments, and insufficient necessities were the bread and water for most involved in the diaspora. The irony is that the views on liberties, citizen rights, and self-governance between loyalists and patriots would require the splitting of a hair.
Jasanoff follows the diaspora from the colonies to the Maritimes–Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Quebec, East Florida, Britain, Bahamas, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, and India. Our loss of citizens from evacuation fed the British empire. It was a very high price for the colonies to pay for victory.
This is a good book for nurturing neighborly appreciation, and for expanding the typical American understanding of our Revolutionary War. Charles Marlin