Review Corner: “The Price of Loyalty: Tory Writings from the Revolutionary Era”

29 Sep

The Price of Loyalty: Tory Writings from the Revolutionary Era. Edited by Catherine S. Crary. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1973. ISBN 0-07-013460-X. Drawings, Bibliography, Index, Pp. xxvii, 481.

 Reviewed By Simon S. Sundaraj-Keun

            For enthusiasts fascinated in the Loyalist (Tories/Tory) during the American Revolutionary Era, The Price of Loyalty is a book that dives into the trials and tribulations of Tories in Colonial America. This book is a collection of journal, articles, and letters written by Loyalist about their experiences during the political and social crisis of Colonial America. The editor, Catherine S. Crary compiled numerous primary sources of Tories writings in order to recollect on their psychological, political, emotional and economical responses during the Revolutionary Era.

            This book was published in part of ‘The Bicentennial of the American Revolution Anniversary’ in order to focus on the complexity of Colonial society during the Revolutionary Era. The main theme of this book is to depict the cost of allegiance that set Loyalist a part from the rest of Colonial communities. It also focuses on individuals responses on key events from the early days to the aftermath of the Revolutionary Era.

             The book starts out with the mindset of Loyalist prior to the Revolutionary War. “Bewilderment, Equivocation, and Defiance” (pg 11) dives into the questioning by Loyalist of events like the Boston Tea incident to the boycotting and crackdown of British imports. Although the book does not directly elaborate on the general situation of the Tories but it gives an insight on the political position that an individual held.

            Furthermore, The Price of Loyalty exams the philosophical notion of loyalty to the first mass exodus from the Colonies to England and Canada from documents and Tories letters. The articles in “Animosities Afire” (pg 133) bring to light the sense of lawlessness brought about by the Patriots. The articles coincide with the main theme of this book by exploring on the subject of human cruelty, torture, and struggle for survival.

            Finally, this book elaborates on the reluctant of some Loyalist to return home after the Revolutionary War. “Casting Accounts” (pg 351) supports the theme of this book by referring to the labeling of Tories as traitors and the struggle in gaining acceptance within the post Colonists society. An important point that continues throughout this book is the personalization of individuals on their experiences and will to endure in a time of chaos.

            However, Crary’s book is based primary sources with a collection of multiple authors who narrate a brief description on who wrote and what was the article about. It also contains a comprehensive bibliography with excellent footnotes and an index section. The strength of this book is in the personal reminiscences of multiple of individuals about the sense of security lost and hope of reconciliation dash in their personal struggle of being loyal to the Crown.

            The Price of Loyalty offers information on the sacrifices and misfortunes of Loyalist in Revolutionary America. It portrays Loyalist as a common person who was torn between their neighbor and King. This book is useful in bridging the mental gap between Patriots and Loyalist. I do recommend this book for historians of American Revolutionary Era and enthusiast in general.


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