The Wrong Side of History: Loyalists in the American Revolution
The Not Old Better Show, Smithsonian Associates Interview Series
The loyalists were the losers of the American Revolution. Americans who rejected independence and who fought to keep the colonies safely within the bosom of the British Empire forfeited almost everything when the patriots declared victory at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. History quickly lost sight of them, and from our contemporary perspective it’s hard to understand why so many ordinary Americans were bitterly opposed to the break with Britain and the birth of a new democratic nation.
Historian Richard Bell, left, my guest today on The Not Old Better Show, examines the American Revolution from the point of view of those colonists who remained staunchly loyal to Britain and the Crown. Focusing on individuals with compelling personal stories, Bell challenges deeply rooted stereotypes of loyalists as sycophantic, cowardly, and selfish persons of means — usually merchants, petty aristocrats, or government officials.
In truth, loyalists came from all rungs of the social ladder. Many were white, like the Anglican minister Jacob Bailey, and some were black, like George Washington’s escaped slave Harry. Using their experiences as examples, Bell examines why men and women like them chose to remain loyal to Britain, what the experience of the Revolution was like for them, and how their lives changed once the patriots won the war.
My thanks to our guest today, Richard Bell, who will be at the Smithsonian Associates program presenting The Wrong Side of History: Loyalists in the American Revolution April 24, 2018.
My thanks, as well, to the Smithsonian team for all they do to support our interviews.
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