The USA Terror; did it happen?

Aug 2009
5,434
Londinium
#1
Following the French, Russian, Chinese, Cambodian and (as far as I can recall) any significant revolution, a political and social ‘terror’ took place. This often involved harsh repercussions against anyone seen to be ‘anti-revolution’ as well as a general purge of anything relating to the old system. This invariably became a violent witch hunt as the revolutionary finger became pointed at various people/groups with even a slither of evidence, but always backed by the zeal and fervour of a successful revolution. However, I don’t recall hearing of something similar happening in the US.

My (limited) research has only found a line in wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution#Loyalist_expatriation
But about 80% of the Loyalists stayed in the United States and became full, loyal citizens; some of the exiles later returned to the U.S.
Loyalists just moved to Canada, was it really that peaceful and straightforward: no ‘long march’ equivalent? Perhaps this easy way out prevented any accusations of counter revolutionary activity? What happened to the Loyalists who left the USA then returned? If any Loyalists remined loyal to the Crown within the new Republic, were there forced deportations or executions? How about some kind of forced/public/formal renouncing of King George and the UK? Just swear the oath of allegiance to the US and we’re all good? Did anyone refuse to swear allegiance then stay in the new Republic?

Was there an USA equivalent of the French Terror, and if so, what form did it take and what happened during this time?
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,276
#2
There were loyalists executed for treason and other crimes, as well as some attacked by mobs. Loyalist property was usually seized. Loyalists were paid compensation by the British government for land and so on lost. There was a fairly large exodus of loyalists to Canada, Bermuda, etc.

There were probably about 50-200 loyalists executed or lynched. Not sure if there is research on that. It wasn't anywhere the scale of the French Revolution or Communist Revolutions.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,260
Dispargum
#3
There was a fairly consistent pattern through the War of Independence of the British occupying an area, encouraging the Loyalists to self identify by helping the British restore crown government by identifying local Patriot leaders, then the British Army would withdraw, leaving the Loyalists high and dry, exposed to Patriot retaliation.

It didn't take long for the Loyalists to learn to keep their heads down and not cooperate even when the British Army was around, because sooner or later the British Army would leave. This effectively turned Loyalists into neutrals since deeds count for more than sympathy.

Many people who were labeled as Loyalists were actually pacifists such as Quakers and Amish. Since these people were more correctly neutrals, it was easier for these people to reconcile with the victors after the war.
 
Jan 2009
1,263
#4
Another contributing factor, in my mind, is that the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions were class revolutions, too, overthrowing the old order and replacing it with a new. Whereas in the USA revolution it was the local elites declaring independence from a crown overseas.


A better comparison would be with Simon Bolivar and the independence wars in South America.
 
Aug 2009
5,434
Londinium
#5
Many people who were labeled as Loyalists were actually pacifists such as Quakers and Amish. Since these people were more correctly neutrals, it was easier for these people to reconcile with the victors after the war.
Ah, of course! Thanks. I hadn't considered the religious aspect to any support/opposition for the Rev War.
 
Aug 2009
5,434
Londinium
#7
There were loyalists executed for treason and other crimes, as well as some attacked by mobs. Loyalist property was usually seized. Loyalists were paid compensation by the British government for land and so on lost. There was a fairly large exodus of loyalists to Canada, Bermuda, etc.

There were probably about 50-200 loyalists executed or lynched. Not sure if there is research on that. It wasn't anywhere the scale of the French Revolution or Communist Revolutions.
Thanks for the additional infomation. I'#m going to look more into the Loyalists actions and what happened to them after the war. I've found this article which was enjoyable to read https://www.npr.org/2015/07/03/419824333/what-happened-to-british-loyalists-after-the-revolutionary-war?t=1531309320971

But there was a lot of bloodshed, and particularly in the South. And gangs of revolutionaries, gangs of loyalists, would attack each other, go to each other's plantations. In fact, some of the big battles in the South happened after the surrender at Yorktown.
 

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