The book Unfriendly to Liberty: NYC Loyalist Networks Before the Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2023) by Christopher F. Minty explores the origins of loyalism in the city of New York between 1768 and 1776, and revises the understanding of the coming of the American Revolution.
Through detailed analyses of those who became loyalists, Minty argues that would-be loyalists came together long before Lexington and Concord to form an organized, politically motivated, and inclusive political group that was centered around the DeLancey faction. Following the DeLanceys’ election to the New York Assembly in 1768, these men, elite and non-elite, championed an inclusive political economy that advanced the public good, and they strongly protested Parliament’s reorientation of the British Empire.
For New York loyalists, it was local politics, factions, institutions, and behaviors that governed their political activities in the build up to the American Revolution. By focusing on political culture, organization, and patterns of allegiance, Unfriendly to Liberty shows how the contending allegiances of loyalists and patriots were all but locked in place by 1775 when British troops marched out of Boston to seize caches of weapons in neighboring villages.
Indeed, local political alignments that were formed in the imperial crises of the 1760s and 1770s provided a critical platform for the divide between loyalists and patriots in New York City. Political and social disputes coming out of the Seven Years’ War, more than republican radicalization in the 1770s, forged the united force that would make the city of New York a center of loyalism throughout the American Revolution.
Christopher F. Minty is an editor at the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Stirling, and has received fellowships from the British Library, Harvard University, the New-York Historical Society, the New York State Archives, the New York State Library, and the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, among others. He previously served as assistant editor of The Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society and managing editor of The John Dickinson Writings Project. He lives in Astoria, NY, with his wife and daughter.
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Elise Hill says
Important and fascinating history, thank you.