The Continental Congress publishes the “Tory Work” resolution on this day in 1776, which describes how colonies should handle those Americans who remain loyal to the British and King George.
The act called on colonial committees to indoctrinate those “honest and well-meaning, but uninformed people” by enlightening them as to the “origin, nature and extent of the present controversy.” The Congress remained “fully persuaded that the more our right to the enjoyment of our ancient liberties and privileges is examined, the more just and necessary our present opposition to ministerial tyranny will appear.”
However, those “unworthy Americans,” who had “taken part with our oppressors” with the aim of gathering “ignominious rewards,” were left to the relevant bodies, some named “councils of safety ominously,” to choose their fate. Congress simply offered its “opinion” that dedicated Tories “should be disarmed, and the more threatening included in this either held in safe custody, or destined with sufficient sureties with their good behavior.”
The lengths Congress and lesser colonial bodies would go to to be able to repress Loyalists took a darker tone later in the act. List types of the “execrable barbarity with which this unhappy battle has been conducted for our enemies,” Congress vowed to do something “whenever retaliation may be necessary” though it might confirm a “disagreeable job.”
In the true face of such hostility, some Loyalists chose never to stay in the American colonies. During the pugilative war, between 60,000 and 70,000 free people and 20,000 slaves discontinued the rebellious 13 colonies for other places within the United kingdom empire. The Revolution effectively created two countries: Patriots shaped the new USA, while fleeing Loyalists populated Canada.