July 2010 | L. D. Mitchell

Collecting Loyalist Literature

Folks sometimes forget that not everyone living in late 18th century America supported the cause of revolution.  In fact, historians estimate that some 20% of the population actually supported Great Britain.  For lots of reasons: family ties; financial ties; fear of mob rule; conscientious objection....

However, as patriots gained control of publishing centers in the 1770s, broadsides, pamphlets and books published in support of the loyalist cause naturally became increasingly scarce, and today such items often fetch very tidy sums.

0872206947.jpgJames Rivington, the pre-eminent loyalist publisher, saw not a few of his publications (e.g., Joseph Galloway's A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great-Britain and the Colonies, 1775) put to the torch in several colonies.  Other loyalist publications--those of the Rev. Samuel Seabury (America's 1st Episcopal bishop) and Daniel Leonard, for example--suffered similar indignities, anonymity being no shield against patriotic fervor.

Fortunately, surviving loyalist tracts often are available in modern reprints.  Thus, even book collectors who are disinclined to spend time and money seeking out original examples of the opposition press can still create reasonably balanced collections....
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