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Must I be Called a Parricide: The Experiences and Perceptions of Georgia Loyalists, 1779-90

Tracey, Jack Campbell (2020) Must I be Called a Parricide: The Experiences and Perceptions of Georgia Loyalists, 1779-90. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85674) (KAR id:85674)

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Official URL:
https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85674

Abstract

The Loyalists of the American Revolution suffered the most abject kind of failure. They lost the argument, the war, their place in society, and (until comparatively recently) their place in history. Vilified in Whig ideology, at times dispossessed and uprooted, the Loyalists witnessed the Revolution at first hand and were its most immediate casualties. Understanding the character of the Revolution, the nature of imperial identities, and the development of American society postwar requires their stories be attended to sympathetically and in detail. This thesis canvasses the experiences and perceptions of Loyalists from Georgia. Heeding J.M. Bumsted's now thirty-year old call, I work to contemplate and accept these individuals on their own terms - for what they were as well as for what they were not - by considering how they culturally, rhetorically, and socially responded to the up-ending of their colonial American world. To this end, it explores the ways they engaged with each other, the British state, and the emerging American Republic by attending to where, when, and how individuals spoke to issues relating to allegiance, identity, and belonging both during and after the War of Independence. Above all, I question the extent to which their region - Georgia's distinctive locale as well as its singular colonial and wartime trajectories - fed into their self-understanding as well as the ways local circumstances and inflections shaped the architecture of their identities as Loyalists. In taking a localised approach, I have not sought to displace the work of historians who have primarily looked to examine the Loyalists' transnational face. Rather, by narrowing the field of vision and reflecting on the ways individuals in a particular sphere scaled their loyalism, I have worked to wrap layers of meaning around the scholarly centre they helped established. Throughout this thesis, I make three essential assertions. Firstly, I argue that by unpacking the ways Georgia loyalism emerged and evolved, it is possible to begin to get a clearer sense of the importance of local conditions and experiences to the development of Loyalist identity. I show that whilst always interacting with transnational experiences of allegiance and identity, the Georgia Loyalists' sense of self and belonging was pinned more firmly to their distinctive locale than has hitherto been acknowledged. Secondly, I contend that by turning to the words and actions of a broad constituency of Loyalist voices - laid bare in their public performances of allegiance, their appeals to the Loyali Claims Commission, and their petitions for citizenship after the war - important counterpoints to more common views deriving from military or political histories may be found, adding layers to the scholarly centre which has been established over the last forty years or so. In so doing, I indicate what is distinctive about the Georgia Loyalists' sense of self and belonging as well as what may have tied them to other 'friends of government' across the colonies (notably their sense of loss and betrayal, Francophobia, and their obvious contempt for the leaders of independence and republicanism). And finally, I argue that by analysing and synthesising the Georgia Loyalists' experiences and by recognising the importance of local inflections to the shaping of their perceptions, we arrive at a new understanding of Loyalist identity as a dialogic, provincialised mode that was framed by the particular context it was produced in as well as the broader transnational and imperial scene. In so doing, it becomes possible to think in new ways about the nature of loyalism and imperial attachment during the revolutionary epoch, and to refine the basis upon which the analysis of transatlantic affiliations has traditionally operated (that is to say with a predominant concern for high culture and politics often at the expense of more parochial practices or elements which comprise the majority of individuals' experiences).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Marsh, Ben
Thesis advisor: Caiani, Ambrogio A.
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85674
Uncontrolled keywords: American Revolution, Loyalists, Georgia, local history, transatlantic affiliations, identity, allegiance
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: [UNSPECIFIED] The Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE).
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2021 14:38 UTC
Last Modified: 19 May 2021 14:01 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/85674 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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