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Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary Worldby Maya Jasanoff
Synopses & Reviews
On November 25, 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing the American Revolution to an end. Patriots celebrated their departure and the confirmation of U.S. independence. But for tens ofthousands of American loyalists, the British evacuation spelled worry, not jubilation. What would happen to them in the new United States? Would they and their families be safe? Facing grave doubts about their futures, some sixty thousand loyalists-one in forty members of the American population--decided to leave their homes and become refugees elsewhere in the British Empire. They sailed for Britain, for Canada, forJamaica, and for the Bahamas; some ventured as far as Sierra Leone and India. Wherever they went, the voyage out of America was a fresh beginning, and it carried them into a dynamic if uncertain newworld.
A groundbreaking history of the revolutionary era, Liberty's Exiles tells the story of this remarkable global diaspora. Through painstaking archival research and vividstorytelling, award-winning historian Maya Jasanoff re-creates the journeys of ordinary individuals whose lives were overturned by extraordinary events. She tells of refugees like Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother fromGeorgia, who spent nearly thirty years as a migrant, searching for a home in Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. And of David George, a black preacher born into slavery, who found freedom and faith in the British Empire, andeventually led his followers to seek a new Jerusalem in Sierra Leone. Mohawk leader Joseph Brant resettled his people under British protection in Ontario, while the adventurer William Augustus Bowles tried to shape aloyalist Creek state in Florida. For all these people and more, it was the British Empire-not the United States--that held the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit ofhappiness. Yet as they dispersed across the empire, the loyalists also carried things from their former homes, revealing an enduring American influence on the wider British world.
Ambitious, original, and personality-filled, Liberty's Exiles is at once an intimate narrative history and a provocative new analysis-a book that explores an unknown dimension ofAmerica's founding to illuminate the meanings of liberty itself.
From the Hardcover edition.
At the end of the American Revolution, sixty thousand Americans loyal to the British cause fled the United States and became refugees throughout the British Empire. This groundbreaking book offers the first global history of the loyalist exodus to Canada, the Caribbean, Sierra Leone, India, and beyond. Following extraordinary journeys like the one of Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who led her growing family to Britain, Jamaica, and Canada, questing for a home; black loyalists such as David George, who escaped from slavery in Virginia and went on to found Baptist congregations in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone; and Mohawk Indian leader Joseph Brant, who tried to find autonomy for his people in Ontario, Liberty’s Exiles challenges conventional understandings about the founding of the United States and the shaping of the postrevolutionary world. Based on original research on four continents, this book is at once an intimate narrative history and a provocative new analysis—a story about the past that helps us think about migration, tolerance, and liberty in the world today.
About the Author
\Maya Jasanoff was educated at Harvard, Cambridge, and Yale, and is currently an associate professor of history at Harvard University. Her first book, Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750–1850, was awarded the 2005 Duff Cooper Prize and was a book of the year selection in numerous publications including The Economist, The Guardian, and The Sunday Times (London). She has recently been a fellow of the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the American Council of Learned Societies and has contributed essays to the London Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Review of Books.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The spirit of 1783 — pt. 1. Refugees. Civil war — An unsettling peace — A new world disorder — pt. 2. Settlers. The heart of empire — A world in the wilderness — Loyal Americas — pt. 3. Subjects. Islands in a storm — False refuge — Promised land — Empires of liberty — Conclusion: Winners and losers — Appendix: Measuring the exodus.
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