Skip to comments.Patriots, Refugees, and the Right of Return [USA, Tory loyalists, Right of Return from Canada]
Posted on 05/16/2003 8:50:08 AM PDT by SJackson
Colin Powell, in a sudden leap onto the PLO "refugee suffering" bandwagon, has come out for some kind of solution for the Palestinian refugees. The only problem? He thinks this is somehow the responsibility of Israel.
He might be better off looking at the U.S. model of solving refugee problems.
Consider the following: When the War of Independence began, it quickly assumed the nature of a civil war. Those opposing the declaration of statehood fought alongside the organized armies of their kinsmen, which invaded the territory of the infant state from all directions. The fighting was bloody, and the opponents of independence used terrorism against the population defending statehood. The country was partitioned between the areas of the new state and those territories still under the rule of the foreign invaders. As the fighting dragged on, the opponents of independence began a mass exodus. In most cases, they left because they feared the consequences of staying on as a political minority or because they simply opposed the new political entity on principle. In some cases, they refused to live as a religious minority under the rule of those practicing an alien religion. And, in some cases, they were expelled forcibly. They fled across the frontiers, moving their families to live in the areas controlled by the armies of their political kin. From there, some joined the invading forces and launched cross-border raids and terrorist atrocities. When the fighting ceased, most of the refugees who had fled from the new state were refused permission to return.
The previous paragraph is not about the Palestinians. The events described did not transpire in 1947-49, but rather in 1775-1781; and the refugees in question were not Arabs, but Tory "loyalists" who supported the British against the American revolutionists seeking independence. During the American War of Independence, large numbers of loyalist refugees fled the new country. Estimates of the numbers vary, but perhaps 100,000 refugees left or were expelled a very significant number given the sparse population of the 13 colonies.
While there are many differences, there are also many similarities between the plight of the Palestinians and that of the Tory refugees during the first years of American independence. The advocates of Palestinian refugee rights, now led by Colin Powell, are in fact clearly in the same political bed as were King George's allies, who fought against America democracy and independence.
Like all wars of independence, both Israel's and America's were in fact civil wars. In both cases, religious sectarianism played an important role in defining the opposing forces, although for the Americans, taxation was even more important. (Israelis suffered under abominable taxation only after independence.) One cause of the American revolution was the attempt to establish the Anglican Church, or Church of England, as the official bishopric of the colonies. Anglicans were the largest ethnic group opposing independence as were Palestinian Muslims although in both cases, other religious and ethnic groups were also represented in the anti-independence movement.
Those fearing the possibility of being forced to live as minorities under the tyrannical religious supremacy of the Anglicans and Muslims, respectively, formed the forces fighting for independence. The Anglicans and Palestinian Muslims hoped to establish themselves with the armed support of their coreligionists across the borders. New England was the center of patriotism largely because of the mistrust felt toward the Anglican Church by the Puritan and Congregationalist majorities there. And the later incorporation into the Constitution of the separation of church and state was largely motivated by the memory of Anglican would-be establishmentarianism. Among the leaders of the Tory cause were many Anglican parsons, perhaps the most prominent being one Samuel Seabury, the loyalists' Arafat.
In both wars, the anti-independence forces were a divided and heterogeneous population, and for this reason lost the war. In the American colonies, the Tories included not only Anglicans, but other groups who feared for their future living under the rule of the local political majority among them Indians, Scots, Dutch, and Negroes. Tory sympathy was based on ethnic, commercial, and religious considerations. Where loyalist sentiment was strong enough-namely, in Canada the war produced partition, as in Mandatory Palestine, with territories remaining cut off from the newly independent state.
When independence was declared, the populations of the opposing forces were about even in both wars. In Palestine, there were about 750,000 people on each side. The exact distribution of pro- and anti-independence forces in the American colonies is not known, but the estimate by John Adams is probably as good a guess as any namely, one-third patriot, one-third loyalist, and one-third neutral. The number of colonists fighting actively alongside regular British forces is estimated at about half the number fighting under Washington.
When fighting broke out, civilians were often the first victims in both wars. The Tories formed terrorist units and plundered and raided the territories under patriot control. The southwestern frontier areas of the colonies, like the southwestern border of Palestine, were scenes of particularly bloody terrorism. In South Carolina, the Tory leader Major William Cunningham (known as "Bloody Bill") became the Sheikh Yassin of the struggle, conducting massacres of patriot civilians. Tory and anti-Tory mob violence became common. General Sir Henry Clinton organized many guerrilla raids upon patriot territory. Loyalists also launched assassination plots, including an attempt to murder George Washington in New York in 1776. (Among the terrorists participating in that plot was the mayor of New York City.)
There were loyalist insurrections against the patriots in every colony. Tory military activity was particularly severe in the Chesapeake, on Long Island, in Delaware and Maryland, and along the Virginia coast. As violence escalated and spread, the forces of the revolution took countermeasures. Tories were tarred and feathered. Indiscriminate expulsions sometimes took place. Tory areas could be placed under martial rule, with all civil rights, habeas corpus, and due process suspended. Queens County, New York a loyalist stronghold was put under military administration by Continental troops, and the entire population was prohibited from traveling without special documents. General Wooster engaged in wholesale incarceration and expulsion of New York Tories. The Continental Congress called for disarming all loyalists, and for locking up the "dangerous ones" without trial. New York loyalists were exiled to Connecticut and other places; some were used in forced labor.
Loyalists were kidnapped and held hostage. In some colonies, expressing opposition to the Revolution was grounds for imprisonment. Loyalists could be excluded from certain professions, such as law; frequently, they were stripped of all property rights and had their lands confiscated. In colony after colony, Acts of Banishment forced masses of loyalists to leave their homes and emigrate. The most common destiny was the Canadian Maritimes, with others going to the British West Indies, to England, and to Australia.
In both the Israeli and American wars of independence, anti-independence refugees often fled to areas under the control of their political allies. However, some who opposed independence nevertheless stayed put. After the war ended, these generally found the devil was not as bad as they'd feared, and were permitted to live as tolerated political minorities, with their civil rights restored and protected. (This was in spite of the fact that many refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new state, sometimes for decades.)
The American colony-states that had banished loyalists refused to allow their return, even after a peace treaty was signed. There was a fear that returning Tories could act as a sort of fifth column, particularly if the British took it into their heads to attempt another invasion. (Such an invasion eventually took place, in 1812.) Like Israel, the newly independent country initially resolved many of its strategic problems through an alliance with France.
The Tory refugees were regarded by all as Britain's problem. The American patriots allowed small numbers to return; others attempted to return illegally, and were killed. But most languished across the partition lines in eastern British Canada, mainly in what would become Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The refugees would never be granted the "right to return," and in most cases, they would never even be granted compensation for property. (Benjamin Franklin was among the leading opponents of any such compensation.)
At this point, of course, the similarity between the Palestinian refugees and the Tory loyalists breaks down. The British, unlike the Arabs, did a great deal to settle their refugees, rather than force them into festering camps, and allotted $20 million for their resettlement. The Tory refugees quickly became a non-problem, and played no subsequent role in British-American relations.
Nevertheless, an interesting thought experiment might be to imagine what would have occurred had the British done things the Arab way. Tory refugees would have been converted into terrorist cadres and trained by British commandos. They would begin a ceaseless wave of incursions and invasions of the independent states, mainly from bases along the Canadian frontier. The British, Hessians, and their allies would begin a global diplomatic campaign for self-determination for the loyalist Americans. They would set up an American Liberation Organization (ALO) that would hijack whalers and merchant marines, crashing them into harbor facilities, and assassinate diplomats of the United States. Perhaps Benedict Arnold would be chosen the chairman and president-in-exile, and would write the Tory National Charter, incorporating parts of the Stamp Act, under the nom de guerre of ibn Albion. The British would organize underground terrorist cells among the loyalist population that had not fled.
The Tories would then declare an Anglican jihad. Britain and her empire would boycott the new country commercially, pressuring others to do the same. She would assert that the national rights of the loyalist people were inalienable and eternal, no matter how many years had passed since the refugees fled. Britain would accumulate arms in astronomical quantities, awaiting the day of reckoning. International pressure would be exerted on the United States to give up much of its territory, and to internationalize Philadelphia.
Colin Powell now insists that the Palestinian refugees should be granted the "right to return" in some form, and that Israel is liable for the suffering of the refugees and should be responsible for their resettlement. His state department is exhibiting loyalist Tory sympathies. Perhaps a large portrait of Benedict Arnold should grace the offices of Powell and of every "Arabist" in Foggy Bottom.
Steven Plaut, professor at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Haifa.
Sorry if it's a repost. I "remember" posting it, but it's not to be found in the archives. Timely, anyway.
Sir Guy Carleton had been the most able of the British commanders in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks to the stupidity of the British War Office, he had been forced to sit idle in Montreal for most of the war. He did, however, see action against Benedict Arnold in the disastrous Quebec Campaign, which I have included as a part of a very old Publius Essay titled In Praise of Benedict Arnold.
When the fighting stopped after Yorktown in 1781 and there was a change of government in London, Carleton was moved to New York to take over the British garrison there while negotiations went on in Paris. Washington feared Carleton as he feared no other British general, and he spent two years on tenterhooks waiting for some move on the part of his opponent. Carleton sent letter after letter back to the War Office begging for permission to restart the war, but the new government turned a deaf ear to his pleas.
Once the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, Carleton and his troops returned to England where he was knighted Lord Dorchester and made Governor General of Canada.
Back in Montreal, Carleton spent the remainder of his life exciting the Indian tribes on the fluid border between the US and Canada, and he succeeded in starting wholesale Indian rebellions and wars on the frontier. But when push came to shove, he always backed away from giving full British support to the Indians. This would have caused a break between himself and the government in London, which did not want war.
Carleton almost had a success in 1790 when he opened negotiations with the Republic of Vermont to come into Canada. Washington viewed a Canadian Vermont as a British Vermont, a salient poking like a spear into the United States, with the head of the spear pointed at New York. Discretely, Washington let the government of Vermont know that this was not acceptable. Vermont was given two choices: Apply for admission as the 14th state, or be invaded and annexed. Vermont chose admission.
It was a closer call than we think.
I check everything you post and ping. Never saw this one.
A limited view of history.