Cover image for Generous enemies : patriots and loyalists in Revolutionary New York
Title:
Generous enemies : patriots and loyalists in Revolutionary New York
Author:
Van Buskirk, Judith L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
260 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
The seat of war -- The web of family -- Gentlemen at war -- The eagle eye of profit -- Crossing freedom's line -- The late unhappy commotions.
ISBN:
9780812236750

9780812218220
Format :
Book

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E263.N6 V36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

In July 1776, the final group of more than 130 ships of the Royal Navy sailed into the waters surrounding New York City, marking the start of seven years of British occupation that spanned the American Revolution. What military and political leaders characterized as an impenetrable "Fortress Britannia"--a bastion of solid opposition to the American cause--was actually very different.

As Judith L. Van Buskirk reveals, the military standoff produced civilian communities that were forced to operate in close, sustained proximity, each testing the limits of political and military authority. Conflicting loyalties blurred relationships between the two sides: John Jay, a delegate to the Continental Congresses, had a brother whose political loyalties leaned toward the Crown, while one of the daughters of Continental Army general William Alexander lived in occupied New York City with her husband, a prominent Loyalist. Indeed, the texture of everyday life during the Revolution was much more complex than historians have recognized.

Generous Enemies challenges many long-held assumptions about wartime experience during the American Revolution by demonstrating that communities conventionally depicted as hostile opponents were, in fact, in frequent contact. Living in two clearly delineated zones of military occupation--the British occupying the islands of New York Bay and the Americans in the surrounding countryside--the people of the New York City region often reached across military lines to help friends and family members, pay social calls, conduct business, or pursue a better life. Examining the movement of Loyalist and rebel families, British and American soldiers, free blacks, slaves, and businessmen, Van Buskirk shows how personal concerns often triumphed over political ideology.

Making use of family letters, diaries, memoirs, soldier pensions, Loyalist claims, committee and church records, and newspapers, this compelling social history tells the story of the American Revolution with a richness of human detail.


Author Notes

Judith L. Van Buskirk teaches history at the State University of New York, Cortland.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

This is a well-written and engaging social history of the Revolution in New York, one of several new studies concerning the war in the city and surrounding region. Van Buskirk (SUNY, Cortland) is not concerned with military operations, but with the experience of war and occupation for residents forced to contend with two large armies encamped across from one another. She reminds us that the Revolution was as much a civil war as a conflict between colonists and Britons, arguing that even as individuals chose sides in the political dispute, family ties, business interests, and personal loyalties ensured frequent contact among patriots and loyalists, as all residents sought to ease the suffering and hardship wrought by both armies. Military lines in the region were porous, and people, goods, and information passed in and out of the city for the duration of the war. Van Buskirk rightly highlights the importance of gender and status in tracing such movements, noting that women and elites received privileges and passes that were not always available to others. The permeable boundaries also benefited African Americans, who often found freedom in the city. The book's length and accessibility make it ideal for undergraduate use. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate collections and above. M. Mulcahy Loyola College in Maryland


Choice Review

This is a well-written and engaging social history of the Revolution in New York, one of several new studies concerning the war in the city and surrounding region. Van Buskirk (SUNY, Cortland) is not concerned with military operations, but with the experience of war and occupation for residents forced to contend with two large armies encamped across from one another. She reminds us that the Revolution was as much a civil war as a conflict between colonists and Britons, arguing that even as individuals chose sides in the political dispute, family ties, business interests, and personal loyalties ensured frequent contact among patriots and loyalists, as all residents sought to ease the suffering and hardship wrought by both armies. Military lines in the region were porous, and people, goods, and information passed in and out of the city for the duration of the war. Van Buskirk rightly highlights the importance of gender and status in tracing such movements, noting that women and elites received privileges and passes that were not always available to others. The permeable boundaries also benefited African Americans, who often found freedom in the city. The book's length and accessibility make it ideal for undergraduate use. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate collections and above. M. Mulcahy Loyola College in Maryland


Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1 The Seat of War
Chapter 2 The Web of Family
Chapter 3 Gentlemen at War
Chapter 4 The Eagle Eye of Profit
Chapter 5 Crossing Freedom's Line
Chapter 6 The Late Unhappy Commotions
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1 The Seat of War
Chapter 2 The Web of Family
Chapter 3 Gentlemen at War
Chapter 4 The Eagle Eye of Profit
Chapter 5 Crossing Freedom's Line
Chapter 6 The Late Unhappy Commotions
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgments