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The Tories – David Matthews

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

June 1.—Among the many errors America has been guilty of during her contest with Great Britain, few have been greater, or attended with more fatal consequences to these States, than her lenity to the Tories. At first it might have been right, or perhaps political; but is it not surprising that, after repeated proofs of the same evils resulting therefrom, it should still be continued? We are all crying out against the depreciation of our money, and entering into measures to restore it to its value; while the Tories, who are one principal cause of the depreciation, are taken no notice of, but suffered to live quietly among us. We can no longer be silent on this subject, and see the independence of the country, after standing every shock from without, endangered by internal enemies. House, America! your danger is great—great from a quarter where you least expect it. The Tories, the Tories will yet be the ruin of you! ‘Tis high time they were separated from among you. They are now busy engaged in undermining your liberties. They have a thousand ways of doing it, and they make use of them all. Who were the occasion of this war? The Tories! Who persuaded the tyrant of Britain to prosecute it in a manner before unknown to civilized nations, and shocking even to barbarians? The Tories! Who prevailed on the savages of the wilderness to join the standard of the enemy? The Tories! Who have assisted the Indians in taking the scalp from the aged matron, the blooming fair one, the helpless infant, and the dying hero? The Tories! Who advised and who assisted in burning your towns, ravaging your country, and violating the chastity of your women? The Tories! Who are the occasion that thousands of you now mourn the loss of your dearest connections? The Tories! Who have always counteracted the endeavors of Congress to secure the liberties of this country? The Tories! Who refused their money when as good as specie, though stamped with the image of his most sacred Majesty? The Tories! Who continue to refuse it? The Tories! Who do all in their power to depreciate it? The Tories! Who propagate lies among us to discourage the Whigs? The Tories! Who corrupt the minds of the good people of these States by every species of insidious counsel? The Tories! Who hold a traitorous correspondence with the enemy? The Tories! Who daily sends them intelligence? The Tories! Who take the oaths of allegiance to the States one day, and break them the next? The Tories! Who prevent your battalions from being filled? The Tories! Who dissuade men from entering the army? The Tories! Who persuade those who have enlisted to desert? The Tories! Who harbor those who do desert? The Tories! In short, who wish to see us conquered, to see us slaves, to see us hewers of wood and drawers of water? The Tories!

And is it possible that we should suffer men, who have been guilty of all these and a thousand other calamities which this country has experienced, to live among us! To live among us, did I say? Nay, do they not move in our Assemblies? Do they not insult us with their impudence? Do they not hold traitorous assemblies of their own? Do they not walk the streets at noon day, and taste the air of liberty? In short, do they not enjoy every privilege of the brave soldier who has spilt his blood, or the honest patriot who has sacrificed his all in our righteous cause? Yes—to our eternal shame be it spoken—they do. Those very men who wish to entail slavery on our country, are caressed and harbored among us. Posterity will not believe it; if they do, they will curse the memory of their forefathers for their shameful lenity. Can we ever expect any grateful return for our humanity, if it deserves that name? Believe not a spark of that or any other virtue is to be found in the Tory’s breast; for what principle can that wretch have who would sell his soul to subject his country to the will of the greatest tyrant the world at present produces? ‘Tis time to rid ourselves of these bosom vipers. An immediate separation is necessary. I dread to think of the evils every moment is big with, while a single Tory remains among us. May we not soon expect to hear of plots, assassinations, and every species of wickedness their malice and rancor can suggest? for what can restrain those who have already imbrued their hands in their country’s blood? Did not that villain Matthews, when permitted to live among us at New York, plot the assassination of General Washington? He did; he was detected, and had he received his deserts, he would now have been in gibbets, instead of torturing our unfortunate friends, prisoners in New York, with every species of barbarity. Can we hear this, and still harbor a Tory among us? For my own part, whenever I meet one in the street, or at the coffee house, my blood boils within me. Their guilt is equalled only by their impudence. They strut, and seem to bid defiance to every one. In every place, and in every company, they spread their damnable doctrines, and then laugh at the pusillanimity of those who let them go unpunished. I flatter myself, however, with the hopes of soon seeing a period to their reign, and a total end to their existence in America. Awake, Americans, to a sense of your danger. No time to be lost. Instantly banish every Tory from among you. Let America be sacred alone to freemen.

Drive far from you every baneful wretch who wishes to see you fettered with the chains of tyranny. Send them where they may enjoy their beloved slavery to perfection—send them to the island of Britain; there let them drink the cup of slavery and eat the bread of bitterness all the days of their existence— there let them drag out a painful life, despised and accursed by those very men whose cause they have had the wickedness to espouse. Never let them return to this happy land—never let them taste the sweets of that independence which they strove to prevent. Banishment, perpetual banishment, should be their lot.

But, say some, we allow the Tories are as bad, and indeed much worse, than you have presented them, but how can we banish them? They have taken the oaths, and are under the protection of the laws. Some of these miscreants, ’tis true, have put on a sham repentance, and have dared to call the Almighty to witness to their perjuries—perjuries I call them, for have we not seen hundreds of them taking the oaths of allegiance one day and breaking them the next or the first safe opportunity? Nay, do they not tell you, to your faces, that no faith is to be kept with rebels, with which name they have still the effrontery to insult you? Are men who act on principles like these to be trusted? Do you think them less able or less willing to assist the enemy than heretofore? No; on the least turn of fortune against us, those men whom we now trust so near us, would convince us our confidence and lenity had been misplaced; they would soon forget the oaths with which they now amuse us—they would hail the enemy to our capital—they would point out those among us who had been active in our country’s cause; and if any, unfortunately obliged to stay, and submit to the mercy of the enemy, a prison or dungeon and irons would be their portion. Then, though too late, we should repent our shameful lenity and our reliance on their oaths.

But, say others, who are worked on more by their fears than their reason, if we send them to the enemy, they will increase their strength, and be embodied against us. Fear not this; they may eat the bread and spend the money of their idol king, but will never be of any material injury to us in the field. They will never be formidable as soldiers. Their wicked principles make cowards of them all. They never were, they never will be, of service to the enemy in battle. They never could be brought to storm the works or stand the fire of Americans in the open field. Their cowardice will secure us from any danger we may apprehend from their embodying against us; but nothing can prevent the thousand mischiefs they can do while among us. Think of these things betimes, before it be too late, and we and our posterity forever have reason to repent our lenity to the Tories.1


1 “A Whig,” in the Pennsylvania Packet, August 5.