Have you ever considered that one physical act that is committed by an individual or group can dramatically affect a person or group of people? Can it be possible that one resolution can be written in such a manner that it can cause hundreds or thousands of people to believe their lives were in danger? Whether or not that someone has thought about this or felt this never could have happen would be greatly mistaken. The truth is that something like this did occur in our history and happened centuries ago during the time of the American Revolution.
The Continental Congress on January 2nd, 1776 publishes the resolution known as the “Tory Act” that explains how Americans should be treated in the colonies who pledge their loyalty to King George and the British.
Colonial committees were called on by the Tory Act to indoctrinate “honest and well-meaning, but uninformed people” by illuminating them as to the “origin, nature and extent of the present controversy.” The Congress remained “fully persuaded that the more our right to the enjoyment of our ancient liberties and privileges is examined, the more just and necessary our present opposition to ministerial tyranny will appear.”
Yet, those “unworthy Americans,” who had “taken part with our oppressors” with the goal of collecting “ignominious rewards,” were left to the meaningful bodies, some menacingly named “councils of safety,” to choose their fate. Congress basically offered its “opinion” that devoted Tories “ought to be disarmed, and the more dangerous among them either kept in safe custody, or bound with sufficient sureties to their good behavior.”
The ways Congress as well as lesser colonial bodies would take in order to repress Loyalists took a sinister message further on in the Tory Act. Citing examples of the “execrable barbarity with which this unhappy war has been conducted on the part of our enemies,” Congress promised to act “whenever retaliation may be necessary” yet might prove a “disagreeable task.”
This put colonials who did remain loyal to the British in an extreme position on whether their lives would actually be threatened. After all, just because something is said or written as an act doesn’t mean it would actually be enforced. Nevertheless, would those who have pledged their support be willing to stay where they had to live each day contemplating if their life would be at risk? Being in a place where they would exposed to such hostility, it became apparent that some Loyalists would not gamble with their lives in this current situation; some of them decided it was best that they depart from the American colonies and move elsewhere.
Throughout the war, roughly 60,000 to 70,000 free individuals as well as 20,000 slaves fled from the rebellious 13 colonies for other locations under the British Empire’s control. Two countries were effectively established by the Revolution: the Loyalists that left the colonies populated Canada while the United States would be populated by Patriots.