History of Redding > My Brother Sam is Dead > Teaching Aids > Exploring the Topics  

Who Were the Loyalists? Loyalists or Tories are portrayed as villians in many Revolutionary War novels but in reality they were not villians at all.

Activity: Use Primary and Secondary Sources to Show Students the Views of the Loyalists heading into the Revolutionary War:

Primary Sources are defined as documents produced during the timeframe being studied. Examples can be diary entries, letters, speeches, first-hand reports or correspondence, etc... Secondary Sources are commonly defined as interpretations or studies of primary sources. Local Libraries and Historical Groups/Societies are great places to find primary and secondary sources.

This activity teaches students about primary and secondary sources, and where to find them. As a bonus they may even find something interesting about their hometown.

Below is an example of how I've used Primary and Secondary Sources to highlight the views and concerns of Redding's Loyalists:

Redding's Tories/Loyalists referred to themselves as the Redding Loyalist Association. The Redding Loyalist Association was led by the son of John Beach, Lazarus. In February of 1775, they and other Tories living in Fairfield County published an article in a New York publication proclaiming their loyalty to the King.

The Redding Loyalist's "resolutions" (primary source) sent to James Rivington's Gazetteer, the government organ (paper) in New York City, proclaiming their allegiance to the Crown of England is as follows:

"Mr. Rivington: In the present critical situation of public affairs, we, the subscribers, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the town of Reading and the adjoining parts in the County of Fairfield, and Colony of Connecticut, think it is necessary (through the columns of your paper) to assure the public that we are open enemies to any change in the present happy Constitution, and highly disapprove of all measures in any degree calculated to promote confusion and disorder; for which purpose and in order to avoid the general censure, incurred by a great part of this colony from the mode of conduct here adopted for the purpose of opposing the British Government, we have entered into the following resolves and agreements, viz:

1st Resolved, that while we enjoy the privileges and immunities of the British Constitution we will render all due obedience to his most Gracious Majesty King George the Third, and that a firm dependence on the Mother Country is essential to our political safety and happiness.

2nd Resolved, that the privileges and immunities of this Constitution are yet (in a good degree) continued to all his Majesty's American subjects, except those who, we conceive, have justly forfeited their rights thereto.

3rd Resolved, that we supposed the Continental Congress was constituted for the purpose of restoring harmony between Great Britain and her colonies and removing the displeasure of his Majesty toward his American subjects, whereas on the contrary some of their resolutions appear to us immediately calculated to widen the present unhappy breach, counteract the first principles of civil society, and in a great degree abridge the privileges of their constituents.

4th Resolved, that notwithstanding we will in all circumstances conduct with prudence and moderation, we consider it an indispensable duty we owe to our King and Constitution, our Country and posterity, to defend, maintain and preserve at the risk of our lives and properties the prerogatives of the Crown, and the privileges of the subject from all attacks by any rebellious body of men, any Committees of Inspection, Correspondence, etc…

This document was signed by 141 Freeholders and Inhabitants of the town of Reading and the adjoining parts in the County of Fairfield but the signers were not revealed by the publisher, James Rivington.

Activity: Ask students research these four resolves of the Redding Loyalists:

Using online and offline sources students research the stated concerns of the loyalists and then these findings are discussed in the classroom. This enlightens the students of the "issues" and gives them a better understanding of the loyalist position entering the war. Below are some examples of the loyalist concerns:

  • The British Army was powerful and experienced. Many men, 40 years of age or older, had fought along side the British soldiers in the French and Indian War. They had experienced, first-hand, the skill and tenacity of the enemy.

  • Land to the West of the Appalachian Mountains was occupied by Indians, the Spanish and the French, not Americans. Would the colonists be able to defend themselves from attacks from any one of them without the assistance of the British Army?

  • Successful businesses and merchants worried that if America split from England they would be at risk of losing their prosperity. Tobacco farmers are an example of those who actually did suffer as a result of the American Revolution.

  • Without a plan for self-government in place how would the colonies function politically?

Activity: See if students can locate a similar Loyalist document from their own town.

Activity: Give students a present day example of "Loyalist vs. Rebel" views:

I use the example of certain individuals in Vermont that wish to secede from the United States to show students a present day example of "rebellious" attitudes and how they are viewed. Those that view talk of Secession as "silly" are loyalists and those who are "all for it" are rebels. http://vermontsecession.blogspot.com is one source of information on this topic.

Activity: Discuss why religion played a role in position of the Loyalists.

I've written quite a bit on this topic and can provide PDFs of this material if needed.

Many, if not all, of Redding's Tories/Loyalists were Anglican Church members. Anglicans were in a difficult position, their choice of religion was tied closely to the crown of England and a split from England left them with an uncertain future. Congregationalists did not have these ties, so for them it was a matter of right or wrong…did they agreed with the actions of England's leaders or disagree.

The confusion of the Tories/Loyalists is explained by Tim Meeker in Chapter 2,

"Ever since I could remember, all my life in fact, there had been discussions and arguments and debates about whether we ought to obey His Majesty's government or whether we should rebel. What kept confusing me about it was that the argument didn't have two sides the way an argument should, but about six sides."

It should be noted that many Anglicans were angered by the actions of England's leaders, but felt a Rebellious split from England was excessive and a diplomatic approach to the issues was in the best interest of all colonists involved.

Activity: Discuss the treatment of the Loyalists during the war.

It was not uncommon for loyalists to be jailed, publically humiliated or even killed. Many loyalists fled to Canada, which is a topic that can be researched at the web site: http://www.uelac.org.

Redding Tories that chose not to heed the warnings and yield to the Patriots were fined and imprisoned. Minutes of the Connecticut's Governor and Council of Safety reveal the price paid by several Redding loyalists:

"Lazarus Beach, Andrew Fairchild, Nathan Lee, Enos Lee, and Able Burr of Reading, in the county of Fairfield, being Tory convicts and sent by order of law to be confined in the town of Mansfield to prevent any mischievous practices of theirs, having made their escape and being taken up and remanded back to his Honor the Governor and this Council, to be dealt with."

"Resolved, and ordered by the Governor and his Council aforesaid, that the said Lazarus Beach (etc…) be committed to the keeper of the goal in Windham, within said prison to be safely kept until they come out thence by due order of the General Assembly, or the Governor and his Council of Safety, and that they pay cost of their being apprehended and being remanded, etc…, allowed to be 25 pounds, 3 shillings. Mittimus granted Jan. 28, 1777."

On Feb. 10, 1777, Beach, Burr, and Fairchild were ordered to "return to Mansfield and there abide under the direction of the Committee of Inspection of that town, while Enos and Nathan Lee were permitted to return home on their giving bonds for their good behavior."

Redding Tories: Issac Drew, Ephraim DeForest, John, Joseph and Peter Lyon, and Daniel Read, were among those whose land was confiscated by the State courts. Many others were fined for refusing to perform military duty but as a whole the Loyalists of Redding were a less tortured one - before, during and after the Revolution in comparison to others in the state, where recriminations against British sympathizers took the form of wholesale jailing and even murder. Lazarus Beach, most certainly a thorn in the patriot's side in the early stages of the conflict, eventually fell into rank and remained in Redding after the Revolution serving as selectman from 1788-1789. Proof that extreme measures were not taken against the Loyalists of Redding unless the person had actually gone over to the enemy to take up arms or screen themselves under the protection of the Ministerial Army.

Activity: Locate letters or court documents relating to Loyalists during the war.

In February of 1778, the Justices and Selectmen of Redding informed Rev. Beach that "in order that we may have peace and quietness at home" it was in his best interest to omit the prayer:

"Redding, Feb. 12th, 1778

Dear Sir: We have no disposition to restrain or limit you or others in matters of conscience. But understanding that you, in your Public Worship, still continue to pray that the King of Great Britain may be strengthened to vanquish and overcome all his enemies, which manner of praying must be thought to be a great insult upon the Laws, Authority, and People of this State, as you and others can but know that the King of England has put the People of these United States from under his protection, Declared the Rebels, and is now at open war with said States, and consequently we are his enemies.

Likewise you must have understood that the American States have declared themselves independent of any Foreign Power - Now Sir, in order that we may have peace and quietness at home among ourselves, we desire that for the future you would omit praying in Public that King George the third or any other foreign Prince, or Power, may vanquish, etc… the People of this Land.

Your compliance herewith may prevent you trouble.

We are, Rev. Sir, with due Respect, your obedient humble servants.

To the Revd. John Beach.
Signed: Lemuel Sanford, William Hawley - Justices
Hezekiah Sanford, Seth Sanford, Thaddeus Benedict, John Grey, William Heron - Selectmen of Redding"

Mr. Beach, however, continued to read the prayers for the King vowing that he would "do his duty, preach, and pray for the King till the rebels cut out his tongue."

Activity: Locate local homes that were built before the war.

House histories are a great way to introduce students to local history and can be very educational if the topic is expanded to explore the home's past owners, their occupations and interests. If available, town land records in the town clerks office and property cards in the tax office are the best sources of information. Some town libraries and historical societies have complete house histories available to the public.

Resources Available at the History of Redding Website:

Resources Available Online:




Putnam Memorial State Park- This is where Sam Meeker was encamped during the winter of 1778-79. This is the same camp Tim describes when he attempts to free Sam from the stockade.

Keeler Tavern Museum- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Keeler Tavern Museum has been a farmhouse, tavern, stagecoach stop, post office, hotel for travelers and a private residence. The Meeker Family Tavern was very similar and thus Keeler Tavern gives a glimpse at the way Tim, Sam, Life and Suzanne lived and worked.

Putnam's Cottage / Knapp's Tavern Museum- Putnam's Cottage is intimately connected to the Revolutionary war, having housed General Putnam and hosted General Washington for lunch. The house has long been associated with General Israel Putnam and his heroic escape from the British during the Revolutionary War. General Putnam was Sam Meeker's General in the novel.

Compo Beach- The British landed on this beach in 1777. From here they marched north through Redding where they halted for several hours before their attack on Danbury Connecticut's military depot. Tim describes their visit in the novel.





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