Divided Loyalties in Colonial America Led to Spying, Betrayals, Leavings

It’s easy to think of the American Revolutionary struggle as rebel heroes verses loyalist villains, entitled British soldiers who expect to be quartered in the homes of colonists, oblivious to the burdens they place on these colonists; mad King George III and saintly George Washington, brilliant founding fathers and narrow-minded, out of touch British politicians. The truth is far more nuanced and far more interesting. The television series Turn: Washington’s Spies explores the divided loyalties of so many colonists who are caught in the literal and figurative crossfire. The series is based on Alexander Rose‘s book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (2007), a history of the Culper Ring.

War History Online illuminated the real-life story of “Abraham Woodhull and company as they play a cunning game of deceit and trickery to gather intelligence for the Continental Army in the American War for Independence. Basing his operation in his British-occupied hometown of Setauket, New York, Woodhull enlists the aid of local tavern keeper Anna Strong to ferry crucial intelligence to their friends in the Continental Army, Caleb Brewster and Benjamin Tallmadge, who in turn bring the intelligence to General George Washington himself….The Culper spy ring proved to be a vital part of General Washington’s intelligence network.”

Tracing one’s ancestry, one hopes to find heroes. That is not always the case. I discovered a great-grandfather who returned to England after the birth of his son and the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, never to see his family again. Another great-grandfather seemed to be sympathetic to the British, and while serving in the state legislature after the war, was impeached for suspected British loyalties. His home in Scotland County, NC is now a museum. Loyalist Great-Grandfather X 4, Left America and Returned to Britain During Revolution

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