Reimagining the American Revolution: Jonathan Boucher’s Loyalist Perspective

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Andrew Carter Zetts`

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to address a lingering historiographical problem in American Revolution scholarship. Loyalists and their efforts to resist the American Revolution have long been viewed too simplistically or portrayed as little more than impediments to the inevitable advent of the Revolution. Doing so perpetuates a narrative that minimizes important Loyalist voices that can provide complexity to our understanding of the American Revolution and can complicate the way we view the causes and consequences of the conflict. However, scholarship has emerged that aims to evaluate the legitimacy of Loyalist opposition and the limitations of the colonists’ push for independence.

This study uses the life and writings of Anglican minister Jonathan Boucher to join in this intervention. By examining his attempts to maintain the alliance between Church and Crown in order to perpetuate the British Empire, the paper locates his voice in the budding conflict and constructs the distinctly British world in which he inhabited in Virginia and Maryland. This context aids in making sense of his allegiance to the Crown in the midst of growing tensions, the important relationships he formed in the colonies, and the many emotions he experienced that guided the way he interpreted the unfolding of the Revolution. Ulitmately, in examining Boucher's political and cultural context, greater meaning is ascribed to the Loyalist perspective and the degree to which it can enhance the field.

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History