Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rebel, Illegal Combatant

     In American Archives, editor Peter Force included a September 27, 1775 petition from a company of the Continental Army recruited from the town of Worcester, to the Massachusetts Assembly.  The petitioners asked the Assembly to prevent even supposedly penitent Tories from returning to Worcester.  
     The petitioners complained that Worcester had been “infested” with “a cruel and merciless set of Tories” who showed “a most merciless, inimical tempter…styling the sons of freedom…rebels and traitors, and menacing death and cruel tortures as their just and remediless portion.”     
     The term rebel implied a death threat.  It designated someone an illegal combatant
     For more on the toxicity of the word rebel, please consult Jesuit historian Charles H. Metzger, The Prisoner in the American Revolution (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1971), page x and xnote2, and pages 293-294; Edwin G. Burrows, ForgottenPatriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), page 36.
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