Saturday, November 24, 2012

Britain as a Nation

On October 21, 1779, Boston newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser reported that a committee in London was continuing its work to collect donations for the relief of American prisoners in England.  The Independent Chronicle editorialized, "While Britain as a nation, has carried on the war in America with the greatest inhumanity, it ought to be acknowledged that many individuals have exhibited a compassion and liberality to our countrymen that does honour to human nature."

On November 2, 1778, The Independent Ledger, and the American Advertiser, also a Boston newspaper, opined, "There are, no doubt, many instances of humanity and generosity in those who belong to that country, and many Americans have been ready to acknowledge it with gratitude.  At the same time truth obliges us to declare, that we have found haughtiness and cruelty the general characteristics of our enemies."

Historian Francis D. Cogliano, of the University of Edinburgh, explained that the English public and English civilian authorities established humane and relatively safe conditions for prisoners in England.  The sentiments of the English public and the niceties of English law carried little weight with British military commanders and Tory personnel in occupied North America.  Please consult Francis D. Cogliano, American Maritime Prisoners in the Revolutionary War: The Captivity of William Russell (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001), pages 153-161.  For more on the Committee for the Relief of American Prisoners, please visit the post here

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