Thursday, December 13, 2012

Isaac Hart

Mr. ISAAC HART, of this Town, Merchant, was last Wednesday married to Miss HANNAH POLOCK, Daughter of Mr. ISAAC POLOK.--Newport (Rhode Island) Mercury, Monday, 6 June 1763

Historian Cecil Roth explained that Isaac Hart and his family were Loyalists who left Newport with the British evacuation in 1778.  On 7 July 1780, the Assembly of Rhode Island enacted a law confiscated the land of Isaac Hart and other Loyalists or "Tories."

On 2 December 1780, The Royal Gazette of British-occupied New York, New York reported the following.

Mr. Isaac Hart, of Newport in Rhode-Island, formerly an eminent merchant, and ever a loyal subject, was inhumanly fired upon bayoneted, wounded in fifteen different parts of his body, and beat with their muskets in the most shocking manner in the very act of imploring quarter, and died of his wounds in a few hours after, universally regretted by every true lover of his King and country.

Studying the Jewish community of Newport, historian William Pencak found six adult males who were known Tories and seven active Revolutionaries, as well as three neutrals who did not actively support the Revolution.  The three neutral, however, fled Newport to avoid living under the invading British Army.  Aaron Lopez explained he led his family out of Newport before British forces landed to spare his relations "the cruel ravages of an enraged enemy," a sentiment that hardly seems neutral.

Pencak found that Newport merchants in general were more reluctant than merchants in other towns to join non-importation agreements (boycotts) as a protest against English policies.  Apparently, this was the inclination of a local merchant community, not the general inclination of a racial or religious group.

Although the British were notorious for battlefield atrocities against the disarmed and wounded, as reportedly occurred at the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776).  As the Continental Congress lamented in May 1778, "Their victories have been followed by the...murder of men, no longer able to resist...."  In this case, however, a person or persons associated with raiders traveling by New England whaleboats carried out a massacre against a Tory or American loyal to England during the War of Independence.

Cecil Roth, "Some Jewish Loyalists in the War of American Independence," in American Jewish History: Volume 1: The Colonial and Early National Periods, 1654-1840, ed. Jeffrey S. Gurock (New York: Routledge, 1998), 88; William Pencak, Jews & Gentiles in Early America, 1654-1800 (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2005), 104-105, 107-108.

For the Revolutionary commitment of many Jews, please consult the post "Sheftall's Messmate." 
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