Divided Loyalties:
How the American Revolution Came to New York

featured in Macworld, one of the 5
best history sites on the web

Bookstore | Exhibits | HistoryWiz | Primary Source Archives | Search

Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York
by Richard M. Ketchum 2001



Book Description
Before the Civil War splintered the young country, there was another conflict that divided friends and family-the Revolutionary War

Prior to the French and Indian War, the British government had taken little interest in their expanding American empire. Years of neglect had allowed America's fledgling democracy to gain power, but by 1760 America had become the biggest and fastest-growing part of the British economy, and the mother country required tribute.

When the Revolution came to New York City, it tore apart a community that was already riven by deep-seated family, political, religious, and economic antagonisms. Focusing on a number of individuals, Divided Loyalties describes their response to increasingly drastic actions taken in London by a succession of the king's ministers, which finally forced people to take sides and decide whether they would continue their loyalty to Great Britain and the king, or cast their lot with the American insurgents.

Using fascinating detail to draw us into history's narrative, Richard M. Ketchum explains why New Yorkers with similar life experiences-even members of the same family-chose different sides when the war erupted.

About the Author
Richard M. Ketchum is the author of the Revolutionary War classics Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill, The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton, and Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War. He and his wife live on a sheep farm in Vermont.

Reviews   Excerpt From Book   Book Description   Author   Buy

Editorial Reviews

American Revolution History Books

HistoryWiz American Revolution

These United Colonies: The American Revolution exhibit

From Publishers Weekly
In this magnificent new book, Ketchum (Decisive Days, etc.) shows the falsity of traditional accounts of the Revolution depicting colonies united against a detested oppressor by focusing on one colony's agonizing decision to enter the fray. While Robert Walpole was Britain's prime minister, he pursued a policy of "salutary neglect" he avoided war, kept taxes low and encouraged trade. Walpole's policy allowed the American colonies to prosper and to believe they were the masters of their own destiny. When George III ascended the throne in 1760, however, things changed dramatically. He led the colonists in wars against the French and Indians, and he imposed numerous taxes on goods the colonies exported and imported.

For 15 years, unrest grew in the New York colony, and loyalties were divided; as much as one-third of the colony, the author says, remained loyal to the king. Ketchum puts a human face on the conflict by focusing on two families, the Delanceys and the Livingstons. Both families were prosperous landowners. But as tensions rose, the Delanceys moved to England, while the Livingstons joined the Sons of Liberty and encouraged revolt against the throne. Ketchum captures the prosperity of the New York colony, as well as its inhabitants' confusion about which side they should join. His lively narrative offers readers insights into the tension, fear, patriotism and loyalty that marked the beginnings of the American Revolution. 28 b&w illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
When we think of America and the Civil War, we usually think of the blue and the gray. But as historian Ketchum (The Winter Soldiers) points out in his newest book, America's first Civil War occurred nearly a century earlier. Ketchum uses New York City as the backdrop to describe the events that ultimately led to war, beginning with British Prime Minister Walpole's policy of "salutary neglect" (i.e., the Colonies were best served by avoiding war, encouraging trade, and keeping taxes low) to George III's efforts to tax the Colonies to pay war debts and his rejection of a final peace proposal in 1775. Ketchum uses two prominent New York families, the DeLanceys and the Livingstons, one with loyalist tendencies and the other patriotic, to illustrate the complex issues that not only divided the country but split families and set neighbor against neighbor. Ketchum's narrative style and frequent use of firsthand accounts makes for easy reading and brings the participants to life. What results is a good companion to Schecter's The Battle for New York, since Schecter essentially picks up where Ketchum leaves off, on the eve of war, and describes the struggles of the British to hold on to New York City. Ketchum's book also includes an appendix of the principal characters. Recommended for medium to large public libraries. (Index not seen.) Schecter, a professional writer and historian, makes the case for New York City's being the strategic axis around which the Revolutionary War revolved. Schecter shows again and again how Great Britain's desire to hold New York City cost it the war effort, beginning with Gen. William Howe's slow invasion, in which he missed several opportunities to trap Washington in favor of securing the city, and ending with Gen. Henry Clinton's failure to reinforce Cornwallis because of his apprehensions about a possible attack on the city. The easy narrative style is enhanced by numerous quotes, allowing the actual players to tell their part of the story. This book is of special interest to those who live in and around New York, as it includes details about the fortifications of the two armies complete with references to current locations in the city and a walking tour. Well researched and written, this book is recommended for libraries in the New York area and those with comprehensive American Revolution collections.
Robert K. Flatley, Frostburg State Univ. Libs., MD
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Already acclaimed for his accounts of the clashes of British and American soldiers on the battlefields of Bunker Hill, Trenton, and Saratoga, Ketchum here probes a far more complex and confusing revolutionary conflict--one pitting American against American within the colonial city of New York. Excerpts from correspondence, diaries, and other contemporary sources illuminate how in just a couple of decades a prosperous city united in allegiance to the British Crown fissured into Tory, revolutionary, and ambivalent fragments, so sundering families and destroying friendships. This transformation, Ketchum shows, reflected political and economic dynamics much larger than New York, as George III and his ministers repeatedly mishandled their newly enlarged empire. But the strength of the narrative lies in the personal stories of individual men and women forced to choose sides in an unexpected civil war. In the interwoven dramas of two prominent New York families--the Livingstons and the De Lanceys--readers see on a small scale how this war strained and broke even the intimate ties of love and faith. As a much needed corrective to the melodramas of patriotic pageantry, this book will give readers a new appreciation for the humanity on both sides of America's divisive war of independence. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

"An exemplary work of popular history." -The Washington Post Book World

"Ketchum is a vivid storyteller. He weaves a complex but forceful narrative web from many diaries and memoirs . . . a dynamic story." -The New York Times Book Review

"Magnificent . . . Ketchum's lively narrative offers readers insights into the tension, fear, patriotism and loyalty that marked the beginnings of the American Revolution." -Publishers Weekly, starred review

Contact Us