Watching Finding Your Roots last night (I love this series) I was quite taken aback by Ken Burns comment that he was "more ashamed" of finding out he had a Loyalist ancestor then he was of having a slave owner ancestor.
Wow. What a terrible thing to say! Both sides - Patriot and Loyalist (please don't call them Tories!) stood up for what they believed in and fought for those beliefs. It does not matter whether or not we agree with one side or the other, both sides should be respected and honoured for their strength and courage in holding firm to what they believed in.
My Loyalist ancestors believed it was treason to rise up against the King. They suffered greatly both in their physical ways and financially with the loss of property. They were forced to flee the country they were born in to make a new life in Canada. Loyalists were responsible for opening Ontario and other provinces in Canada for settlement. They are as important to our history of our country as Patriots are to our American friends and cousins.
Patriots likewise showed great courage in taking a huge chance that they would win the fight. That took courage. They too suffered during the war. Both sides suffered atrocities at the hands of the opposing side. That's the nature of war.
My own Loyalist ancestor was imprisoned and his wife and 10 young children taken from their home in northern New York, set the home on fire, and marched the family into the forest where they were left to die. Luckily Indians from Montreal found them and led them to Quebec where they were taken in by the British government as refugees. But do I bear a grudge against Patriots? NO! Why would I? Each side did what they felt was necessary. There is not, nor should there be, any judgement on my part. Terrible things happened to individuals on both sides of the American Revolution.
I wish Ken Burns had shown a modicum of respect for the difficult choices his Loyalist ancestor made. I do not expect him to make the man his hero, but how about less judgement and less disdain for the Loyalist cause. His remarks left a very bad taste in my mouth.