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Patriot vs. Patriot: Social Conflict in Virginia and the Origins of the American Revolution

  • MICHAEL A. McDONNELL (a1) and WOODY HOLTON (a2)
    • Published online: 23 October 2000
Abstract

Virginia, Britain's most populous and arguably most important North American colony, once seemed the perfect fit for the “consensus” interpretation of the War of Independence. Indeed, the percentage of white colonists who became loyalists was probably lower in Virginia than in any other rebelling colony. The widespread agreement on secession from Britain should not, however, be mistaken for social consensus. The reality was that revolutionary Virginia was frequently in turmoil. One of the most intriguing of the local insurrections broke out in the northern county of Loudoun just five months before the Declaration of Independence. In February 1776, the county erupted into a heated confrontation pitting gentlemen against their less wealthy neighbours. Lund Washington, who was managing Mount Vernon, warned his cousin, General George Washington, who was outside Boston training his fledgeling patriot army, that the “first Battle we have in this part of the Country will be in Loudon” – not against British soldiers, but against fellow patriots. Within a week, the revolutionary government in Williamsburg, the Committee of Safety, felt compelled to send troops to quell the disturbances. Yet, for months afterwards, gentry Virginians worried that their effort to suppress the rebellion had failed. In mid-May, Andrew Leitch told Leven Powell of Loudoun, “I really lament the torn and distracted condition of your County.” The “troublesome times,” as another gentleman called them, were slow to abate.

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Journal of American Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-8758
  • EISSN: 1469-5154
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-american-studies
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