Maya Jasanoff views American Revolution through the British loyalist lense
We caught up with Associate professor of history at Harvard University and 2011 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award nominee for non-fiction Maya Jasanoff as she introduced her new book Liberty's Exiles (Vintage Reprint Edition; March, 2012) at the 2011 National Book Festival, paining a picture of over 70,000 British loyalists and their slave evacuating post-Revolutionary War America. Jasanoff then traced the most common emigration destinations, including Canada, Bahamas, Jamaica, Australia, and India where Benedict Arnold's two sons wound up, and the 'calamitous' refugee life of Elizabeth Johnston as she and her young family moved from the comforts of Savannah, Georgia, to Charleston, South Carolina, to St. Augustine, Florida, to Edinburgh, Scotland, and, reading from her book, Britain's wealthiest colony, Jamaica, before settling permanently in Nova Scotia. Jasanoff summed up the narrative of the post-Revolutionary War exile of British loyalists, pointing to the relevance of the American Revolution in terms of the millions of exiles of revolutions around the world today. Jasanoff then took questions from the audience on the role of the Anglican Church among post-war British refugees and their loyalty to the crown; how she came to write about the American Revolution from the British historical perspective; post-Revolutionary War loyalists' political views; the difficulties of British loyalists' reparation claims; and the unique American revolutionary narrative of the re-integration of defeated British loyalists both in America and abroad.
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