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The American Revolution
Revolutionary War: The Home Front
Loyalists in Delaware and Maryland, 1777

While problems of loyalism and toryism were widespread throughout the colonies, loyalist sentiment and activities were more intense in certain localities. One such locality was in the maritime counties of Delaware and Maryland. In the following Continental Congress documents, what issues are discussed? What does the Congress attempt to do to suppress the loyalists?

View the original documents by clicking on the links below. All documents are from the Journals of the Continental Congress, which can be found in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


February 1, 1777

The committee to whom was referred the petition ∥and remonstrance∥ from the inhabitants of Somerset and Worcester counties, in the State of Maryland, brought in a report, which was taken into consideration; Whereupon,

Resolved, That the said memorial petition and remonstrance, with the depositions accompanying the same, be forthwith transmitted to the general assembly of the State of Maryland:

That the said general assembly be earnestly requested to send a sufficient number of their artillery and militia, effectually to suppress the tories in the counties of Somerset and Worcester, and to seize and secure the persons mentioned in a list to be transmitted with these resolves, and all others in the said counties who shall appear to have been the leaders of the tory faction there:

That it be recommended to the general assembly, aforesaid, to direct, that a day be given to all the inhabitants of the said counties, to assemble at appointed places, and take the oath of allegiance required by the said State, and that all who shall refuse or neglect so to do, be disarmed:

That General Smallwood and all other Continental Officers in the said State be, and he hereby is, required to assist in executing the orders of the said assembly for the purpose aforesaid;

That this Congress will afford one batallion, or more, if requested by the said assembly, for the said purpose:

That the said assembly be requested to cause all offenders, as aforesaid, to be brought to immediate tryal, agreeable to the laws of the said State.

Resolved, That a Battalion be ordered to the County of Sussex, on Delaware with positive Instructions to the Commanding officer.--to disarm all such Persons of whom it may be proven that they are disaffected to the American Cause, and to apprehend such as have been or are their Leaders, returning the Names of those who may be thus disarmed, and the Persons of those apprehended, and the cause thereof to the general assembly of the State of Delaware.

Ordered, That the president write to General Smallwood, and inform him, it is the direction of Congress, that he call to his assistance any continental officers and troops he shall think proper.

April 17, 1777

It being represented to Congress by the delegates of Maryland, that there is imminent danger of an insurrection in the counties of Somerset and Worcester, and that the insurgents may be joined by disaffected persons in the county of Sussex, in the state of Delaware; and, application being made by the said delegates, for a continental batallion to be placed in the county of Somerset, to overawe and quell the insurgents,

Resolved, That a committee of four be appointed to devise ways and means of suppressing the disaffected persons spirit of toryism in the counties of Somerset, Worcester, and Sussex, and preventing them from taking measures prejudicial to the cause of the United States.

April 19, 1777

The committee appointed to devise ways and means for suppressing the dangerous spirit of toryism in the counties of Somerset, Worcester [Maryland] and Sussex [Delaware] and preventing the disaffected persons therein from taking measures prejudicial to the cause of the United States, brought in their report, which was taken into consideration; Whereupon,

That the Counties above mentioned consist at least betwixt four and five thousand Men, two thirds of whom are highly disaffected to the Measures pursued by the United States for the Establishment of their Freedom and Independance.

That from the assiduous Arts of Persons of Influence amongst the Malignants, and from the Want of Spirited and decided Measures an ill judged Lenity in the States of Delaware and Maryland the dangerous Spirit of Toryism has acquired Strength, and at several Times has broke out into open Acts of Treason against the Liberties of the United States. That from the Maratime Situation of these Counties, an easy Access is open to the Enemies Armed Vessels, and that the notorious Disaffection of the Inhabitants will naturally invite the Enemy to land Part of their Force in those Counties, where they probably would be joined by a considerable Body of Insurgents who only wait an Opportunity to fall upon the defenceless Sons of Freedom in that Quarter, and to perpetrate those Acts of Cruelty and Devastation which have hitherto been consequent to such Insurrections.

That a timely Attention to prevent these Evils is not only necessary from these Considerations, but likewise from the ill Consequences which may accrue to the General Cause, should such an Insurrection break out at the Time when the Enemy with the main Body of the Army may be bending their Force against the City of Philadelphia.

To avert these impending Evils the Committee beg leave to submit to the consideration of Congress the following Resolutions.

Resolved, That it be earnestly recommended to the legislative or executive authorities of the states of Delaware and Maryland, forthwith to apprehend and remove all persons of influence, or of desperate characters, within the counties of Sussex, Somerset, and Worcester, who have betrayed or manifested a disaffection to the American cause, to some remote or secure place or places within their respective States; there to be secured without any person having access to them, unless by license first obtained from such civil or military officer as the government of the respective States shall think proper to appoint for that purpose: to take away the fire-arms of all such of the inhabitants of the counties above-mentioned, as have not hitherto manifested an attachment to the cause of America, excepting such in the counties of Worcester and Somerset, in the state of Maryland, as may have complied with the proclamation issued by the said State, in the month of February last, the said arms to be disposed of by the respective States as shall be deemed most conducive to the general weal: to enact laws appointing commissioners in each of the counties above-mentioned, whose business it shall be to make inventories, and to take charge of the personal estates of the persons so removed, and to receive the rents arising from their real estates, in order that the same may be appropriated as a fund for their maintenance, till the government of the respective States shall otherwise direct; and vesting the said commissioners with full and adequate powers to enquire into, detect, and defeat, all plots or conspiracies formed in the respective counties against the liberties of America.

Resolved, That the governor of the State of Maryland be authorized to detain the weakest continental batallion raised in the state of Maryland, till further order of Congress; and that it be recommended to the executive authority of the state of Maryland, forthwith, to embody three hundred of the militia of the said State, and to the executive authority of the State of Delaware, one hundred of their militia, the said militia to co-operate with the batallion of the continental troops, to obey the orders of the officer commanding the same, and to continue in service so long as the joint executive authorities of the States of Delaware and Maryland shall think necessary.
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View the original documents by clicking on the links above. All documents are from the Journals of the Continental Congress, which can be found in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.