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53: 1777 Revolutionary War Boston Parole Document
1777 Revolutionary War Boston Parole For Four “Tories”
February 7, 1777-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Unique Manuscript Document Signed, Boston (Massachusetts), Parole for Four noted Tories, Choice Very Fine.
This item is a wonderful, original Document is a Contemporary Period “True Copy” dated 1777, measuring 9” x 8” at Boston, Massachusetts, for the Parole of John Stevenson, Peter Van Saick (Schaak, Cornelius Glen and Benjamin French. It is well written and easy to read being in rich brown on clean, laid period paper. Docket on the blank reverse reads: “Copy of a Parole” and “Parole of Tories,” something we have never before seen! These four being British Loyalist “Tories” who have requested to go back to their family homes in Leominster (MA). They claim that they don't know of any intelligence, nor will they say anything in opposition to the United States. This Document is Signed by John Stevenson, Peter Van Saick and Cornelius Glen. An important, historic and interesting Document, directly relating to Loyalists from New York, who were removed from their estates and brought to Boston to be heard on charges of Treason. These noted men were then transferred from Boston to Leominster, Massachusetts. Upon a written “Oath” to Governor of NY John Jay, they were then allowed back to their homes in New York.
Peter Van Schaak was a strong British Loyalist, who at first agreed with and supported the Colonists' complaints. He then started to disagree with them and became opposed to the American Revolution. He founded his opposition in a belief that the Colonies were part of the British Empire, that Parliament had the authority to pass laws, and that Britain had the right to collect taxes. He thought that every man should live their lives under the British control and that the Colonies cannot function without British rule. He thought that the Colonies needed the protection of Great Britain in order to survive. He believed that Britain's Protection was best for the general good of the colonies because of Great Britain's military and economic strength. He believed that if the colonies became independent they would fight among themselves over their new form of government. In the time of the Revolutionary war he opposed the war and left the country for Great Britain in 1778, living there for seven years. He returned to America, and to practicing law and died in Kinderhook in September of 1832. A remarkable, original Revolutionary War Document made at a tumultuous period of upheaval in American history.
Peter Van Schaack, sent to Massachusetts as a prisoner, was astonished by the kind treatment accorded the Massachusetts tories. In contrast to the harsh techniques of the New York Patriots, Van Schaack felt that Massachusetts granted every "Indulgence consistent" with the "Public Safety" to suspected persons. He noted that in "all they do they have an Eye to the Public and are not antimated by Party or personal Motives." Although he was a convicted Tory, Van Schaack received from the Boston gentry letters urging Patriots to show him benevolence.
During the 1770s, John Stevenson continued to import metalware, opened a land office, and sought preferment from a royal government of which he inherently felt himself a part. These feelings were well-known. In 1766, his Albany neighbors forced this obvious anglophile to swear that he would not accept an appointment as stamp tax collector. But ten years later, he had settled down on upper State Street where he was building a grand new home across from St. Peter's Church. However, his ascendancy was nipped when under pressure by the Albany Committee of Safety, he declared that he was a subject of the King of Great Britain.
John Stevenson was an American British “Loyalist.” Banished to Boston, he managed to return and to hedge his position - using the Douw family to buffer potentially harsh treatment at the hands of the Revolutionaries. Although he was one of those ordered out of New York State in 1783, John Stevenson did not leave and was able to re-establish himself in Albany after the war. Manufacturer and Investor, he was a principal in the creation of the New Albany. Without an urgent need to oppose the Revolutionaries, this Albany native was able to survive the struggle and to prosper afterward.