Thursday, January 13, 2011

Open Thread Thursday - Family on the Wrong Side of History

With the sesquicentennial of the United States Civil War occurring this year, it reminds me of how proud I am of my ancestor, Charles Haase, who fought for the Union during the last year of that war.

It also reminds me of my ancestors on the other side of the family, the Raynors, who supported the losing side of another American war - they were pro-British during the American Revolution.

Cousin April and I just had a conversation recently in which she said she had tried to apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution but couldn't find anyone in our Raynor line who had fought for or supported the cause for American independence. There is, however, evidence that the Raynors would have been quite happy to remain someone who enjoys an afternoon tea break every now and then, as well as many British sitcoms that have come out over the years, I don't blame them! :)

I don't have a lot of evidence or research in this arena - it's been easier to find the documents detailing Charles Haase's stint in the Civil War - of course, the Revolution happened almost 100 years before that, so the records aren't as readily available. But it's been documented that the people of Hempstead, Long Island, which is where the Raynors lived, were staunchly sympathetic to the British, and that St. George's Episcopal Church in Hempstead was used as a British headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Many branches of my family tree at that time ended up fleeing to Canada.

If I put myself in my ancestors' shoes, how can I blame them for the choice they made? They had been in this country for almost 150 years before any talk of revolution - they were leading presumably comfortable, familiar, safe lives. Powerful Great Britain, with it's long, established history, would seem to be the obvious winner in this war. When we learn about American history, we learn about the brave patriots who fought for freedom against a tyrannical king, but how often in modern times do we read about revolutions in other countries where the rebels are portrayed as the villains? It's really all about perspective. And I like that my Tory-loving Raynor ancestors give me a perspective of history that most Americans never even think about.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. We really have no idea what life was like then and how our ancestors really felt and why they had those views.