Exiles of Conscience : 2084 AD
" But there will still be a small but highly visible faction which steadfastly holds onto the belief of 'My Country 'Tis of Thee' while wrapping themselves in antique Red-White-and-Blue flags and garments. "
In 2084, a U.S. Federal election is held with a special referendum calling for the dissolution of the United States republic where a looser definition of a 'Dominion of States' is to be presented to the United States Congress. The individual States are to assume more power and authority with Federal legislative and executive branches becoming more of a background coordinating effort than a strong centralized power.
The United States voters, tired of decades of corporate manipulation through lobbying and special interest groups, will decide to opt for a tepidly socialist form of governance which stresses the collective 'we' instead of the individualistic 'me'.
Congressional approval is but a rubber stamp after the election, as the concept of a 'Dominion of States' had been discussed for the previous 15 years. The power has been shifted closer to the people instead of a strong central body with Presidential powers more resembling a CEO's responsibilities than a national leader. It's still technically a democracy but with a decidedly different meaning.
An emotionally-charged election, the primary focus is to dilute the national Federally-driven model... in essence, it is the end of the 'United' states concept which had been the original intent of the U.S. Founding Fathers.
This subordination of national allegiance in preference to a more regional loyalty will pit the traditionalists' allegiance to the United States against a vastly more popular view that the separate states are better equipped to determine where their priorities should lie. The sway of Corporate dollars will no longer be as meaningful as the state residents will assume more control of their own affairs.
The gung-ho view of 'My Country, Right or Wrong' will become a laughable anachronism rooted in sentimental emotions of decades past. But there will still be a small but highly visible faction which steadfastly holds onto the belief of 'My Country 'Tis of Thee' while wrapping themselves in antique Red-White-and-Blue flags and garments. These latter-day patriots come from all walks of life and professions and will refuse to abandon an allegiance which has lasted over three hundred years.
Neighbours will exact revenge on those who are outspoken in their opinion that the United States should remain 'United' and not a collection of states with loyalty to themselves and not the country in general.
Houses mysteriously catch fire and burn to the ground when fire protective services dawdle to arrive at a particular address. School children are teased and bullied because of their parents' fierce determination to maintain a Republic. Family pets are mutilated, property is stolen and never thoroughly investigated by public safety officials, service at retail outlets is refused to the republicans, and businesses owned by the 'old patriots' are boycotted into insolvency.
Dragging people from their homes to be tarred and feathered is a mostly symbolic but frequent event across the former 'United' states. Land can neither be bought or sold as property rights are ignored for those who don't agree with the majority decision to dissolve the tightly woven Union.
The nation of Mexico has become a carbon copy of the old United States and welcomes the federalists... even to the point of land grants in formidable and sparsely inhabited sections of open wilderness. With plenty of untapped natural resources, there's a strong potential for successful development but it's literally starting from nothing except for that which has been quickly shuttled over the border by the determined republicans. Their former land, houses, businesses and property were seized and divided up long before they even reached their new land grants in Mexico.
Exiled from the country which not only produced generations of their ancestors but was also built, supported and defended by their ancestors, the republicans refused to swear allegiance to their respective state. By refusing the State Oath of Allegiance, these people lost a considerable number of rights which they had enjoyed for decades.
The people of the newly-designed 'Dominion of States' extol their redefined version of democracy where the individual citizen is allowed even greater self-expression provided it meshes with the collective will of the people. Despite the protestations of the old-style republicans that they should be allowed to express themselves along these lines of individual thought and creativity, they're still ignored and hounded to the point where it's no longer feasible to exist among the Dominion-focused masses.
Leaving their lives behind them, they strike off to built a society which espouses their perspective of a republic. They face an uncertain future in a foreign land with hardships and privations the likes of which they've never experienced or imagined. Determined, they emigrate anyway out of a firm conviction that life among the unknown is far better than life among certain realities.
The above scenario may border on hyperbole (or most likely, complete fantasy) but presents an absurdist's view of the plight and flight of those who chose to remain Loyal to the Crown during and after the Revolutionary War. A people who, despite being assured the new country would embrace freedom of speech, were tormented and harassed for expressing their own beliefs and ideologies.
A segment of society... with generations of family members who worked side by side with their friends and neighbours... was systematically routed from decades-old homesteads and businesses. The Loyal Allies of the Crown, the Haudenosaunee, laid claim to homelands thousands of years prior to the first arrival of Europeans yet their lands held 'in trust' by the rebels and promised to be returned post-War, never reverted back to the original inhabitants.
One of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy Nations, the Oneida, fought along side the Rebels in their quest for an independent Republic... even arguably saving Washington's army during the winter at Valley Forge... and were magnanimously rewarded with 32 acres to call their very own after hostilities ended.
The King's lands of Lower Canada were relative wilderness in 1784. By today's standards, even the city of New York was a den of privation where manufactured goods often arrived from European ports months after the need. The area of Upstate New York was on the cusp of the frontier and venturing west of the Niagara River was a voyage into bleak unknown... and unassisted... danger.
The First Nations lived in these areas for eons of course, but the colonists more often than not viewed these people with suspicion and as a danger in addition to the forbidding nature of the wilderness.
One of these Native migrations lead by Joseph Thayendanegea Brant, arrived at a region granted to them by the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784. At a point on the Grand River, Brant forded the river and declared the spot to be the location of a new settlement... Mohawk Village would eventually become to be known as Brantford Ontario. Arriving at a new territory with little more than what could be carried, some 2,000 people had to immediately provide shelter and food as no houses or farms were available to fill their needs.
The same grim greeting awaited most of the Loyalists and Loyal Allies in all the King's lands who were escaping the wrath of the new American rebels. In what would become Southern Ontario, the abundance of trees, tillable soil, moderate climate and rivers would be a distinct advantage than the harsher conditions which the exiles faced in other parts of the King's lands. Still, one can only imagine the level of desperation of these people as they scrambled to meet immediate basic necessities of life minus the relative 'conveniences' of the lives they left behind.
In the case of the Loyalists who lost property and livelihoods, one can only imagine the level of conviction involved with deciding to leave everything behind out of a loyalty to a monarch thousands of miles across the ocean. These were not always willing emigrants.
These were exiles from the land of their birth who might not have been on the 'winning side', but cannot be truthfully declared as being on the 'wrong side' either. Differences in political opinion were ostensibly allowed by the framers of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights yet even prior to the formal organization of the new United States, differences in political ideologies were being denied.
Wouldn't it have been easier to simply renounce allegiance to King George III and jump on the Republic Bandwagon?
In the 'Dominion of States' scenario above, wouldn't it have been easier to simply dump the hokey USA patriotic sentimentalism and 'go with the flow'?
But there comes a time when standing for a principle overrides convenience... even with certain inherent risks for doing so. These 'consequences of Loyalty' should never be taken lightly or forgotten.
That's where the mandates of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada pay homage and tribute to these exiles of conscience. The titled UEL members may be able to trace their Loyalist lineages but the history of the Loyalists belongs to all Canadians. It's impossible to write the history of Canada without a pronounced recognition of the determination of the Loyalists and Loyal Allies.
Loyal Then. Loyal Now.
It's a sentiment as relevant in the 21st Century as it was in the 18th.
God Save the Queen. God Bless Canada.