MAINTAINING SUPPORT AND SOCIAL CONTROLS (Beware Of KGB).
In order to have a revolution succeed, support, once gained, must be maintained, and controls must be put in place to prevent the opposition from regaining any support of their own. The American Revolution was no different. Through election law, gentry support and political violence, as well as maintaining a state of fear.
Voting Requirements in the era of the revolution were actually quite exclusive. To speak in generalities, Legislation in the colonies required that those possessing the franchise be freeholders of over a certain monetary amount, for example £40 in New York.(1) To be a freeholder one had to have independent ownership of land worth £40, or a lease for life of the same value. Further, voting was by viva voca, or live voice.(1) This made voting against persons such as the Sons of Liberty very dangerous, and served to suppress dissident voting. As if anything more was needed to support the conclusion that the system was anti-democratic, elections themselves were frequently not between opposing candidates. In several colonies, it was very common for the local gentry to agree on a person to “Set Up” for election, who would run unopposed.(1) This reduces the vote to nothing more than a poorly staged political appointment, resembling Democracy or Republicanism in much the same way a Mountain resembles an Atlantic Tuna.
A State of Fear, established through propaganda, was continued through the arrest and imprisonment of Loyalists, as well as further propaganda and mob violence, as explained previously in the series. The imprisonment and arrest of loyalists was aided by Secret Political Police agencies established in order to rid the States of “all conspiracies, which may be formed… against the liberties of America.“ This committee, and those like it were empowered to “send for persons and papers; to call out such detachments of the militia or troops in the different counties, as they may from time to time deem necessary for suppressing insurrections; to apprehend, secure or remove such persons, who they shall judge dangerous to the safety of the State; to make drafts on the treasury for a sum not exceeding five hundred pounds; that they be empowered to enjoin secrecy upon their own members, and the persons employed by the Committee, whenever they shall judge the same necessary; and in general, to do every act and thing whatsoever, which may be necessary to enable them to execute the trust hereby reposed in them.”
Much like the Soviet NKVD or KGB and the German Gestapo, all other committees, public officers and Military Commanders were required to report any suspicious activity to this committee. Such action contributes significantly to the State of Fear allowing the entire revolutionary structure to continue its existence, as anyone not entirely on board will become paranoid or imprisoned. Both of these outcomes are entirely acceptable for the intents of the Separatist Party.
This Committee in New York clearly had a hand in arresting, imprisoning, and deporting those not in the Revolutionary party. This committee forced out all those who were under investigation thereby in March of 1777, with only one week allowed for protests and appeals. Property of all those deported to New York City, then under British Occupation, was confiscated and auctioned or appropriated to the use of the Separatist cause.
There were similar laws in Virginia, and similar oaths required in other States, making for a decentralized, provincial version of the KGB. Further the Virginia law specifically states that all refusing to take the oath are to be disarmed and “during the time of such neglect or refusal, be incapable of holding any office in this state, serving on juries, suing for any debts, electing or being elected, or buying lands, tenements, or hereditaments.” Also, Maryland Law stated very much the same thing for anyone who committed treason against the United States, including a statute similar to that in New York, which allowed anyone who failed to turn treason in to the authorities to be tried for treason themselves. This is very similar to the German Gestapo, SS, and other police organizations using such threats to turn the population on themselves, and ostracize those who do not conform to the party line.
In several colonies, New Jersey (Mentioned in the VA Gazette of 12 September 1777), Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and others, the property and any other assets of Loyalists were to be confiscated and sold for funding the rebellion. Such actions make for several very subtle, though important, political effects. Firstly, Those who are not already forced out of the area through political violence are moved off their property and thus forced into moving away should they avoid deportation. Secondly, This destroys the tenants’ freehold, which is required to gain the franchise as aforementioned. Therefore, any opposition is forced from the electorate, imposing a false political hegemony in support of the Separatist cause.
As with several of the laws mentioned above, Congress itself also suggested that all loyalists be disarmed, thereby removing their means of self defense.(2: 12 April 1776)
Similar methods were employed by the fascist powers of the twentieth century. Persons aligned with the opposition were disenfranchised, their property confiscated, and the subjects imprisoned, deported or exterminated, depending on the particular case at hand.
- Gerlach, Don R. Philip Schuyler and the American Revolution in New York 1733-1777. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1964) pp. 323-331
- Virginia Gazette Archives Online, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/VirginiaGazette