In the Jaws of the Lion: Loyalty and Liberty in Occupied Philadelphia


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The British occupation of Philadelphia marks a turning point in the revolutionary war for the loyalty and political affections of colonial British-America. An analysis of the military and civilian records of the period suggest that, to an extent rarely recognized by scholars, the colonial population in the middle colonies had become disengaged from the revolutionary cause and that revolutionary leadership, driven by a republican ideology that relied on expressed consent for its legitimacy, was increasingly intolerant of neutrality and disaffection. Consequently, the neutrality of the people did not have a neutral influence on the conflict, but tended to benefit the British military, though it too misinterpreted the people’s sentiments and so failed to capitalize on its advantage.