Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)





Committee Chair

Kyle Zelner

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Susannah Ural

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Phyllis Jestice

Committee Member 3 Department



In June, I 776, when Richard Henry Lee proposed a discussion about independence at the Second Continental Congress, ideas about political loyalty and royal ism in Virginia changed drastically. Almost overnight, there was a general consensus throughout most of the colony on the creation ofa Virginia exceptionalism: the idea that Virginia- as the largest, richest, and most populous colony- should be the leading voice of the upcoming American Revolution. This thesis argues that the ways Virginians perceived their place in the Revolutionary struggle was, in many ways, mirrored in their treatment of loyalists in the state. By examining publications on loyalism in the Virginia Gazelle between 1770 and 1781, and the Loyalist Claims Records, it is clear that Virgin ia, which was once tolerant and sometimes encouraging of loyalist and patriot debates, made a conscious decision after Lee's Resolution in June, I 776 to present themselves as a state based solely on patriotic values. The studies of Judith Van Buskirk and Joseph Tiedemann on New York, which dominate the historiography on loyalism, claim that New York embraced their loya lists as peace makers between the British Army and regular citizens. This thesis will show a direct contrast from New York, where Virginia loyalists were pacified and relegated to the rn1!away slave advertisements in the Virginia Gazettes.