Old York’s own Danny Bottino kicks off the popular annual lecture series, History…with a side of soup! with “‘They Do They Know not what’: The Agony of Jonathan Sayward on the Eve of Revolution.” The lecture is followed by a dinner of soup and bread in historic Jefferds Tavern.
American “patriots” and “founding fathers” are popularly viewed as the pre-eminent resistors of unjust tyranny and oppression during the Revolutionary period. But what about those colonists who maintained their loyalty to the British Crown? Rather than being tyrannized by a foreign government on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, they were subject to oppression by their own American countrymen, friends, and even neighbors. One such loyalist, Jonathan Sayward (1713–1797) of York, Maine, remained in his hometown (rather than fleeing), and attempted to shape the “Spirit of 1776” in the lead up to Lexington and Concord, and the ultimate split from Great Britain. In his effort to maintain political moderation Sayward failed, often in quite tragic circumstances. Danny Bottino examines how Sayward’s personal agony sheds light on a type of loyalist resistance that did in fact have a critical—albeit subtle—effect on the political choices of the founding fathers, both during the Revolution and in the aftermath of victory.
Danny Bottino is a second year PhD student in the history department at Rutgers University, researching the history of landscape and memory in New England and the early modern Atlantic world, focusing especially on the early history of English colonization. A resident of Kittery Point, he holds a BA in History and Psychology from Tufts University, and an MA in European Studies from Yale University.
Image: Unknown Artist, Portrait of Jonathan Sayward, Historic New England, Gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler, 1977.227