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The Case of the American Loyalists
Parliament notice from the Bernardus Lagrange folder, Rutgers Special Collection and University Archives.

As the above notice stated, as a British citizen, each person was responsible for eternal allegiance to the British Crown. The American Revolution tested the loyalties of those living in the thirteen American colonies. As this document stated, no matter what the circumstance, citizens must remain loyal. This part of the American Revolution site explores the fate of one man, Bernardus Lagrange.

Bernardus Lagrange was a lawyer living in Middlesex County, New Jersey at the start of the American Revolution. He was born in New York in 1745 and considered the colonies his home. His law practice gave him a good income for the time and enabled him to own a considerable amount of property, including a sizable amount in New Brunswick, the current site of Rutgers University. From the beginning of hostilities between Great Britain and her colonies, Lagrange sided with his mother country. He was such a strong and vocal supporter of Great Britain that his image was burnt in effigy in New Brunswick in 1776. Lagrange, along with his family, was the focus of a great deal of hostility and hatred. Please consider the following questions before you examine documents about Mr. Lagrange's life.

  • What are reasons in the 1770's to be a Loyalist?
  • What are reasons in the 1770's to be an American Patriot?
  • What arguments are more convincing to you?
  • Would have been a Loyalist or a Patriot? Why?
  • What do you think are the reasons Mr. Lagrange remained a Loyalist?

Click on the letter to Mrs. Lagrange from Neighbor (July 1776) to begin finding out what happened to Bernardus Lagrange and his family when they chose to remain loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution.