In local gathering places, away from the ears of the occupiers, insurgents meet and discuss ways to punish occupation supporters. Although the techniques vary—insurgents confront traitors in the street, leave messages at their homes, and threaten their family members—all of their tactics are designed to make supporting the illegitimate occupation unattractive, dangerous, and even deadly. Once identified by the insurgents, collaborators often cease supporting the occupiers, go into hiding, or move their families away from the area. Those who fail to heed the warnings may pay dearly as they and their families live under constant threat. Does this sound like Iraq or Afghanistan to you? It might be. But it is also colonial Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and every other hotbed of the American Revolution. Rather than harm their livelihoods for a highly risky cause like revolution, a large proportion of the colonials fervently supported the English Crown while many others simply hoped to maintain the status quo. The colonial patriots—the conflict’s insurgents—used a variety of tactics to pressure Loyalists to forgo British allegiance, including public recantation, intimidation, financial penalties, and forfeiture of all property, among others. These tactics proved invaluable to the revolution’s success.
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