Rebels, Cavaliers & Tories

tcra9435Michael Cushman

The terms “Rebels” and “Tories” hold great political significance for the people of Dixie, Great Britain and the English-speaking countries of the world. They also share some important features and are bound together by history.

When the Southern States withdrew (or seceded) from a Union they had helped to form they were called “rebels” by anti-Southern forces in the North. It was meant as an insult to say that Southerners had rebelled against the lawful authority of the US government. It was also a telling testament to the North’s support for Federal supremacy over self-determination. The US government officially labeled the military contest which followed as the “War of the Rebellion.” Over time many Southerners adopted the term as a positive identifying marker. The Confederate flag became known to many Southerners as the “Rebel flag.” In US history the “Rebels” opposed bourgeois values, equality, democracy and the destruction of traditional life. They fought to uphold Pre-Modern values against radical-liberal forces influenced deeply by the Enlightenment.

Likewise, the word “Tory” began as an insult, taken from an Irish word which meant a robber or outlaw. Small guerrilla groups in Ireland who resisted the draconian rule of Oliver Cromwell’s radical dictatorship were allied with royalists, connecting the term to British politics. The Tories were British traditionalists who supported “God, King and Country” against the liberal Whigs. They supported the Anglican high church tradition and were opposed by Whigs who supported religious splinter groups that held non-traditional beliefs.

The Tories were led by Cavaliers, another term originally meant as an insult, who were traditionalist-minded members of the British aristocracy who fought against Cromwell’s forces in the English Civil War (1642-1651). They fought to defend the rule of King Charles I, but more importantly they fought for principles such as hierarchy, tradition and the established church. Sadly, Charles I was executed by extremists and a repressive and genocidal regime was forced upon the British Isles which targeted Catholics, high church Anglicans and the Scots and Irish.

In the Southern nationalist tradition the Tories are linked to Dixie while the Whigs are linked to New England:

  • King Charles I established the first charter of the colony of Carolina, the first plantation colony of the South.
  • Virginia sided with the Crown against Cromwell’s regime.
  • Many Tory refugees escaped the English Civil War and settled in Barbados, the mother colony of the plantation South.
  • The colony of Georgia only reluctantly joined the American Revolution. In general, the revolution was far more divisive in the South than in New England.
  • Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was a high church Anglican with many Catholic friends (and who had a friendly relationship with the Pope), denounced Cromwell and the Puritans as the ancestors of the Yankees and “disturbers of the peace of the world.”
  • The North lost much of its traditionalist aristocracy just before the Revolutionary War. Frank Connor in The South Under Siege 1830 – 2000 (Collards Publishing Company, 2002) writes that “When war with Britain loomed, many of the most prestigious families in New England – Tories all – emigrated permanently to Canada or England, because they identified with the Crown. The aristocrats who remained in the North no longer constituted a large-enough society to influence the thinking of people. The region now lacked a moral compass. It became basically a materialistic society; but it also adopted a long procession of short-lived-but-popular fads and cults – some of them quite extreme – in place of its previously-stable Calvinist-based society.” By contrast, “many of the Southern aristocrats stayed put when the Revolutionary War flared up.”
  • The University of Virginia, from the State most linked to the royalist cause, adopted the Cavaliers as its mascot. The original color of the school team was Confederate grey, not orange.
  • Southern social philosopher George Fitzhugh wrote in 1863, “We should cherish and cultivate the friendship of the English Tory Party; for that friendship is not accidental or affected, but proceeds from concurrence in political doctrine and blood relationship; for we are descended from the Tory stock” (Revolutionary Southernism, North American Movement, 2014, p. 18).

It should be noted that while Toryism remains a political and cultural force in the UK, starting in the late 18th century conservatism (which gave rise to the Conservative Party) began to eclipse it. British Conservatism, much like US conservatism, fused some Tory values with some Whig economics. It was a Modern synthesis of liberalism and traditionalism which led to the false-Right we are so familiar with today.

Southern nationalists and true Tories, as an ideologically and ethnically related English-speaking people, are joined together in our struggle to bring sanity, tradition and Godly direction back to our societies.

Published on Southern Future, 10 August 2015.