S. Scott Rohrer: Upcoming Books

The Folly of Revolution: Thomas Bradbury Chandler, Loyalism, and His Lost Conservative World

Penn State University Press, 2020

By S. Scott Rohrer

The Folly of Revolution takes the reader into the world of Thomas Bradbury Chandler, one of the leading loyalists during the American Revolution.

As American radicals agitated for independence in the early 1770s, Chandler, a high church Anglican minister in Elizabeth Town, N.J., published a series of pamphlets attacking the Continental Congress as tyrannical and New England revolutionaries as “madmen.” His scathing critiques of the independence movement earned him the ire of the Sons of Liberty, who burned his writings and drove him into exile in 1775.

This book, the first modern biography of this important loyalist, uses Chandler’s story as an entrée into a world that rested on monarchy, hierarchy, and a strong state church. Talented, hardworking, and erudite, Chandler championed a particularly fascinating vision of American society, one with complex roots dating to Tudor England and the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89. He became a leader of the northern Anglican clergy in the 1760s and was the leading strategist in the effort to strengthen the American Episcopal Church in the years preceding the Revolution. Among the American clergy, Chandler also possessed one of the Church of England’s most outstanding minds.

The Folly of Revolution explores Chandler’s various causes and explains the conservative society he championed. In doing so, the book recaptures a “lost” world of the 1760s and 1770s in which a sizable number of Americans admired English society, revered the Crown, and praised the British constitution as “the wonder of the world.”

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