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Poverty and Patriotism of the Neutral Grounds

Poverty and Patriotism of the Neutral Grounds

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Excerpt from Poverty and Patriotism of the Neutral Grounds: A Paper Read Before the Westchester County Historical Society Upon the One Hundred and Twenty-Third Anniversary of the Battle of White Plains

The Neutral Grounds, comprising all of the central towns and manors of Westchester County, sustained and endured more of the real hardships and calamities incident to a long, relentless war than perhaps all other sections of similar dimensions combined. Its inhabitants, from the most reliable accounts, were nearly equally divided in their political affiliations.

Those in affluent and comfortable circumstances, to a very large degree were Tories by choice, while the poor, who had long suffered the pangs of poverty and oppression of tyranny, became Whigs of the most loyal type.

History, in a general way, has made familiar the diverging lines of loyalty to the King and liberty of the people. Only a brief reference can be made, upon an occasion commemorating the anniversary of the first real conflict at arms between the opposing forces upon the Neutral Grounds, of some of the causes that made poverty the corner-stone of patriotism.

Adrian Van Der Donck, the first historian this New Netherland "which we have christened the Empire State" ever knew, dwelt within its borders. He was the true and tried friend of the first settlers, when the mismanagement of government and the obnoxious and avaricious plans of a grasping monopoly imposed burdens that doomed to a life of serfdom those who had longed for liberty in other lands. He interceded in their behalf, and became instrumental in correcting the evils complained of.

Government was reformed. Trade was fostered. Emigration was encouraged.

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