Professor of law Richard Samuelson over at the Library of Liberty and Law points out a striking difference between Senator Chuck Schumer’s attitude toward the private property of dissidents and that of the “Father of our Country”. When some members of the population seemed to prefer the protection of the British rather than the freedom of the new country and were thinking of leaving:
“General Washington did not demand that such enemies of their native country, as he thought them, should pay an exit tax. The Americans were fighting to protect their property from arbitrary taxation. Loyalists were free to choose loyalty, and they were free to take their personal property with them. If there was, on principle, no exit tax demanded in the darkest days of the American revolution, it is hard to see how one could be justified now.”
Quite apart from the fact that for Schumer the concept of “private property” is precisely what the Secretary of the Treasury says it means, something no revolutionary American would dream of , the right to renounce according to George Washington was essential to protect the rights of minorities.
Even so, in that time when the young nation was at war with Great Britain and was trying to distinguish between friends and enemies, Washington wrote a Proclamation Concerning Loyalists that forced a stark choice to be made: declare your loyalty to the republic, or leave. And if you do not so proclaim and you do not leave, you will be treated as an enemy. God help us if it comes to that again.