John Cruger Jr Vanishes Into The Forgotten Third
John Cruger, Jr. was an early promoter of colonial rights.
He attended the Stamp Act Congress and supported informing London of the colonists' grievances and letting Parliament correct itself.
As time passed, however, Cruger was unable to support the more radical developments of the American Revolution. Always a New Yorker, and unhappy with Britain's actions, he would not turn his back on his countrymen. But he was also true to his beliefs that the wrong decisions were being made.
Instead of joining the war, he joined the Forgotten Third.
Stamp Act Congress
By the time the Stamp Act Congress met, John Cruger had been mayor of New York City for almost a decade.
Since he was in charge of the Congress’ host city, John was chosen as a delegate to the convention.
Like most of the attendees, he felt the new taxes were oppressive and needed to be discontinued. Cruger signed the Declaration of Rights and Grievances which were sent to the King and Parliament.
The colonists were heard and within a year the Stamp Act had been revoked. Unknown to anyone at the time, this was the first step toward the American Revolution.
Over the ensuing years, Cruger furthered his career by becoming elected to the New York Provincial Assembly where he served as Speaker. He was responsible for guiding the debates on the floor.
As tensions reheated with the Mother Country, John became a member of his colony's Committee of Correspondence. These committees were tasked with maintaining communication with the other Assemblies.
Knowing something again had to be done, Cruger supported the First Continental Congress. They were meeting to discuss the issues at hand, just like the Stamp Act Congress he attended almost a decade earlier.
This time, John did not attend the Congress.
This time, John felt the Congress went too far.
Disagreeing With The Continental Congress
Instead of simply informing London of their grievances, the Continental Congress decided to recommend a total boycott of British goods.
For Cruger this was too drastic a move. It would inevitably lead to further crackdowns by the government, making the situation much worse. He would have preferred repeating the process that worked for the Stamp Act.
John made his feelings known and earned mistrust from many of his more radical colleagues. They felt that unless more drastic action was taken, these same infringements would continue indefinitely.
By 1776, Cruger was listed as a suspicious person by the Provincial Assembly.
The Forgotten Third
Being considered a suspect by the state does not seemed to have bothered Cruger.
Already an old man, he retired to a farm up the Hudson. He was left alone by both the Patriots and the Redcoats. His years in government were, technically, in service of both sides.
Cruger's decision to remain uncommitted to either side during the Revolutionary War is interesting to reflect on because of how common it was. We like to think back on the time as the Americans verse the British. The truth is, about a third of the colonists were Patriots, and a third Loyalists. The other third were uncommitted. I like to call them the 'Forgotten Third.'
They were regular people who just wanted to live peaceful lives.
John Cruger, Jr. was one of these people. He stepped back and faded into the shadows of American history. He dissipated into the Forgotten Third.
I'll admit now that the 'Forgotten Third' is a term of my own creation. I am particularly proud of it because I think it is emphasizes the attitude of a large portion of the American population. That attitude? Who cares! Many peoples lives would not be changing now matter who won the war.
If you'd like to learn more about the Stamp Act (possibly the most underrated and misunderstood part of the American Revolution), I highly suggest you read 'The Stamp Act Congress' by Edmund and Helen Morgan. Edmund in particular is one of the great Founding Generation historians and this book goes very deep into the workings of the subject. All books on this site are purchased through Amazon, who we affiliate with because they are one of the Internet's most trusted sites.