Patriots and Loyalists Facts for Kids

Who were the Patriots and the Loyalists?

The death of British Major Patrick Ferguson, being shot from his horse on October 7, 1780, as he commanded Loyalist regulars and militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain, a Patriot military victory
  • After the French and Indian War, the British Empire claimed authority over all the 13 Colonies of America. 
  • However, the taxation imposed by the British on their American subjects irked many colonists and they sought to gain independence from their new rulers. 
  • The American colonists were divided on the issue of independence and were divided into three camps, namely, the Patriots, the Loyalists, and the Fence Sitters. 
  • The Patriots were called Revolutionaries, Continentals, American Whigs, or Rebels while the Loyalists were referred to as Tories, Loyalists, or the King’s Men. 
  • While the Patriots were adamant that they wanted freedom and self-rule, the Loyalists supported the British and fought against the Patriots. 
  • The Fence Sitters were largely undecided which made the American Revolutionary War a fight for the support of the majority. 
  • The Patriots harbored the dream of forming a new nation with their own rules and government. They were opposed to the British due to the interference it caused in the affairs of the colonists. 
  • The Loyalists, on the other hand, preferred to remain British subjects either because they had business and trade relations in England or they had family and other ties in England. 
  • A war of propaganda unfolded to win the support of the people from both sides in which the Patriots were far more successful. 
  • The political philosophy of the Patriots was based on Republicanism and their chief proponents were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. 
  • The Loyalists preferred the English Crown to rule the colonies due to military stability and economic opportunities. 
  • Their political ideology was based on traditionalist conservatism. Benjamin Franklin’s son, William Franklin was a leader of the Loyalist forces. 
  • The American Revolution War was won by the Patriots and led to the removal of all British officers as well as Loyalists from the United States of America. 
  • Many African American people had joined the Loyalist forces because the British had promised them freedom in exchange for their participation in the war. 

Historical Background

  • After the French and Indian War had ended in 1763, the French colonies in America also came under British Rule. 
  • The war had plunged the British government into debts and they tried to recover them by imposing taxes on the colonial subjects. 
  • However, the American colonists did not believe that they owed anything to the British, moreover, they refused to accept British interference in the affairs of the colonies. 
  • This caused tension between the British troops stationed in the 13 colonies and the white settlers. 
  • Several protests were conducted to oppose the taxes imposed by the British, such as the stamp tax, sugar tax, the tea tax, etc.
  •  The colonists argued that the British parliament had no right to impose taxes on the colonies because they had no representation in the parliament.
  • Even though the British repealed the taxes in response to the boycotts and protests, things went out of control when a group of men called the ‘sons of liberty’ boarded ships anchored on the Boston harbor and dumped 342 chests of tea into the water. 
  • This angered the British parliament and King George III and they responded with what became known as the Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts. 
  • Under these acts, the port of Boston was closed and the self-rule of the Massachusetts assembly was stripped. 
  • It also allowed British officers to escape justice by requesting trials to be held in Britain even though they were accused in America. 
  • The Intolerable Acts played a decisive role in turning the American opinion against the British and dividing the colonial settlers into three groups, namely,  Loyalists, Patriots, and Fence Sitters. 
  • The Patriots detested being subjects of the British and wanted to gain their freedom through a revolution. 
  • The revolutionary cause united people of all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds against the British. 
  • Lawyers, students, planters, merchants, farmers, and even slaves were ready to fight for independence from the British Empire. 
  • They identified themselves as Whigs because the British Whig Party harbored the same sentiments toward colonial policy. 
  • The colonists who had dressed up as Native Americans and staged the Boston Tea Party were also Patriots. 
  • The Loyalists were against the Patriots and considered them to be nothing more than troublemakers. The political ideology of the Patriots was not shared by the Loyalists.
  • The Loyalists instead thought that being British subjects was far more advantageous than fighting a revolutionary war for independence. 
  • When the Patriots threatened to mobilize their men, the Loyalists promised the British that they will fight on behalf of them. 
  • Many Loyalists considered themselves half American and half British. They believed that they owe allegiance to their mother country. 
  • Even though many Loyalists were also against the unfair taxes imposed by the British, they wanted to peacefully reconcile with the Crown. 
  • However, in 1775 when the Patriots seized control in all of the 13 colonies many people were forced to choose which side they would support. 
  • It is said that about 45% of the white population was on the Patriot side and about 20% were on the Loyalist side. 
  • The rest preferred to stay neutral or at least did not publicly declare their affiliation. They were therefore called the Fence Sitters. 
  • The Patriots tried to convince the colonists to support the cause of an Independent American State through large scale propaganda. 
  • One of the most influential writings of this era was authored by Thomas Paine. He appealed to the undecided population of America by writing a piece called ‘Common Sense’. 
  • Before the French and Indian War, the colonial settlers were completely independent as the British Crown did not pay much heed to the activities taking place in the colonies.
  • The Patriots highlighted this fact and also pointed out that the British were mainly interested in enslaving the colonists for the purpose of enriching the British coffers. 

Motivations

  • Through the studies conducted by historians, we have found out few motivations that may have led the Patriots and Loyalists to choose their respective sides during the American Revolution. 
  • Even though most colonists were interested in living a better life in the Americas there were several other factors that played a role in deciding how the American colonists would govern the new territories.
  • The Loyalists were well-established Englishmen who were opposed to the idea of change. 
  • They were also older than the Patriots and did not share the same passion for forming a new government. 
  • It was easier to remain in the British Empire as it provided stability and security. The Loyalists preferred to stick with what they knew. 
  • The Loyalists also believed that the Patriots were ethically wrong to rebel against the British Empire. 
  • They viewed the support of the British in the French and Indian War as critical to their victory and had the sentiment to pay back their debts to the mother country. 
  • They thought that because the British soldiers fought on their behalf, the British Empire had the legitimate power to govern the 13 Colonies. 
  • The Loyalists also showed their dissatisfaction with the Patriots because of the violent methods they employed to discourage British soldiers from performing their duties. 
  • The Patriots used gruesome methods like tarring and feathering when the British soldiers came to collect taxes or enforce laws.
  •  This was looked down upon by the Loyalists and their sympathy for the British grew. They felt compelled to support the victims of the Patriot atrocities. 
  • The Loyalists wanted to remain neutral. They wished to seek other amicable methods to make peace with the British and find mutually beneficial solutions. 
  • They felt forced to pick sides by the Patriots which caused internal resentment and enmity. The politics of the Patriots according to the Loyalists was aggressive and irrational. 
  • Many Loyalists had family in England and hence could not sever ties with the British government as they would lose contact with their family members if situations grew hostile between the two nations. 
  • They also had well-established business ties in England which were impossible to break as it would greatly affect their livelihood in America. 
  • Some Loyalists had faith that they could achieve freedom from the British naturally if they showed patience. 
  • They were not in favor of aggressive tactics and they definitely did not want to gain freedom through violence and war. 
  • Many Loyalists felt that if the British government was overthrown, the American political situation would descend into anarchy. 
  • They felt afraid that the loss of a stable government could result in mob rule, chaos, and widespread corruption. 
  • To the Loyalists, the idea of revolution represented negative outcomes. They did not share the romantic view of revolution that drove the passions of the Patriots. 
  • Many Loyalists were pessimistic about their chances to win the war even if they extended support. 
  • They viewed the British as too powerful and preferred subservience to the King. 
  • The incident of the Jacobite Rebellion staged in 1745 strengthened this pessimism as the Jacobites not only lost their freedom in the conflict but also lost their lands to the Hanoverian government.
  • On the other hand, the Patriots were motivated primarily because of their youth and their tendency to welcome innovations. 
  • Unlike the Loyalists, the Patriots thought that the British government had been unethical in violating the constitutional and natural rights of their colonial subjects. 
  • The Intolerable Acts were seen as too harsh by the Patriots because they believed that they did not deserve such punishments for simply opposing taxes that were unfair. 
  • The Patriots were not as involved in business activities with the British as the Loyalists. So breaking ties with the British did not come at great costs to the Patriots. 
  • The Patriots were too eager to secure their freedom, unlike the Loyalists who were willing to wait. 
  • They wanted to seize the moment because they believed that they could successfully overthrow the British government.

The American Revolution

  • The American colonists rejected all the taxes imposed by the British on the motto of ‘No Taxation without Representation’. 
  • They insisted that the British had no authority to impose taxes on the colonists if they cannot provide direct representation in the British parliament for the Americans. 
  • The British government countered the accusation because they believed that the virtual representation provided by the British was sufficient for representing the interests of all British subjects in the parliament. 
  • The refusal of either party to reconcile their differences propelled the events that eventually led to the American Revolutionary War in 1775. 
  • After passive tactics like the boycott of British goods and mass protests, the Patriots decided to lead aggressive campaigns against the British forces. 
  • On 19 April 1775, a face-off between the British troops and the Massachusetts Militia occurred at Lexington and Concord instigating the outbreak of the war. 
  • George Washington was selected to lead the Continental Army and fight against the capture of Boston by the British. Within a few months, the Declaration of Independence was issued against the British. 
Evacuation_Day_and_Washington’s_Triumphal_Entry
  • Though the Loyalists had promised their support to the British, in reality, they were not able to raise as many men as they had guaranteed. 
  • The British decided to enlist the African Americans to fight against their masters in exchange for freedom. 
  • Many escaped from the plantations to support the British and the Loyalists in the hope of freeing themselves.
  • The Patriots were able to garner far more support for their cause than the British had anticipated. 
  • Political rivalry in Europe encouraged France and Spain to support the cause of the colonists to weaken the British Empire in America. 
  • They assisted the revolutionaries by providing funds as well as other resources to successfully defeat the British. 
  • Ultimately, the Patriots were able to corner the British and the Loyalists and gained their freedom through the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. 

Aftermath

  • The victory of the Americans against a superpower such as the British Empire was considered no less than a miracle. 
  • Within months of the American victory, all British soldiers were removed from the American territory. 
  • George Washington became the first President of the United States after the British vacated the American territory. 
  • The Loyalists were forced to either pledge their allegiance to the new nation or leave. While many chose to remain in the United States, some of them moved back to Britain or to British Canada. 
  • The African Americans who fought for the British were moved to British Canada and lived as free persons.

Sources

  • https://www.ushistory.org/us/11b.asp
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalist_(American_Revolution)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_(American_Revolution)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War#Aftermath

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