Loyalists in Revolutionary America

The Fight within the Fight

America Divided

Loyalists were colonists that supported the British during the Revolutionary War. They were displeased by the British imposed taxes, but did not spurn independence from England, rather silently partaking in boycotts to protest. Being a minority, they still held much strength in dueling with the Independence driven Patriots. Nonetheless, in the end, they could not overpower the Patriots and their fight for freedom.

Research Highlights

  • Most British officials remained loyal to the Crown. Wealthy merchants tended to remain loyal, as did Anglican ministers, especially in Puritan New England.
  • About 100,000 Loyalists left the country, including William Franklin, the son of Benjamin, and John Singleton Copley, the greatest American painter of the period. Most settled in Canada. Some eventually returned.
  • The Paris Peace Treaty required Congress to restore property confiscated from Loyalists. The heirs of William Penn in Pennsylvania, for example, and those of George Calvert in Maryland received generous settlements. In the Carolinas, where enmity between rebels and Loyalists was especially strong, few of the latter regained their property.
  • Most Loyalists wanted peaceful forms of reconciliation, to the point that many were unwilling to take up arms for their cause.
  • English Parliament and the Loyalists had no formal alliance and operated as two separate entities.
  • Loyalists were both hated by Patriots and untrusted by the British, causing them to be isolated from most of the action of the Revolutionary War.