Understand Difference

Divided Loyalties: Exploring the Patriots vs Loyalists in the American Revolution

Introduction to Patriots and


The American War of Independence, fought between 1775 and 1783, was a pivotal moment in American history. It resulted in the thirteen colonies breaking free from the British Empire and asserting their independence.

However, as with any major event in history, the conflict had many nuances that can be easy to overlook. One of these nuances was the emergence of two opposing groups with different views on the war’s causes and the role that the colonies should play.

These groups were the Patriots and the

Loyalists. This article will provide an overview of these groups and the differences between them.

Background of American Independence War

Before delving into what made Patriots and

Loyalists, it is essential to have a brief overview of the war’s background. The war caused a bitter rift between the thirteen colonies and the British Empire.

The colonies had been ruled from afar by the British for several years, and this had resulted in various grievances. The colonies had no representatives in the British parliament, which meant that they had no say in the laws made for them.

As time went on, many colonists began to feel that the British government had become oppressive and tyrannical.

Taxation without representation was a particular sore point.

Therefore, tensions rose, with Americans expressing their hostile sentiments against the British regularly.

Emergence of Patriots and


As the conflict became more heated, two opposing groups emerged: the Patriots and the

Loyalists. The Patriots believed that the colonies should assert their independence from Great Britain and be a separate country.

On the other hand, the

Loyalists believed that the thirteen colonies should remain part of Great Britain, with the king as their ruler.

The different ways of thinking by these opposing groups were evident in their opposition.

Patriots chose force, while

Loyalists were more inclined towards the restoration of things as they were before. Some

Loyalists expressed their opposition to the war more subtly by participating in non-combatant efforts.

Definition of Patriots

The word ‘Patriot’ comes from the Greek word “patrios,” which means “of one’s fatherland.” In the American War of Independence, it was used to refer to those colonists who believed that America should be its own entity, free from British rule.

However, it’s worth noting that ‘Patriot’ has sometimes carried negative connotations in American history.

In times of conflict, it has been used to label extreme nationalists and those who are intolerant of outsiders.

Ideals and Goals of Patriots

The Patriots had several ideals and goals that they believed America should aspire to. A major theme was the demand for fair treatment and the idea that the colonies should have representation in the British parliament.

“No taxation without representation” became their rallying cry. They also held anti-monarchic ideals and believed that the government should be responsible to the people, not the other way around.

Civic virtues and rights were also important to the Patriots. They believed that individuals should have certain inalienable rights, such as the freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.

These beliefs led them to draft the Declaration of Independence, which framed their grievances, the consequences, and established the federal government.

Famous Patriots

Several icons from American history are regarded as Patriots. The most famous among them include:


Thomas Jefferson: One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, who is famous for his role in authoring the Declaration of Independence. 2.

John Adams: An influential figure in American history, who played a crucial role in the American Revolution and became America’s second president. 3.

George Washington: The country’s first president who led the Continental Army during the American Revolution successfully. 4.

Benjamin Franklin: Renowned because of his contributions in the fields of science, politics, and literature, Franklin was an iconic diplomat of America during its struggle for independence. 5.

Paul Revere: An American silversmith and a Patriot who is renowned for his ‘Midnight Ride’ to warn the American colonists of the British army’s invasion. 6.

Ethan Allen: A founding father of the state of Vermont credited for leading the Green Mountain Boys in battles against the British army. 7.

Samuel Adams: One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, who is credited with organizing the Boston Tea Party, which was a turning point in the conflict with Great Britain.


In conclusion, the American War of Independence created significant ripple effects that still have ramifications on the world today. This conflict was marked by the emergence of two different groups, the

Loyalists and the Patriots, who had contrasting beliefs of America’s role and its relationship with Great Britain.

By understanding these groups and their ideologies, we can gain a better appreciation of the momentous events of this critical period in American history.


While the Patriots were fighting for American independence during the American Revolution, the

Loyalists, also known as Tories, remained loyal to the British monarchy. This group included colonists from all backgrounds, including those who had lived in the colonies since the early days of the British Empire’s colonization, and those who had only recently arrived in the New World.

Definition of


Loyalists were Britain’s supporters in the American colonies, often exhibiting cautious support for the British Empire. They were loyal to the British monarchy and believed that the colonies should remain part of the British Empire.


Loyalists’ motivation was influenced by numerous reasons, including economic engagement and governance, concerns over the preservation of British culture and their ties to the British Crown. They considered themselves to be British citizens and believed that their loyalty was to the entire Empiredespite residing in American territories.

Reasons for Loyalist Support

There were several reasons for Loyalist support during the American Revolution. Many

Loyalists believed that the British Empire was a just entity, and neither the King nor Parliament intended to oppress the colonies.

They thought that the British Empire was a superior system of governance and that America would be much better off remaining a part of it. They also sought protection from the frequent wars of the era as they believed that the British Empire provided a mechanism of defending its territories.

Loyalists who opposed the American Revolution often did so because they felt that obtaining parliamentary representation was impossible due to the colonies’ size. They believed that it just wasn’t physically possible to have representatives in Parliament from such a relatively large collection of territories, and therefore the colonies needed to remain separate entities under British rule.

Another reason for Loyalist support was that they believed that the British Empire was fair in its taxation policies, and that policies were applied objectively across the region. They weren’t necessarily in favor of additional taxations, but they thought that the colonists should make fair contributions to the services the government provided in the colonies.



The American Revolution was marked with influential figures who fell under the Loyalist faction. Some of the most notable

Loyalists include:


Benedict Arnold: Initially, Arnold favored revolution as part of his ambition to advance politically, but he switched sides before he could complete his treason. 2.

Thomas Hutchinson: A prominent politician who supported the British rule in Boston, he became a target of extreme opposition by Patriots. 3.

John Butler: A British loyalist who organized a regressive group known as the Butler’s Rangersthe group looted, murdered, and burned Patriot settlements and towns in central New York. 4.

Joseph Galloway: A member of the Continental Congress who eventually headed the Loyalist faction in Pennsylvania. 5.

David Mathews: A British loyalist who served as New York City’s third and final royal mayor. He was exiled after the Patriot victory in the American Revolution.

Similarities between Patriots and


Despite their difference in opinions on governance, the Patriots and the

Loyalists have a fair share of similarities in terms of their history and motivations.

British Dominion

Both the Patriots and the

Loyalists lived in colonies controlled by the British, with the English language and culture influencing both groups heavily. They were subjected to British laws, rules, and practices; thus, it’s not a surprise that loyalists assumed the belief that a British system was superior.

Willingness to Fight

Whether for independence or loyal support of the British Empire, both Patriots and

Loyalists were willing to fight for the ideals they believed in. They systemized their efforts and facilitated an economy that allowed them to put their abilities and resources to use against each other.

Both sides had to make sacrifices and incur losses but were willing to do so. While there were rumors that some

Loyalists provided spy or militancy-related information to the British, being a Loyalist wasn’t inherently treasonous.

In conclusion, the American Revolution provided a distinctly contrasting viewpoint on how colonies make decisions regarding governance. The Patriots advocated for independence, while the

Loyalists favored British rule.

The Patriot’s ideals were wildly successful in acquiring European recognition, which then became the foundation for the young nation. Even though the

Loyalists were in the minority and faced considerable challenges in the thirteen colonies, their unwavering loyalty to Britain offers a counterpoint to the more popular narrative of what happened during the American Revolution.

Differences between Patriots and


During the American Revolution, there were fundamental differences between the Patriots and the

Loyalists. These differences were not just political but were also reflected in their values, beliefs, and culture.

Key Difference

The primary difference between Patriots and

Loyalists was their outlook about the future of America. The Patriots believed that America should become an independent country, freed from British rule.

They wanted autonomy to make their own decisions without Britain’s interference to achieve their ideals. On the contrary,

Loyalists believed that the thirteen colonies should stay with the British Empire under the British monarch’s rule.

They wanted to preserve the status quo of the time and sought assurances from the British government that their concerns and grievances would be addressed.


Another significant difference between Patriots and

Loyalists was their perception regarding taxation. The Patriots believed that the British government had employed unjust taxation policies and believed in “no taxation without representation.” That is, they believed that American colonies’ interests must be presented in British parliament while making taxation policies in the colonies.

In contrast,

Loyalists thought that paying taxes to support the central government was a patriotic civic duty. They felt the taxation laws were reasonable and should be complied with to the spirit of British rule and governance.

Civic Rights

Besides taxation, another difference between Patriots and

Loyalists was their views on civic rights. Patriots thought of the government as responsible for respecting people’s civic rights and that it should function in the interests of the people.

They believed that the government had to recognize the people’s rights, and the government should protect these rights against any external aggressive force. Conversely,

Loyalists felt that civic duties were essential and that obeying rules and laws was what kept the society and government functional.

They believed that respecting British laws, rules, and governance would help in preserving the established social order.


Another notable distinction between Patriots and

Loyalists was their fate. The Patriots fought and achieved American independence from British rule, paving the way to establish a new nation.


Loyalists, on the other hand, did not have reasons to celebrate, as they were forced to flee America or live under American rule as second-class citizens. They were ostracized, and property seized from them because of their perceived disloyalty to their country during the revolution.

Although the British government set up programs to pay loyalist compensation after the war, many never received fair compensation. Patriots vs.



The Patriots had much more populous support among the colonists, whereas the

Loyalists were a small minority. Estimates show that two-thirds of the thirteen colonies were Patriots, whereas only one-third of the colonists identified as


Historians have speculated that the

Loyalists’ number may have been lower because many of them did not actively express their loyalty to the British Empire.


Another significant difference between Patriots and

Loyalists was where they lived. Patriots were scattered throughout the colonies, even if they were more significant in the North.

In contrast,

Loyalists’ stronghold was in New York City, where around one-third of the population was loyal to the British. This was because New York City was the site of extensive British military activity which made

Loyalists feel safe.


Loyalists felt armed protection offered them safety, and the British Empire responded by using more loyalist-protected regions strategically.

Social Background

The Patriots and

Loyalists belonged to different social backgrounds, and these divisions were mostly more prominent among the


Loyalists were likely to belong to privileged classes or other groups that had prospered under British colonialism.

Conversely, Patriots had diverse social backgrounds and belonged to a range of economic and social classes.


In conclusion, the difference between the Patriots and the

Loyalists was rooted in their outlook about the future of America and their values, beliefs, and culture. The Patriots had more significant support among the colonists, while

Loyalists were in the minority.


Loyalists believed in preserving the established social order and British rule, while Patriots fought for freedom and self-determination. Although the Patriots won the American Revolution and became the nation’s founding fathers, the

Loyalists became a forgotten footnote in the war’s history and never received the recognition they believed they deserved for their loyalty to Britain.


The American Revolution was marked by opposing factions, the Patriots and the

Loyalists, who had fundamentally different views on the future of America and their relationship with the British Empire. The Patriots fought for independence and liberty, seeking to establish a new nation based on principles of self-determination and civic rights.


Loyalists, however, remained loyal to the British Crown and believed in preserving the unified British Empire. The Patriots were the majority, with estimates showing that around two-thirds of the population supported their cause.

They were scattered across the thirteen colonies, united in their desire for autonomy and representation in the decision-making process. The Patriots saw themselves as fighting for the rights and freedoms of the American people, believing that they should have a voice in matters that directly affected them.


Loyalists, on the other hand, were a minority, comprising about one-third of the population. Their stronghold was in New York City, where a significant number of colonists remained loyal to the British Empire.


Loyalists were often from privileged classes or groups that had experienced prosperity under British rule. They believed in the preservation of the status quo and feared the potential chaos and instability that could come from breaking away from the British Empire.

The fate of the

Loyalists after the war was difficult. Many fled the newly independent United States and sought refuge in other countries, such as Canada or England.

Others chose to remain in the United States but lived under a cautious silence, not openly expressing their loyalty to the British Empire. The

Loyalists faced social ostracization and the seizure of their property, having lost their standing in the new American society.

Some received limited compensation from the British government for their loyalty, but many did not receive the full restitution they believed they deserved. In reflecting on the Patriots and

Loyalists, it is important to recognize the complexity of the American Revolution.

The conflict was not simply a struggle for independence, but also a clash of ideologies and values. The Patriots sought to establish a nation built on principles of freedom, equality, and self-governance.


Loyalists, though in the minority, clung to their loyalty to the British Empire and their belief in the benefits of a unified empire. Ultimately, the American Revolution led to the establishment of the United States of America, a nation that would come to embody the principles fought for by the Patriots.


Loyalists, however, found themselves on the losing side of history, having to grapple with the consequences of their allegiance to a collapsing empire. Their contributions and sacrifices, though often forgotten or overlooked, are a reminder of the complexities of loyalty and the personal toll that conflict can have on individuals.

In understanding the Patriots and

Loyalists, we gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse perspectives and motivations that shaped the American Revolution. These opposing factions played significant roles in the struggle for independence, leaving a lasting impact on the history and identity of the United States of America.

In conclusion, the American Revolution gave rise to two opposing factions: the Patriots and the

Loyalists. The Patriots fought for independence, self-determination, and the recognition of civic rights.


Loyalists remained loyal to the British Empire, advocating for the preservation of the unified empire and its established social order. The Patriots prevailed, leading to the establishment of the United States of America.


Loyalists faced difficult post-war fates, with many fleeing or living in cautious silence. The topic of Patriots and

Loyalists highlights the complexities of the American Revolution and reminds us of the diverse perspectives that shaped the nation’s history.

It serves as a valuable lesson in loyalty, ideology, and the consequences of conflict.

Popular Posts