Loyalist Facts: American Colonists Who Remained Loyal To Britain | Kidadl


Loyalist Facts: American Colonists Who Remained Loyal To Britain

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Loyalists were people who supported Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

Around one-third of people from American colonies were loyalists. Many of them even joined the British to fight against America.

For most parts, these people had lavish lives and things to lose if they came out from under comfortable British rule. Hence, they protested but to no avail as the patriots won, and the loyalists were declared traitors to the nation. Read on to know more about loyalists.

Loyalist Beliefs

Loyalists were people from American colonies back in the late 18th century who supported British rule during the American Revolutionary War. They didn't believe that America would be better if they gained independence.

Like the loyalists, America also had patriots who believed in the country's independence from the hands of Great Britain and fought for the cause. This division between the patriots and the loyalists made the American Revolutionary War a kind of civil war.

To think about what drove the loyalists to support the British rule who colonized them over their own country, we have to know their motive and belief system. Some of the loyalists had British relatives, some had British ancestors, but most of these people were wealthy. Hence, they lived a nice, quiet life in the land of British-ruled times, so when some people started to oppose the system, they saw it as a threat to their lives and, apparently, America. They believed that if America gained independence and the government of that time fell, chaos would follow, which would lead to mob rule and widespread corruption. Most importantly, they believed coming out of the safety net of the British rule would lead to an economic disaster for America.

Back then, Americans as fellow citizens were still finding their places, and many people still believed themselves to be British and considered Great Britain their homeland. They still didn't consider the British and Americans different from each other, so they saw it as a betrayal rather than seeking freedom when the revolution came.

Other than these wealthy people, another group became loyalists, which were the enslaved African-Americans. The British government had them dreaming of a promised land and liberation from the cruelty of their white American Patriot masters, so these helpless people joined the cause of the loyalists in the hope of a better future. This was a powerful force driving them, and about 10% of the total slave population, which equated to about 50000 enslaved people at that time, fled from the owners. The British government did somewhat keep their words as they helped 20000 of these African-Americans resettle as free people.

Impact On History

Unlike in most countries, where every person fights for freedom in the country hand in hand, America had its problem with loyalists and patriots. Hence, it made a mark on American history as many of these people fled here and there and are still remembered.

Loyalists were the people who supported Britain throughout America's war for freedom, whereas the patriots fought for the country. Both the groups had several other nicknames. Patriots were also known as 'Whigs,' 'Sons of Liberty,' 'Colonials, and Rebels.' Whereas loyalists were also known as 'King's Friends,' 'Royalists,' and 'Tories.'

Before this, many of the African-Americans living in America were living as enslaved people. The ones who became loyalists left the country during and after the American Revolutionary War. Even though they couldn't find their freedom, many of them still did and started living in Canada and Britain as free people, which became the beginning of their journey to freedom. Around 80000 other loyalists left to stay as members of the British Empire when the patriots won during the American Revolutionary War.

Most of the loyalists were wealthy and famous men, like Thomas Hutchinson, and these people had the resources and money to leave America to live in London. However, most of the ordinary loyalists had to move to Canada. These people played an important role in developing the Canadian government, society, and the country as a whole. This way, the loyalists, patriots, and the American Revolutionary War became a pivotal point in shaping the history and future of Canada and America.

Famous people always leave a mark in history, and there have been many famous patriots and loyalists. Even though the number of famous patriots is much more because loyalists lost the war and fled the country, some of these famous patriots were Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, and Paul Revere. One shockingly famous loyalist was Benjamin Franklin's own son, William Franklin, and some other famous loyalists were Benedict Arnold, Joseph Galloway, John Butler, David Mathews, Andrew Allen, and more.

Loyalists mainly consisted of wealthy people.

Loyalists During The War

Loyalists found themselves in quite a tough spot during the American Revolutionary War. They were considered traitors and treated as such, so most of them left the country during and after the war.

Around one-third of all American colonists were loyalists. These people mainly consisted of officeholders that worked for the British Crown, Anglican clergy members and their parishioners, large landholders, Quakers, and wealthy merchants. All these people lived lavishly under the Crown, and they didn't want to lose that. Most of these loyalists could have been found in the South of the country, like in Pennsylvania or New York. However, they didn't form a significant part of any colony within the country. In the beginning, they sought peaceful protests during their struggles for colonial rights.

Life became quite difficult for loyalists once the war started. They all lived in areas that were in the hands of patriots. That's why many radical patriots quickly denounced them, and all states of the country also passed laws against these people that led to heavy taxes on their properties and even confiscating all. Thus, many loyalists lost their businesses and homes.

At this time, many among these loyalists started to take part in the war more actively. Around 23000 loyalists from New York joined the British army, and some even formed their own fighter groups named Royal American Regiment and Loyal Greens. When these people were captured during the battle, they were treated as traitors. Most of the other loyalists had the money and resources, so they left the country to live in London.

The fate of the women in the families of these loyalists was worse than the men. While many men flew the coop, they left their daughters and wives at home in America to protect their homes. This posed a new problem for the confiscation committees as when the husbands had left, the legal rights of these women were absorbed by the husbands, and the women then had no political identities. Many women were punished wrongfully during the war for their husbands' crimes.

Loyalists After The War

The Patriots won the war, and the loyalists who had joined the British Army were treated as traitors. The civilian loyalists fled the country after losing most of their property, and some black loyalists found freedom.

While around 100,000 loyalists fled the country to live in London and Canada during the war, many also stayed behind. The general public started to forgive these people around 1789, and by 1814, the punitive state laws were even being repealed. Around 20000 Black loyalists or African-Americans that helped Britain during the war gained their freedom. General Guy Carleton kept a record of the names of all African-Americans who supported the British government in a document that was named 'The Book Of Negroes.' Around 4000 of them were sent to live in the British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

More than 2500 of them settled in Birchtown, which made history by becoming the most extensive free community of Black people in North America. However, they fell victim to white loyalists who lived nearby, along with the fact that it took a long time to obtain land ownership. When the Sierra Leone Company came in 1791 and promised these people equality and better land, around 1200 of them left.

The war also made some people who were already famous back then more popular owing to their support as loyalists. Joseph Brant was one of them, and he was blamed for massacres at Wyoming Valley and Cherry Valley. He tried to stop the fight in those massacres from escalating, but he instead gained the nickname 'Monster Grant' for these incidents. After the war, he kept trying to prove his innocence and provided much help to his people for their development. Another famous name was William Franklin, who never recovered his relationship with his patriot father, Benjamin Franklin. After the war, he was exiled to London and spent his life there.


Q: What did the loyalists believe?

A: Loyalists believed that independence from Britain would lead to an economic disaster.

Q: Who were the loyalists?

A: Loyalists were people from American colonies who supported Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

Q: Why did loyalists support Britain?

A: Loyalists supported Britain because they believed America would suffer if they gained independence.

Q: What happened to loyalists after the war?

A: Many loyalists left America after the American Revolutionary War.

Q: What happened to loyalists during the war?

A: Loyalists were considered traitors, and many fled even during the war.

Q: Who opposed the American Revolution?

A: Loyalists opposed the American Revolution.

Q: Why did the loyalists stay loyal to Britain?

A: Loyalists stayed loyal to Britain because they believed gaining independence would lead to economic issues.

Q: Why did the loyalists leave America?

A: Loyalists left America because they were considered traitors, and they didn't believe in an independent America.

Q: Why did loyalists want to remain part of the British Empire?

A: Loyalists wanted to remain part of the British empire because they believed that independence from Britain would lead to an economic disaster.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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