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Loyalists,in the American Revolution, colonials who adhered to the British cause. The patriots referred to them as Tories. Although Loyalists were found in all social classes and occupations, a disproportionately large number were engaged in commerce and the professions, or were officeholders under the crown. They also tended to be foreign born and of the Anglican religion. In addition, thousands of free blacks were among the Loyalists. As a whole, their motives for remaining loyal were complex and embraced both ideological and material reasons. In 1774–75, when most colonials hoped for reconciliation with the British government, the line between Loyalist and non-Loyalist was not very sharp; many Loyalists voiced opposition to the acts of Parliament. But the Declaration of Independence created a sharp dividing line between supporters and opponents of independence.
Figures on public opinion in the Revolution are obviously mere guesswork, but John Adams estimated that one third of the colonials were Loyalists; probably another third were neutral, apathetic, or opportunistic. The Loyalists were strongest in the far southern colonies—Georgia and the Carolinas—and in the Middle Atlantic colonies, especially New York and Pennsylvania. In those places particularly the fighting became bitter civil war with raids and reprisals. The Revolutionaries deeply hated the leaders of the Loyalist armed bands, such as Thomas BrowneBrowne, Thomas,
d. 1825, Loyalist commander in the American Revolution. A resident of Augusta, Ga., he was the victim of colonist violence in 1775, when he was tarred and feathered for ridiculing the Continental Congress.
..... Click the link for more information. , Edmund FanningFanning, Edmund,
1739–1818, American Loyalist in the American Revolution, b. Suffolk co., Long Island, N.Y. He moved to North Carolina, practiced law, held minor political posts, and supported the royal governor, William Tryon.
..... Click the link for more information. , and John ButlerButler, John,
1728–96, Loyalist commander in the American Revolution, b. New London, Conn. He served in the French and Indian Wars and distinguished himself especially by leading the Native Americans in the successful British attack (1759) under Sir William Johnson against
..... Click the link for more information. .
Even before warfare began many Loyalists were seeking refuge in British-held lands. Feeling against them, in addition to natural cupidity, led the patriots to enact harsh penal laws against the Loyalists and to confiscate many of their estates. The matter of restoring these properties to their owners was discussed in negotiations for the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the treaty provided that Congress should urge the states to make restitution, but little was done, and there were stray lawsuits concerning particular properties for many years. A great many of the dispossessed Loyalists settled in the Maritime provs. of Canada, in the Bahamas, in other parts of the West Indies, and in England.
See W. H. Nelson, The American Tory (1961, repr. 1964); W. Brown, The Good Americans: Loyalists in the American Revolution (1969); G. N. D. Evans, ed., Allegiance in America: The Case of the Loyalists (1969); M. Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (2011); studies of Loyalism in individual provinces by A. C. Flick (1901, repr. 1970; New York), O. G. Hammond (1917; New Hampshire), I. S. Harrell (1926, repr. 1965; Virginia), E. A. Jones (1927, New Jersey; 1930, Massachusetts), R. O. Demond (1940, repr. 1964; North Carolina), and H. B. Hancock (1940; Delaware).
Tory colonists; in the English colonies of North America during the War of Independence of 1775-83, supporters of the English colonialists.
For the most part, the Loyalists included monarchist-minded big landowners, a portion of the slaveholding planters, the commercial bourgeoisie tied to the metropolis by their business interests, English civil servants in the colonies, and the Anglican clergy. The Loyalists were opposed to the separation of the North American colonies from Great Britain. Tens of thousands of Loyalists fought in the ranks of the British Army, stirred up counterrevolutionary rebellions, and engaged in sabotage. By the end of the war, about 100,000 Loyalists had emigrated.