Patriot, Loyalist, or Neutral? You Decide
During the American Revolution, the American colonists had to decide to support the War for Independence or
remain loyal to the British and King George III. Some Americans could not decide which side to choose and
remained neutral during the war. Most American colonists, however, did choose sides. Those who supported
independence from Britain were known as Patriots. Colonists who opposed independence from Britain were
known as Loyalists.
Most Patriots supported independence because they felt that recent British laws on the
American Colonies violated their rights as British citizens. This included taxing without consent, quartering soldiers
in citizens’ homes, and denying colonists the right to a trial.
Most Loyalists who opposed independence tended to be wealthy landowners,
clergymen, or people with business or political ties to Britain. Many Loyalists agreed that the American colonists
had suffered at the hands of the British but the Loyalist hoped that a peaceful reconciliation with British government was
possible. During the Revolution taking a Loyalists stance was dangerous.
Many Loyalists were brutally attacked and killed. Their property was destroyed or taken away. Many loyalists
left the American Colonies for their own safety. Some Loyalists moved to England or
to nearby Canada.
Those living in the American colonies had various reasons for choosing their side. Most of the Iroquois Native Americans,
had a working relationship with British officials. They were angered by colonists pushing into their territory and
sided with Britian. Farmers often choose their side based on which side their landowner supported. For example,
if a Patriot landowner was cruel and always raised the rent, the tenant would be a Loyalist. If the Patriot
landowner was kind and collected a fair rent, the tenant would be a Patriot. Colonists who were in debt with British creditors
often became Patriots since they hoped winning the Revolution could get them out of paying back what they owed.
It may be surprising to you that not all Americans wanted nor fought for independence. They can’t imagine
why any American would want to remain part of the British Empire. You will see that
the colonists had different points of view and that deciding which side to take was not easy.
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