After the war, William Franklin, shown here as a Loyalist, seldom, if ever, spoke to his Patriot father, Ben. Patriots humiliated and violently attacked Loyalists in public. Many Loyalists' property was destroyed, plundered, and torched. Patriots dominated public debate. They wrote most of the early American newspapers, including the Boston Gazette, which published these attacks on Franklin.
Loyalists were banned from some towns, had their homes burned down, were beaten up, and even killed. In general, they suffered "rough treatment at the hands of their former friends and neighbors."
This image is part of the collection of The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Woe to the American citizen who publicly expressed affection for the United Kingdom. The punishment for such an act was death.
The colonial government under the Constitution created laws that were not in accordance with existing English law. This caused problems when trying criminals under civil law. Some prisoners were tortured to force confessions, which did not meet European standards of legal evidence.
The British government agreed that some changes needed to be made to improve relations with the colonies. A new system of representatives was instituted by which certain individuals were granted limited voting rights (men over 21 years old could vote). These men would then choose members of parliament (the House of Commons) who would serve for one year only. This new system was intended to make life more difficult for politicians who wanted to push their own interests rather than those of the colony.
Loyalists who had been persecuted by the patriots now had a group they could turn to for protection. But this new organization, called "the Sons of Liberty", became radicalized and started acting like a gang. They intimidated merchants who refused to sell them goods at inflated prices, robbed houses belonging to supporters of the king, and committed other acts of violence.
They accused Loyalists of being cowards who wanted slavery continued until something better came along.
They used propaganda to discredit their opponents before deciding on a fight. Then they fought hard and won most battles. Finally, they had more soldiers, so it was easier for them to win fights.
War is hell. And besides, killing people likes eating candy!
The Patriots were not a tolerant bunch, and loyalists were frequently harassed, had their property taken, or were personally attacked. Unless the British Army was nearby to defend Loyalists, they often suffered at the hands of Patriots and were forced to evacuate their own houses. Women and children were especially vulnerable. In some cases, their homes were burned down around them.
Loyalists who fought on the British side in the American War of Independence were known as "loyalists." They included officers who had not yet received their commissions from the British government; men who had served without pay; others who could not afford to buy their way out of jail; and civilians who feared for their lives if they did not join up. Despite being on the losing side, many loyalists found refuge with British troops or were allowed to stay in America. Some went back to live under British rule - Virginia's last royal governor, James Murray, survived the American Revolution by hiding from both sides. Others made their way to Canada or Europe, where they continued to support the British cause.
After the war ended in 1783, most states in America refused to accept loyalists as residents or citizens. This policy was designed to punish them for their role in the conflict by preventing them from finding work or renting accommodation. Many were forced to live in camps where poor conditions caused many deaths.
Loyalists were harassed on a daily basis, had their property confiscated, and were subjected to personal attacks. During the Revolution, around one-in-six Americans was a Loyalist, and that figure could have been greater if the Patriots hadn't been so effective in intimidating and punishing anyone who proclaimed their allegiance to the British government.
Not all loyalists were wealthy or powerful people who could flee to other countries. Many were common farmers or laborers who knew no other country than their own. They believed in the king and wanted to be left alone to go about their business. But the well-connected loyalists knew how important it was to support the British cause, so they sent money over to England and hired soldiers when needed.
The majority of Americans weren't fond of the idea of fighting a war against their colonial brethren, but once it became clear that there was no turning back, most citizens came together to fight for their country. If anything, those who couldn't bear arms simply went into hiding or fled to safer places.
After the war ended in 1783, many former prisoners didn't want to return to their homes because they'd been forced to do terrible things like burn houses down or kill livestock, so they either settled elsewhere or stayed with relatives or friends until such time as they could get on their feet again. Others chose not to go home at all but instead started new lives far away from where the conflict had torn their community apart.
Some loyalists did not resist because they were not upset with the situation. They may have been affluent, or they could simply feel that Britain was right in its conduct. Because they did not believe in the Patriots' cause, the Patriots would ridicule and distrust Loyalists. However, some loyalists did resist, but were defeated by the British.
Loyalists tended to come from relatively wealthy families who could afford to pay soldiers. Not all rich people are loyalists, though; there were also many traitors who were rich or well-off. Also, not every loyalist was willing to fight; some probably felt that it was better to live in peace than to risk death for a cause they didn't believe in. Finally, some leaders of the loyalists were afraid of fighting a war against the empire; after all, this was back in the days when France and America were allies. These leaders might have believed that by making concessions they could get the empire to change its mind about waging war against Britain.
In conclusion, a lot of reasons can be given as to why the loyalists didn't fight back more often. Some were too afraid, others were too weak, and some even believed that giving in would save lives. But one thing is certain: without the loyalty of these individuals, the rebellion would have been successful far sooner.
Background in society The Patriots came from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. Some were previous members of the Sons of Liberty (an organization formed to preserve colonists' rights from the British), while others were ordinary residents who supported independence, cheaper taxes, and civic rights.
The leading families in the town were the Perkinses, John Adams's parents; the Donalsons, wealthy merchants; and the Shippens, aristocratic descendants of English settlers. All were well-to-do, but none was rich. Average wages in 1770 were about $5 per month for a manialord's labor or less if he were unskilled. A house could cost up to $15,000 in modern terms.
In addition to their homes on Boston Common and elsewhere, the wealthier colonists owned land, shops, warehouses, and even ships. Some had become very rich during the years when America was part of Great Britain. But most colonists were not only poor, they were also deeply divided into groups based on class, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, and location - such is the diversity of early American society.
Colonists saw themselves as equal citizens of a free country who wanted to be treated that way by their king. However, the royal government in London did not recognize them as individuals but instead viewed them as parts of a greater whole - the population of England or Britain.