Not everyone was happy when America won its independence from Great Britain. Many people, particularly wealthy slave-owners in the southern states, remained sympathetic to Great Britain. These people were known as Loyalists or Tories. Many black slaves and Native Americans fought for the British, as well.
About one-fifth of the colonists were Loyalists. These included government leaders, such as Governor Thomas Hutchinson and many pastors and priests of the Church of England.
Another one-third of the colonists remained neutral during the war, refusing to take sides.
The Loyalists were hated by the colonists and sometimes experienced mob violence. Over 80,000 Loyalists fled, mostly to Canada.
Benedict Arnold was a brilliant American war hero. Unfortunately, his pride got the better of him. He felt that Congress had failed to appreciate him and made a deal with General Burgoyne to sell the fort, West Point, to the British. The plot was discovered and Arnold was branded a traitor to America. He became a British general, but the British never really trusted him.
Native Americans believed that if the Americans won, they would lose more of their rights and their land, which was true. Many tribes, such as the Cherokee tribe, fought against the Patriots. After the war, all tribes – even those who had fought with the colonists – were displaced from their land and forced further west.
The Declaration of Independence made no mention of freedom for slaves. During the war, the governor of Virginia declared freedom for any slave who would fight for the British. More than 800 slaves took up arms against the colonists and more than 50,000 slaves fled from their owners.
1. Neutral: to remain without a position or opinion
2. Traitor: one who betrays his country or friends
3. Displace: to uproot
Questions and Answers
Question: Were the Loyalists outspoken about their opinions?
Answer: Some were, especially in the beginning, but many people on both sides quietly supported their causes. Some acted as spies. Those with money offered financial support.
Visit PBS to play a game, “The Road to Revolution.”
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