Patriots (also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs) were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
Patriots represented the spectrum of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. They included lawyers such as John Adams, students such as Alexander Hamilton, planters such as Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, merchants such as Alexander McDougall and John Hancock, and farmers such as Daniel Shays and Joseph Plumb Martin. They also included slaves and freemen such as Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the American Revolution; James Armistead Lafayette, who served as a double agent for the Continental Army; and Jack Sisson, leader of the first successful black operation mission in American history under the command of Colonel William Barton, resulting in the capture of British General Richard Prescott.
The critics of British rule called themselves "Whigs" after 1768, identifying with members of the British Whig party who favored similar colonial policies. In Britain at the time, the word "patriot" had a negative connotation and was used as a negative epithet for "a factious disturber of the government", according to Samuel Johnson.
Prior to the Revolution, colonists who supported British authority called themselves Tories or royalists , identifying with the political philosophy of traditionalist conservatism dominant in Great Britain. During the Revolution, these persons became known primarily as Loyalists . Afterward, many emigrated north to the remaining British territories in Canada. There they called themselves the United Empire Loyalists.
Many Patriots were active before 1775 in groups such as the Sons of Liberty, and the most prominent leaders are referred to today by Americans as the Founding Fathers. They represented a cross-section of the population of the Thirteen Colonies and came from many different backgrounds. According to Robert Calhoon, between 40 and 45 percent of the white population in the Thirteen Colonies supported the Patriots' cause, between 15 and 20 percent supported the Loyalists, and the remainder were neutral or kept a low profile.The great majority of the Loyalists remained in America, while the minority went to Canada, Britain, Florida, or the West Indies.
Historians have explored the motivations that pulled men to one side or the other.Yale historian Leonard Woods Labaree used the published and unpublished writings and letters of leading men on each side, searching for how personality shaped their choice. He finds eight characteristics that differentiated the two groups. Loyalists were older, better established, and more likely to resist innovation than the Patriots. Loyalists felt that the Crown was the legitimate government and resistance to it was morally wrong, while the Patriots felt that morality was on their side because the British government had violated the constitutional rights of Englishmen. Men who were alienated by physical attacks on Royal officials took the Loyalist position, while those who were offended by heavy-handed British rule became Patriots. Merchants in the port cities with long-standing financial attachments to the British Empire were likely to remain loyal to the system, while few Patriots were so deeply enmeshed in the system. Some Loyalists, according to Labaree, were "procrastinators" who believed that independence was bound to come some day, but wanted to "postpone the moment", while the Patriots wanted to "seize the moment". Loyalists were cautious and afraid of anarchy or tyranny that might come from mob rule; Patriots made a systematic effort to take a stand against the British. Finally, Labaree argues that Loyalists were pessimists who lacked the Patriots' confidence that independence lay ahead.
The Patriots rejected taxes imposed by legislatures in which the taxpayer was not represented. "No taxation without representation" was their slogan, referring to the lack of representation in the British Parliament. The British countered that there was "virtual representation" in the sense that all members of Parliament represented the interests of all the citizens of the British Empire. Some Patriots declared that they were loyal to the king, but they insisted that they should be free to run their own affairs. In fact, they had been running their own affairs since the period of "salutary neglect" before the French and Indian War. Some radical Patriots tarred and feathered tax collectors and customs officers, making those positions dangerous; according to Benjamin Irvin, the practice was especially prevalent in Boston where many Patriots lived.
Most of the individuals listed below served the American Revolution in multiple capacities.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies in North America which declared independence in July 1776 as the United States of America.
The American Revolution was a colonial revolt which occurred between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) with the assistance of France, winning independence from Great Britain and establishing the United States of America.
The Boston Massacre, known to the British as the Incident on King Street, was a confrontation on March 5, 1770 in which British soldiers shot and killed several people while being harassed by a mob in Boston. The event was heavily publicized by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. British troops had been stationed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay since 1768 in order to support crown-appointed officials and to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.
Crispus Attucks was an American stevedore of African and Native American descent, widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and thus the first American killed in the American Revolution. Historians disagree on whether he was a free man or an escaped slave, but most agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre published in 1770 did not refer to him as "black" nor as a "Negro"; it appears that Bostonians viewed him as being of mixed ethnicity. According to a contemporaneous account in the Pennsylvania Gazette, he was a "Mulattoe man, named Crispus Attucks, who was born in Framingham, but lately belonged to New-Providence, and was here in order to go for North Carolina."
In general, loyalism is an individual's allegiance toward an established government, political party, or sovereign, especially during times of war and revolt. In the United States, the most common usage of the term refers to loyalty to the British Crown, especially to opponents of the American Revolution and those exiles who went to Canada and Mexico.
Between 1776 and 1789 thirteen British colonies emerged as a new independent nation that would be eventually known as The United States of America. The Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, formally launching the American Revolutionary War, the fighting of which had already started between colonial militias and the British Army in 1775. Under the leadership of General George Washington, the Continental Army and Navy defeated the British military securing the independence of the thirteen colonies. In 1789, Federalists replaced the Articles of Confederation, passed in 1777 as the original governing agreement between the newly independent states, with the Constitution of the United States of America, which with amendments remains the fundamental governing law of the United States today.
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in British America which became one of the thirteen original states of the United States from 1776 onward. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.
The Sons of Liberty was a secret revolutionary organization that was created in the Thirteen American Colonies to advance the rights of the European colonists and to fight taxation by the British government. It played a major role in most colonies in battling the Stamp Act in 1765. The group officially disbanded after the Stamp Act was repealed. However, the name was applied to other local separatist groups during the years preceding the American Revolution.
Loyalists were American colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War, often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men at the time. They were opposed by the "Patriots", who supported the revolution, and called them "persons inimical to the liberties of America". Prominent Loyalists repeatedly assured the British government that many thousands of them would spring to arms and fight for the crown. The British government acted in expectation of that, especially in the southern campaigns in 1780–81. In practice, the number of Loyalists in military service was far lower than expected since Britain could not effectively protect them except in those areas where Britain had military control. The British were often suspicious of them, not knowing whom they could fully trust in such a conflicted situation; they were often looked down upon. Patriots watched suspected Loyalists very closely and would not tolerate any organized Loyalist opposition. Many outspoken or militarily active Loyalists were forced to flee, especially to their stronghold of New York City. William Franklin, the royal governor of New Jersey and son of Patriot leader Benjamin Franklin, became the leader of the Loyalists after his release from a Patriot prison in 1778. He worked to build Loyalist military units to fight in the war, but the number of volunteers was much fewer than London expected.
The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies that became the United States. It met from September 5 to October 26, 1774 at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the British Navy instituted a blockade of Boston Harbor and Parliament passed the punitive Intolerable Acts in response to the December 1773 Boston Tea Party. During the opening weeks of the Congress, the delegates conducted a spirited discussion about how the colonies could collectively respond to the British government's coercive actions, and they worked to make common cause. A plan was proposed to create a Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, but the delegates rejected it. They ultimately agreed to impose an economic boycott on British trade, and they drew up a Petition to the King pleading for redress of their grievances and repeal of the Intolerable Acts. That appeal had no effect, so the colonies convened the Second Continental Congress the following May, shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, to organize the defense of the colonies at the outset of the Revolutionary War. The delegates also urged each colony to set up and train its own militia.
South Carolina was outraged over British tax policies in the 1760s that violated what they saw as their constitutional right to "no taxation without representation". Merchants joined the boycott against buying British products. When the London government harshly punished Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party, South Carolina's leaders joined 11 other colonies in forming the Continental Congress. When the British attacked Lexington and Concord in the spring of 1775 and were beaten back by the Massachusetts Patriots, South Carolina rallied to support the American Revolution. Loyalists and Patriots of the colony were split by nearly 50/50. Many of the South Carolinian battles fought during the American Revolution were with loyalist Carolinians and the part of the Cherokee tribe that allied with the British. This was to General Henry Clinton's advantage. His strategy was to march his troops north from St. Augustine, Florida, and sandwich George Washington in the North. Clinton alienated Loyalists and enraged Patriots by attacking a fleeing army of Patriot soldiers who posed no threat. Enslaved Africans and African Americans chose independence by escaping to British lines where they were promised freedom.
The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.
The Battle of Ramsour's Mill took place on June 20, 1780 in present-day Lincolnton, North Carolina, during the British campaign to gain control of the southern colonies in the American Revolutionary War. The number of fighters on each side of the battle is still an issue of contention, but Loyalist militiamen outnumbered Patriot militia and had captured a group of Patriots who they were planning to hang on the morning of June 20.
In the American Revolution, gaining freedom was the strongest motive for black slaves who joined the Patriot or British armies. The free blacks may have been drafted or enlisted at his own volition.
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a politician in colonial Massachusetts, a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to his fellow Founding Father, President John Adams.
A Black Patriot was an African American who sided with the colonists who opposed British rule during the American Revolutionary War. The term Black Patriots includes, but is not limited to, the 5000 or more African Americans who fought in the Continental Army during the war.
Associators were members of 17th- and 18th-century volunteer military associations in the British American thirteen colonies and British Colony of Canada. These were more commonly known as Maryland Protestant, Pennsylvania, and American Patriot and British Loyalist colonial militias. But unlike militias, the associator military volunteers were exempt from regular mandatory military service. Other names used to describe associators were "Associations", "Associated", "Refugees", "Volunteers", and "Partisans".
James Otis Jr. was a lawyer, political activist, pamphleteer, and legislator in Boston, a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, and an early advocate of the Patriot views against British policy which led to the American Revolution. His well-known catchphrase "Taxation without Representation is tyranny" became the basic Patriot position.
During the American Revolution, those who continued to support King George III of Great Britain came to be known as Loyalists. Loyalists are to be contrasted with Patriots, who supported the Revolution. Historians have estimated that during the American Revolution, between 15 and 20 percent of the white population of the colonies, or about 500,000 people, were Loyalists. As the war concluded with Great Britain defeated by the Americans and the French, the most active Loyalists were no longer welcome in the United States, and sought to move elsewhere in the British Empire. The large majority of the Loyalists remained in the United States, however, and enjoyed full citizenship there.