Patriots vs. Loyalists: Impacts on the outcome of the American Revolution

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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The American Revolutionary War, from 1775 to 1783, was predominantly fought between two groups of people – the Patriots and the Loyalists. In general, both the Patriots and Loyalists were culturally identical, such as speaking the same language, wearing the same clothes, and going to the New World with the same goal – to seek a better life. Then why did the two groups fight against each other during the war? Initially, when the First Continental Congress met and protested against Great Britain’s rule, the colonists had no intention to become independent from the crown but only wanted their rights to be recognized.

After the French and Indian War, British enforcement gradually became stricter through acts that were placed on the colonies, which eventually led to the recognition and division between the Patriots and Loyalists. Those who favored the idea of independence and wanted to be free from British rule were known as the Patriots, whereas those who supported the British and remained loyal to the crown were known as the Loyalists.

Overall, the different characteristics that made up the Patriots and Loyalists, the individual support towards their respective sides of the war, and each of their motivations and beliefs greatly impacted the ultimate outcome of the Revolution. Although the Patriots and Loyalists were culturally similar within the colonies, there were many additional characteristics that defined the differences between the two. The Patriots were generally wealthy, better educated, and merchants who didn’t rely on trade with England.

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They were capable of financially supporting themselves by having the “plantation owners trade [their produce] within the colonies and the merchants using smuggling among other countries besides Great Britain” (Beverly). Though the Patriots didn’t have to depend on the English to maintain their economy, they suffered greatly because Parliament enacted many indirect taxes, and then later on creating direct taxes such as the Stamp Act, which were paid by the colonists. The colonists reacted with great fury and annoyance to this British action.

In contrast, the Loyalists population usually consisted of government officials, those who had family residing in England, and were wealthier than the Patriots. Since they generally had more money, they were not highly affected by the British taxes imposed on them throughout the years, which the Patriots evidently suffered significantly. Likewise, the Loyalists didn’t have the same hatred towards the British than the Patriots had. This, in response, boosted the Patriots’ motive to fight which eventually helped them win the war.

In addition to the different characteristics that made up the population of the Patriots and the Loyalists, each of their contributions to the war impacted the outcomes in a tremendous way. Without the support of the common patriotic “… men and women in the colonies, such as farmers, lawyers, merchants, ministers, and shopkeepers, their struggle for independence would have failed” (Beverly). These people were the ones that supported the economy, kept it running, and provided supplies to the soldiers fighting in the war.

The Loyalists also provided supplies such as armory, gunpowder, and food to the British soldiers and fought alongside with them. Though colonial Loyalists were able to fight alongside with British soldiers, they were only able to assist alongside the soldiers because the British often looked down upon the colonists. Moreover, in order to win the war, the Patriots were willing to “experience suffering, endurance and perseverance necessary for both the military and supporting civilians” (Dillon). If they were short of this “will”, it would have been extremely difficult for them to achieve victory.

Even though the features of each group and their support in the war effort were significant, the motivations and beliefs of the Patriots and Loyalists made the utmost impact on the outcome of the war. The Patriots were furious because they were forced to pay high taxes to support a government abroad that they had no part or say in, and paying higher taxes than some of the other British colonies to finance England’s wars with France (Allen). They believed the monarch was systematically unjust because they were being treated unfairly and were forced upon many things without their own consent.

However, the Loyalists also had their own beliefs because they thought cutting all ties with their “mother country” will lead to a democratic society led by the Patriots, who were –in their eyes- violent, immoral, and not suitable to make political decisions. The Loyalists believed that without England’s protection, the colonies might not be able to militarily defend themselves and other nations will eventually invade them and take over, if they don’t prevent the Patriots from losing. Nevertheless, the Patriots had something the Loyalists did not, determination and the drive to keep on fighting until they had reached their goal – freedom.

On top of the resentment the Patriots felt, they had a strong ambition to fight until the last soldier standing died, unlike the Loyalists, who were primarily set out to collect money for the king and only determined by greed. It can be argued that the only reason why the Patriots had won the war was because they had aid from the French towards the end of the war. However, this is false because the Patriots had great morale as a whole and unlimited determination to fight till the very end, and strong leaderships such as George Washington and John Adams to keep every individual motivated as they fought against the Loyalists.

Therefore, it was not only the French’s help that led to the demise of British rule in the colonies. Ultimately, the Patriot’s victory in the American Revolution was greatly impacted by the Loyalist’s decision to maintain their loyalty and the Patriots’ desire for independence. The two groups differed in separate areas such as general characteristics as a whole, strategies in supporting the war effort, and beliefs to follow that subsequently led to the British’s failure.

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Patriots vs. Loyalists: Impacts on the outcome of the American Revolution. (2016, Aug 27). Retrieved from

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