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Considered as one of the major events in modern world history, the American Revolution of 1775 was a battle for equality. As the first major rebellion of European emigrants against its mother country, the revolution set the pace for other political cataclysm (Jordan and Litwack 109). With mounting economic, social and political problems, such as the Stamp Act and Boston Tea Act, colonies started to work towards a bigger goal: independence.
Prior to the American Revolution, the French and Indian War strained the colony- mother country relationship (Henretta 2008). American revolutionaries struggled to fight for their freedom; something which they believed would be followed elsewhere. In essence, they wanted to be the leaders of change. But change was something not everyone believed in or even embraced open arms. Surprisingly, it took an English writer to ignite the fight for America’s independence from the British. In January 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet attacking the British monarchy.
Aptly titled Common Sense, Paine proclaimed that the time had come for America to wean from England, adding that the country was ready to start its own government (Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, and Williams 160). Lambasting the monarchy, which Paine described as “the Royal Brute of Britain,” the pamphlet actually made sense to the colonies. It led the Congress to start working on the road to America’s independence. By July 1776, a committee led by Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence (160). The Declaration of Independence centered on equality for all men.
However, the declaration made the colonists choose side. The Loyalists, also known as Tories, were colonists who remained loyal to the British monarchy (Jordan and Litwack 115). The Tories were clearly outnumbered by the American revolutionaries but they were persistent. On the other hand, the revolutionaries were known as Patriots (Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, and Williams 162). Coming from all walks of life, some Loyalists truly believed in the British government while some remained loyal to serve their self-interests.
An estimate one third of the Americans were Loyalists, comprised of merchants in New York, plantation owners in Georgia and Virginian farmers (163). Loyalists fought for a British victory. Some remained to be loyal because they did not want change; others chose to do so because ethnic groups were being recruited to become Patriots (115). As the Loyalists did not back down, so did the Patriots. Some of them even had bayonets to drive Loyalists away from their homes (Jordan ad Litwack 115). While this may seemed harsh, both sides were adamant so some Patriots chose to defend themselves.
Fearing for their lives, Loyalists moved from one place to another. The presence of British troops also played a big factor in people choosing side. For example, some became Loyalists simply because they wanted to pick whose winning but some, who saw redcoats picking on the peoples’ corn and livestock, some decided to simply move out (115). This proved to be an advantage to the Patriots. British troops came in and out while Patriots stayed put (115). Furthermore, the new states made it possible to confiscate Loyalists property (115).
The Patriots were growing in number and the tenacity not to stoop down. The Loyalists simply moved on from one place to another. Doggedness was clearly on the mind of the Patriots. This was encouraging for anyone wanting to seek liberty. The Patriots’ determination embodied the principles and values their believed in, but what made them gallant was the fact that they did not give up. True, bloods were shed but in essence, they did it for their country. As the revolution went on, British troops miscalculated the number of Loyalists but were unable to get their full support (115).
For example, as the Loyalists were threatened by the Patriots, some went back to England or move to another British empire (115). Loyalists who moved to another part of the British Empire even collected financial compensation from the British Empire so in effect; they really did not lose anything. In hindsight, perhaps the monarchy should not have done this if they did not want to lose the US as their colony. The departure of the Loyalists had an important bearing on America. In a way, it was a sign that people who opposed independence were no longer in the country so there were less opponents to deal with.
To compensate for the diminishing number of British support, the monarchy sent additional troops. Meanwhile, the Patriots were getting bigger in number and support from foreign nations. Spain, France and the Netherlands sent aid to the Americans (171). Indian groups, on the other hand, took sides with the British because they feared Americans would take their lands away (173). Some Patriots formed guerrillas who staged hit-and-run attacks, Generals Francis Marion and Henry Lee among the successful one (173). Differences between the Loyalists and the Patriots were not limited to communities.
In fact, some families were even divided. William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, worked for King George III as the Loyalist Governor of New Jersey (Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, and Williams 162). The American Revolution was indeed revolutionary. It lasted longer than anyone had expected with both Loyalists and the Patriots shedding blood. It also caused fractions and divisions in families. William Franklin, sent to jail by the Patriot, sought refuge in 1782 (Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, and Williams 179). It epitomizes man’s battle for leadership, freedom and equality.
While the Patriots could not have won the battle without outside help, their persistence was remarkable. The Loyalists, spirited in their own way, lost a lot not only family member who died in the war but also their former lives. Those who moved to England where treated as second-class citizens (182). They were never considered equals by native-born English citizens (182). Some longed to return to America but they feared that the Patriots would not treat them well. The determination and strength of the Patriots was something to be envious of.
It ushered in a spirit of nationalism which continued in the years to come as America changed its way to become the nation that it is now.
Divine, Robert, T. H. Breen, George Fredrickson, and R. Hal Williams. America The people and the Dream. Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1991. Henretta, James. “American Revolution” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2008. Microsoft Corporation. 24 January 2009. <://www. encarta. msn. com> Jordan, Winthrop and Leon Litwack. The United States 7th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991.