LOYALISTS or TORIES, in America, the name given to the colonists who were loyal to Great Britain during the War of Independence. In New England and the Middle Colonies loyalism had a religious as well as a political basis. It represented the Anglican as opposed to the Calvinistic influence. With scarcely an exception the Anglican ministers were ardent Loyalists, the writers and pamphleteers were the ministers and teachers of that faith, and virtually all the military or civil leaders were members of that church. The Loyalists north of Maryland represented the old Tory traditions. In the southern colonies, where Anglicanism predominated, the division did not follow religious lines so closely. In Virginia and South Carolina the Whig leaders were almost without exception members of the established church. Out of twenty Episcopal ministers in South Carolina only five were Loyalists. Although many of the wealthy Anglican planters of the tide-water section fought for the mother country, the Tories derived their chief support from the non-Anglican Germans and Scotch in the upper country. The natural leaders in these colonies were members of the same church as the governor and vied with him in their zeal for the support of that church. Since religion was not an issue, the disputes over questions purely political in character, such as taxation, distribution of land and appointment of officials, were all the more bitter. The settlers on the frontier were snubbed both socially and politically by the low-country aristocracy, and in North Carolina and South Carolina were denied courts of justice and any adequate representation in the colonial assembly. Naturally they refused to follow such leaders in a war in defence of principles in which they had no material interest. They did not drink tea and had little occasion for the use of stamps, since they were not engaged in commerce and had no courts in which to use legal documents. The failure of the British officers to realize that conditions in the south differed from those in the north, and the tendency on their part to treat all Dissenters as rebels, were partly responsible for the ultimate loss of their southern campaign. The ScotchIrish in the south, influenced perhaps by memories of commercial and religious oppression in Ulster, were mostly in sympathy with the American cause.
Taking the Thirteen Colonies as a whole, loyalism drew its strength largely from the following classes: (i) the official class men holding positions in the civil, military and naval services, and their immediate families and social connexions, as, for example, Lieutenant-Governor Bull in South Carolina, Governor Dunmore in Virginia and Governor Tryon in New York; (2) the professional classes lawyers, physicians, teachers and ministers, such as Benjamin Kissam, Peter Van Schaack and Dr Azor Belts of New York and Dr Myles Cooper, president of King's College (now Columbia University); (3) large landed proprietors and their tenants, e.g. William Wragg in South Carolina and the De Lanceys, De Peysters and Van Cortlandts in New York; (4) the wealthy commercial classes in New York, Albany, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Charleston, whose business interests would be affected by war; (5) natural conservatives of the type of Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania, and numerous political trimmers and opportunists. Before 1776 the Loyalists may be divided into two groups. There was a minority of extremists led by the Anglican ministers and teachers, who favoured an unquestioning obedience to all British legislation. The moderate majority disapproved of the mother country's unwise colonial policy and advocated opposition to it through legally organized bodies. Many even sanctioned non-importation and non-exportation agreements, and took part in the election of delegates to the First Continental Congress. The aggressive attitude of Congress, the subsequent adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and the refusal to consider Lord Howe's conciliatory propositions finally forced them into armed opposition. Very few really sanctioned the British policy as a whole, but all felt that it was their first duty to fight for the preservation of the empire and to leave constitutional questions for a later settlement. John Adams's estimate that one-third of all the people in the thirteen states in 1776 were Loyalists was perhaps approximately correct. In New England the number was small, perhaps largest in Connecticut and in the district which afterwards became the state of Vermont. New York was the chief stronghold. The " De Lancey party " or the " Episcopalian party " included the majority of the wealthy farmers, merchants and bankers, and practically all communicants of the Anglican church. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia contained large and influential Loyalist minorities; North Carolina was about equally divided; South Carolina probably, and Georgia certainly, had Loyalist majorities. Some of the Loyalists joined the regular British army, others organized guerilla bands and with their Indian allies inaugurated a reign of terror on the frontier from New York to Georgia. New York alone furnished about 15,000 Loyalists to the British army and navy, and about 8500 militia, making in all 23,500 Loyalist troops. This was more than any other colony supplied, perhaps more than all the others combined. Johnson's " Loyal Greens " and Butler's " Tory Rangers " served under General St Leger in the Burgoyne campaign of 1777, and the latter took part in the Wyoming and Cherry Valley massacres of 1778. The strength of these Loyalists in arms was weakened in New York by General Sullivan's success at Newtown (now Elmira) on the 2Qth of August 1779, and broken in the north-west by George Rogers Clark's victories at Kaskaskia and Vincennes in 1778 and 1779, and in the south by the battles of King's Mountain and Cowpens in 1 780. Severe laws were passed against the Loyalists in all the states. They were in general disfranchised and forbidden to hold office or to practise law. Eight of the states formally banished certain prominent Tories either conditionally or unconditionally, and the remaining five, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, did practically the same indirectly. Social and commercial ostracism forced many others to flee. Their property was usually confiscated for the support of the American cause. They went to England, to the West Indies, to the Bahamas, to Canada and to New York, Newport, Charleston and other cities under British control. According to a trustworthy estimate 60,000 persons went into exile during the years from 1775 to 1787. The great majority settled in Nova Scotia and in Upper and Lower Canada, where they and their descendants became known as " United Empire Loyalists." Those who remained in the United States suffered for many years, and all the laws against them were not finally repealed until after the War of 1812. The British government, however, endeavoured to look after the interests of its loyal colonists. During the war a number of the prominent Loyalists (e.g. Joseph Galloway) were appointed to lucrative positions, and rations were issued to many Loyalists in the cities, such as New York, which were held by the British. During the peace negotiations at Paris the treatment of the Loyalists presented a difficult problem, Great Britain at first insisting that the United States should agree to remove their disabilities and to act toward them in a spirit of conciliation. The American commissioners, knowing that a treaty with such provisions would not be accepted at home, and that the general government had, moreover, no power to bind the various states in such a matter, refused to accede; but in the treaty, as finally ratified, the United States agreed (by Article V.) to recommend to the legislatures of the various states that Loyalists should " have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein to remain twelve months, unmolested in their endeavours to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights and properties as may have been confiscated," that acts and laws in the premises be reconsidered and revised, and- that restitution of estates, etc., should be made. The sixth article provided " that there shall be no future confiscations made, nor any prosecutions commenced against any person " for having taken part in the war; and that those in confinement on such charges should be liberated. In Great Britain opponents of the government asserted that the Loyalists had virtually been betrayed; in America the treaty aroused opposition as making too great concessions to them. Congress made the promised recommendations, but they were unheeded by the various states, in spite of the advocacy by Alexander Hamilton and others of a conciliatory treatment of the Loyalists; and Great Britain, in retaliation, refused until 1796 to evacuate the western posts as the treaty prescribed. Immediately after the war parliament appointed a commission of five to examine the claims of the Loyalists for compensation for services and losses; and to satisfy these claims and to establish Loyalists in Nova Scotia and Canada the British government expended fully 6,000,000.
See C. H. van Tyne, The Loyalists in the American Revolution (New York, 1902), which contains much valuable information but does not explain adequately the causes of loyalism. More useful in this respect is the monograph by A. C. Flick, Loyalism in New York during the American Revolution (New York, 1901). On the biographical side see Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (2 vols., Boston, 1864); on the literary side, M. C. Tyler, Literary History of the American Revolution, 1763- 1783 (2 vols., New York, 1897).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)