Loyalists vs Patriots – A Civil War


When speculating on the emergence of the two distinct groups of Loyalists and Patriots it is impertinent to acknowledge that the American Revolution with a certain measure of accuracy can be referred to as a civil war. In 1774, as the desire for independence bubbled forth, the colonists were separated into two distinctly different identified sides, the Loyalists and the Patriots. With the foundation of the geographic location, political ties, and social choices of the colonists the American Revolution can to a great extent be accurately called a civil war.

Geographical Location

The thirteen colonies had the thousands of miles of water of the Atlantic Ocean disconnecting them from Britain. Many historians use this as evidence to contradict the defining of the war as a civil war. On the contrary, the colonists and the English lived by the same country. They were governed by the same country and fought on British claimed territory. British citizens along with likewise British Loyalists from the colonies were in fact fighting other British Patriots with citizenship. A civil war is simply a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country. This civil war was fought between opposing groups of the citizens that lived by the same country but separated by thousands of miles of water.

A Societal Choice

The colonists after the Intolerable Acts were forced into choosing a side. (Click here to read about Samuel Adams, a leader among Patriots, effect on the Intolerable Acts.) Whether it is Loyalists with England ruler ship, or Patriots who wanted to one thing remained true, they all considered themselves Englishmen. If the Patriots did not consider themselves Englishmen then the war could be considered fought from two different societies. However, the Loyalists as well as the Patriots made the social choice to call themselves Englishmen. In fact, the basis of many of the thesis statements in documents of correspondence stating Patriots discontentment with the crown was on “the basic rights of Englishmen.” In The American Crisis Thomas Paine writes “Every Tory (also known as Loyalists) is a coward… the American cause is injured by you.” This piece shows the essence of the wars effect on society. This ‘crisis’ as Paine refers it too has torn a country into two, fighting against each other. The Revolution had the same results and effects as the Civil War of 1861. The Revolution tore families, states, and communities up. It robbed colonists of individual rights. The Revolution forced colonists to take sides of Loyalists of Patriots. In simplicity, a civil war within the Revolutionary War is revealed through the study of the social changes in the development of the Loyalists and Patriots.

Under One Government

As seen by the referring of oneself as an Englishmen the colonies were a valid part of Britain’s country. The British were able to pass laws that affected the entire British Empire including the colonies. Britain was the maternal power of the thirteen colonies and passed laws, taxes, and acts that used the colonies for profit while never giving them power in parliament. The reason for the war was on the basis of the government of one country outraging the people of the exact same country. The political cartoon The Horse and its Master represents this statement by showing the horse, which is representative of the colonies, throwing the master, which is representative of the British Empire. This propaganda shows a metaphor of the definition of civil war. Horse and rider will always work in harmony and together. The colonists and the British Empire likewise worked in harmony, together. Political forces against subjects of the political forces all under the same government were fighting in the American Revolution.

The American Revolution may be categorized as a civil war. The Loyalists opposed the Patriots who both were ruled by the same government. The geographic locale along with established societies and political ties all proved the American Revolution to be a civil war. In closing, the words of Axl Rose can clearly describe the imprint the Revolution has on the American society: “history bears the scars of our civil wars… what’s so civil about war anyway?”