Non-english Loyalists in the American Revolution: Reasons and Motivation for Loyalty

Open Access
Author:
Walsh, Jule
Area of Honors:
History
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Anthony Roeber, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael James Milligan, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • American Revolution
  • Loyalists
  • Scots
  • German-Speakers
  • Revolution
Abstract:
This honors thesis examines non-English loyalists during the American Revolution, and their motivation for supporting the Crown. These loyalists do not fit the stereotypical image of a loyalist – a rich tory, who feared losing power. In fact, they were middling class people, who did not have large tracts of land to loose, and if their cultural background were taking into account, one would assume they would have ultimately aligned with the patriots. Their loyalty was not a result of strong feelings of attachment to the Crown, but an effect of the perceived radical nature of the Revolution. These populations give insight into the common perception of the American Revolution, and their motivations for allegiance supports the notion that the American Revolution was radical in nature. With hindsight, the American Revolution appears tame, especially comparing it to future revolutions, like the French Revolution. However, to many who lived through the events, this rebellion was radical. Non-English loyalists considered many factors when choosing their allegiance, one of which was their country of origin’s history with rebellion and warfare, and the consequences associated with them. Confrontation with the British could cause massive damage, to their property and the economy, facts with which these loyalists were quite familiar. These individuals also considered who aligned with the patriots, and given the hostile nature of some patriots, were hesitant to support such groups. Through examination of non-English groups in three colonies – North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania – this thesis will introduce a perspective of the American Revolution not often covered, and demonstrate that the Revolution was far more radical than many believe.