Talk:Loyalist (American Revolution)

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Extremely bad section about a so-called Canada[edit]

This article include a section that describe the Province of Québec of 1774 as Canada. This is historicaly not true. The british invader had renamed the french province of Canada into The Province of Quebec in the Quebec Act of 1774.

Many of the english speaker who settle in Quebec after the invasion were american colonists who married french canadienne and spoke french. Like Moses Hazen (Brigadier under Lafayette at Yorktown) and Edward Antill. The american revolution were underway since the british occupation of Boston in 1768. The Quebec Act of 1774 was a desperate attempt to give gifts to the priest and the Seigneur (landlord of the old regime) so the british could control the french population in Québec. It didn't work. The priest were ridiculed in church, the capitain of milicia refused to join Carleton. This is what some people wrongfully call neutrality. Carleton in quebec had to expelled the french from the city. Valentin Jautard would describe the american in Montreal as liberator.

The milicia who helped the british were forced to do so under threat of loosing there land. After the defeat of the french milicia in Bennington the american will free those frenchman who were forced into the british royalist army. The british Burgoyne would later blame the quebeckers Luc de Lacorne for his defeat at saratoga in the british parlement. The british will not beleive Burgoyne.

The iroquois will desert the Royalist army of Burgoyne in 1777, charles langlade will leave with them. This desertion of the iroquois from the british side greatly cause the british defeat of Saratoga. The iroquois were mad about the way the british were accusing them of the murder of McRae.

As many as 747 quebeckers actively helped the american army, in the first and second canadian regiment. The french milicia were disarmed by Carleton and Haldimand since the French entered the war in 1778 and the british did not trust that the french in quebec would not help the american. It is hightly unusual for a foreign army to dispand the milicia in times of war. But such was the state of the french in the american revolution. They had helped in great number in 1775 and they would have cause even more problem since the french had entered the war. Therefore the British disarmed them. The Province of Quebec was under martial law and under occupation by as many as 30 000 troops of british and germans mercenary. Carleton and Haldimand had to maintain those soldier under constant threat of an american invasion combined with the french. This will help the american maintain the british in quebec instead of planing another invasion of the North.

The Province of Quebec of 1774, also included the mississippi valley and many french from Montreal living there join the american army and will help Clark take Vincennes. Other Quebeckers joined the american navy namely Jacques Bedout, Louis-Philippe de Vaudreuil and Pierre Douville. The french milicia under spanish officer will fight against the british at St-Louis.

As for the idea of the american republic, it was popular in Quebec, as it will be again in 1837 during the rebellion in Quebec where they will try to built the republic of LowerCanada. Still today a majority of french speaking people in Quebec voted to make Quebec a republic in 1995.

The monarchy in Quebec is opposed by 80 % of the people.

The article is clearly the point of view of Canadian Monarchist. (Etienne2010 (talk) 01:26, 7 February 2010 (UTC))


I'm moving the section on Loyalists in the American Revolution here. But the history of the section is still visible on the page Loyalist. QuartierLatin1968 22:17, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Merge from UEL?[edit]

I'm increasingly beginning to wonder if we shouldn't merge this article with United Empire Loyalist. True, not all Loyalists emigrated, and not all those who did went to BNA, but I find it impossible to say much at UEL that wouldn't be equally relevant here. What do folks think? QuartierLatin1968 El bien mas preciado es la libertad 22:58, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

I think the American perspective is essential for this article. The emphasis is on their experience 1775-83. The UEL will have a Canadian perspective with mopre postwar emphasis. Less than half (?) The Loyalists went to Canada (many stayed in USA). Rjensen 12:22, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
The term UEL did not exist during or immediately after the American Revolution. I think a logical split between the articles would be for the UEL article to contain the content relating to those Loyalists who ended up in Canada after 1783. This split would involve moving pre-1783 content from UEL into this article and moving content relating to post 1783 Canadian Loyalists into the UEL article. BradMajors (talk) 09:08, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Only a few loyalist emigrated. Remember that between a third and half of all Americans were loyalists - most stayed put after the revolution - if they weren't driven out by bloodthirsty rebels.JohnC (talk) 07:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

anti-american books[edit]

In general the British books are quite good. An exception is Hugh Bicheno, & Richard Holmes, Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolutionary War - Bichenko wrote the book -(Holmes did an introduction), and his books range from 1570 to 1980. he is not a specialist in the Revolution. The book is actually the script of a BBC video, and is not scholarly. The claim that the Loyalists had more soldiers than the Patriots is fantastic--no one thinks they had 10% as many. Doubtless Bicheno misread some source or another. Naturally the reviewers do not recommend it: [1] "What an attack on the very foundation of America. Everyone I know that saw it was ashamed that PBS would air something like this. A one-sided account, which at one point actually portrays Americans as fanatics, comparing them to the Vietcong AND Hezbollah. The list of insults to America and Americans is long, and shameful." Rjensen 13:09, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Kind of like the Mel Gibson fantasy "The Patriot" was an inuslt to British and Canadian sensibilities? TrulyTory 13:27, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Actualy it wasnt that far from the truth in its portrayal of british atrocities against americans in the revolutionary warIrishfrisian (talk) 13:24, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

yes exactly like that. We should make sure that Wiki should rise above that, I hope. Rjensen 13:49, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
Contrary to the above, the reviews of this book have actually been very good. [2] "I got a recommendation from a university Reader in American History (Associate Professor) for this book as "the best general history ... of a far higher standard than McCullough, but still lively and accessible to a general audience."" BradMajors (talk) 00:42, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't know why you said that "The claim that the Loyalists had more soldiers than the Patriots is fantastic--no one thinks they had 10% as many." What source do you have to support that claim? Historian John Murrin, in a very well-regarded college textbook, actually says, "By 1780 the number of loyalists under arms exceeded the number of Continentals by almost two to one." (See John M. Murrin, et. al. Liberty Equality Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, third edition (Florence, Kentucky: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning, 1996, 2002), page 226.) Now, obviously that comparision does not include Patriots in militia units, but certainly the number of loyalists who took up arms for the British cause exceeds 10% the number of Patiots who did. (talk) 04:26, 23 February 2008 (UTC) (MCB in Boulder, 2/22/2008)

Canadian perspective[edit]

Hey Rjensen. I'm not sure why you wish to fight over a point like this, but fair enough, here's why the words "and Canadian" belong with the mention of a "British perspective". (1) Yes, there was such a thing as a Canadian perspective in 1775, which would have included (at a minimum) the perspective of the Canadiens or French-speaking population of the Laurentian valley, and also the perspective of the colonial administration of the Province of Quebec. Regarding the latter, both Guy Carleton and Frederick Haldimand served as governors of Quebec during the Revolutionary period, and in that and other capacities they provided important services to the settlement of United Empire Loyalists in Canada. See for example Christopher Moore (The Loyalists: pp 230-231 for Haldimand, p152 for Carleton (and elsewhere)). Now obviously Moore's book is not a specialized academic monograph, but I won't belabour the point unless you want to see more specialized and in-depth treatments on the Quebec administration during the Revolution. | Turning from the "official" Quebec position to those of the masses, practically any history of Quebec could assure you that public opinion in the St Lawrence – insofar as it can be known – at this time was generally ancien Régime and traditionalist, with a great deal of satisfaction at the arrangements for the province under the Quebec Act. Having generally transferred popular allegiance from the Crown of France to the Crown of Great Britain, the average Canadien would (I think it's fair to say) view the Revolution as treasonous or rebellious. The only history of Quebec in my own library that deals with the period is Marc Durand's Histoire du Québec, but I'm afraid I haven't got it with me at the moment; if you like I can see tomorrow what my university library can produce.

(2) It's also fairly clear that the sentence of the article in question deals (at least in part) with historical interpretation, not just with a snapshot of popular opinion in 1775. There certainly is a body of Canadian historiography concerning the American Revolution; and while it's admittedly simplistic to reduce that historiography to the notion "They were traitors", I think there does remain a strong current of criticism of the revolutionaries for (allegedly) being too violent or headstrong or imprudent, dogmatically imposing their ideas and loyalties upon their neighbours, and hypocritically posing as defenders of "liberty" enforced by a reign of terror. I wonder if our library has a detailed survey of Canadian historiography – I certainly don't, but I'd be interested in checking this one out if you want me to. QuartierLatin1968 El bien mas preciado es la libertad 01:09, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

for some reason this page has turned very contentious. I'm sorry about that and would like to calm things down. (I am an American who has an interest in Canadian history and give papers in Canada on comparative history of the two countries.)

First, I certainly do not think that Royal generals and governors like Carleton in any way represented "Canadian" public opinion. Surely they represented their government in London. I used the standard book by Mason Wade to explain that the habitants were 1) mostly neutral and refused to fight for King; 2) of those who were active most seem to have supported the American invaders and even raised regiments; 3) a minority supported the King. (Whether group 2 is larger than group 3 is perhaps open--Wade clearly thinks 2 was larger.) Wade also notes that maybe 3% of the population in Canada in 1775 was British, mostly officials and merchants. They were loyal to the King. I assume that Canadian opinion = the 97% who were habitants. Now it is true that most 19th and 20c Canadian historians take an anti-US, pro-Loyalist position, as you outlines it. Americans are too pushy, etc. That is NOT the same thing as saying the habitants of 1775 thought that way. Rjensen 01:32, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I'm all for calmness as well – forgive me if I sounded touchy earlier. I won't revert you anymore till we've reached an understanding. Just two points: (1) You're misunderstanding me if you thought I meant that Canadian colonial administration reflected popular opinion. It reflected official opinion – but it was still a "Canadian perspective": even a imperial administrator in Québec City has a different vantage point from one in London. Public opinion's a different issue; I've actually never encountered the view of Mason Wade that you mention, and I'd be interested to learn more about his arguments. (2) Why is public opinion in 1775 the only one that matters? As I say, I think that part of the intro is clearly presenting (in highly reductionist fashion, I admit) opposing perspectives of historical interpretation, not just or even primarily those of contemporaries; let alone those only of contemporaries at the beginning of the Revolution rather than at the end, the middle, the aftermath, or whatever. QuartierLatin1968 El bien mas preciado es la libertad 02:58, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
The tenor of the article is "who was a Loyalist/patriot" -- what proportions of the people in various categories. What I tried to do was add Canada (Quebec & Nova Scotia) to the mix. Yes the Royal governors and colonels were all loyal to the King, but what about everyone else? That is why public opinion matters. Guns matter too and that is why the Am Rev article is mostly about battles. (It gets more interesting when you look at London--at Amherst and Burke and Fox--there were plenty of leading Brits who partially favored the Yanks.) Rjensen 14:26, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, I could reply in detail to those various points (you know I'd love to!); however, I feel we're getting off subject. Why don't we just put in a brief section (which doesn't have to be near the top) concerning the Loyalists in historical memory? And then, if you must insist that the two bullet-pointed sentences apply exclusively to contemporary public opinion (as opposed to subsequent interpretations or contemporary official opinion), then why don't we spell that out? Because the way I read them, they definitely sound to me as though they are talking about historical memory in the US, Canada, and Britain; but clearly you read them differently. QuartierLatin1968 El bien mas preciado es la libertad 16:43, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

good points and I tried to tweak it to make the clear reference point 1775 not 2006. Rjensen 17:21, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Loyalists in popular culture[edit]

Why do we have note 1? That seems to be biased and representative of too small a segment of society to be considered "popular culture." It warrants a corresponding note 2 on the British perspective stating something of similar matter. I suggest that it be removed. Mets 07:48, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

I removed it. The footnote said:
"This perspective [that Loyalists were collaborators or traitors] is still widely used in popular culture, and is now considered by some to be offensive."
An interesting assertion, but without context or citation, and with weasel wording ("considered by some"), it does not meet standards for inclusion here. Interested editors might want to research and expand the point, and then reinsert. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 16:13, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

There is an implication that loyalists were mentally ill (psychology section) or themselves the rebels. Very odd. A good example of history being written by the victors. Incidentally this is related to the modern suggestion that only 10-20% of the people were royalist. Estimates at the time suggested 50%.JohnC (talk) 07:09, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Second Para. in Intro[edit]

In the second paragraph in the introduction, there is a mention of one Samuel Seabury returning to the US after the revolution, along with many other loyalists. Now, Seabury indeed did return, but I'm pretty confident that many loyalists did not. In fact, I'm sure most of the loyalists stayed. Also, in the previous sentence, there is a Seabury quote denouncing the Patriots. The positioning of this sentence after a quote denouncing the Patriots, and also its lack of references or facts, strikes me as POV. I'm going to edit it out. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Outsidethewall (talkcontribs) on 18 March 2006.

Seabury was a refugee in New York city during the war and returned to Connecticut in 1785 or so, points covered in his Wiki bio. Rjensen 21:57, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Alright. However, I'm going to edit out that "like many loyalists" thing - I would like to see some references... --Outsidethewall 21:59, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
It's a matter of numbers. If 20% of the 2 million white colonists were Loyalists that's 400,000. The number who left was under 100,000. Therefore most stayed. See the Smith article for statistics. Rjensen 22:04, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Boatner's Encyclopedia of the American Revolution says about the same thing: of about 500,000 Loyalists in the 13 colonies, about 80,000 left. So about 5 out of 6 Loyalists never left. --Kevin Myers | (complaint dept.) 16:12, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I have read that 80,000 left during the mass exodus before the surrender of New York alone. (Janice Potter, The Liberty We Seek: Loyalist Ideology in Colonial New York and Massachusetts, 1983.) There were others leaving throughout the war from other locales, so I think Boatner's number is too low. Joel Bastedo 00:08, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
Most historians put the total who left at about 80,000 (give or take 10%--record keeping was not good.) What source does Potter use to say 80k left through NYC alone? Rjensen 00:53, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Return of the Loyalists[edit]

most of all the great majority of Loyalists never left. Those who returned after 1783 were leaders. In general they were hated and resebted at first, but by 1790 most of the laws against them had been repealed and hostility faded away. For detailed coverage see Merrill Jensen; The New Nation: A History of the United States during the Confederation, 1781-1789 1950. Here's a recent article: Kermes, Stephanie. "I Wish for Nothing More Ardent upon Earth, than to See My Friends and Country Again": the Return of Massachusetts Loyalists." Historical Journal of Massachusetts 2002 30(1): 30-49. ISSN: 0276-8313 Abstract: Although Loyalists were forced to leave Massachusetts during the American Revolution, taking refuge in Canada and England, virtually all expressed a desire to return to what they considered their native home. After the last wave of anti-Toryism passed in the wake of the peace treaty of 1783, a number of Loyalists, typically young, native born, and still emotionally attached to the area, made their way back to Massachusetts between 1784 and 1789. On reentering Massachusetts, they encountered, for the most part, a warm welcome from anti-Toryists and were able to integrate themselves into society, reclaiming property, collecting debts, and joining the conservative, Federalist political culture of the state. Documentation: Based on letters, diaries, other primary sources, and secondary sources; 46 notes. Rjensen 21:32, 21 June 2006 (UTC)


Opening paragraph: However once independence was declared in 1776 Loyalists who continued to support the Crown [...] were expelled, or disarmed, but none were tried for treason or executed. During the war: two men in Philadelphia were officially executed for supporting the British.. So were any loyalists executed or not? Richard Pinch 07:24, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Many loyalists were convicted of treason and some of those convicted were executed, not just the two in Philadelphia. I am removing the sentence. Hgebel 16:13, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
Moses Dunbar of Connecticut was executed for being a loyalist.

Another inconsistency[edit]

Intro: Historians estimate that about 5% of the white population may have been Loyalists (that is, about 100,000), but there are no exact numbers. "Loyalists in the 13 states" section: Historians estimate that about 15–20% of the population of the thirteen states was Loyalist (or roughly 500,000 people among 3 million residents)... Both are uncited. I don't know which is right, so I'm adding the contradict tag. Kwertii 20:51, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

It appears that someone has changed the 15-20% figure to 33%, but 500,000 is not 33% of 3 million.... REggert (talk) 19:40, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
I think it is best not to use a number at all since no poll was conducted and because large numbers of persons either did not care or would support whoever was in power. BradMajors (talk) 20:28, 3 January 2008 (UTC)


I seem to recall that residents of occupied Boston and New York City were required by the British to sign loyalty oaths. True? Details? --Wfaxon 00:33, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Merging Opposition to Amer. Rev.[edit]

There's been a proposal to merge the Opposition to the American Revolutionary War page w/the Loyalist page, and as I can't find any existing discussion about it, I'll start a discussion here (since this is where the "Discuss" link on the tag leads). I could certainly see merging (or out-and-out deleting) the existing stub. However, I'm going to vote against the move for the time being - I think more material could be found for the article, not all of it about Loyalists. I'll have a shot at doing that sometime within the next couple weeks. Candle-ends 18:13, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

the usual term is "Loyalist" and not "opponent of American revolution". The latter term misreads the situation: the Loyalists started out as loyal to the King and never changed positions. The patriots started out as loyal and switched. (and some people kept their heads down and did not declare one way or the other) Rjensen 23:03, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

"Unnecessary wars"[edit]

I've corrected an error that was introduced a couple of weeks ago.

"As Anglican clergyman Samuel Seabury wrote, the Revolutionary War was viewed as one of the most unnecessary wars in the history of America. ..." was changed to "An Anglican clergyman..." I've changed it back.

But the statement has more problems than that. It's obscure. It's not clear that Seabury and his view date from the Revolution (although his name is a hint and that's the only thing that makes sense by the time you get to the paragraph following).

It's not clear where the quote starts. There's a closing quote mark but no opening one. Is "he stated that" part of what Seabury wrote? If so who does 'he' refer to? If not then "he stated that" is our words but can't introduce a quote beginning with 'if'.

Our introduction, "...Seabury wrote", doesn't say that he viewed the war as unnecessary. It uses Seabury's statement, whatever it is, to support (without any citations) our statement that the war was viewed as unnecessary. We don't say who viewed it in that way and Seabury's quote doesn't make any such statement.

It's not even clear that we mean that contemporaries of the war regarded it that way. We could be attributing to citizens of the later US, to he British government at a later date or to historians.

Finally, the statement and quote, along with the two paragraphs following, seem to have been inserted with partisan intent and wouldn't fit well in the introduction even if they were well written. (The last of these paragraphs contains non sequiturs and vague pronouns whose referents are missing or unclear.

If anyone knows about Seabury and his statement and the view (of whoever) that the war was one of the most unnecessary, please fix what's there now. If noone can see how to fix it I'll just take it out. It's certainly not contributing anything to the introduction but the potential for confusion and misdirection. Klippa (talk) 07:13, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Done. Klippa (talk) 12:17, 6 February 2008 (UTC)


This article has a huge POV. look at where it says loyalist were typically smarter then their counter-parts, and held the majrority, which obviously isnt true since we did revolt! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:43, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

I also see a lot of POV. The article is currently written in a very abrasive style that assumes some kind of massive competition between left wing and right wing. It's a typical goonish American narrative. Everybody who dissents with what's happening in the USA is tarred with a brush that they betray the values of the country. The Western part of Canada is largely a country formed by US dissidents. The first big wave were the "loyalists" who came over to escape from the Revolutionary War. What's wrong with emigrating from a war-torn country? How is that "being conservative?" How is it wrong to have a different set of values and want to make a life for yourself in a country which has a different frame of reference on the world? The USA itself proudly proclaims that it is a nation of disaffected British people. In like manner, the loyalists who went north to Canada have made western Canada what it is today. Rainbird (talk) 17:26, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Number of Loyalists[edit]

The previous text put the figure at 30% of the population with the sources being the Encyclopedia Britannica (a tertiary source) and a link, no longer including the information, to a US Census "Facts for Features" release. More reliable estimates have been substituted using the works of historians Robert Middlekauff and Robert Calhoon. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:36, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

The above referenced edit was reverted and the opinons of actual historians were replaced again with only a tertiary source and a government website by an author unknown. The statement as it now exists is, "Historians have estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the population were Loyalists.[1][2] Historian Robert Middlekauff estimates that about 500,000 colonists, or 19 percent of the white population, remained loyal to Britain.[3]".
If there are historians who estimate a higher number, then by all means properly source (i.e. peer-reviewed academic book or journal article) that material and provide the names of such historians. At present this is not a dispute between equally reliable sources. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 15:34, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Since I found that Adams has indeed suggested that the Loyalists (but not the Patriots, as often claimed when quoting the letter about the French revolution) were one third of the population (see the article for the source), I think the espousal of that figure by Britannica and the government source at least deserve to be mentioned, if not endorsed. I agree that this is no reason for replacing Calhoon's figure "15-20%" with a "15-30%" that he never wrote, but I added a neutrally worded sentence about some sources mentioning the "one third" figure.--Anonymous44 (talk) 23:58, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
From WP:OR regarding the John Adams quote:
“Primary sources that have been published by a reliable source may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them. For that reason, anyone—without specialist knowledge—who reads the primary source should be able to verify that the Wikipedia passage agrees with the primary source. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation.”
With the Adams quote you do provide a “reliable secondary source” for the interpretation of the quote, historian William Marina, but he advises AGAINST using a single individual’s opinion on this issue. By using the Adams quote in this article (which isn't actually quoted in the article but simply referred to), you are substituting your judgement for that of Marina. Marina writes:
“The unstated assumption of all those who mistakenly cited Adams is the notion that one of the participants could provide an adequate breakdown of the size of the contending sides. But who shall we ask, and at what point in time in the shifting debates and actions that constitute the Revolution? Will it be the Tory Anglican minister Jonathan Boucher, who left his parish in Maryland rather early in the debate and estimated that nine-tenths of the people were sympathetic to that view, but also tells us that in his last year in America he preached with loaded pistols beside him in the pulpit? How about Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania, who joined in the initial protests but, unable to accept the logic of independence, ended up a Loyalist, claiming that view constituted four-fifths to nine-tenths of the people? Or our friend John Adams, trying to get a loan from the Dutch, who said a mere twentieth were Tories? Finally, there is General George Washington, who in 1781 told of the “calamitous distress” of the army and “the inquietudes prevailing among the people” but, nonetheless, observed that “A large majority are still firmly attached to the independence States, [and] abhor a reunion with Great Britain.”[6] No, merely compiling a vast number of such estimates, even if we know the bias of the person and the circumstances under which the assessment was made, can tell us little unless we knew the nature of the data, if any, upon which he relied as a basis for the estimate.”
As for the tertiatiary sources, WP:OR says:
“Tertiary sources can be helpful in providing broad summaries of topics that involve many primary and secondary sources. Some tertiary sources may be more reliable than others, and within any given tertiary source, some articles may be more reliable than others.”
You, however, are not using those sources for a broad summary, but are using them for a specific fact. From WP:V:
“In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny involved in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the evidence and arguments of a particular work, the more reliable it is.
Academic and peer-reviewed publications are highly valued and usually the most reliable sources in areas where they are available, such as history, medicine and science.”
If you have reliable sources such as the above that support 30%, then by all means present them in the article as an alternative opinion that Wikipedia should include. Tertiary sources and the Marina article which very clearly states that the Adams guess is not a reliable source do not justify inclusion in this article -- especially in the lead section of the article. Without a reliable source to justify inclusion, your attempt, regardless of how you word it, to suggest that there were more Loyalists than current historians estimate seems to be pushing a very specific POV.Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 11:49, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Frankly, the enormous importance you seem to attach to this and your aggressive reaction - accusing me of a "very specific", apparently as opposed to general :), agenda - is what seems to suggest that some kind of POV is involved. To make sure that you calm down as much as at to hear what I'm saying, I will start by assuring you that I won't edit war with you over this and won't revert to my version. Now - to address your objections one by one:
  • Use of primary sources: in this case, I do not add any interpretation of the primary source (Adams' quote). I don't suggest that Adams is correct, which Marina doubts; I only note that Adams does say that, which in itself is an indisputable fact that Marina confirms (you had included in the footnote Marina's argument about Adams' "French" statement, so I figured you felt Adams' opinion was relevant) and that Adams' "Tories" figure is often repeated by (reliable) sources (albeit frequently with a wrong "Rebels" figure and with a wrong citation) - a fact that is clear both from Marina's essay (the academics he condemns are as reliable sources as he himself is from a Wikipedian point of view) and from the Britannica and government citations. Whether the people citing this figure are wrong or right is not for us to say, although the way I added the sentence after yours certainly tended to suggest that they are wrong.
  • Use of tertiary sources: the key word is not "broad summary" but "summary" and especially "topics that involve many primary and secondary sources". The number of loyalists is precisely a matter of many primary and secondary sources that any attempt to estimate it has to involve; and it's a very vague and difficult issue. Certainly many experts have weighed in on it, and what we would normally need is a reliable source's summary of existing mainstream opinion. Nowhere does the policy say that a secondary source automatically overrides a tertiary source: in fact, when describing the overall state-of-the-art opinion rather than a specific study, it's obvious that a reputable tertiary source is at least as good. After all, the primary aim of the secondary source is to propose a new analysis, and only secondarily may it also provide a neutral summary of existing analyses, which is precisely what a tertiary source does. Now, in this case, common sense does suggest that what you cite is the best and more reliable figure - but that's not because it's a secondary rather than tertiary source, but because it really is a summary of research, it is much more detailed and, at the same time, the source is more specialized. I don't deny that it's better, but I do believe the other figure is mentioned in a sufficient number of sufficiently reliable sources to be noted here as well, though perhaps not in the lead. I see no reason why Wikipedia should hide the fact that what would normally be considered a good source contains this or that statement, even if the sum and quality of other sources suggest that that is not the majority view. This is a mention, not an endorsement.
  • Have I or have I not cited a reliable source at all? Don't know why you added this remark at all. Reputable tertiary sources in general and Britannica in particular would certainly count as reliable according to the loose list that you cited: a "university-level textbook" is a tertiary source just like Britannica; and Britannica is a "book published by respected publishing houses". Of course, this is a minor point - one reliable source can still be better than another, as in this case.--Anonymous44 (talk) 15:17, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
As far as mentioning a POV, you are the one who raised the issue of NPOV when you claimed that your edits were “neutrally worded”. I disagreed and explained why.
As far your analysis of my motivations (i.e. “the enormous importance you seem to attach to this and your aggressive reaction”), I plead guilty. A major weakness of Wikipedia is that too many editors favor internet research where all sources are considered equal over a reliance on serious, published, peer reviewed works by actual historians. After I cleaned the situation up, you added back in the unreliable information using three sources -- two of which cite no historian at all and a third which advises NOT to rely on the information.
You state, “you had included in the footnote Marina's argument about Adams' "French" statement, so I figured you felt Adams' opinion was relevant”. In fact, if you had checked the edit history you would find that some other editor put the material in, not me -- I simply didn’t delete it when I edited the section. I see that you have now deleted it -- I’ve got no major problem with that, although you should have a better reason than “and we all agree that Adams did say 1/3, but you feel Adams is not a good source, so rm.” It’s more than me that says it is not a good source -- it is Professor Marina who explains why it isn’t relevant. I guess that Doctors Middlekauff and Calhoon probably also came across the Adams material and decided not to include it in their works.
As far as an interpretation of the Adams’ quote, the problem is that it is introduced into the Wikipedia article without any interpretive explanation. Interpretive material is available, but that material indicates that the quote is not reliable as a factual statement. Your next step, if you wanted to include the material, is to find a reliable secondary source that says the Adams’ material should be considered as factually accurate.
When you say, “...but I do believe the other figure is mentioned in a sufficient number of sufficiently reliable sources to be noted here as well, though perhaps not in the lead”, what you are doing is ignoring what Marina wrote. His opinion, after looking at how the Adams quote became distorted in the first place, is that all such interpretations are linked to the misinterpretation of ONE SPECIFIC letter from Adams. Whether two sources or two hundred tertiary sources repeat this error does not change its reliability -- until a reliable secondary source claims it is reliable, it does not belong in Wikipedia as a legitimate, alternative estimate.
You attempt to defend the two actual tertiary sources used, but in doing so you ignore the logic of your own statement, “After all, the primary aim of the secondary source is to propose a new analysis, and only secondarily may it also provide a neutral summary of existing analyses, which is precisely what a tertiary source does.” Obvious these two sources DO NOT provide a “neutral summary of existing analysis” of the subject. Britannica states unequivocally, “Loyalists constituted about one-third of the population of the American colonies during that conflict.” The LOC is somewhere more flexible in stating that “...somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the population retained their loyalty to the crown.” How is it that these two alleged “neutral summaries’’ exclude Calhhoon’s 15-20% or Middlekauff’s 19%
Of course, if you feel the Adams info. is so common (as the editor who added the footnote that you deleted seemed to think), then perhaps YOU should restore the footnote that you deleted or, better yet, add a synopsis of the Marina piece in the body of the article that makes it clear that Adams’ figure should not be considered as an historically valid estimate. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 18:24, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

As far as mentioning a POV, you are the one who raised the issue of NPOV when you claimed that your edits were “neutrally worded”

I'm not sure what you mean. By claiming my edits were "neutrally worded", I didn't accuse you of POV pushing, I emphasized that my edit had a wording that takes no stance regarding the accuracy of the figure.

you added back in the unreliable information using three sources -- two of which cite no historian at all and a third which advises NOT to rely on the information.

As I said, I think these sources, while inferior to yours, deserve mention. Certainly, my edit didn't say that the Adams quote was to be relied on either, but it did say that some sources repeat it. Your sentence, which preceded mine, made it clear for the reader that the consensus figure among historians is not the one in the Adams quote. For Marina, see below.

although you should have a better reason than “and we all agree that Adams did say 1/3, but you feel Adams is not a good source, so rm.”

I don't see why I should have a better reason. Your version implicitly denies that Adams said 1/3, while mine at least doesn't say anything and thus avoids deceiving the reader.

It’s more than me that says it is not a good source -- it is Professor Marina who explains why it isn’t relevant.

This is still just one scholar's, Marina's opinion, while it's obvious that some sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica and whoever it relied on (none of our business) considered the Adams quote accurate or noteworthy. Which quote? See below.

the problem is that it is introduced into the Wikipedia article without any interpretive explanation ... Your next step, if you wanted to include the material, is to find a reliable secondary source that says the Adams’ material should be considered as factually accurate.

I don't see why there should be an interpretative explanation, I have seen no policy that requires such a thing. The quote need not be factually accurate to be interesting; for example, it might indicate what Adams intuitively felt to have been the enemy's relative strength (as opposed to what their actual number was). That's up to the reader to decide. I don't feel like including Marina's analysis in greater detail, not only because it is clearly his own position rather than a summary of mainstream opinion, but also because both of his publications that we've been discussing seem very politicized. One is hosted by libertarian think tank "The Independent Institute" at which he is a research fellow, the other one on a website that also seems to be connected to the libertarians, and in the longer one he makes it clear that he believes the "1/3 myth" is the result of evil elitist AND egalitarian leftie intellectuals combatting the democratic free-market legacy of the (seemingly one and only) good Revolution. Marina may be a qualified specialist, but this sort of thing is clearly pretty radical for a research article, so I prefer to stick to the facts he mentions and not to his analyses.

what you are doing is ignoring what Marina wrote. His opinion, after looking at how the Adams quote became distorted in the first place, is that all such interpretations are linked to the misinterpretation of ONE SPECIFIC letter from Adams.

No, Marina does not say that anyone who says the loyalists were one third is relying on the wrong quote by Adams; in fact, he doesn't focus on the Loyalists' numbers at all, he prefers to emphasize that the Patriots had, not 1/3, but a huge majority such as Adams' 2/3 (which, BTW, is clearly not true according to Calhoon's summary that you prefer). And since Britannica doesn't say anything about the Patriots' numbers, nothing suggests that it relies on the wrong quote, as you assume, and not on the right one.

Whether two sources or two hundred tertiary sources repeat this error does not change its reliability -- until a reliable secondary source claims it is reliable, it does not belong in Wikipedia as a legitimate, alternative estimate.

Once again, you are relying on your unjustified assumption that a secondary source necessarily overrides a tertiary source.

Obvious these two sources DO NOT provide a “neutral summary of existing analysis” of the subject.

That's not for us to decide. It's possible to have different overviews of research in the same field, e.g. by relying on different authors to a different extent.

Of course, if you feel the Adams info. is so common (as the editor who added the footnote that you deleted seemed to think), then perhaps YOU should restore the footnote that you deleted or, better yet, add a synopsis of the Marina piece in the body of the article that makes it clear that Adams’ figure should not be considered as an historically valid estimate.

Already addressed; the footnote as it is in your version is partly irrelevant and partly misleading; and while I could include a mention of the relevant quote instead, I don't think that Marina's observations reflect any kind of consensus about it. --Anonymous44 (talk) 21:26, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
However, I just checked the full edition of Britannica and I found out that the full, detailed, article about the American Revolution, of which the academic author is stated and is a specialist in American history, puts the number of Loyalists at one-fifth, like Calhoon! That's in chapter "The Continental Congress", and despite the fact that the very next sentence links to the article "loyalist", which has the "1/3" version. Perhaps the latter is a mistake, perhaps not, but under these circumstances, one can't claim that Britannica as such uses the 1/3 figure. While mentioning it might still still be suitable, for me, this shifts the balance against the whole thing. The whole Adams business could be mentioned, although its place really isn't in the lead.--Anonymous44 (talk) 21:37, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

The only problem with the current statistics is that they discount the African Americans and Native Americans who supported the King. I've seen estimates of the Loyalist percentage of the American population closer to half if they are included. (talk) 02:01, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

One factor that seems to have escaped consideration at this point is the number of colonists with no strong commitment to either cause (or vastly exceeded by such commitments as tending their crops, catching fish, minding their shops, etc). With this in mind, it is well within the realm of possibility to have 10-20 percent of popular support AND outnumber ones' enemy two to one. Alas, at this point, that's only an inference based upon numbers already presented by the other researchers and writers in this article, and vague recollections of past books read. Still, I SUSPECT that this might be the key to being able to eliminate NPOV concerns and reconciling some of the math concerns. -- (talk) 04:35, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Why are modern Americans afraid to accept that rebels weren't a majority in 1775? Could it be because your republic is based on an illegal and undemocratic rebellion by a minority? So much for liberty and democracy.JohnC (talk) 07:21, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

S. M. Stirling's Draka Series[edit]

Shouldn't the article also mention (maybe as "in popular culture" section) that science fiction writer S. M. Stirlilng based his Draka alternative universe on alternative fate of the Loyalists? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:42, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Larkin and Adams[edit]

I removed two paragraphs recently added to the lede that provided undue weight to a minority opinion no longer accepted by historians. This opinion was already covered in the body of the article and supported by a footnote. The footnote described the claim and provided two links that specifically refute it. To provide balance, I have taken the two paragraphs I removed from the lede and moved them to an addition footnote. The source of these paragraphs is a web article and the author, Edward Larkin, is not an historian. His claim is NOT that the Adams estimate is accurate, but that it is the most famous -- such a claim is more appropriate for the body of the article than the lede.Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 18:00, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Pennsylvania Dutch (German Immigrants) Statement[edit]

The statement regarding the Pa Dutch being loyalist is sourced by a book written about Columbia and Richland Counties, South Carolina. In this source (available online, pages 28-29), the author writes about a few hundred German Immigrants living along a river deep in the South Carolina midlands. There is nothing mentioned about the Pennsylvania Dutch. You can't take a statement regarding a few hundred German immigrants (at most, by the books account) in South Carolina and apply it to a much older immigrant community 1000 miles north in Pennsylvania. I'd like to see a real source that says something about the Pennsylvania Dutch ... or see those sentences removed. (I don't want to start editing if maybe the source used was just an honest mistake or typo or something). There are some other historically dubious claims as well; but this example is likely just source manipulation in order to push a POV. Thx Gendylan35 (talk) 07:37, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Clarification*

The source used (12) links to what appears to be a user website. Luckily, the user website provides the original source material to be "Columbia and Richland County : A South Carolina Community, 1740-1990. by John Hammond Moore"Link here. THIS is the source that I reference above, as it is the original. The author of the linked user website ((12) on the provided source list) appears to be taking liberties with the information contained in his/her original source material. I invite a more experienced editor to check it out. Gendylan35 (talk) 07:37, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Action taken

I've removed the statements in question: "Most of the Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans in Pennsylvania) were loyalists.[1] They feared that their royal land grants would be in danger with a new republican form of government. " Gendylan35 (talk) 16:49, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

The so-called "13 Colonies" were in fact 14[edit]

Nova Scotia remained loyal.

so did Newfoundland and Bahamas and Jamaica and several others. But they were never part of the 13. For example, Nova Scotia did not get responsible government until many years later in 1848. Rjensen (talk) 12:47, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
But it got representative government, very much the same as that enjoyed by the thirteen colonies, in 1758. Responsible government is a separate term which applies mostly to British North America in the years after the revolution. Moximatic (talk) 13:57, 4 December 2009 (UTC)


I have a problem with the rebels being referred to as "Patriots" throughout the article; I don't reckon that's what the British called them. Lapsed Pacifist (talk) 15:51, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

The issue is how do historians refer to them, and "Patriots" is a common term. I count eight uses of "Patriot" and five uses of "rebel". Seems like a reasonable balance and since the terms are virtually interchangeable, I can't see any purpose in making edits solely to change one term to the other. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 16:04, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
It is like Roundheads and Cavaliers, its the names of the factions (talk) 03:58, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
At the time, the nation was Britain, just an extension of it. You cannot be "patriotic" by going against your nation. Civil War, the South was the Rebels, not the Patriots. — ᚹᚩᛞᛖᚾᚻᛖᛚᛗ (ᚷᛖᛋᛈᚱᛖᚳ) 08:23, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Past tense[edit]

This artile is in the past tense, but there are still loyalists today.. Flosssock1 (talk) 01:14, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

The article is in the past tense because the events in question happened over two centuries ago. MarmadukePercy (talk) 23:54, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Not gonna happen Flossock1--Jojhutton (talk) 23:58, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
You missed and 's' Jojhutton. And okay, but there seems to be a lack of information on the loyalists of today. Flosssock1 (talk) 11:07, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
What planet do you live on? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 14:44, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
Excuse me? What is your problem? Flosssock1 (talk) 19:48, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
You are seriously suggesting that almost two and a half centuries on from the revolution, there are still American Loyalists who wish to return to British rule? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 22:33, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
There are still loyalists. Obviously a return to British Rule would be far away, but I don't know their views on this. But I do know that they are American born and loyal to the British crown, and they call themselves loyalists. Flosssock1 (talk) 16:21, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
If you want to spout nonsense like that, set up your own website where you are free to post whatever you like. Please do not inject this kind of rubbish into Wikipedia articles. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 00:29, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually it's called 'improving' an article.. Flosssock1 (talk) 18:02, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Although a minority viewpoint, this fellow brings up a valid point about NPOV; the article, if it's to specifically reflect historical Loyalists, should solely be worded to indicate this, but to also perhaps include a separate section at the end of the article to reflect modern Loyalists, even if they're small. This will prevent making it seem like they're somehow extinct, or otherwise that Americans are in universal agreement that the Revolution was the right thing to do. I believe the colonies were significantly divided about whether revolution should have even occurred to begin with. The section should include mention of one or two significant Loyalist groups or organizations, along with their justifications (legal justifications, not just sympathies). — ᚹᚩᛞᛖᚾᚻᛖᛚᛗ (ᚷᛖᛋᛈᚱᛖᚳ) 07:36, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Modern loyalists are called "Canadians" and there are many articles about them. The "significant Loyalist groups or organizations" were military regiments and the (United Empire Loyalist of Canada. About 80% or so of the Loyalists remained in the U.S. and renounced loyalty to King George III. Rjensen (talk) 13:18, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Nova Scotia and Florida[edit]

I added a "disputed" tag to the section claiming Nova Scotia had "powerful British forces" in 1775 (and probably most of 1776). This needs citation; my understanding is that most of the British forces in 1775 were in Boston, and authorities in Nova Scotia were scrambling for support whenever there were rumors of organized Patriot aggression (like Benedict Arnold's trek to Quebec and the activities of Jonathan Eddy and John Allan). Outside the interval between the withdrawal from Boston and the conquest of New York, I'm not sure the garrison in Halifax was all that large in 1776. The Battle of Fort Cumberland was fought by forces that were little more than Loyalist militia supplemented by about 200 regulars sent in relief.

On an unrelated note, there is no specific mention of Quebec's use as a base of military operations often dependent on Loyalists that were projected onto the frontier areas of New York and further west. There is also no mention here of the two Florida provinces (East and West) as refuges and bases for Loyalist activity during the war. West Florida-based Loyalists (see e.g. Thomas Brown (loyalist)) in particular caused all sorts of problems for Georgia Patriots, even before the capture of Savannah in 1778. Magic♪piano 14:46, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

1) Halifax was a Navy town, and the Navy was powerful enough. N.S. had a large powerful influx of Scots and other Brits just before 1775, and they strongly supported the Crown, says The Atlantic region to Confederation: a history By Phillip Alfred Buckner, John G. Reid p 168 Rjensen (talk) 20:23, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
I took the liberty of adding a bit more detail to what you put in. I'd still be interested in seeing what the actual strength of the Halifax station was, but your language was a good improvement. Magic♪piano 00:04, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I stirred a little religion into the Nova Scotia mix; when the Brits left Boston in March 1776 they moved several thousand combat troops from there to Halifax.Rjensen (talk) 05:12, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Too cute[edit]

I love the "Psychology" section. It implies that the folks who did not want to be traitors or oath breakers need to be psychoanalyzed. I note that there is no analogous section in the Patriot (American Revolution) article. (Well, there sort of is, but not really. Check it out; it's a hoot.) I don't see much in the section that is salvageable; I recommend that it be deleted whole. Rwflammang (talk) 21:03, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

historians have been very serious about the psychology issue for over 60 years and numerous leading scholars have explored the topic. The section is designed to summarize the large scholarly literature. "traitors" and "oath breakers" are pretty heavy POV that suggest Rwflammang is not trying to be neutral. For the historian the question is how people were embedded in and loyal to their community, and which community (Empire or colony) were they most attached to. The issue of attachment is basically psychological. Granted that for a physicist (Rwflammang has a PhD in physics) emotions and psychology are not at issue but history is not looking for little particles, it is looking for a little understanding of people who lived long ago. Rjensen (talk) 21:33, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
It is impossible to psychoanalyze a person you have never met. And of course, a mass movement cannot be psychoanalyzed. Psychology is important, and it should not be abused. The section under question is called psychology, but it is not psychology. As cute as it is, it does not belong in an encyclopedia article. Rwflammang (talk) 03:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
"It is impossible to psychoanalyze a person you have never met." that seems to be a personal POV belied by the scholarly literature. But understanding motivations of people of the distant past is what professional historians do for a living. It's how we manage to understand the past. But Rwflammang is misreading the methods used by the scholars. They are not talking to live individuals on a couch, they are examining the public behavior of groups of public activists which is entirely different from what a psychologist does with a live patient. The historians conclusions are group characteristics--how did the Patriots and Loyalists differ. Rjensen (talk) 03:27, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I rather agree with Rwflammang. The way this article begins, starting with the heading "Psychology of Loyalism", suggests that Loyalism was some sort of treatable condition. It seems a very odd way to begin the page. ---Asteuartw (talk) 08:48, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
OK I rephrased the section while keeping all the scholarship.Rjensen (talk) 09:13, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Rjensen, that seems like a reasonable compromise. The article overall reads more like a series of bullet points than would be the case in an ideal world; I'm sure there is a great story to tell in there somewhere. But these potentially contentious articles can be hard to improve without stirring up a good deal of trouble. --- Asteuartw (talk) 16:54, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I have added a background section at the front of the page by way of introduction. Hopefully this sets the stage in a slightly more useful way than the bullet points in the "Motivations of Loyalism" section. If anyone disagrees, please discuss here first. ---- Asteuartw (talk) 10:14, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
the new material is well done and useful. Rjensen (talk) 16:51, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Rjensen for the kind words. ---- Asteuartw (talk) 10:02, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

New Book[edit]

New Book[edit]

Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World by Maya Jasanoff is out and gives great insight into the forgotten loyalist, once believed to be nothing more than upper-class royalists that couldn't be further from the truth. Here is the Guardian's review: [2]

  1. ^ Loyalists (Royalists, Tories) in South Carolina
  2. ^