What Are the Differences Between Patriots and Loyalists?

During the American Revolutionary War, patriots were those who wanted to separate the colonies from Great Britain, while loyalists were those who believed the colonies were better off as part of Britain. As the patriots gained strength during the war, life became increasingly uncomfortable for loyalists.

Loyalists, both before and during the war, sometimes gave the British information about patriots. They particularly divulged information about more outspoken or violent groups, such as the Sons of Liberty, who initiated the Boston Tea Party. For this reason, patriots did not trust loyalists at all. Radical patriots sometimes attacked or robbed loyalists. Some loyalists formed their own militias to fight on Britain’s side, such as the Royal American Regiment. During and after the war, over 80,000 loyalists left the colonies entirely, even though the new American government wanted them to stay.