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Primary Sources

The Pausing American Loyalist

The Loyal American Regiment recruiting poster

The Courtmartial of Joshua Barnes

Tarring and Feathering

tarring and feathering
for openly avowed loyalist

More on the Loyalists

Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York
by Richard M. Ketchum

more information

Maryland Loyalists of the Revolution
by Christopher New


a good book about a little-understood group - the loyalists during the American Revolution who remained loyal to the British crown on principle and were willing to fight for their beliefs

Redcoats and Rebels
by Christopher Hibbert


The revolution from the British and loyalist point of view

Even after the Declaration of Independence and the commencement of the war, many Americans continued to think of themselves as British citizens, and remained loyal to the crown. They made up about 16% of the population. About 50,000 of them moved to Canada and became part of the British settlement there. 

In March of 1777, a regiment was formed in New York of loyalists who fought for the British crown. Their commander was a wealthy New York colonist, Beverley Robinson. They were called The Loyal American Regiment, and were involved in the infamous treachery of Benedict Arnold. After the war they were shipped to New Brunswick and given tracts of land with which to start over.

An interesting episode of the LAR (Loyal American Regiment), is the courtmartial of Joshua Barnes. He joined the regiment as a captain in April of 1777. Later he was accused of stealing rebel property, including a pair of leather breeches for himself. Even though many LAR officers testified against him, he was found not guilty of plunder and cowardice in 1779 and went on to serve with Benedict Arnold.

More than three hundred Maryland  men joined the First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists, a Provincial red-coat regiment raised in 1777. sent them to Florida to fight Spain. Like other loyalists, they lost their land and jobs and were finally shipped off to Nova Scotia. (For more information on the Maryland Loyalists, you may wish to read Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution by Christopher New)

Not every loyalist was willing to fight their countrymen. But all faced an uneasy choice; they could leave their homes and move to a new land and start over, or they could stay and either risk their lives or pretend to support the rebels and be safe. The loyalist view is well expressed in The Pausing American Loyalist inspired by Hamlet's dilemma.

Part of These United Colonies: The American War of Independence exhibit

The American Revolution

American Revolution Primary Sources

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