Figures on public opinion in the Revolution are obviously mere guesswork, but John Adams estimated that one third of the colonials were Loyalists; probably another third were neutral, apathetic, or opportunistic. The Loyalists were strongest in the far southern colonies?Georgia and the Carolinas?and in the Middle Atlantic colonies, especially New York and Pennsylvania. In those places particularly the fighting became bitter civil war with raids and reprisals. The Revolutionaries deeply hated the leaders of the Loyalist armed bands, such as Thomas Browne, Edmund Fanning, and John Butler.
Even before warfare began many Loyalists were seeking refuge in British-held lands. Feeling against them, in addition to natural cupidity, led the patriots to enact harsh penal laws against the Loyalists and to confiscate many of their estates. The matter of restoring these properties to their owners was discussed in negotiations for the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the treaty provided that Congress should urge the states to make restitution, but little was done, and there were stray lawsuits concerning particular properties for many years. A great many of the dispossessed Loyalists settled in the Maritime provs. of Canada, in the Bahamas, in other parts of the West Indies, and in England.
See W. H. Nelson, The American Tory (1961, repr. 1964); W. Brown, The Good Americans: Loyalists in the American Revolution (1969); G. N. D. Evans, ed., Allegiance in America: The Case of the Loyalists (1969); M. Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (2011); studies of Loyalism in individual provinces by A. C. Flick (1901, repr. 1970; New York), O. G. Hammond (1917; New Hampshire), I. S. Harrell (1926, repr. 1965; Virginia), E. A. Jones (1927, New Jersey; 1930, Massachusetts), R. O. Demond (1940, repr. 1964; North Carolina), and H. B. Hancock (1940; Delaware).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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