Edward Larkin

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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Loyalism was a dominant theme of the American Revolution. Most loyalists were ordinary Americans who wished to remain connected to the British Empire. Over the past 200 years, the numbers of loyalists have been estimated from roughly 20 percent of the population of the colonies up to 33 percent. The exact number of loyalists could not be determined either because many loyalists hid their political allegiances, or their allegiances were too shifting and mutable to count. What is clear is that many loyalists chose to remain in the newly independent United States and weather the conflict. A nationalist narrative of the American Revolution has successfully alienated and excluded loyalists, but it was later displaced by a global narrative of empire and circumatlantic cultural and economic flows. This new circumatlantic perspective led to the dissociation of the geographic space of British North America with a particular identity. In terms of political ideals, loyalists seem to be no different to patriots, with both camps claiming the inheritance of the rights of Englishmen and British political thought.

Keywords: American Revolution; loyalists; loyalism; British Empire; United States; North America; geographic space; identity; patriots

Article.  10006 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; Military History

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