Student Activities

Loyalists in American Revolution

Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
State Standards:
SC 3-3.2, 8-2.4, 8-3.1
NC 3.H.2.2, 8.C.1.2

John Adams wrote that approximately one-third of the American population supported the move for independence (Patriots), one-third of the population supported the king (Loyalists), and one-third supported neither side (neutral).


1) define the terms Loyalist/Tory and Patriot;
 2) explain reasons why people chose their respective sides;
 3) define a civil war and explain why the American Revolution was a civil war.


It is hard to say exactly how many colonists were Loyalists; often they kept their loyalty a secret. Their numbers also varied by location. There were many in New York, so many in Pennsylvania that an officer described it as "enemies' country," in South Carolina there were more Loyalists, and in Georgia, there were so many Loyalists that the Georgians considered leaving the revolution. In The Price of Loyalty, the backcountry of Carolina is called "The Promised Land of Tories." Two major Loyalist battles fought in the Carolinas were Moore's Creek Bridge and Kings Mountain.

There were many reasons for people to remain loyal to the government of King George. Some of the Loyalists expected to be rewarded at the end of the war. Some wanted to protect their vast amounts of property. Many were professionals such as clergymen (who were dependent on the Church of England for their livelihood), lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Some Loyalists were servants or slaves. They felt that the way to freedom was not through American independence. In "The Price of Loyalty," there are accounts of a kidnapped servant trying to get back to England and of a slave who wanted to remain with the British. Unfortunately, many of the slaves who were promised freedom by the British were sold into slavery in the West Indies.



Last updated: March 8, 2019