Ep. 16: Loyalists in Early America

The Coming of the LoyalistsIn this month’s episode, Ken Owen, Michael Hattem, and Christopher Minty discuss issues relating to loyalists and the American Revolution, including how to define a loyalist and/or loyalism, the impact of loyalists on the Revolutionary War and the impact of the war on loyalists, and the fate of loyalists in the new post-revolutionary world.


What happens when you stake your life, livelihood, and family to a cause that fails? What happens when you come out on the losing side of the most important event of your lifetime? What happens when you’re forced to leave the place of your birth to live out the rest of your life starting from scratch in a foreign land? In recent years, historical scholarship on loyalist studies has exploded. Sometimes referred to as the “new Loyalism,” recent books by Maya Jasanoff, Ruma Chopra, and Judith van Buskirk have focused on the experiences of loyalists in New York City during the war and the subsequent global expatriation of the “loyalist diaspora.” Their work built on a number of important books from the 1970s and 1980s exploring individual loyalists and loyalist ideology. Nevertheless, loyalists remain a topic in the shadows for most general readers of the American Revolution.


  • Who were the loyalists?
  • What made someone a “loyalist?”
  • How do historians define “loyalist?”
  • Was there such a thing as “loyalism” or a loyalist ideology?
  • What impact did loyalists have on the War for Independence?
  • What impact did the war have on loyalists?
  • What happened to the loyalists after the Revolution was over?


Christopher F. Minty is a Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and Eugene Lang College at The New School for Liberal Arts. He received his PhD from the University of Stirling. His dissertation focused on loyalists in New York City and his current book project examines the role of popular partisanship and how it affected New Yorkers’ allegiances on the eve of the American Revolution. He is also working on an edited collection of documents relating to Loyalists in New York, 1775-1785.


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Bailyn, Bernard. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.

Bannister, Jerry and Liam Riordan, eds. The Loyal Atlantic: Remaking the British Atlantic in the Revolutionary Era. Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2012.

Benton, William A. Whig-Loyalism: An Aspect of Political Ideology in the American Revolutionary Era. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1969.

Blackstock, Allan and Frank O’Gorman,eds. Loyalism and the Formation of the British World, 1775-1914. Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2014.

Brown, Wallace. The King’s Friends: The Composition and Motives of the American Loyalist Claimants. Providence: Brown University Press, 1965.

Calhoon, Robert M. The Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760–1781. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.

Chopra, Ruma. Choosing Sides: Loyalists in Revolutionary America. Plymouth: Rowan & Littlefield, 2013.

––––––. Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City During the Revolution. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.

Ferling, John. The Loyalist Mind: Joseph Galloway and the American Revolution. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1977.

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Gilbert, Alan. Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2012.

Hull, N. E. H., Peter C. Hoffer, and Steven Allen. “Choosing Sides: A Quantitative Study of the Personality Determinants of Loyalist and Revolutionary Political Affiliation in New York.” Journal of American History 65, no. 2 (1978): 344–366.

Jasanoff, Maya. Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

––––––. “The Other Side of Revolution: Loyalists in the British Empire.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series 65 (2008): 205–232.

Kim, Sung Bok. “The Limits of Politicization in the American Revolution: The Experience of Westchester County, New York.” Journal of American History 80, no. 3 (1993): 868–889.

Larkin, Edward. “What is a Loyalist?Common-Place 8, no. 1 (2007).

Launitz-Schürer, Leopold S. Loyal Whigs and Revolutionaries: The Making of the Revolution in New York, 1765-1776. New York: New York University Press, 1980.

Norton, Mary Beth. “Eighteenth-Century Women in Peace and War: The Case of the Loyalists.” The William and Mary Quarterly 33, no. 3 (1976): 386–409.

––––––. The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1972.

––––––. “The Fate of Some Black Loyalists of the American Revolution.” The Journal of Negro History 58, no. 4 (1973): 402–426.

Palmer, Gregory. A Bibliography of Loyalist Source Material in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. London: Meckler, in association with the American Antiquarian Society, 1982.

––––––. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists in the American Revolution. Westport: Meckler, 1984.

Potter-MacKinnon, Janice. The Liberty We Seek: Loyalist Ideology in Colonial New York and Massachusetts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.

Ranlet, Philip. “How Many Loyalists Left the United States?The Historian 76, no. 2 (2014): 278–307.

––––––. The New York Loyalists. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.

Skemp, Shelia L. William Franklin: Son of a Patriot, Servant of a King. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Upton, L. F. S. The Loyal Whig: William Smith of New York and Quebec. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.

Van Buskirk, Judith L. Generous Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

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