School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 1. Analyze the causes of the American Revolution

Objective b. Examine the viewpoints of Patriots and Loyalists regarding British colonial policy after the Seven Years' War


During the American Revolution and the years immediately preceding it, about two-fifths of the American population counted themselves as Patriots, one-fifth was Loyalists, and another two-fifths tried to remain neutral. The vast majority of colonists — even future Loyalists — supported colonial resistance to British policies in the years just after the Seven Years' War. They objected to taxation without representation and wanted some sort of constitutional reform. During the late 1760s and early 1770s, however, the resistance became more radical, and colonists' loyalties divided.

Patriots regarded the British policies of the 1760s and early 1770s as attempts to deprive them of their liberties as Englishmen. For decades Great Britain had interfered very little with the colonies' economic and political affairs, and patriots resented Parliament's sudden heavy-handed interference. Each new British tax or act only compounded Patriots' indignation. Still, even while they demanded their liberty, they continued to think of themselves as Englishmen. Support for independence grew very gradually, and only after war had already begun. Included among the Patriots were those groups who had dominated colonial American life, such as yeoman farmers, Protestants, Chesapeake gentry, merchants dealing mostly with American goods, artisans, and elected officials. United by their resistance to British domination, these groups differed in their goals and the type and degree of change they sought.

Loyalists objected to the increasing violence of Patriot protests, wanted to preserve and act within legally constituted colonial governments, and feared the social upheaval that might result from a break with Great Britain. Despite their dissatisfaction with British policy, they rejected the push for American independence as reckless and unlawful. They did not believe that unfair taxes and regulations justified rebellion. These Loyalists were often British-appointed government officials, merchants who traded within the British Empire, Anglican clergy, Scots, tenant farmers, and backcountry Southerners. In many cases, Loyalists were wealthy individuals who stood to lose a great deal from the severing of the connection to Great Britain. For many others, their loyalty was less the result of their affinity for Great Britain than because they were enemies of groups who sided with the Patriots. For example, many tenant farmers remained loyal simply because their landowners, with whom they were at odds, were Patriots. Loyalists were too few in number to pose much of an obstacle to the Patriot cause, especially as large numbers of them began fleeing to Canada once war erupted.

Resources for Objective 5.C.1.b: