Loyalist Ephemera, NYPL

In North America, the term loyalist characterised colonists who rejected the American Revolution in favour of remaining within the British Empire.

In North America, the term loyalist characterised colonists who rejected the American Revolution in favour of remaining within the British Empire. American loyalists included royal officials, Anglican clergymen, wealthy merchants with ties to London, demobilised British soldiers, and recent arrivals (especially from Scotland), as well as many ordinary colonists who were conservative by nature and/or felt that the protection of Britain was needed. Colonists with loyalist sympathies accounted for an estimated 15% to 20% of the white colonial population of the day, compared with those described as "Patriots", who accounted for about 40-50% of the population. This high level of political polarisation leads historians to argue that the American Revolution was as much a civil war as it was a war of independence from the British Crown.