At the time, revolutionaries were called 'Patriots', 'Whigs', 'Congress-men', or 'Americans'. They included a full range of social and economic classes, but a unanimity regarding the need to defend the rights of Americans. After the war, Patriots such as George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay were deeply devoted to republicanism while also eager to build a rich and powerful nation, while Patriots such as Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson represented democratic impulses and the agrarian plantation element that wanted a localized society with greater political equality.
The word "patriot" refers to a person in the colonies who sided with the American Revolution. Calling the revolutionaries "patriots" is a long-standing historical convention, which began prior to the war. For example, the term “Patriot” was in use by American colonists prior to the war during the 1760s, referring to the American Patriot Party. Members of the American Patriot Party also called themselves Whigs after 1768, identifying with members of the British Whig Party, i.e., Radical Whigs and Patriot Whigs, who favored similar colonial policies.
The terminology "Patriot party" was used in Virginia and Massachusetts early in colonial history during the 1600’s, with regard to groups asserting colonial rights and resistance to the King. A Loyalist history published in Canada describes the colonial Patriot Party in 1683 in Massachusetts: “The announcement of this decisive act [writ of quo warranto] on the part of the King produced sensation throughout the colony, and gave rise to the question, “What shall Massachusetts do?” One part of the colony advocated submission; another party advocated resistance. The former were called the “Moderate party,” the latter the “Patriot party” – the commencement of the two parties which were afterwards known as United Empire Loyalists and Revolutionists.” Similarly, the "Patriot...
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