Honors Social Studies
17 November 2014
Why were the loyalists reluctant to John the American Revolution?
Bang! It was the shot heard around the world that officially started the American Revolutionary War in 1776. Many may say that the fighting of the war started the American Revolution, but it unofficially started when Britain began to do things, such as impose taxes, that made the colonists angry. These colonists were referred to as the patriots. Not all of the colonists, however, were angry at Britain; they wanted to take sides with Britain. The patriots called these people the tories, but they called themselves the loyalists. The loyalists were reluctant to join the American Revolution because they were not affected by the British taxes, they received protection from Britain, and the patriots in the lowcountry of South Carolina did not help the backcountry loyalists form law and order. Unlike the lowcountry elite plantation owners, the backcountry were subsistence farmers. James Weber wrote in The Rice King’s Revolt: The Revolutionary Experience in South Carolina 1774-1776, “… Moreover, most in the backcountry were subsistence farmers, and they did not produce enough surplus crops to be affected by the British taxes.” Weber was stating that because the backcountry settlers were, for the most part, subsistence farmers, and only grew enough of a harvest to feed their families which was not enough of a surplus to be sold for a profit. Since the backcountry settlers were subsistence farmers, “… the taxes levied by Parliament had little to no economic effect in the backcountry” (Weber 23). The British Parliament imposed taxes on crops and other items and goods. The backcountry produced such a small amount of a crop that the tax was minimal, and did not have much or did not at all have an economic effect on them. The patriots, on the other hand, had to pay many taxes because of their plantations in the lowcountry. Therefore, the patriots were angered by the taxes and protested them by boycotts and tea parties. The loyalists did not join in any protests because they were not economically effected by the taxes and the patriots were going against Britain. The British provided protection for the colonists. In the backcountry, there were many attacks from the Cherokee that started in 1760 after they were urged to attack by the French (Edgar Xii-B). British troops, along with loyalist troops, fought the Cherokee during the Cherokee War and finally defeated them. “In 1766 and 1767, outlaws and bandits terrorized the law-abiding residents of the backcountry,” (Edgar Xii-C). The backcountry was lacking law and order, and British troops helped place consequences on and fought outlaws and bandits. Later, as tensions increased between backcountry loyalists and lowcountry patriots, fights began to breakout. British troops continued to protect the loyalists, who were loyal to Britain, along side loyalist troops as they fought against the patriots during these fights. The patriots in the lowcountry city of Charleston ignored appeals from loyalist backcountry leaders who requested more law enforcers and law and order developments. The outlaws and bandits were coercing the backcountry. “No one, regardless of age or gender, was safe from their depredations,” (Edgar Xii-C). They attacked men, women, teenagers, children, senior citizens, and any other kind of person of different ages and of both genders. “Our Large Stocks of Cattlel are either stolen or destroy’d…. Houses have been burned…. Stores have been broken open and rifled…. and the inhabitants wantonly tortured...” wrote Richard J. Hooker (Hooker 214-215) who explained their desecrations and illegal attacks. Since the lowcountry government would not help form more law and order, as a last resort, some backcountry leaders formed a vigilante movement. They hoped to regulate their society and form more law in order; they called themselves the Regulators (Edgar Xii-C). This movement became known as the Regulator Movement. As a result, courts were built throughout the backcountry and more were built all over South Carolina because of their act of trying to form more law and order. In conclusion, the loyalists relied on Britain’s protection, they had little to no economic downfall from British taxes, and they lacked law and order in their backcountry. Their reluctance to join the American Revolution was because of this. In the end, the loyalists and Britain became allies and fought against the patriots who wanted independence from Britain. Their fighting led to war which became known as the American Revolutionary War which led to the colonies becoming independent from Britain due to the loyalists and Britain losing.