We all know the Declaration of Independence, and we all probably view it as a great document: after all, it’s how Americans declared their freedom from the British. We have an idea of how the Patriots might have viewed it, but have we ever really thought about how the Loyalists might have viewed it? (Aside from, you know, being generally upset about it). Let’s take a brief look at both perspectives.)
For an additional look at how differently the Patriots and Loyalists thought (and outside of a Declaration of Independence standpoint), I would recommend listening to “Farmer Refuted” from Hamilton.
The Loyalist Perspective:
A loyalist is defined as a colonist of the American revolutionary period who supported the British cause. Most of the colonists of that time period kind of had an iffy relationship with the British. This was due to things such as the murder/mistreatment of colonists by British soldiers and taxation without representation. The colonists had 27 total complaints, all of which were documented in the Declaration of Independence.
Initially, the Loyalists would’ve viewed the Declaration of Independence as blasphemous. They would’ve been offended as well, due to the lengthy list of complaints the colonists had. Even if they didn’t agree with every single thing the British did, they wouldn’t have openly complained about it. They respected the British rule, and they didn’t really have any reason not to respect them. They also might’ve agreed with the statement that all men are created equal…they just would’ve thought that they’re already equal under the British rule.
After the Declaration of Independence, the Loyalists might’ve anticipated an uproar for sure. Some of them might’ve anticipated protests, and some might’ve anticipated war.
However, I don’t think anyone anticipated their precious Britain losing control over the colonies.
The Patriot Perspective:
Patriots are defined as colonists who rebelled against the British rule. The Patriots are the colonists I described above, the ones that had an iffy relationship with the British. They didn’t like all the ridiculous taxes and acts the British imposed on them. They didn’t like the ways that the British soldiers had treated the colonists. They are the ones responsible for the Declaration of Independence.
A Patriot would’ve viewed the Declaration of Independence as empowering. It probably would’ve felt great to tell King George off, and in a classy way. (Think about it: they could’ve just said “Hey, we hate you and we don’t want to be a part of your country” and they could’ve been really childish about it. Instead, they went the classy route and laid out all their complaints and principles. But I’m going on a bit of a tangent here.) They probably would’ve thought it was great that King George finally knew how they’d felt under his rule, and they would’ve felt liberated because of it.
After the Declaration of Independence, the Patriots had to have known that this wasn’t going to pass quietly. They had to have known that there would’ve been a lot of protests, especially from the Loyalist side. They might’ve even anticipated a war.
And, since I’m assuming they were bound to be more than just a little cocky after the Declaration of Independence, they probably thought that if there was a war, they would win.