In the years prior to the American Revolution there were many different perspectives on whether the colonies should fight for their independence, or remain loyal to England and attempt to repair their relationship. The loyalists, who were mostly royal governors and officials in the colonies, believed that the talk of separation from Britain was a waste of time as it seemed impossible at the time. They also believed that the colonies still owed Britain a great debt due to their support in helping win the French and Indian War.
Most loyalists believed that the colonies could not survive on their own as they depended just as much, if not more, on Great Britain as they did the colonies. The opposing perspective came from the group of people know as the patriots, who supported colonial independence from England. Many believed strongly in this fight for liberty and went to great measures to express their beliefs and have their voices heard.
These people disagreed with the taxes being instilled on the colonies without proper representation, and believed that Parliament and the King were unfit to rule the colonies as such a great distance separated each country and their governments. Both sides had their arguments as to why fighting for independence or remaining loyal to Britain was the right choice, and using these arguments, attracted many people to join each of their sides.
Plain Truth was an article written by James Chalmers in 1776 which was essentially an angry response to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense that was published shortly before. In seventy pages, Chalmers wrote anything he could think of to tear down Common Sense. His main fault was in his writing, as it was directed at the more educated men and women, who at the time were mostly loyalists already, unlike Common Sense which was written very simply in order to be read and understood by even the uneducated.
His main opposition to Paine were his views on democracy. Paine had a strong desire for democracy, unlike many of the other Patriots that Chalmers disagreed with wholeheartedly. He refers to the short-lived democracies of Greece and Rome, comparing them to what he believes will be the outcome of a future American democracy, resulting in war and ruins. He briefly reminds the colonists of their debt to England due to their support in the French and Indian War, but as this is clear to most colonists, a strong argument is unnecessary.
Chalmers’ biggest loyalist argument is that the colonists just simply could not win a war against Britain alone, which was very true. He saw it illogical for Spain or France to assist the colonists in their fight for independence in fear of directing ideas of revolution to their own royal colonies. Although many of the ideas expressed in Plain Truth are true, his lack of simple writing and invalid arguments could not have attracted nearly as many supporters as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. (New, Christopher)
“Of the Natural Rights of Colonists” describes the views of African Americans on the American Revolution and the patriots’ desire for independence. In this piece of writing, the African Americans compare the relationship between Great Britain and the colonies to the relationship between a slave and his or her master. They emphasize that every person, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they came from, is born with liberty and their own God-given rights.
Just as a slave has those rights ripped away from them by their master, they believe that the colonists are being stripped of their rights by England as well. Obviously being against slavery or anything similar, the African Americans who contributed to this piece of writing are supporters of the fight for independence and patriots. Comparing the colonies to slavery really emphasizes that they believe they are being treated unfairly and deserve the rights they were born with.
This piece of writing would have attracted many patriot supporters, as its arguments were truthful and relevant. (“Of the Natural Rights of the Colonists”) Patrick Henry, in his piece Liberty or Death, describes all of the things the colonies have done to try and peacefully repair their relationship with Great Britain, and how each one was ignored. He explains how war is not something they want, but after nothing else has worked, it seems to be the only possible solution.
After countless protests, petitions and even pleading before the King, all had been ignored. Henry enthusiastically describes the need for war, as they will no sooner give up their liberty willingly than they will die. It is clear that Patrick Henry is a strong supporter of the fight for independence from Greta Britain and a strong patriot leader as well. This piece, describing England’s refusal to compromise with the colonists pleading requests surely brought upon many patriot supporters who agreed that war was the only option left. (Henry, Patrick)
Each of these views, both loyalists and patriots has a different argument as to why the colonies should either attempt to repair their relationship with England, or fight for independence. The patriots felt that England, by controlling them, was taking away the rights that they were born with, just as masters strip slaves of their rights. They also believed that they had no other option at this point, as England was not being the least bit cooperative and had ignored all protests and pleading prior.
Loyalists believed that the fight for independence would essentially end in unnecessary deaths on both parts, as they believed it was impossible for the colonists to win against the English. They were skeptical of the government that American independence would produce, as past democracies in history had all ended in ruins. Each side has many arguments that divided the colonists based on their beliefs. It is clear that each side has attracted many supporters, but in the end, the Patriots turned out superior.
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