A great deal of contention existed between Patriots and Loyalists before, during, and after the Revolutionary War. Who were the Loyalists? How were they treated by the Patriots? What happened to them after the colonists won the war?

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Loyalists were exactly what their title indicates: colonists who were loyal to the British Crown and did not align with the revolution. As you can imagine, their views were not at all appreciated by the Patriots. Loyalists were often subjected to public humiliation and even violence. One of the most famous methods used against Loyalists was "tar and feathering." A Loyalist would be stripped of his clothing, splashed with hot tar, covered in feathers, and made to parade around. Their properties were also vandalized, looted, and even burned. Furthermore, the strife between Patriots and Loyalists split families. Benjamin Franklin's son, for example, was a staunch Loyalist even though his father was one of the key figures of the revolution.

Even before the revolution came to a close, Loyalists began fleeing their homes to escape the persecution and violence dealt by the Patriots. After the American Revolution, a significant number of Loyalists left. Branded as traitors, thousands left for Canada and Great Britain, and because they were mostly wealthy, educated, and older, their sudden departures altered American social fabric. Many of the wealthier Loyalists returned to Britain, and the others went to Canada and actually became a significant part in the development of Canadian society.

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