In Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, what is the difference between Whigs and Tories?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The setting for Esther Forbes's young adult novel Johnny Tremain is Boston at the onset of the Revolutionary War. As a silversmith apprentice, Johnny is not particularly interested in politics; in fact, he is not particularly interested in anything but himself. After his injury, he is forced to fond a new way to make a living, and he ends up delivering newspapers for the Boston Observer.

This job leads to more opportunities, and soon Johnny is delivering letters and messages for some of the most influential people in the political arena. He associates himself with the Whigs, who are tired of English oppression and believe that taxation without representation is a form of tyranny. He is willing to fight for the cause in which he believes.

“We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skill...we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up.” 

The other political party, the Tories, remain loyal to England and believe that the relationship between the two countries will mend over time. In general terms, the people Johnny most dislikes are those who refuse to take any kind of a stand, trying to appease everyone while standing for nothing--or worse, those who are turncoats and traitors. 

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