Loyalist and Patriots both argued that they sought to uphold the rule of law. How could that have been true?Loyalist and Patriots both argued that they sought to uphold the rule of law. How could...

Loyalist and Patriots both argued that they sought to uphold the rule of law. How could that have been true?

Loyalist and Patriots both argued that they sought to uphold the rule of law. How could that have been true?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A loyalist would believe the rule of law is loyalty to the king, and that anyone who fought against that idea is, simply and truly, a traitor.  In modern America we tend to think of the rule of law as being interchangeable with "justice" or "equality".  We err, that is, on the side of the individual and his/her rights.  A loyalist didn't/couldn't see things from that perspective.  The system of monarchy had been in place for centuries, and questioning it in such a manner as the patriots did was simply inconceivable to a loyalist.

The patriot, on the other hand, believed that even his rights under English law had been taken away.  He believed that he had a right to actual representation in Parliament, just as every other citizen of England did in the mother country.  Upholding the rule of law, then, meant holding the government and the King accountable to the fundamental rights a patriot believed every white male was entitled to.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The perception of each became critical to each side's justification.  For the Loyalists, there was a belief that the colonists "belonged" to England and that the "parent nation" was owed loyalty and since this was embedded through the idea of England controlling the colonies, the Loyalists were in the belief that they were following the word of established law.  On the other hand, the Patriots believed that their actions were justified by a higher sense of moral and political law that stressed that centralized authority cannot usurp a natural state of rights and entitlements that are owed to all human beings.  In this light, the Patriots believed that their law which helped to justify their actions were of a higher moral and political code that guided their actions.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It pretty much depends on how you define the rule of law.

The Loyalists would have said that they were following the actual laws.  They were doing what the legal authorities said they should do.  This surely is one way to define rule of law.

The Patriots would have said that they were following the unwritten laws of Britain.  They were following the (unwritten) British constitution that gave all people certain rights.  So they would have said the laws they were following were above the laws that the Loyalists were following.

So one side was following the actual laws laid out by Parliament while the other, it said, was following the "higher" laws of the unwritten constitution.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Both the Loyalists and Patritots did feel that they were upholding the rule of law, but they were talking about different laws. The Loyalists believed that the King and England were legally ion charge of the colonies. The Patriots believed the colonies should rule themselves.
lit24 | Student

The Loyalists were the group of American colonists  who remained loyal to the King of England  during the War of American Independence.  They were essentially conservative in their outlook and better established, and resisted change. They thought opposition  to the King of England--the legitimate government--was morally wrong. They were alienated when the Patriots' resorted to violence, such as burning houses. They wanted to take a middle-of-the road position and were enraged  when forced by the Patriots to declare their opposition. They had a long-standing sentimental attachment to Britain (often with business and family links). They were suspicious of the patriots and their methods and afraid of anarchy or tyranny that might come from mob rule.

The Patriots were the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies  who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. Their attitude and moral perspective was exactly the opposite of the loyalists. They were progressive and wanted change and complete freedom from the rule of the British King.

Both of them held strong opinions as to their moral positions and justified their opinions. Both of them adamantly believed that their position was the right one.Both of them were able to do so because the situation was amenable to both their interpretations of the law. The final adjudicator was history, because in history there is only one law:


This law proved that the Patriots were "right" and thus was born the United States of America.