Was Patriot / Tory in the American Revolution Along Religious Lines? If so, why?

R5 plus

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
3,796
Home of Ringing Rocks
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I can't answer your question directly because it's been so long since I read this book. The author talked about religion though and how it affected choices by different groups. It was very interesting.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,768
View attachment 26294

I can't answer your question directly because it's been so long since I read this book. The author talked about religion though and how it affected choices by different groups. It was very interesting.
I got the book and it is excellent. Really gives you a feel for different groups and their views. The author is a political commentator, who wrote The Emerging Republican Majority during the Nixon Administration. He has a BA from Colgate, MA in Geography from Edinburgh and a law degree from Harvard. He certainly isn't a history PhD, but the geography background probably influences his discussion of different groups.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,544
Caribbean
Witherspoon was Presbyterian and he didn't seem to raise to many Tories. I have read in places that it was about 2-3%.

From Wiki
"Nonetheless, Witherspoon transformed a college designed predominantly to train clergymen into a school that would equip the leaders of a new Protestant country. Students who later played prominent roles in the new nation's development included James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau, William Bradford, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge.[15] From among his students came 37 judges (three of whom became justices of the U.S. Supreme Court); 10 Cabinet officers; 12 members of the Continental Congress, 28 U.S. senators, and 49 United States congressmen. "

The correlation between Presbyterian and distrust of England, etc. has been written of: here and elsewhere.
Presbyterian Rebellion
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,768
The 1775 Kevin Phillips book indicates that it was along ethnic and religious lines with Scots, Scotch-Irish, and Germans mostly patriot, partly because they dislike or distrusted English rule. Presbyterians (presumably the almost the same as Scots) and Congregationalist were mostly patriots. It says that in the south (from Virginia southward) the vast majority were Anglican (they hadn't become Baptist yet) and the Anglican churches were mostly low church. In the south, there wasn't much of a religious divide in terms of patriot / loyalist, because there was mostly only one religion. In the north, Anglicans were a minority, were already somewhat elite, were mostly high church, tories in the sense of 18th century English politics, and were mostly loyalist / tories in the American Revolution. From what I have heard, the Episcopal Church is still mostly low church in the south and high church in the northeast, for example in New York City. Generally, in England whigs were more low church or dissenting Protestant and tories were more high church or closet Roman Catholics. Loyalists were called tories, so there was alignment along political party, religious, and ethnic lines. Some of the alignment was similar to that of the English Civil War. I agree that Virginia and South Carolina were mostly patriot and their patriot leaders were mostly of English descent and Anglican planters.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,768
My interpretation is that Virginia and southward the Anglican Church was strongly established. It was funded by tax money and it was difficult to go to any other church in most areas. The American Revolution and the Great Awakening resulted in the south changing from almost all Anglican to almost all Baptist and Methodist.

The Anglicans in the north being high church Tories meant they were close to Jacobites and were not happy with the Glorious Revolution. That is what the term Tory meant in England. About 25% of the House of Commons was Tory, almost all from rural areas elected by landowners. It was used as a pejorative for loyalists. It also sounds like they were sort of elite, like the Episcopal Church now.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,768
To continue my own thread, my understanding is that Tories were originally royalists in the English Civil War and supporters and the Catholic James II becoming king. Under Queen Anne, they supported power for the monarch and of the Church of England in politics, and opposed increased power for the House of Commons.

The two parties existed in the context of a limited franchise with pocket boroughs and so on, and a hereditary upper house. The Tories in the House of Commons were from rural areas, elected by land owners.

It seems natural that Tories in the American colonies would mostly become loyalists, hence the term being used for loyalists. If most of the Anglicans in the north were high church Tories and loyalists, that implies they favored a Catholic-like religious service and so on, and maybe supported the Jacobite Catholic "legitimate" claimants to the British throne.

Apparently many highland Scots, who may have been Catholics and Jacobites, were loyalists. It seems odd that Jacobites would be loyalists, but it makes sense in terms of the political party and religious alignment and the patriot cause favoring a republican form of government and being supported by Calvinists.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,811
Las Vegas, NV USA
Some of the leaders of the AWOI were Deists. This was a basic belief in God without a commitment to Scripture or specific church teachings. Jefferson and Franklin were in this category as likely were Sam and John Adams. Washington was silent on this issue but is thought to have been a Deist too.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,768
Some of the leaders of the AWOI were Deists. This was a basic belief in God without a commitment to Scripture or specific church teachings. Jefferson and Franklin were in this category as likely were Sam and John Adams. Washington was silent on this issue but is thought to have been a Deist too.
All those you mentioned were brought up Anglican or Congregationalist, but were not conventionally religious, and maybe influenced by Enlightenment views of religion. I think John Adams became Unitarian, like most of the Boston elite. This is not inconsistent with the Revolution being partly against the established Anglican Church.

The loyalists who went to Canada or Bermuda,mostly attended Anglican churches there, and those were mostly the churches available in those locations. I am not sure if most of them were strongly religious. The Anglican / Episcopal Church practices the forms of Christianity. The way it is today, the Episcopal church tends to be more conventionally Christian than the Unitarian, but not as serious about religion as the Baptists or Catholics.