The Friends of Government: Loyalism, Ideology and Politics in Revolutionary Massachusetts, 1765-1776



Nicolson C (1988) The Friends of Government: Loyalism, Ideology and Politics in Revolutionary Massachusetts, 1765-1776. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Edinburgh.

This thesis is intended to contribute you our understanding of the problem of why the Loyalists were unable to prevent the American Revolution. The Loyalists were particularly weak in Massachusetts, and this thesis continues and extends the investigations of historians by studying the Loyalism, ideology and political behaviour of the conservatives and moderates of Massachusetts who opposed the Whig protest movement, 1765-1776, many of whom became Loyalists. They are known collectively as the "friends of government"-_a term used by contemporaries. The ideology of the friends of government, their political behaviour in the General Court (the assembly) and town meetings, and their political relationships with the royal governors are examined in thirteen chapters. In addition, a prosopographical survey of 727 friends of government supplements the study of ideology and politics as behavioural determinants (determinants: place of birth; residence; age; education; religion; occupation; tax assessment; membership of quasi-political voluntary associations; subscription to various political protests; proscription as a "Tory" by the Whigs; acts of Loyalty; proscription as a Loyalist by the Patriot authorities and state government; and the compilation of the dates of political awareness and political activity for or against the provincial government). The failure of the Loyalists is traced to the ideological and political conflicts of the 1760s and early 1770s when the friends of government were unable to form durable anti-Whig political coalitions and overturn the political dominance of the radical-led Whig party. Consequently, in 1775-1776, few colonists (and just over half the number of friends of government) were prepared to declare their allegiance and Loyalty to Great Britain. A popular-based Loyalist movement never emerged in Massachusetts because of the failure of the friends of government to create a popular anti-Whig movement, 1765-1776.

American Loyalists; American Revolution; Massachusetts; colonial America; origins of the Revolution; friends of government; Whigs; American Revolutionaries

Available in 8 microfiches at Harvard University Library.|library/m/aleph|011600261. Also available for download from the British Library EThOS service:

InstitutionUniversity of Edinburgh
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Qualification levelDoctoral
Publication date31/12/1988

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Dr Colin Nicolson
Dr Colin Nicolson

Senior Lecturer, History