Colonists and Americans
From the end of the French and Indian War, there was a sense of unity brewing among the colonies. The colonies had to unite in order to overcome a common foe as expressed in the Albany Plan of Union that called a combined effort of defense throughout the colonies. However, even after the French and Indian War the colonies united once again to face an opponent that could not physically be shot down (A). The tremendous hole that was left in the pocketbooks of Britain?s be treasury because of the French and Indian wars as well as previous wars caused a change in the economic policy for the colonies in the form of taxing and the enforcement of pre-existing laws. The collective taxing once again pitted the colonists against a common enemy. By the eve of the Revolution, the colonies knew what they were doing, and had defined their identity as no longer British or Englishmen but as Americans.
Even by 1750, the colonists were already a distinct breed of people. Most were of mixed European background. Whether the colonists defined themselves as Americans at this point does not matter. They were a separate type of people who could be found in no other country (H). Yet, this alone would not be strong enough to define them as Americans just yet.
The French and Indian War, though, was a major point in colonial unity. After the French and Indian War, colonists began to think of themselves as Americans rather than British or English. The heavy debt caused by the French and Indian War and other wars left the British only one option: to tax the colonies. To defeat this, the colonies had to unite. For one colony or one town acting alone would have little or no effect and would result only in defeat and even harsher regulations. After the Stamp act was defeated, the colonies fully realized that their only chance of withstanding British attempts to tax them was to come together.
Despite the collective boycotts of all colonies on British goods, the first real test of the colonial unity came when the Townshend acts were declared. In addition to placing new taxes on tea, glass and paper, it also issued writs of assistance (general licenses to search property). More importantly, however, was the suspension of New York?s assembly for colonial defiance of the Quartering acts. The colonies did not protest the taxes under the Townshend program because they were indirect taxes paid by merchants, but they did stand up for the closing of the colonial assembly of New York. The suspension of the colonial assembly of New York had no direct influence on the other colonies, but they showed their unity by still rising up against the Townshend program.
Parliament itself was beginning to realize the differences between England and the colonies. Edmund Burke realized that America hardly resembled the towns of England, and that the nature of the colonies forbid them from being blended into the empire of England (B). England could not let the colonies go after they had fought so many wars to gain them, and they could not just not tax them, thus, making revolution inevitable, but not yet fully seen by both sides.
The eve of the revolution marked a distinct integration of the colonies. All North America was now firmly united to ?defend their liberties against every power on Earth that may attempt to take them away? (C). Those in the colonies were either for the colonies? actions, or against it. They were united together as patriots or loyalists (D). The patriots were willing to become self-sufficient. They were willing to donate large amounts of food and goods to other colonies (G).
Before the fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord on May 19th, 1775, the colonies were indeed ready to become a self-sufficient body. They had defined themselves as Americans. While they may have been somewhat apprehensive (E) about the conflicts at first, they quickly began to thrust full steam at the British threat. Before the eve of revolution, the colonies had already began to assert themselves as Americans and define their unity.