Prelude To A Revolution: Beginnings Of American Unity

1195 words - 5 pages

When Europeans began populating the continent of North America in the early sixteen hundreds, they probably had no idea that what they had begun would evolve into a bustling society with a complex economy and a massive population. The colonies were an important asset to the English crown, as its valuable resources boosted the economy, and inhibited the economic and territorial growth of its rivals. An analysis of the culture, trade patterns, infrastructure, governments, and economies of the individual colonies in the late 17th century will reveal that they are made of several distinct societies. However, by the mid 18th century, the colonies are beginning to show signs of unity that will eventually push them towards a revolt against their English lords. "As the colonies grew closer together, they began to drift away from Great Britain"(wikipedia).A look at the American colonies in the mid 1700s will reveal a vast mosaic of localized cultures. Indeed, the rituals, beliefs, and etiquette were far from uniform. There were two main barriers that separated the cultures of the colonists. The first exists in almost all societies. It is the difference between high culture and the culture of the middle and lower classes. The high culture by the 1750s was almost the same throughout the colonies. This can be attributed to the fact the upper class attempted to mimic the culture of their counterparts in Europe. The second, and perhaps largest barrier that separated the cultures of the colonies was geography. Because the North American colonies were such a vast land, it was impossible for the residents to create a common culture in such a short period of time. Another important factor in the lack of convergence of American culture is that all the original cultures were so vastly different to begin with. Almost half the colonial population was not English. "England was not the only mother of colonies"(Adams 424). Also, since immigrants would move here and live in communities with people from their own homeland, intercultural communication was prevented, and therefore, cultures didn't get a chance to combine right away.Even with all these restrictions, the American colonies were beginning to create a common culture of their own by 1754. This convergence got a jump-start in the 1730s by the evangelical George Whitefield. He traveled throughout the colonies preaching, and thus dissolving some of the cultural differences. Whitefield was not the last preacher to travel the colonies. Until the 1780s, evangelicals preach their interpretation of the word of God, further uniting colonial culture. "Widespread participation in evangelical religion provided ordinary rural Americans with a common language, thereby mitigating differences between ethnic groups" (Foner 201). Beginning in the mid 1700s, American people began having more leisure time on their hands. Coincidentally, this is also the time that specialized shops began opening up. Americans now began setting aside...

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