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The Extent Of American Unity And Identity

1967 words - 8 pages

The Extent of American Unity and Identity

Since early colonization the English colonies had always felt closer
to England than to each other. In fact, it took a British newspaper
less time to reach Savannah than a letter from Massachusetts. However,
after the French and Indian War a sense of unity began to permeate
through the colonies as a result of British acts. For every British
action there was an American reaction, which fed the spirit of a new
identity as Americans, not English colonists. The American identity
was being established in the years before the revolution, but it was
not the majority as some colonists stayed loyal to the King. Events
such as the Albany Plan, Boston Tea Party and the First Continental
Congress were the beginnings of a new nation as united Americans.
These events would eventually lead up to the Revolution when American
colonies would band together and establish themselves independently
among the European world.

As tension rose between the colonists and the French, the first
attempt for colonial union took place in Albany, New York. Seven
colonies met to discuss their common problems such as the Indian
attacks, their colonial militias, and the colonies' boundaries.
Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan that would unite the
colonies under a central government with a "president general" that
would be appointed by Parliament. There would also be a legislative
body elected by colonial assemblies. Franklin expressed his feeling of
urgent unity with a sketch he published in the Pennsylvania Gazette,
which displayed an almost threatening request to join and adopt the
Albany Plan (Doc. A). With the preoccupation of the war, the colonies
rejected the plan, but the Albany Plan was just the beginning.

During the first two years of the French and Indian War the colonies
fought together on their own. They received little help from England
and what help there was often failed because of the aging Navy and the
unsuccessful attempt to recapture parts of the Ohio River by General
Edward Braddock. When General William Pitt finally showed up to help,
he began forcing men to enlist and taking colonists' weapons and tools
with no compensation. The Americans were not used to the British
officers. Years of living without classes and ranks had given the
Americans a unique attitude (Doc. H) This caused a lot of resentment
toward the British. The war gave American colonists a common enemy and
they began to resent a common government.

After the war Britain had many problems. The French ceded a vast
amount of land which almost doubled the British Empire. Britain was
also in a recession and had a huge national debt. In order to
counteract these problems Britain began a New Colonial Policy and
instituted many Acts. The enforcement of these laws, which have for

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