“Is there a single trait of resemblance between those few towns and a great and growing people spread over a vast quarter of the globe, separated by a mighty ocean?” This question posed by Edmund Burke was in the hearts of nearly every colonist before the colonies gained their independence from Britain. The colonists’ heritage was largely British, as was their outlook on a great array of subjects; however, the position and prejudices they held concerning their independence were comprised entirely from American ingenuity. This identity crisis of these “British Americans” played an enormous role in the colonists’ battle for independence, and paved the road to revolution.
As a result of the French and Indian War, England’s attention became focused on the areas that required tending by the government other than North America, which provided the colonies with the one thing that ensured the downfall of Britain’s monarchial reign over America: salutary neglect. The unmonitored inhabitants of the colonies accustomed themselves to a level of independence that they had never possessed before, and when these rights were jeopardized by the enforcement of the Stamp Act after the Seven Year’s War, the colonists would not take it lying down. The colonies bound together in rebellion against the taxation without representation through boycotting the use of English goods, as embodied by Benjamin Franklin’s famous drawing of a snake; the “Join or Die” snake, as a whole representing the functionality and “life” of the colonies if they would work together, also forewarns the uselessness and “death” of the individual regions, suggesting that the colonies as a whole would have to fight the revolution against the Mother Country or else fail miserably in disunity.
Though they had no desire to separate from the mother country, the colonists were on no terms going to accept any less from England than the independence in which they had already basked while England was busy fighting the French and Indian War. As Richard Henry Lee once stated in a letter written to Arthur Lee, “North America is now most dimly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties ad infinitum against every power on Earth that may attempt to take it away.”
The infringement upon their liberties to which Richard Henry Lee was referring was largely an economic concern for the colonists. Taxes and duties implemented solely by the British government and the Navigation Acts limited trading rights. The colonists believed that they held the right to tax themselves, especially since there were no Americans in Parliament. After this claim England replied that colonists were represented by “virtual representation” as a result of the Magna Carta. The inferred inferiority of the Americans to Britons by this fallacy insulted colonists and further pushed them into unrest, causing a movement that resulted in the Non-Importation Agreements being enforced The Non-Importation Agreements demonstrated...