The colonists experienced a revolution of their sense of identity and unity as Americans by the eve of the Revolution. Before the French and Indian War, colonists considered themselves British people living somewhere else. After the French and Indian War, Britain became more imposing on the colonists and few thought of themselves independent from Britain. Throughout the time period of 1763 to 1775 a sense of unity and identity showed up more prominent than ever before, however loyalists were still among the colonists.
The colonists went through a dramatic evolution of their sense of unity from 1750 to 1776. Document A represents the time in 1754 when Benjamin Franklin wrote the Albany Plan in hopes to unite the colonies against Britain. However, no one came to Franklin’s support. The colonies were far from ready to be unified against Britain. They did not have any reason to oppose Britain. Salutary neglect took place during this time period as well as during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Even though Britain had laws for the colonists to follow, no colonists paid attention to them, and they functioned as independent colonies, from Britain as well as from one another. However, after the French and Indian War came to an end, Britain realized how expensive the war was and decided to make the colonies help pay; which therefore, brought salutary neglect to an end. In the following years, Britain imposed the Proclamation of 1763, the Sugar Act and Currency Act, the Declaratory Act, and Townshend Acts. These led up to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773. In 1774, Document C, Richard Henry Lee wrote to Arthur Lee about the colonists. He mentioned that “all N. America is now most firmly united.” Although this was not necessarily true, it shows that the colonists began to unite and other countries took notice. In this letter he said that America is uniting against Britain, or anyone who puts their liberty in jeopardy, even if it means taking violent actions. A year before this letter had been written, the Boston Tea Party took place. This action led to the Intolerable Acts being forced on to the colonists. In 1774, the year the letter had been written, the First Continental Congress met. Although the First Continental Congress is seen has to have failed, it shows that the colonists were making an effort to unite. Document G also displays the colonies unity in 1774 through 1775. Five colonies were donating goods to help relieve Boston from the stress of the Intolerable Acts. In April of 1775, the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place. It was known as the shot heard around the world because it was monumental that colonial commoners were able to repel the army of the world’s largest empire. The following July, the Second Continental Congress met. Document E states they said, “..for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind.” The Congress was finally fully uniting against Britain, taking all means necessary to secure their freedom. The following year, 1766, was the year all representatives from each colony put their life on the line to declare their independence from Britain and became the United Colonies of North America. Although unity was coming together at last, there is a different evolution for identity.
During the time period of salutary neglect, the colonists thought of themselves as British people who moved and lived somewhere else. Document A displays that Benjamin Franklin was not able to rally the colonists against Britain because of this mindset. However, a few years after salutary neglect stopped, ideas about independency were being spread. In Document B, Edmund Burke is addressing the loyalists and British people. He expresses the idea that it is foolish for Britain to govern the colonies. Edmund’s view however, is not what the masses believe and the same idea will not be very popular until ten years later,