The period 1750 to 1776 is often referred to as the “Road to Revolution” due to the in increased tension between the colonists and England. The English parliament passed numerous acts that increased colonial taxes, angering the colonists. Between 1750 and 1776, in response to the tax laws, the colonies united and formed the ultimate identity of the United States of America.
As early as 1754, the colonial unity was beginning to be discussed by several colonies and individuals. The Pennsylvania Gazette printed a cartoon of the colonies as a snake divided into eight pieces (New England was represented as one piece and Georgia and Rhode Island were not included) along with the imperative statement “Join or Die” (A). This cartoon stressed the importance of colonial unity and urged colonies to unite. In the same year at the Albany Congress, Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan of Union, which attempted to unite all of the colonies; however, it was not implemented because several colonists as well as the English Parliament refused to agree with the idea. Nevertheless, it was one of the first steps towards colonial unity and it showed that there was thought about a united colonies. The French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe, began in 1756 and lasted until 1763. Due to the war, England had amassed a huge debt; to pay off their war expenses the crown began to tax the colonies in America. Parliament passed the Sugar Act in 1764, the Stamp Act in 1765, the Townshend Acts in 1767, the Tea Act in 1773, and Intolerable Acts in 1774 – the final nail. These taxes angered the colonists and the protested “No Taxation without Representation.” In response the Stamp Act, the colonists formed the Stamp Act Congress, a meeting of all but four colonies, in which they wrote and sent a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” to the King and protested the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act was repealed, but Parliament ignored the Declaration, heightening the tension between the colonies and England which led to greater unification within the colonies. The colonists responded to the Tea Act and resorted to extralegal means. On the night of December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as Indians and dumped three hundred forty-two barrels of British tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the Tea Act. Parliament then passed the Intolerable Acts in 1774 which closed the Boston Port, extended the Quartering Act, and restricted the Massachusetts government. In early February 1774, Richard Henry Lee asserted that the colonies were now strongly unified and had agreed to defend their liberties and freedoms from England (C). Ultimately, and in response to the Intolerable Acts, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress in September 1774 in Philadelphia, which was an extraordinary step in the process of unification. They drafted and sent the “Declaration for the Causes of Taking up Arms” to England in which they state that the colonies will do whatever need be done in order to preserve their liberties (E). Soon after, the first shots of the Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775 and the Second Continental Congress was established, leading to the Declaration of Independence that was written and proclaimed in 1776, showing the strength and unification of the colonies.
The colonial identity between the years 1750 to 1776 led to the Revolution and final split between the colonies and England and laid the foundation for the basic identity of the United States of America today. In 1766, Edmund Burke, a British political philosopher and advocate of the American Revolution, believed that there was no characteristic shared by America and England. Divided by the Atlantic Ocean, Burke stated that England could not hope to rule America because of the natural barrier between them (B). The three-thousand mile distance between England and the American colonies benefitted the growing identity of the colonies, as England could not easily control them. In addition, between 1750 and 1776, Scots-Irish, German, and African immigrants came to America escaping their former lives in hope of finding a new and better lives. Because of this, America was imbued with a new identity, a place for people of all nations to go – further divorcing the American colonists from their British heritage. According to Hector St. John Crèvecoeur, America was a great melting pot – a place where a new race of men was blended from all of the different nations (H). A final step in building the identity of the colonies was in 1775 when the First Continental Congress sent the Declaration for the Causes of Taking up Arms to England. In this Declaration, the colonies represented were referred to as the “United Colonies of North America” (E). This revealed the new identity of the colonies and foreshadowed the ultimate colonial identity as the United States of America.
In conclusion, the colonies were able to unite against Britain and form the identity of the United States of America. Between the years 1750 and 1776, the American colonies united and established the First Continental Congress in order to defend their liberties from unfair English taxes. Through this, the colonies formed the identity of a great melting pot as the United Colonies of North America and ultimately United States of America with the Declaration of Independence in 1776.