Discuss the philosophic differences between the colonial resistance and the heads of the British government on the eve of the American Revolution.
By the end of the Seven Years' War (i.e. The French and Indian War in the American Colonies), Colonial leaders emerging to prominence in the 1760s found themselves increasingly at odds with the majority of those in charge of colonial affairs in England. Three essential reasons exist to support this contention. Profound socio-cultural shifts, the increasingly heavy-handed exercise of what the British leaders considered the legitimate imposition of authority, and a growing political struggle aptly described by the historian Carl Becker as being not so much a question of home rule but of who would rule at home. All these factors coalesced, leading inexorably to the American Revolution.
First, Americans had become more distinctly American and less British and, in so doing, started to question authority in all its myriad manifestations. Over three thousand miles of ocean between the mother country and her North American colonies existed as more than a mere geographical chasm; distance also served as the catalyst for the growth of a new and, according to some historians, radical social climate. This socio-cultural shift would continue even after the American Revolution ended with independence for the fledgling United States, resulting in significant problems for the Confederation government and leading to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. For a good examination of this socio-cultural shift, the student should turn to Gordon Wood's Radicalism of the American Revolution. Essentially, Professor Wood argues that notions of social deference eroded dramatically and steadily throughout the 18th century. This questioning of one's "betters" in a rigidly-hierarchical society, Wood contends, laid the groundwork for one of the most radical movements in human history: the American Revolution. Also, one cannot discount the tremendous social significance of the Great Awakening upon the American character. Once common people ...