Identity and Unity in America
When the colonists came to America they came from many different backgrounds from around the world. There were many different languages spoken and different traditions. Due to the large amount of frontier they developed an identity that was unique to America. On the other hand all of the colonies had their own government systems so their unity as a whole was not very strong. The colonist’s sense of identity was very strong before the Revolutionary War, while their unity was not very strong until the war was approaching.
The first thing that led to the colonists having a strong identity was the presence of the frontier. According to Frederick J. Turner’s hypothesis this led to three distinct characteristics. The first is an egalitarian attitude. This is an attitude that everyone is equal no matter whom they are or where they came from. The second attitude was a self-reliant attitude. This was that the colonists didn’t rely on anyone. This came about from being on the frontier and not having anyone around to help them. The third and last attitude was they were pragmatic. This means that any tradition that they had they would get rid of unless it served a purpose that would help the person living on the frontier. They developed this because all of their time spent on the frontier was trying to stay alive and they didn’t have any time to do something that didn’t serve a purpose. . All of these attitudes were caused by the amount of land that was present in America. The land also led to people leaving the cities and going out on their own to make their own fortune. This was also another factor that contributed to the colonist’s egalitarian attitude and their self-reliance.
Another reason that the colonists had a strong sense of identity was their language. After they came over from England they developed their own language. One example of this is that in England the word lumber meant furniture, and in America this word now meant any wood. Another example of their language is that they now called themselves Americans. This is important because this shows that the colonist now think of themselves as different from other countries and now their own country. Having a slight difference in language from England leads to miscommunication between the two countries
Another thing that led to the strong identity of the colonists was the solitary neglect by England towards the colonies. This happened because England let the colonists do their own thing for a while. This led to the colonists doing things by themselves and this gave them a strong identity as Americans The colonies also came to like actual representation versus virtual representation. This is what causes the no taxation without representation. The distance across the ocean made it hard for Parliament to govern the colonists as well as how different the colonists were compared