“FEAR IS NOT AN AMERICAN ART”:
THE COMING OF THE WAR
WARFARE was woven into the fabric of life in colonial America. Not everyone was affected equally by war, but hardly any American escaped the sullen impact of hostilities. Wars were frequent, many men soldiered, and many soldiers died. Still other soldiers, the least fortunate in ways, came home from these wars, but not in one piece, physically or mentally. Nor were those who bore arms alone in experiencing the terrors of war. Civilians who dwelled on the exposed frontier in wartime lived with the constant fear of a possible surprise attack. Virtually every citizen in every generation in every colony paid war taxes, endured wartime scarcities, coped with war-induced inflation, and struggled through postwar economic busts. A handful of wellconnected officials and businessmen profited handsomely in every conflict from lucrative war contracts. In the century and a half before 1776 it would have been difficult to find anyone born in the English colonies in North America who had not lost a loved one—a son, a father, a brother, a husband—to war. If one was lucky, the loss was temporary, only for a few months during the period of service. But sometimes it was forever.
In many colonies, generation after generation tasted war. Virginians fought four wars with their Indian neighbors during the first seventy-five years of the colony's existence, and after another seventy-five years, when George Washington was a young man in the 1750s, they were still fighting the Native Americans. The Puritans who founded New England went to war with the Indians within seven years of landing at Boston, again forty years later, and four additional times in the next seventy-five years.