Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period

By David A. Copeland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Tories versus Patriots, 1768-1775

The ten to fifteen years leading up to the Revolution were filled with problems for Americans. The colonies entered an economic depression when the French and Indian War ended in 1763. Depression was accompanied by inflation, especially in food prices, and the lack of currency, which had been scarce in America for most of its existence, continued to compound the problem. In addition, moral and economic issues slowed the profitable slave trade that had provided a livelihood for many during the eighteenth century. The use of slaves and others in bound servitude was beginning to decline, particularly in non-Southern colonies.

Religious differences among Americans, which had been elevated by denominational divisions during the Great Awakening (see Chapter 8), grew. Many feared that the Anglicans wanted to establish an American bishopric. Such a move, those who opposed it felt, was the first step in establishing Anglicanism as the state church of America just as it was in England. The concept was abhorrent to many Americans whose ancestors, just a few generations earlier, had come to America to escape government-mandated religion.

Americans also found themselves at odds economically. Artisans and laborers, merchants and shippers, and, closer to the Revolution, importers and nonimporters were at odds concerning salaries, taxes, the sale of goods, and the sources of the items for sale. In this environment of hardship and controversy, Americans began to take sides. Those who believed that America needed to gain more autonomy over its own existence and escape the taxes and laws of England were called Patriots or Whigs. Those

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