David Zeisberger: A Life among the Indians

By Earl P. Olmstead; David Zeisberger | Go to book overview

11
Indian Missions: A Critical Reappraisal, 1765-1766

THE PERIOD immediately before the American Revolution, 1765 to 1775, has been called "The Age of Controversy," ten years of conflict and contention between American colonials and the British Empire. Pennsylvania provides a good example of the clash of divergent political and economic concepts that created the turmoil.

From the vantage point of the late twentieth century, it may be difficult to appreciate, let alone understand, the political, social, and economic issues that split the colonies and produced intracolonial strife. The cohesive ingredients of nationalism or "the American maturity" developed after the Revolution, finally flowering during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Historian Merrill Jensen, in his Founding of a Nation, sums up the problem: "Once one goes behind the superficial word-screen of a common political language, unity is replaced by an amazing diversity of motives, thought and local interest."1

The pluralism found in the thirteen colonies was a result of the various European cultures represented among the population. The English- speaking people were the largest group and were probably slightly in the majority, with the exception of Pennsylvania. But as early as 1646, more than eighteen European languages were spoken in the Hudson Valley alone.2 Pennsylvania 120 years later was a microcosm of this diverse

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