Sources Index

snake.jpg (17195 bytes)


A Roof without Walls: The Dilemma of American National Identity
(from Beyond Confederation: Origins of the Constitution and American Identity, RIchard Beemen, Stephen Botein, Edward C. Carter II, eds. , (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1987)

The United States Constitution, as we have come to realize, provided an innovative answer to the legal problem of sovereignty within a federal system. This difficulty had destroyed the British Empire by 1776, and by 1787 it seemed likely to reduce the Congress of the United States to impotence. The Federalists solved this dilemma by applying on a continental scale the new principles of revolutionary constitutionalism that the states had explored and developed between 1776 and 1780, the year in which the Massachusetts Constitution completed the model. To be fully legitimate, a constitution had to be drafted by a special convention and ratified by the people. By so institutionalizing the premise that the people alone are sovereign, and not government at any level, Americans made it possible for a sovereign citizenry to delegate some powers to the states, others to the central government. We still live happily, more or less, with the benefits of this discovery. 1

But the Constitution was also a more tentative answer to a broader cultural problem. It established what Francis Hopkinson called a "new roof" over an American union of extremely diverse states. Opponents of the Constitution often warned that "the several parts of the roof were so framed as to mutually strengthen and support each other," he contemptuously declared, "and therefore, there was great reason to fear that the whole might stand independent of the walls." With heavy logic, he refuted this possibility. 2

Hopkinson had the right image but the wrong alignment. The Federalists, not their opponents, were building a roof without walls.  


The American Revolution was not the logical culmination of a broadening and deepening sense of separate national identity emerging among the settlers of North America. The sprawling American continents had taken a remarkably homogeneous people, the Indians, and divided them into hundreds of distinct societies over thousands of years. America was quite capable of doing the same to Europeans. The seventeenth century created, within English America alone, not one new civilization on this side of the Atlantic, but many distinct colonies that differed as dramatically from one another as any of them from England. Even the Revolution would establish, not one new nation, but two distinct polities: the United States and Canada. A century later the Civil War nearly added a third. The Latin America wars for independence produced twenty-two nations from a few vice-royalties.

For the English, the Atlantic functioned much as a prism in the seventeenth century, separating the stream of immigrants into a broad spectrum of settlements from the Caribbean to New England. Most colonies shared many important traits with immediate neighbors (Massachusetts with Connecticut, Maryland with Virginia, St. Kitts with Barbados), but differences became cumulative as one advanced farther along the spectrum. At the extremes - Barbados and Massachusetts, for instance - the colonies had almost nothing in common.

Historical demography suggests the larger pattern. Fox complex reasons that included climate and settler motivation, the farther north one went, the greater that life expectancy generally became, the higher the percentage of women in the colony, and the sooner population growth by natural increase set in. The extent of population mixture also followed the spectrum. New Englanders really were English. The Middle Atlantic colonies threw together most of the peoples of northwestern Europe. The Chesapeake added a significant African population, which would expand dramatically from the 1690s on. Africans eventually outnumbered Europeans by two to one in South Carolina and by much greater ratios in the islands. Climate and demography also affected local economies. Apart from the fur trade, few settlers north of Maryland engaged in economic activities strange to Europeans. As rapidly as possible, they even converted to European crops (without abandoning maize), grown mostly through family labor. But the staple colonies specialized in the growth and export through unfree labor of non-European crops, especially tobacco and sugar. The West Indies did not even try to raise enough food to feed the settlers and their servants and slaves 3

Government and religion also followed the spectrum. At the province level, New England gloried in its corporate autonomy, which Rhode Island and Connecticut would retain until the Revolution. Royal government, by contrast, really defined itself in the Caribbean during the Restoration era. On the mainland south of New England, most settlers lived under proprietary governments that eventually became royal, but Virginia had been royal since 1624, and Maryland and Pennsylvania regained their proprietary forms after losing them for a time following the Glorious Revolution. In local government, the New England town ‑a variation of the traditional English village‑spread no farther south than East Jersey. English counties, not villages, became the dominant form of local organization from West Jersey through North Carolina, and parishes prevailed in South Carolina and the islands. In general, the farther north one traveled, the higher became the percentage of local resources that settlers were willing to spend on religion. Formally, the Old World established church, the Church of England, became the New World establishment everywhere from Maryland south by 1710. In the Middle Atlantic region, dissent and establishment fought to a standstill, with toleration the big winner. In New England except for Rhode Island, Old World dissent became New World establishment. 4

Some uniformities different from England's did emerge to bridge these cultural chasms. Except in the smaller sugar islands, all of the colonies enjoyed a more widespread distribution and ownership of land. No colony successfully reproduced a hereditary aristocracy. Indeed, younger sons enjoyed liberties in North America hard to match in any European society. Similarly, England's complex legal system was everywhere simplified and except in Quaker communities, the settlers also adopted a ferocious style of waging war. For Europe's more limited struggles among trained armies, they substituted people's wars of total subjection and even annihilation. Their methods were deliberately terroristic. They, not the Indians, began the systematic slaughter of women and children, often as targets of choice. Finally, the English language became more uniform in America than in England simply because no colony was able to replicate the mother country's rich variety of local dialects. 5

Nevertheless, the overall differences stand out more starkly than the similarities. The spectrum of seventeenth‑century settlement produced, not one, but many Americas, and the passage of time threatened to drive them farther apart, not closer together. Most of what they retained in common - language, Protestantism, acquisitiveness, basic political institutions ‑ derived from their shared English heritage, however institutionally skewed, and not from their novel encounters with the continent of North America.


Between the Glorious Revolution of 1688‑1689 and the Peace of Paris of 1763, the colonies grew more alike in several respects. As newer generations adjusted to climate, life expectancy improved south of Pennsylvania, population became self-sustaining, and family patterns grew more conventional. Warfare retained its original brutality in conflicts with Indians, but it too Europeanized as the primary enemy became the settlers and soldiers of other European empires. The widespread imposition of royal government through the 1720s gave public life structural similarities it had lacked in the seventeenth century.

 As these examples suggest, British North America in fundamental ways became more European, more English, in the eighteenth century. The growth of cities, the spread of printing and newspapers, the rise of the professions, and the emulation of British political culture all encouraged this trend. But the colonies did not all change in the same way. New England anglicized at the core. On the fringes of the social order, it retained much of its original uniqueness, such as the Puritan Sabbath and annual election sermons. The southern colonies anglicized on the fringes while remaining unique at the core, which now more than ever was characterized by plantations and slave labor. A planter's economic base had no English counterpart, but his daily behavior closely imitated gentry standards. In the Middle Atlantic region, where emulation of England always had ethnic and class overtones, the pattern was less clear. 6

A few examples will have to suffice in illustrating this process. New England increasingly replicated basic European institutions. Southern provinces,  by contrast, imported much of what they needed and did not acquire the same capacity to produce their own. Thus, for instance, every college but one was north of Maryland in 1775. New England trained virtually all of its own clergy, lawyers, and physicians. By contrast, no native‑born South Carolinian (and only a few dozen Virginians out of the several hundred men who took parishes in the colony) became Anglican clergymen. All of South Carolina's bar and much of Virginia's was trained in England. Similarly, New Englanders wrote their own poetry, much of it bad, while Maryland imported poets, a few of them quite good (such as Richard Lewis).7

Perhaps the change was most conspicuous in public life. In the seventeenth century many colony founders had tried quite consciously to depart from and improve upon English norms. They attempted to build a city upon a hill in Puritan Massachusetts, a viable autocracy in ducal New York, a holy experiment of brotherly love in Quaker Pennsylvania, a rejuvenated feudal order in Maryland, and an aristocratic utopia in Carolina. But from about the second quarter of the eighteenth century, colonial spokesmen expressed ever‑increasing admiration for the existing British constitution as the human wonder of the age. Improvement upon it seemed scarcely imaginable. North American settlers read British political writers, absorbed their view of the world, and tried to  shape their provincial governments into smaller but convincing replicas of the metropolitan example. 8

One conspicuous consequence was imperial patriotism. The generation in power from 1739 to 1763 fought two global wars and helped to win the greatest overseas victories that Britain had ever seized. Despite frequent disputes in many colonies, royal government achieved greater practical success in America than at any other time in its history to 1776. Colonial expressions of loyalty to Britain became far more frequent, emotional, intense, and eloquent than in earlier years. To the extent that the settlers were self-conscious nationalists, they saw themselves as part of an expanding Britisb nation and empire. Loyalty to colony meant loyalty to Britain. The two were expected to reinforce one another. 9

Occasionally a new vision of a glorious future for the American continent would appear in this rhetoric, but almost without exception these writers confined their exuberance to an Anglo‑American context. North America would thrive with Britain, Nathaniel Ames's almanacs excitedly told New Englanders. Because population grew faster in America than in Europe, mused Benjamin Franklin, the colonies would one day surpass the mother country, and perhaps crown and Parliament would cross the ocean to these shores. 10

In other words, political loyalties to an entity called America scarcely yet existed and could not match the intensity with which settlers revered either their smaller provinces or the larger empire. Despite the frequent worries voiced in the British press or expressed by British placemen in America, native‑born North Americans showed no interest in political union, much less independence. Every colony involved rejected the Albany Plan of Union of 1754 regardless of the manifest military peril from New France.

This reality was far from obvious to the British. They, not the settlers, imagined the possibility of an independent America. Imposing new patterns of uniformity on colonies that they had to govern routinely, few London officials grasped the extent or significance of local differences three thousand miles away. The British worried about the whole because they did not understand the parts, and they reified their concerns into a totality they called America. Debate over the Canada cession focused these anxieties more sharply than ever before and also revealed that British writers almost took it for granted that one day the American colonies would demand and get their independence. Wise policy required that Britain avert this result for as long as possible.

In a word, America was Britain's idea. Maybe it was even Britain's dream, but if so, it soon became her nightmare. Every countermeasure taken to avert the horror seemed only to bring it closer. Nothing is more ironic in the entire span of early American history than the way in which Britain finally persuaded her North American settlers to embrace a national destiny that virtually none of them desired before the crisis of 1764-1776. 11

There was, in short, nothing inevitable about the creation and triumph of the United States. Rather, the American nation was a by‑product that at first nobody  wanted. The British believed that they were doing everything they could to avoid such a thing. The settlers until almost the last moment denied that they had anything of the kind in mind. Only British oppression, they insisted, could drive them from the empire. 12

At one level the Revolution was thus the culminating moment in the process of anglicization. The colonists resisted British policy, they explained with increasing irritation and anger, because London would not let them live as Englishmen. They demanded only the common rights of Englishmen, such as no taxation without representation and trial by jury, and not unique privileges for Americans. (At the same time, they did believe that the availability of land in North America gave them unique benefits unavailable to fellow subjects at home.) Britain demanded that North Americans assume their fair share of common imperial obligations and embarked on a reform program after 1763 that was designed to centralize and rationalize the empire. Beginning with the Stamp Act crisis of 1764-1766, London thus polarized the needs of the whole and the rights of the parts. She was never able to put them together again.

Precisely because public life in America was so thoroughly British, the colonists resisted Britain with all the available weapons of eighteenth‑century politics‑ideology, law, petitions, assembly resolves, grassroots political organizations, disciplined crowd violence. Until 1774, when the Continental Congress finally provided an American institutional focus for general resistance, patriot leaders looked to the radical opposition movement in London as the  logical center of their own. Not surprisingly, until the Congress met, more of its members had visited London than Philadelphia. The Revolution, in short, was a crisis of political integration and centralization that Britain could not master. Britain could not control politically the forces that were drawing the  parts of the empire closer together. That failure left patriots on this side of the ocean alone with America. They had shown that they would fight and even confederate to protect the rights of the parts. They had yet to discover whether they could create enough sense of common identity to provide for the needs of the whole. The challenge was exhilarating - and terrifying. 13


Perhaps we can now appreciate the dilemma of American national identity. To the extent that North Americans were more alike by 1760 than they had been in 1690 or 1660, Britain had been the major focus of unity and the engine of change. To repudiate Britain meant jeopardizing what the settlers had in common while stressing what made them different from one another. Older patriots quickly sensed the danger. If goaded into the attempt, the colonies would indeed be able to win their independence, John Dickinson assured William Pitt in 1765. "But what, sir, must be the Consequences of that Success? A Multitude of Commonwealths, Crimes, and Calamities, of mutual jealousies, Hatreds, Wars and Devastations; till at last the exhausted Provinces hall sink into Slavery under the yoke of some fortunate Conqueror." Younger patriots were more confident about America. They welcomed the chance to become fabled heroes in their ironic quest to prove that the British had been right about America all along and that their own doubts and hesitations were unworthy of their lofty cause. At his Yale commencement of 1770, John Trumbull predicted the eventual supremacy of America in the arts and sciences, called the colonies a nation, and exulted in the deluge of blood that would accompany this transition to greatness.

See where her Heroes mark their glorious way,
Arm'd for the fight and blazing on the day
Blood stains their steps; and o'er the conquering plain, 
'Mid fighting thousands and 'mid thousands slain, 
Their eager swords promiscuous carnage blend, 
And ghastly deaths their raging course attend.
Her mighty pow'r the subject world shall see; 
For laurel'd Conquest waits her high decree.

The colonists would inherit from Britain, not just their own continent, but the world. America's fleets would "Bid ev'ry realm, that hears the trump of fame, / Quake at the distant terror of her name." Trumbull hardly needed to announce the moral, but he did anyway. Although the process would take some centuries to complete, America's triumphs would hide "in brightness of superior day / The fainting gleam of Britain's setting ray.” 15

This bloodcurdling rhetoric probably concealed real anxieties. Any task that sanguinary‑that worthy of heroes‑was quite daunting. Not only would an American national identity have to be forged in a brutal war with the world's mightiest maritime power, but the settlers would have to do so without the usual requisites of nationhood Sir Lewis Namier has contrasted two basic types of European nationalism from the eighteenth century to the present. Both reduce to a question of human loyalties. To what social collectivity do people choose or wish to be loyal? One pattern was traditional and, at root, institutional. England was a nation because it possessed reasonably well defined boundaries and a continuity of monarchical rule for about nine hundred years. The crown had created Parliament, which became both a reinforcing and a competing focus for loyalties as the two, together with their public, defined England's distinct political culture in the seventeenth century. Switzerland provided Namier with another example. This mountainous republic forged a common institutional identity among its several cantons despite their division into three languages and two major religions.

The other model, just beginning to find important spokesmen in late eighteenth‑century Germany, was linguistic nationalism. Among a people who shared no common institutional links, language seemed an obvious focus for loyalty. Even though the boundaries between competing languages were by no means clear‑cut, this type of nationalism would come to dominate Central and Eastern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Whereas institutional nationalism had the potential to absorb waves of reform without internal upheaval, linguistic nationalism recognized no obvious geographical boundaries and had to replace existing political institutions with new ones to achieve full expression. Although it began with warm sentiments of benign humanitarianism, it was far more likely to become militaristic and destructive, and by the twentieth century it could be deflected into overt racism whenever it seemed necessary to distinguish true Germans, for example, from outsiders who had merely mastered the language over several generations. 16

The most fascinating and troubling feature about the American case is that neither model could work here. The American continent could boast no common historic institutions other than crown and Parliament. It had acquired no shared history outside its British context. Likewise, the American settlers possessed only one language in common: English. In both cases, the logic of national identity pointed back to Britain, to counterrevolution, to a repudiation of the bizarre events of 1776. From this perspective, the loyalists were the true nationalists. Many older patriots implicitly agreed, at least to the extent that they too equated nationhood with the institutionalization of centralized power. To them centralization meant a severe challenge to liberty, a threat to the Revolution itself. Yet all patriots understood that, unless they could unite and fight together effectively, they would lose the war. Their early answer to this dilemma was virtue. Americans had it; the British had lost it. Virtue, or patriotism, would inspire the settlers to sacrifice their private interests, even their lives, for the general welfare. 17

As the struggle progressed into a seemingly endless war and the North Americans (often for the first time) came into intimate contact with each other, this conviction wore thin. The shock of recognition was uncomfortable and disturbing, for it was just as likely to expose differences as similarities. It revealed, in effect, the underlying spectrum of settlement. Too often the Americans discovered that they really did not like each other very much, but that they needed common trust to survive. Mutual suspicion and fascination jostled for preeminence in the hearts of patriots. The language of virtue may have intensified the sense of hostility, for it became all too easy to explain any annoying cultural differences as someone else's lack of virtue and commitment. The terms of opprobrium that Americans hurled at each other may even have contained more venom than did the anti‑British polemics of the period, many of which reflected the anguish of an ancient and real affection now inexplicably betrayed.

The most conspicuous fault line divided New Englanders from everyone else, although other antagonisms surfaced as well. Yankees could not conceal their sense of moral superiority, which often seemed rankly hypocritical to observers from other regions. "We Pennsylvanians act as if we believe that God made of one blood all families of the earth," complained William Maclay; "but the Eastern people seem to think that he made none but New England folks.” 18 One New York merchant, Gerard G. Beekman, thought that nearly everyone in Connecticut "has proved to be d...d ungreatfull cheating fellows." Thirteen years later he was still denouncing "the best of them out of that damd Cuntry" for defaulting on their debts." 19 Lewis Morris, Jr., could not even keep a similar sense of disgust out of his last will and testament in 1762. He ordered that his son Gouverneur Morris (the later patriot) receive

the best Education that is to be had in Europe or America but my 
Express Will and Directions are that he be never sent for that purpose 
to the Colony of Connecticut least he should imbibe in his youth that 
low Craft and cunning so Incident to the People of that Country, 
which is so interwoven in their constitutions that all their art cannot
disguise it from the World tho' many of them under the sanctified
Garb of Religion have Endeavored to Impose themselves on the World
for honest Men? 20

When John Adams passed through New York City in 1774, he heard Yankees castigated as "Goths and Vandalls," infamous for their "Levelling Spirit." He retaliated in the privacy of his diary by speculating on the shocking lack of gentility and good breeding among the New York elite.To Abigail Adams, Virginia riflemen seemed every bit as loathsome and barbaric as British propaganda claimed. 21

Sometimes regional hatreds became severe enough to reduce the northern department of the Continental army to near impotence. Yankees showed such complete distrust of New York's General Philip Schuyler that he virtually lost the ability to command. Soldiers from other parts of America, reported Captain Alexander Graydon of Pennsylvania, retaliated in kind. They regarded the eastern men as "contemptible in the extreme," in part because their officers were too egalitarian. In 1776 a court-martial acquitted a Maryland officer accused of showing disrespect to a New England general. "In so contemptible a light were the New England men regarded," explained Graydon, who sat on the court, "that it was scarcely held possible to conceive a case, which could be construed into a reprehensible disrespect of them. 22


American national identity was, in short, an unexpected, impromptu, artificial, and therefore extremely fragile creation of the Revolution. Its social roots were much weaker than those that brought forth the Confederate States of America in 1861, and yet the Confederacy was successfully crushed by military force. 23

At first Congress tried to govern through consensus and unanimity. That effort always created strain, and it finally broke down in 1777-1778. Thereafter no one could be certain whether the American union could long outlast the war. In June 1783 a mutiny in the Pennsylvania line drove Congress from Philadelphia. The angry delegates gathered in the small crossroads village of Princeton, New Jersey, where they spent an anxious four months in uncomfortable surroundings. They found that they had to contemplate the fate of the Union. Could the United States survive with Congress on the move and its executive departments somewhere else? Charles Thomson, secretary to Congress since 1774, doubted that the Union could endure without British military pressure to hold the several parts together. This worry obsessed him for months. 24 By 1786 New England delegates were talking openly of disunion and partial confederacies, and this idea finally appeared in the newspapers in early 1787. 25

 Instead, a convention of distinguished delegates met in Philadelphia that summer. It drafted a Constitution radically different from the Articles of Confederation. By mid‑1788 enough states ratified the plan to launch the new government in April 1789. This victory followed a titanic struggle in which the Constitution had almost been defeated by popularly chosen conventions in nearly every large state. Among the small states, New Hampshire and Rhode Island also seemed generally hostile.

Ratification marked a victory for American nationalism, as folklore has always told us, but it also perpetuated political conflict, which continued without pause into the new era. Most patriots equated union with harmony and were quite upset by the turmoil of the 1790s. The only union they could maintain was accompanied by intense political strife, a pattern of contention that did, however, observe certain boundaries. It had limits. 26

The actions of the Washington administration in its first few years seemed to vindicate the gloomiest predictions of the Antifederalists, but these proud patriots did not respond by denouncing the Constitution. Instead, they began the process of deifying it. They converted it into an absolute standard and denounced their opponents for every deviation from its sublime mandates. In effect they returned to their anchorage in British political culture to find a harbor in which their ship might float. They converted the Constitution into a modern and revolutionary counterpart for Britain's ancient constitution. To keep the central government going at all, they embraced the venerable antagonism between court and country, corruption and virtue, ministerial ambition and legislative integrity. The Federalists claimed only to be implementing the government created by the Constitution. Their Jeffersonian opponents insisted that they, in turn, were merely calling the government to proper constitutional account. But they both accepted the Constitution as their standard, a process that kept the system going and converted its architects into something like popular demigods within a generation. 27

The lesson taught by the first American party system was curious in the extreme. Americans would accept a central government only if it seldom acted like one. The British Empire had crumbled while trying to subordinate the rights of the parts to the needs of the whole. The Continental Congress had brought American union to the edge of disintegration by protecting the rights of the parts at the expense of common needs. The Constitution seemed to provide an exit from this dilemma, a way of instilling energy in government while showing genuine respect for revolutionary principles. But it did not work quite that way. Vigorous policies by the central government always threatened to expose the underlying differences that could still tear America apart. The spectrum of settlement had been muted, warped, and overlaid with new hues, but it was still there. Thus, although everyone soon agreed that the new government was a structural improvement on the Articles, it exercised very few substantive powers in practice that people had not been happy to allocate to the old Congress. In a word, the Constitution became a substitute for any deeper kind of national identity. American nationalism is distinct because, for nearly its first century, it was narrowly and peculiarly constitutional. People knew that without the Constitution there would be no America. 28

In the architecture of nationhood, the United States had achieved something quite remarkable. Francis Hopkinson to the contrary, Americans had erected their constitutional roof before they put up the national walls. Hovering there over a divided people, it aroused wonder and awe, even ecstasy. Early historians rewrote the past to make the Constitution the culminating event of their story. 29 Some of the Republic's most brilliant legal minds wrote interminable multivolume commentaries on its manifold virtues and unmatched wisdom. Orators plundered the language in search of fitting praise. Someone may even have put the document to music. 30  This spirit of amazement, this frenzy of self‑congratulation, owed its intensity to the terrible fear that the roof could come crashing down at almost any time. Indeed, the national walls have taken much longer to build.

The very different Americas of the seventeenth century had survived into the nineteenth after repudiating the Britain from whom they had acquired their most conspicuous common features in the eighteenth. While the Republic's self announced progenitors, New England and Virginia, fought out their differences into the Civil War, the middle states quietly eloped with the nation, giving her their most distinctive features: acceptance of pluralism, frank pursuit of self‑interest, and legitimation of competing factions.

The Constitution alone could not do the job, but the job could not be done at all without it. The Constitution was to the nation a more successful version of what the Halfway Covenant had once been to the Puritans, a way of buying time. Under the shade of this lofty frame of government, the shared sacrifices of the Revolutionary war could become interstate and intergenerational memories that bound people together in new ways. 31 Ordinary citizens could create interregional economic links that simply were not there as late as 1790, until a national economy could finally supplant the old imperial one. Like the Halfway Covenant, the Constitution was an ingenious contrivance that enabled a precarious experiment to continue for another generation or two with the hope that the salvation unobtainable in the present might bless the land in better times. 32


1. Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776‑1787 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969).

2. In Paul M. Zall, ed., Comical Spirit of Seventy‑Six: The Humor of Francis Hopkin­son (San Marino, Calif, 1976), 186‑194, esp. 190.

3. For strong examples of this extensive demographic literature, see the essays in Stanley N. Katz and John M. Murrin, eds., Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development, 3d ed. (New York, 1983), 122‑162, 177‑203, 290‑313; and in Thad W Tate and David L. Ammerman, eds. The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo‑American Society (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1979), 96‑182. See also Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624‑1713 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1972), esp. 300-334.

4. John M. Murrin, "Political Development," in Jack P. Greene and J. R Pole, eds., Colonial British America: Essays in the New History of the Early Modern Era (Baltimore, 1984), 408‑456. John M. Murrin, Mary R Murrin, and Gregory E. Dowd are engaged in a study, still in progress, that will enumerate colonial clergymen, colony by colony and year by year. The data show that the ratio of clergy to people generally rose from south to north, which also provides a rough index of each society's financial support for organized religion.

5. Daniel J. Boorstin provides a good starting point on language in The Americans: The Colonial Experience (New York, 1958), chaps. 41‑43. For an excellent introduction to early legal history, see David H. Flaherty, ed., Essays in the History of Early American Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969). On war, see John Shy, A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence (New York, 1976), 225‑254; Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York, 1975), 73‑74; Francis Jennings, The Invasion of Amenca: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1975), esp. chaps. 9, 13; and Allen W Trelease, Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century (Ithaca, N.Y., 1960), 60‑85.

6. The process of anglicization in the Middle Colonies is too complex to pursue here, but an adequate account would have to examine and compare the different ways that particular ethnic groups were assimilated into the larger culture. For example, see Randall H. Balmer, "Dutch Religion in an English World: Political Upheaval and Ethnic Conflict in the Middle Colonies" (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1985). Balmer argues that New York City Dutch settlers cultivated close ties with the classis of Amsterdam and retained a rather sentimental attachment for the Dutch language while intermarrying with Anglicans and assimilating to upper‑class English standards. The Jersey Dutch rejected both the authority of Amsterdam and elite English norms. They adjusted to an English world by going evangelical and aligning with the Presbyterians. Ned C. Landsman's Scots who settled in central New Jersey were commercially active and largely succeeded in capturing and defining the Presbyterian church. In the process they forged a new Scottish-American identity, which, like that of the Jersey Dutch, was linked to revivalism. But Ulster Scots who settled in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley were less commercial and were antirevival. See Landsman, Scotland and Its First American Colony, 1683‑1765 (Princeton, N.J., 1985); and Elizabeth I. Nybakken, "New Light on the Old Side: Irish Influences on Colonial Presbyterianism," journal of American History, LXVIII (1981-1982), 813-832.

7. John M. Murrin, "The Legal Transformation: The Bench and Bar of Eighteenth Century Massachusetts," in Katz and Murrin, eds., Colonial America, 540-572, illustrates this process.

8. For a survey, see Murrin, "Political Development," in Greene and Pole, eds., Colonial Britisb America, 408-456.

 9. Max Savelle, "Nationalism and Other Loyalties in the American Revolution," American Historical Review, LXVII (1961‑1962), 901-923; Paul A. Varg, "The Advent of Nationalism, 1758‑1776," American Quarterly, XVI (1964), 169-181; Judith A. Wilson, "My Country Is My Colony: A Study in Anglo‑American Patriotism, 1739-1760," Historian, XXX (1967‑1968), 333-349; Nathan O. Hatch, "The Origins of Civil Millennialism in America: New England Clergymen, War with France, and the Revolution," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., XXXI (1974), 407-430.

10. Sam Briggs, ed., The Essays, Humor, and Poems of Nathaniel Ames, Father and Son. .  (Cleveland, Ohio, 1891), esp. 284‑286, 308‑311, 313, 324‑325; Benjamin Franklin, Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind (1755), in Leonard W. Labaree et al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (New Haven, Conn., 1959‑), IV, 227-234.

11. See J. M. Bumsted, " `Things in the Womb of Time': Ideas of American Independence, 1633 to 1763," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXXI (1974), 533‑564. Close examination of Bumsted's sources will show that this was a debate among Europeans, including British placemen and travelers in America. Only an occasional native‑born colonist participated, often with some bewilderment about why this dialogue was taking place at all.

12. For a classic statement, see Benjamin Franklin, The Interest of Great Britain Considered, with Regard to Her Colonies, and the Acquisition of Canada and Guadeloupe (1760), in Labaree et. al., eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, IX, esp. 90‑91. For a shrewd analysis of the role that Independence did play for a major patriot in his  strategy of resistance, see Pauline Maier, "Coming to Terms with Samuel Adams," AHR, LXXXI (1976), 12‑37.

13. See, generally, Pauline Maier, From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765‑1776 (New York, 1972); David Ammerman, In the Common Cause: American Response to the Coercive Acts of 1774 (Charlottesville, Va., 1974); H. James Henderson, Party Politics in the Continental Congress (New York, 1974).

14. Dickinson to Pitt, Dec. 21, 1765, in Edmund S. Morgan, ed., Prologue to Revolution: Sources and Documents on the Stamp Act Crisis, 1764-1766 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1959), 119.

15. John Trumbull, An Essay on the Use and Advantages of the Fine Arts . . . (New Haven, Conn., 1770), 3-6, 11-12, 14.

16. Sir Lewis Namier, "Nationality and Liberty," in Namier, Vanished Supremacies: Essays on European History, 1812-1918 (New York, 1963 ), 31‑ 53.

\17. For recent efforts to understand the patriots in generational terms, see Pauline Maier, The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (New York, 1980), esp. chap. 6; and Peter C. Hoffer, Revolution and Regeneration: Life Cycle and the Historical Vision of the Generation of 1776 (Athens, Ga., 1983), which studies younger revolutionaries.

18. Edgar S. Maclay, ed., journal of William Maclay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania 1789-1791 (NewYork, 1890),210.

19. Quoted in Philip L. White, The Beekmans ofNew York in Politics and Commerce, 1647-1877 (New York, 1956), 223‑224.

20. Quoted in Max M. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution (Norman, Okla., 1970), 15.

21. L. H. Butterfield et al., eds., Diary and Autobiograpby of john Adams (Cam­bridge, Mass., 1961), II, 107, 109; Abigail to John Adams, Mar. 31, 1776, in L. H. Butterfield et al., eds., Adams Family Correspondence (Cambridge, Mass., 1963‑), I, 369. Abigail asked whether the common people of Virginia were "not like the un­civilized Natives Brittain represents us to be?" The rest of the letter shows that she believed they were.

22. See, generally, Don R Gerlach, Pbilip Schuykr and the American Revolution in New York, 1733‑1777 (Lincoln, Nebr., 1964). For the quotations, see Alexander Graydon, Memoirs of His Own Time, with Reminiscences of the Men and Events of the Revolution, ed. John Stockton Littell (Philadelphia, 1846), 158, 179; see also 147‑149.

23. For a fuller discussion, see John M. Murrin, "War, Revolution, and NationMaking: The American Revolution versus the Civil War," in Murrin, ed., Violence and Voluntarism: War and Society in America from the Aztecs to the Civil War (forthcoming, Philadelphia, 1987).

24. Eugene R Sheridan and John M. Murrin, eds., Congress at Princeton, Being the Letters of Charles Thomson to Hannah Thomson, June to October 1783 (Princeton, N.J., 1985), 19, 29-30, 66‑67, 73, 83, 86, 91-92.

25. Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress ( Wash­ington, D.C., 1921‑1936), VIII, 247‑248, 282, 415‑416, 533, for some of the major correspondence on this subject. The first public call for separate confederacies appeared in Boston's Independent Chronicle, Feb. 15, 1787. Cf. William Winslow Crosskey and William Jeffrey, Jr., Politics and the Constitution in the History of the United States, Vol. III, The Political Background of the Federal Convention (Chicago, 1980), 395.

26. See, generally, Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780‑1840 (Berkeley, Calif, 1969).

27. Lance Banning, "Republican Ideology and the Triumph of the Constitution, 1789 to 1793," WMQ, 3d Ser., XXXI (1974), 167‑188.

28. For fuller discussions, see John M. Murrin, "The Great Inversion, or Court versus Country: A Comparison of the Revolution Settlements in England (16881721) and America (1776‑1816)," in J.G.A. Pocock, ed., Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688, 1776 (Princeton, N.J., 1980), 368‑453; and Lance Banning, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (Ithaca, N.Y., 1978).

29. Peter C. Hoffer, "The Constitutional Crisis and the Rise of a Nationalistic View of History in America, 1786‑1788," New York History, LII (1971), 305-323.

30. See Edward S. Corwin, Court over Constitution: A Study of Judicial Review as an Instrument of Popular Government (Princeton, N.J., 1938), 229-230 n. This incident was probably an example of Confederate humor, not a real event.

31. Charles Royster, "Founding a Nation in Blood: Military Conflict and American Nationality," in Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, eds., Arms and Independence The Military Character of the American Revolution (Charlottesville, Va., 1984), 25-49.

32. Kenneth M. Stampp, The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War (New York, 1980), 3-36, shows how tentative the idea of a perpetual union really was.

To return to the top if this page, pay the Stamp Tax here
stamp-th.gif (14293 bytes)