Defining a Nation: Patriotic Associations, 1774-1776
Marion Stange – 2006
The majority of historians dealing with the American Revolutionary era are convinced that a common American identity did not evolve until after the founding of the United States of America. But does this judgment hold true? Do not the joint efforts of the North American colonists during the American Revolution prove that there already existed a strong feeling of belonging together, a feeling of common identity? Or was this union merely a means to an end propagated by the colonial elite in order to secure its interests, but lacking any kind of foundation within the colonial population? The patriotic associations formed between 1774 and 1776 provide important information regarding these questions. So far, they have not been objects of great interest among American historians. This neglect is astonishing considering the vital role the associations played in organizing the patriots’ resistance against Great Britain. They not only absorbed the opinions and sentiments prevalent in the colonies between 1774 and 1776, but also served as mainsprings of the revolutionary movement by mobilizing as many colonists as possible for the Common Cause.