The Beginnings of the Revolution

Chapter Two
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six


The North American colonial world of the 18th century was vastly different than the nation we know today. In fact to most of us it would have barely been recognizable. Had not the names of some of those towns remained as they became the larger cities we now know, we would probably not even be able to navigate our way through the literal or social landscape of the colonial world.

Eighty percent (80%) of the colonists were white.[1] This left approximately twenty percent (20%) of the population numbered as African slaves. Of the white colonists, nearly seventy percent (70%) were of English decent, while the remaining colonists traced their genealogical roots to the French, Dutch, Italians,  which were primarily the Roman Catholic population, and Scotland that spawned what we know as our Appalachian culture.

There were approximately 2.5 million colonists from Maine to Florida.[2] Yet there were only four cities that contained a population over ten thousand inhabitants. These were Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston which was in the southern regions known as the Carolinas. The overwhelming majority of the colonial population resided within two hundred (200) miles of the Atlantic Ocean. There were no bridges over the major rivers. Traveling great distances was not easy and often very dangerous. The major rivers were actually the highways between the colonial settlements.[3]

There was heavy vegetation and woodland as much of the land was untouched and obviously unsettled. There was a saying that went, “A squirrel could have traveled to every acre in the thirteen colonies and never touch the ground.”[4] It could easily be understood that traveling great distances took much time, and exposed those who ventured out to the perils of uncertain wildlife, vegetation and the native population.

Still, the colonists perceived their society as one envisioned by the popular 18th century philosophers. Their freedom, independence and wealth potential was unequalled anywhere else in the known world. Land was extremely inexpensive and fairly easy to claim. The economy was highly interactive and very productive within the localized communities. There was a close knit sense of community. The social staircase was very short and carpeted with money. Only those who were wealthy advanced the social staircase successfully.

Yet, there seemed to be an invisible curtain that was apparent. It seemed to separate the colonial elite from any level of acceptance in the social circles of London. Somewhere across “the pond” there was a transaction in mentalities and social acceptance that was never able to be hurdled by the wealthiest and most powerful of the colonialists. This social gap slowly festered in the minds of the colonial leaders and aristocracy over a period of many decades. Nevertheless, the colonies continued to live and grow their own brand of British life and found their own ideals affected very little by their government authorities across the Atlantic Ocean in the British Isles.

No one illustrated the early American colonist’s dream better than one Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was a free thinker and a very creative personality whose quest for the pleasures and the wisdom of life could not be quenched. He not only lived out his worldview by his very eclectic lifestyle, though some saw him as a highly immoral man. His personal indulgences tended to make him sort of what we would refer to as a “rock star” of his own day. This personal imagery of Franklin would expand during the Revolutionary war onto the international stage of society and politics.

Franklin also formatted his opinions and philosophies in the writing of his own original publication titled Poor Richard’s Almanac. Many of his contemporaries falsely assumed that his middle name was “Richard”. But his uncanny ability to make money at just about every venture he went into proved that he was not very poor either. His publications including a newspaper called The Gazette were often known for their pithy quotes that were regularly included in it. A few of these famous quotes were:

 “Industry pays debts while despair increases them.”

“God helps those that help themselves”

“There are no gains without pains”[5]

Franklin’s reputation and businesses continued to grow over the years prior to 1776 as he became more of an influence in moving the colonies toward revolution and independence. Benjamin Franklin’s Gazette was not quite 50 years old when the Declaration of Independence was printed on the front page. This, the first concrete sign of a free American government, set the stage for over 200 years of history writing by the free exchange of ideas.[6]

[1] Cambou, Don  The American Revolution–The Conflict Ignites (History Channel

Documentary,1994) 13:55

[2] Cambou, Don  The American Revolution–The Conflict Ignites (History Channel

Documentary,1994) 14:22

[3] Cambou, Don  The American Revolution–The Conflict Ignites (History Channel

Documentary,1994) 14:44

[4] Cambou, Don  The American Revolution–The Conflict Ignites (History Channel

Documentary,1994) 14:55

[5] Cambou, Don  The American Revolution–The Conflict Ignites (History Channel

Documentary,1994) 15:50

[6]  Sibert, Jacquelyn S.  The Presidents (Indianapolis, Indiana. Curtis Publishing Company, 1989)


Enter supporting content here