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It is important to consider the phenomenon of patriotism in the context of the US War of Independence. The content of the word patriotism worried the minds of many famous thinkers and philosophers, however, there is no unequivocal opinion, its content is fully exhaustive, and cannot be fully determined. After all, each of them, can understand patriotism in highly different manner.
In the most general sense, the concept of patriotism expresses an emotional attitude towards one’s Fatherland — a feeling of love and devotion, pride, a desire to subordinate personal and group interests to national interests in difficult moments in the fate of the motherland, a willingness to serve it, to do everything possible for its prosperity and even sacrifice one’s life for its sake. This is the reason for the loyalty of British Americans during the war.
Patriots and Loyalty
The premises of patriotism are rooted in the depths of human nature itself. American-born British citizens became Patriots due to the fact that they changed alongside the local population. Thus, their views shifted towards the notions of freedom and democracy. The strongest factor in the formation of a sense of patriotism is the individual’s attachment to the land, with which a person is bound by strong bonds (Kamensky 2016). Since ancient times, the motherland for its inhabitant has been not only a source of subsistence, but also an integral part of his or her continuation. Thoroughly knowing all the secrets and vagaries of his motherland, included in its biological rhythms, an individual was a whole with it and was afraid to even imagine himself or herself outside his or her native land.
It should be noted that patriotism is characteristic not only, and not so much for nation-states, but also for multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. One of the classic examples of a multinational state is the United States of America. Exploring the reasons for the victory of the American revolution, which led to the formation of the United States, the question of loyalty is forced to be asked.
It was something that united representatives of different nationalities into a single nation – emigrants from Europe who were not interconnected either by a common past, or by family ties, or the centuries-old practice of traditions and customs. Historically, all 13 colonies of British America were very different from each other (Hoffer 2019). They differed not only in geographical and climatic conditions, but also in priority types of activity, social composition, way of life, specific traditions and religion, all of which made these colonies unique and inimitable.
However, contrary to their differences, the colonies also had common features. It allowed them to remain loyal to their cause in order to gain independence. Numerous geographical, economic, social and cultural factors created the prerequisites for the creation of a new state. To begin with, the colonies were compact. The population of English colonies differed in the heterogeneity of culture and religious beliefs, but the English language and common values created the conditions for the unity of all colonists.
The emigrants considered it appropriate to adopt the system of laws under which they had previously lived in their homeland, and to continue their connection with it. The colonists who left the Old World were in almost the same position., There was completely no sense of any superiority among emigrants over others (Shorto 2017). The bulk of these people who left their homeland were not the happiest and richest people. They were sent into exile, but poverty, just like adversity, is the best guarantee of equality between people in the world. The driving force of all these extraordinary people was the desire for freedom – religious, political, and cultural. At the root, it was a desire to get away from any form of dictatorship and tyranny.
By the beginning of the American Revolution, much had changed in the colonies of British America, where people themselves had changed. Americans on the eve of the revolution demonstrated certain achievements in trade, culture, and politics. This can be attributed to the neutrality, which was common among certain states. These were people who already had sufficient reasons to consider themselves the original inhabitants of the continent.
They owed all their achievements, first of all, to America – the land that sheltered their ancestors and gave hope for the future. It was with America that they linked their aspirations, undertakings and dreams. The catalyst in the process of the emergence of a new nation was the colonial policy of the metropolis itself. After the end of the seven-year war, one after another the economic acts of parliament followed, which aimed to establish complete control of the metropolis over the colonies.
An important principle of the functioning of the institutions of power to the leaders of the patriotic movement was representation. The problem of representation of the North American population in the power structures of the states of the Confederation arose during the War of Independence especially sharply as a result of the abolition of the old corporate system of distribution of deputies. Using this system, colonial legislatures determined the number of deputies who went to legislative assemblies from counties, cities and parishes of the country. The corporate system of representation was largely a reflection of the peculiarities of the mentality of a person of the new time, who, despite the development of individualistic attitudes, retained an orientation toward traditional community values.
It helped to preserve the power in the hands of wealthy elites, most of which were accumulated in the wealthy and old regions. They often had significant advantages in the number of deputies over the newer regions. This was supported by the widespread theory of property-based representation in England. The political elite of the North American colonies supported the position that property – the most important of natural human rights – cannot be sufficiently protected until the people who possess it dominate the state legislature (Shorto 2017). The disadvantage of the corporate system was that it was easy to manipulate in the interests of certain groups close to the authorities. In addition, a significant portion of the population of the colonies was not represented at all in the legislatures of North America.
It is important to consider the characteristic features of the new British colonial policy of 1763-1765 carried out during the Prime Minister’s stay, its consequences for the development of the North American colonies and its influence on the formation of the ideology of the patriotic movement. The signing of a peace treaty between Paris and England in Paris ended the seven-year war. At the same time, the king’s government, happy with a victory in a protracted conflict, experienced an extremely difficult financial crisis due to the enormous material costs of maintaining a large army.
To compensate for the damage caused to the state treasury by participating in the war, the English parliament, at the initiative of the prime minister, decided to impose new direct and indirect taxes on the population of 13 colonies. However, this measure had not only a specific pragmatic goal, but was one of the most important elements of the new course of the colonial policy of England.
The main content of this program was the establishment of close economic, political and cultural ties between England and its North American colonies. Rich in natural resources and minerals, possessing developed agriculture and industry, territories on the Atlantic coast were necessary for the stability and successful development of the British Empire. The British of this century smoked American tobacco, ate American sugar, cereals and fish, dressed in fabrics dyed by American dyes, and sailed on ships built from the American forest.
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However, by the middle of the XVIII century the economic and cultural prosperity of the North American colonies was not only a source of profit for Great Britain. The unceasing struggle for power and spheres of influence between the British governors and local legislative assemblies, and more and more often flared uprisings against the colonial administration, testified to the deep crisis that hit the empire.
However, in the later periods, British colonial empire was on the verge of collapse. The Prime Minister began to energetically lead the policy of strengthening the colonial administration. In the years 1763-1764, the number of the British army in the North American colonies increased. In response to the complaints of the commander-in-chief of the British troops in the colonies, who had difficulty in providing the army because of the hostility of the Americans, the parliament began discussing a bill on billeting, which would allow troops to live in civilian homes during military operations.
At the same time, customs reform was carried out and the law of the English parliament ordered customs officers in the colonies to conduct a mandatory inspection of all merchant ships and to bring to justice the sailors who smuggled in their ships. The number of customs officers increased, and most of them began to make up visitors from the metropolis (Taylor 2016). Local officials did not want or could not enter into confrontation with the wealthy colonial bourgeoisie profiting from smuggling.
As a reaction to oppression in the colonies, the anti-colonial movement for freedom and equality of rights of the colonists begins to unfold, and the appearance of a patriotic organization dates back to 1765. The northern part of the colonial America was more likely to be radicalized compared to other southern states due to their common struggles. Patriot leaders, the colonial press, communications committees took an organizational role and called on the colonists to combat the illegal exploitation and discrimination of the colonists, for the equal rights of the British and Americans, and a boycott of British goods.
The platform of patriots found a lot of support among the widest sections of the population (Kamensky 2016). The conflict began to acquire a nationwide character and the leading idea in speeches of patriots, resolutions of local assemblies, in the dreams and hearts of Americans was the idea of a struggle for the rights and freedoms of American colonists from unjust decrees of the mother country.
A truly significant event in history was the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The social and philosophical provisions of the Declaration on the Equality of the Natural Rights of People, on a social contract between the government and citizens, on the right of the people to depose an autocratic government that infringes on the interests of the people, formed the spiritual unity of people, fighting for social harmony to become a reality.
After signing the document, Washington addressed the soldiers and officers of the American army, urging the patriots to take their duty seriously and to mobilize all their forces in the fight against the formidable enemy (Hoffer 2019). The American army demonstrated high morale and the war for US independence brought many Americans of different social status and origin to the forefront. However, all of them, regardless of their past, are related by the all-consuming love of the motherland, their sincere desire to serve him and even their willingness to give their lives for this place.
In conclusion, the unification of Americans under the banner of the struggle for rights and freedoms ensured a favorable outcome for America. People have never shown such political activity before and its growth was stimulated by the conviction of the righteousness of the common cause to protect their land and property, rights and freedoms. Over time, the history of the American Revolution began to take on a romantic halo, its heroes became a legend, ideal and subject to admiration.
Many holidays and traditions come from the history of the American Revolution. Stories about the lives of heroes, famous aphorisms, memorials, places of military glory of the American army and even images of US presidents on dollar bills are the main means of educating the patriotic spirit in America. There is reason to believe that patriotism, which is one of the main components of the American mentality, has grown on the basis of the value of freedom, which was extremely actualized during the years of the War of Independence.
Hoffer, Peter Charles. 2019. Law and People in Colonial America. MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Kamensky, Jane. 2016. A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley. NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Shorto, Russell. 2017. Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom. NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Taylor, Alan. 2016. American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. NY: W. W. Norton & Company.