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    Nationalism as a Powerful Uniting Force During the American Revolution

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    Nationalism, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” In the year leading up to the Revolutionary War, nationalism became very common in the colonies. However, it affected different sides of the revolution, leading to a sense of unity among some and conflict between others. During the revolutionary war, a pervasive sense of nationalism united the Patriots and Loyalists on opposites sides while dividing the two sides.

    First off, nationalism was a strong uniting force between the Patriots in America. One of the greatest factors causing them to band together were the common injustices inflicted upon them by the British. The stamp act was one of these influential British actions, which, according to American Stories by Jason Ripper, was a tax on various, commonly used paper products, and “the colonists were not happy about this tax, and at town hall meetings, during sessions of legislature, and in broadsides and pamphlets they expressed their opinions” (66). The offended colonists assembled together in various ways, bonding over their shared indignance.

    Additionally, the article “Religion and the American Revolution” brings out the influence of the Quebec Act; it led to an invasion of Canada and fanned the flames of the revolution. Seeing Canada gain independence while America was not allowed its own independence, only made colonists see themselves as more of an actual nation. (If Canada can have it, why can’t we?) Eventually, an “Us vs. Them” mentality developed among the Patriots as evidenced by Abigail Adams letters. She wrote “many of our Heroes will spend their lives in the cause [fighting the British]” (Ripper 70). The colonists viewed their own as “heroes” while forming a sense of nationalism over a common enemy, the British.

    On the other side of the coin, the Loyalists were also united by nationalism, but in this case, to Britain. As evidenced by their name, they remained loyal to Britain, which is shown in the textbook; “Loyalists…honored King George and wanted to remain part of the British Empire…Loyalists flocked to Manhattan to enjoy the safe company of their peers and to avoid the abuse of their irate Patriot neighbors” (Ripper 83). Loyalists had a sense of nationalism toward Britain and, as cultural transplants, bonded together like oil in water – in a Patriot environment, the Loyalists were repelled by their revolutionary spirit and beaded together.

    Furthermore, many slaves were part of the Loyalist group because of the injustices caused by Americans and the promise of emancipation by Britain. In the colonies, the more immediate enemy perceived by the African-American slaves were the American colonists. So, the African-Americans were more likely to side with the country that wasn’t enslaving them, especially considering what Britain promised them. The article “African Americans in the Revolution” explains the Dunmore Proclamation which “guarantee[d] freedom to any enslaved black or indentured servant willing to take up arm to put down ‘the present horrid rebellion”. The promises of the British caused the African-American slaves to feel loyal towards Britain.

    However, while nationalism was a uniting force for both the Patriots and the Loyalists, it sharply separated the two sides. Patriots, with their loyalty to the new colonies, viewed the loyalists as traitors to their cause, even leading to very violent acts of aggression.

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    Nationalism as a Powerful Uniting Force During the American Revolution. (2022, Nov 27). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/nationalism-as-a-powerful-uniting-force-during-the-american-revolution/

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