A Great Leap
“I am not a Virginian, but an American.”
Patrick Henry, delegate to the First Continental Congress, 1774
The colonists’ grievances against British authority led them to organize together across the colonies. In turn, that organization gradually built a sense of connection to others who shared common ideas and demonstrated common commitments. As the dispute intensified, patriots slowly disconnected from British authorities and their own Loyalist neighbors. In 1776 their experience of shared resistance led them to embrace a new political identity.
The Power of the People
Massachusetts officials used this preprinted form to appoint William Silvester a justice of the peace in 1776. They crossed out the authority of George III and replaced it with the authority of “the Government and People of Massachusetts-Bay.”