What does the statement "American society was depicted more by division than by unity" mean?What factors united Americans and what factors were more divisive?

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ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The statement "American society was depicted more by division than by unity" indicates that colonial society was defined more by the divisions within society than by unifying elements.  Particularly in the period before 1740, colonists did not perceive themselves as being part of a cohesive national unit.

In the early years of colonization in the New World, though the settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth were both composed of English settlers, each colony viewed the other with disdain.  This is especially true of how Plymouth viewed the settlers of Jamestown.  In 1660, the Navigation Acts greatly restricted trade in the colonies, creating unrest primarily among the merchants in New England; however, the Southern colonies were not equally affected by the Acts, thus perceiving the issue as New England's problem and not theirs.  These examples illustrate that colonists held a very strong sense of regionalism.  Virginians differentiated themselves from the other colonies, and the other colonies did the same.

This sense of regionalism really did not give way to a sense of unity until the 1750s, when colonists first began to realize that the measures of control implemented by Great Britain affected them all.  The Stamp Act of 1765, for example, did not target a particular occupation.  Requiring people to pay for stamps to notarize all documents, including marriage licenses, deeds, and wills, the Stamp Act pertained to everyone who wished to marry, own land, or inherit property.  The Townsend Revenue Acts, the Tea Act, and the Quartering Act, among others, only served to increase the sense of solidarity developing in the colonial population.