Talk about how Americans came to think of themselves as Americans. What war changed their thinking, and how is that war remembered? Did the Americans succeed? Who remembers this war in the most favorable light? What is unique about this war?
This is a great question. When settlers came to the new world, they did not see themselves as Americans at first. They were colonies of England. In this regard they saw themselves as British living abroad. However, as the colonies grew more independent, they began to see themselves as something other.
More than anything else, it was the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) that created a new self-perception. The colonies revolted and they saw themselves as a new nation - Americans.
In particular, the thirteen colonies resented the lack of representation in parliament, even though they paid taxes - notably the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773.
On July 4, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. On September 3, 1783, there was a treaty. Great Britain finally and formally recognized the United States in the Treaty of Paris.
From this historical backdrop, the decisive step towards an American identity was the Revolutionary War. Therefore, for Americans the Revolutionary War is remembered as a fight for freedom and liberty. Americans see this war as a great victory and a source of pride.