To what extent did ideas of self-government influence American colonial reaction to British imperial authority from 1754 to 1776?

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With a question such as this one, you can focus on the degree to which the rhetoric of the American Revolution tended to stress self-government and independence, even as you should also keep in mind that there was a larger deterioration of British-colonial relations over the period in question, which would have shaped these colonial opinions regarding the cause of independence to begin with.

Ultimately, the rhetoric of the Revolution makes it difficult to argue against the claim that ideas of self-governance would have played a critical role within it. For example, consider that the Declaration of Independence's entire purpose is to justify the American claim to self-governance, charging that Britain had acted tyrannically and thus broken the initial social contract between government and governed where the colonies are concerned. Thus, it holds, separation from Britain is a legitimate act.

At the same time, however, it is important to remember that there is a longer context present (especially given the periodization your question refers to). Here, two points should be recognized: the first is that, for much of colonial history, the American colonies had already enjoyed a great deal of self-government to begin with. In this sense, the French and Indian War represented a dramatic turning point, after which the British government would reverse course on its earlier outlook, implementing a more interventionalist policy towards the colonies.

Thus, you will find that, over the years following that change, the British-colonial relationship would have gradually deteriorated over time. If you look at 1763, for example, most colonists would have still seen themselves primarily as British subjects, and in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, patriotic sentiment towards Britain would have been high. Gradually, over the course of years, this sentiment would be poisoned and relations between colonists and Britain would deteriorate, ultimately to the point of war.

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