They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. - Chapter Four, A People's History of the United States
Chapter Four of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States opens with the passage referenced above. Zinn gets straight to the point: the elite of the colonies did not fight for freedom out of some sense of justice, but to pursue their own economic interests. In the chapter, Zinn outlines how a class struggle existed within the colonies between the powerful landowners and the agrarian populations of farmers. In fact, Zinn points to eighteen different uprisings against the colonial government by the underprivileged class. By re-directing this aggression towards the king in England, the elite colonists would not be a target for the foreseeable future. This created a sense of unity within the colonies that had the effect of calming the class struggle domestically. It did not bring an end to the issue of elites and their privilege as Zinn points out towards the end of the chapter. Rioting occurred when the wealthy could buy their way out of the draft during the Revolution. Despite whatever stresses still existed, the war against England did have the effect of unifying the people against a common enemy.