What Was America Like in the Late 1700s?

America in the late 1700s was a place of political, social and economic unrest. Marked by significant events like the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution and subsequent separation from imperial England, this era was the birthplace of the country.

Following the conclusion of the French and Indian War, tension began to build between England and its colonies in North America. To pay off its war debt, the British government passed a number of laws increasing taxation on the American colonists, many of which destabilized the colonial economy and further incited anti-English sentiment.

Two important events, the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773, helped to further fan the flames of revolution. By 1775, the loyalist governor of Massachusetts had declared the situation an “open rebellion” against the throne, and on July 4, 1776, a number of important colonists (including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock) wrote and issued the historic Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

Over the next seven years, the American colonial army fought for freedom from England, which they eventually won with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. However, war left the new country crippled with economic depression and an uncertain governing infrastructure.

The last 15 years of the century were highlighted by differing views of how the new American government should operate, debates over the morality of slavery and the creation of the U.S. Constitution.