Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: The crisis that severely altered the relationship between Britain and its thirteen North American colonies was fundamentally rooted in an increasingly divergent perception of control. By the 1700s, though the colonies were theoretically under the direction of Britain, the reality was that all of them were largely independent in the way they conducted their own social, political, economic and religious life. They were, to paraphrase the words of sociologists Beatrice and Sydney Webb, virtually autonomous. Distance was too great and effective governmental communication too deficient to permit a closely held control of colonial affairs. Britons may have thought they played the dominant role in the cross-Atlantic relationship, but that was a snare and a delusion. Americans may have not reached the point where they defined this circumstance as independence, but within 12 years after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, a powerful plurality of the colonists would embrace independence as a reality, and Britain’s sclerotic response made things worse.