Topics for this Section:


During the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, the English colonies of North America grew rapidly. By 1780, Philadelphia was larger than any other city in the English-speaking world except London (though many of Philadelphia's citizens actually spoke German). The area of permanent European settlement was pushed quite rapidly from the seacoast to the trans-Appalachian interior. And that growing population was remarkably diverse. Ethnic groups which had fought each other for centuries in Europe settled with minimal friction into various parts of British North America. Revolutionary leaders in the English colonies would soon select as their national motto the phrase "e pluribus unum"—from the many, one—from diversity, unity. Whether the revolutionary leaders could turn that hopeful phrase into actual fact was a different matter, but the phrase was certainly appropriate to the historical realities of the day.