Regional Economy and the American Revolution

Regional Economy and the American Revolution

Advancements in transportation and communication within colonial America in the 18th century helped create the conditions for independence.


3 - 12


Social Studies, Civics, U.S. History

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Improvements in transportation and communication have shaped the history of many countries. The United States is an example. The American Revolution wouldn't have happened without the important changes that came before it.

The American Revolution was an uprising against British colonial rule. It was made possible by two things. One was the spread of roads connecting the colonies. The other was advances in communication. These improvements helped tie the 13 North American colonies together. Before, the colonies had felt closer to Britain than to each other.

There was no sense of a unified America in the early colonial period. Settlers did not think of themselves as Americans. They lived in scattered communities along the Atlantic coast. Their settlements were separated by large areas of wilderness. Travel was mostly by water.

Towns and Cities Spring up

By the early 1700s, many harbor towns had sprung up. Soon, some coastal trade had developed. In time, inland areas were also settled. Land routes were slowly cleared.

Several important coastal cities developed during the 1700s. As they grew, new roads were built to connect them.

In the mid-1700s, new post roads were built. For the first time, mail could be delivered between the 13 colonies. Suddenly, they were better connected to each other. Over time, post roads grew into intercolonial highways. This led to major growth in trade between colonies.

Newspapers were very important, too. Once, there had been none at all in North America. In time, a few were founded, but at first they were not independent. They mostly printed news from the British government.

Over time, that changed. More newspapers sprung up. Known as "gazettes," they were now printed in every colony. They no longer simply printed what the British government told them to print. Instead, they wrote about events happening around North America.

Common Interests

Colonists from Maine to Georgia read the gazettes every week. By doing so, they learned about each other. They began to see that they shared many common interests with colonists elsewhere. For the first time, they began to feel like Americans.

The gazettes also published writers like Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine. These men spoke out against British rule. Many thousands read their words. Soon, their ideas were being discussed across North America.

Improvements in transportation and communication had caused a great change. The colonists now felt like one people. In 1776, they took the final step. They declared their independence from Britain.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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