The Treaty of Paris ironically enough led directly to the loss of the American colonies. Probably it only forestalled an inevitable separation. Most of the American colonists were descended either from British emigrants who had left their homeland with bitter feelings, or from continental exiles whose ties with England were negligible. The actively rebellious elements were supplied mainly by New Englanders of British ancestry or by recent Presbyterian immigrants from Ulster. There was a strong pro-English party in the colonies, but it was small numerically, and some at least of the upper class, who would have been most attached to the British connection, were alienated, as Washington was, by the arrogance of British officers during the Seven Years' War. Wolfe regarded the colonial troops with contempt, and men like Washington did not forget the insults they had received.

American opinion was beginning to be governed by the frontier outlook, with its westward inclination and impatience of European control and European entanglements and standards. Even before the Seven Years' War the Navigation Acts, which allowed goods to be carried in English ships only and not in colonial or French vessels, had been tolerated only because their more irritating provisions were nullified by smuggling. The most respectable merchants of Boston were implicated in the traffic and found the high tariffs a distinct advantage to them in selling smuggled duty-free goods.

Perhaps the worst difficulty was that the mutual jealousy of the thirteen, colonies made it impossible to establish a united government. When grievances were to be expressed there was no one entitled to speak in the name of all thirteen colonies, and receive more respectful attention from the British Government than the representative of Massachusetts could obtain.