Prior to the start of the American Revolution, there was considerable class dissension developing in the cities and urban regions alike. In Boston, rich and poor were at odds, with the rich trying to keep the poor humble and the poor showing growing anger toward the rich. The conflict between rich and poor in the countryside was used by political leaders to mobilize the population against England. There were strong social movements in the Northeast aimed at a handful of rich landlords. Land rioters saw the issue as poor against rich. In the northern cities where the key battles were being fought, the colonial leaders had a divided white population. The leaders could win over certain segments of society, classes that were adversely affected by the British. Most of the leadership came from the middle class and well-to-do merchant class, and they were spurred to action by the Stamp Act. Certain British actions were specifically harmful to the working class, such as the impressment and quartering of troops (Zinn, 59-66).
However, Zinn does find evidence that the races coexisted with a degree of harmony in spite of the way the blacks were brought to America, at least in the beginning. He cites evidence that the races found themselves with common problems, common concerns, common work, and a common enemy in the form of their master. Black and white servants showed little concern about their physical differences in the seventeenth century, and this fact led to the imposition of racially divisive laws by the government to prevent the fraternization that was taking place.
The development of gender roles for women in American society was affected by a variety of factors producing the patriarchal system that created a particular place for women, a place largely in the home, separated from much of society as a protection, and relegating women to certain specific roles and no others. Women were treated in certain ways like the black slaves. Both had a certain