Despite the growing conflict between Britain and her colonies, a metropolitan education
remained a popular choice for the sons of elite colonial Americans in the late colonial period. This
article explores the attitudes of the youths themselves, and of their parents, towards their London
education during a period when political conflict was engendering a growing sense of separateness.
American youths typically underwent a status crisis upon reaching the metropolis. Their insecurities
related to the usual pitfalls of genteel London life: the prospect of social isolation and vulgarity, and
the opportunities for debauchery. The parents of these colonial youths, however, shared the view of elite
British parents of the period that a public education was a necessary social apprenticeship for their
children. They regarded personal experience of the metropolis, and familiarity with its social and
political systems, as important attributes for elite colonists. Parental views on the advantages of a
metropolitan education for their sons were unaffected by the imminent breach with Britain. The status
crisis experienced by colonial youths in London was age-related; their visiting parents were
acculturated to the metropolitan environment. The article concludes by suggesting that the polarized
provincial mentality so long attributed by historians to the colonial presence in London should be
replaced by a more integrationist model which reflects the real complexity of the relationship between
colonial American elites and their mother country.