Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Each colony constructed itself around the ruling class of people and even in a manner that would better help them get the most of the land that they had settled on. Giving each of the colonies their own types of charters and grants, was how the monarchy gave each of the colonies the ability and, in essence, the right to govern themselves and have a feeling of autonomy from each other and from the Crown. The monarch sent them out to settle the land and exploit it. In return, the monarch saw a way to rid himself of those that were under his skin and to increase his coffers.
As the decades went by in the New World, the colonies found themselves creating a new society vastly different than the ones they had left in Europe. This was not an England on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not a Germany, France, or any other country. It was America. Looking deeper at the colonies developing up to the late 1770s, it can be seen that the colonists were showing an increase in the “fascination with power and authority, a determination to make a world anew in yet untested images.” Though viewed by many across the ocean, the colonists were developing a deep, yet simple, economic system that would help them stand on their own feet and become their own leaders. Even their politics were unusual and all-American.
Many that came from the mother country found themselves lost in colonial politics. Each colony had its own version of government in which they could not be meshed together or work well together. Local officials were elected by those that owned land. The towns in New England truly ruled themselves and determined the rules of voting and how the governing of the land should be carried out. Other colonies had leaders selected or appointed by the monarch or even the proprietor of the colony. Women began to have a little more authority in the courts and in their lives in a few colonies such as New York and Virginia. The colonies were changing constantly from the countries that created them as more and more settlers from all walks of life and other cultures made their way there and put down roots.
An economy developed that produced many exports and imports. America had become a big player in European markets. Add this with politics that had “emerged as assertive, provincially driven, institutionally sophisticated, and cohesive” and Britain was creating a child that was strong, independent and a rival to its own mother. The problem was that Britain could not see this at this point.
The Seven Years War became the turning point in the relationship between Britain and the American colonies. The war Britain raged on France in Europe spilled over into the colonies. Before the French and Indian War, the American campaign of the European Sevens Year War, Britain was content to let the colonies do what they will as long as the overall laws were followed and that trade continued to build up the treasury. They had “undertaken minimal contact with, or interference in, the internal affairs of the North American colonies.” They had passed the Navigation Acts, but overall these were accepted by the colonies. Mainly, because they were prone to ignore parts of acts passed if it would cripple the economy and obeyed the ones that seemed to make sense to them.
Benjamin Franklin. ‘”Benevolus’” On the Propriety of Taxing America’. Franklin Papers, http://franklinpapers.org/franklin/framedVolumes.jsp. (accessed April, 20, 2011).
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