Comparing the Governments between England and the Colonies
Between the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the most important change that occurred in the colonies was the evolution of a society quite different from that in England. Changes in religion, economics, politics, and social structure illustrate this Americanization of the transplanted Europeans.
By 1763 although some colonies still maintained established churches, other colonies had accomplished a virtual revolution for religious toleration and separation of church and state. The British, after many years of a religious revolution, had established the Anglican Church. In which the king of England was the head of this church. This resulted in almost no separation of church and state. There were several colonies that had the state and the church separate.
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One state is Rhode Island; which being a prime example of a state with religious toleration because it is founded by an outcast of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The founder decided that Rhode Island would be a haven for thinkers and other religions and such. Another state with some religious freedom was Connecticut, which gave us the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The cause of this difference was that most of the colonists had fled to the colonies to escape religious persecution.
In fact, they almost had a majority rule, therefore they did not want a powerful church to suppress or persecute them here in the new world. So they hacked the power of the church and made sure it stayed out of government affairs. In a similar economic revolution, the colonies outgrew their mercantile relationship with the mother country and developed an expanding capitalist system of their own. With Britain’s confidence in the mercantile system, it rubbed off on most of the colonies. They wanted to be self-sufficient so that they would not have to resort to help from other countries.
The Southern colonies for example relied heavily on trade with England. This was caused by the geography in the south because it was mostly a tidewater region. This allowed ships to sail deep within the south. Therefore cotton from Georgia was sent across to England, then it was made into thread or such. It was then sent back to the colonies where it was to be made into various items.
Due to the geographic location of the northern colonies, they developed a trading system that broke the basic mercantile system of thinking of the British. The northern colonies developed many trade triangles. One such triangle would be a northern captain setting out from New England with rum. This ship would then sail to the west coast of Africa and trade the rum for slaves. The captain would, of course, reek a handsome profit and with those slaves, he would then take them to the West Indies to trade them for molasses. He then took the molasses and what was left of the slaves and sold them back in the colonies. This left the Northern colonies much richer than the southern colonies.
The main reason for this difference is that Britain had always thought that the amount of money in the treasury is how powerful you were. The Americans thought that the more money you make the better off you were. It generally centred on how much-needed resources you wanted to own. The Americans saw past that and expanded heavily on trade. Therefore they could make more money.
Building on English foundations of political liberty, the colonist extend the concepts of liberty and self-government far beyond those envisioned in the mother country. Although Britain had a representative government they had a monarchy, sort of. Still, even though they had a representative government the members of parliament were not directly chosen by the people.
In Virginia, in specific Jamestown, the House of Burgesses said that representatives were to be chosen by land-owning people. Another good idea from the colonies was the Mayflower Compact which determined that important items that were put to vote were passed by majority rule. The reason for this difference was the fact that the colonies had “grown” up with very little communication from the mother country and were left to develop their own ideas on a representative government. This lack of communication was caused by the Atlantic ocean. This was a huge barrier to try to command a colony over. Also because it took such a long time for the news to travel to the colonies that they developed their own sense in government.
In opposite to the well-defined and hereditary classes of England, the colonies developed a fluid class structure that enables the industrious individual to rise on the social ladder. In England hereditary was based on the eldest son gets everything. This practice dates back to the middle ages and England practiced it then. Also in England, if a person was born in a poor class there was almost no chance for him to rise to a fairly wealthy class.
In America, there was plenty of chances for a man to rise in classes. With a rise of tobacco, wheat, rice, and all of the cash crops early day colonist rose people who could at least afford land could make a pretty penny on farming. Or if farming wasn’t your thing you could move up North and begin a small smuggling, privateer, or trading business and make a lot of money. In general, the new colonies were a treasure trove of new opportunities in which people could make a better life if they worked hard. This same feeling has attracted immigrants to the United States over the past 200 years.
The main reason for this difference was that the colonies had spawned from Britain but did not share in all of its traditions. Because of the colonies being so far away from the mother country. So many useless traditions were dropped for more favourable ones. Also, the Indian culture had some effect on the new colonist because hereditary was based on whoever the head of the house hold chose, usually it was the wife.
In conclusion, due to over 150 years of neglect, the new colonies had developed a culture and heritage quite unique to the Old world of thought. If Britain had not treated the colonist as cast-off the rubbish and had given them some guidance, during that 150 yrs., the colonies would not rebel. But after 1763 they insisted that they conform to the old British ways and that would eventually force the colonies into revolution.
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