17th century political and religious turmoil

During the seventeenth century, England’s new colonies began to develop without any real governmental plan or control. The colonies were ventures with charters from the British government but there was no true supervision of support because of political turmoil in the colonies. When the chaos was over the monarchy was resolved and differences in religions became more prevalent. Britain had been transformed into a constitutional monarchy in which the crown and Parliament jointly ruled.

The British state became stronger and more centralized. The economic theory of mercantilism guided the colonies’ economic development and was implemented I the Navigation Acts. The Navigation Acts of 1650, 1651, 1660 and 1663 set forth two essential rules for governing trade. First the specification was that colonial goods had to be transported in English ships with predominately English crews. The second was that the shipping of products could only be made only to England or other English colonies.

By the end of the seventeenth century, colonial trade had regulations in place that subjected all shippers and merchants to royal supervision, protection from the English navy and access to market areas throughout the English empire. The trade regulations also gave a great economic value to the ownership of the American colonies by England. In the absence of British control new colonies such as Pennsylvania, New Netherland and South Carolina, were developed in the second half of the seventeenth century, each in a different manner than the others.

The most successful offered opportunity and religious toleration to its colonies. By the end of the century, Virginians lived through rebellion designed to secure economic opportunity and a legislative government that would protect that opportunity and Virginia had developed into a slave society complete with laws regulating slave behavior and protecting an owner’s rights to his property. In Massachusetts the Puritans lost control of their world. They had to contend with prosperity, conflicts with their neighbors and the region’s deadliest Indian war known as King Philip’s war.

This war left the colonists with an extremely large war deficit, devastated land and a devout hatred for Indians. In 1676, an investigation was started by an agent of the king to see if New England was abiding by the laws of England that were set forth. The agent was not surprised to find that various deflections form the rules of England were being practiced so the decision was made to govern New England more closely. Over the next few years, the Massachusetts charter was revoked and other colonies north of Maryland as well as Massachusetts were then incorporated into the Dominion of New England.

This dominion was governed by Sir Edmund Andros who was appointed by England. There were some that cooperated with Sir Andros but most of the colonists were upset at the blatant disregard for Puritan traditions such as keeping the Sabbath since the revocation of the charter directly conflicted the distinctiveness of Puritan government. The northern colonies developed much more differently than the colonies in the south. The Puritans in New England created societies and governments based around their religion and churches and placed worshipping God at the center instead of the very lucrative tobacco industry.

Although changes and implementation of laws, rules and regulations conflicted with religion throughout the colonies the political developments were much more to blame for much of the grief colonists endured. The constant struggle for power, control and money led to some leaders being jailed, some overthrown and some even executed. But somehow through it all the colonies continued to develop and eventually became the states and cities we know today.

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