Scarlet Letter

Political Order

America Under the Eye of the British

  • England tried to regulate trade, and forbid colonies from trading with other European countries. England also maintained the right to tax the colonies.
  • Both TRADE and TAXATION were difficult for England to control, and so an informal agreement emerged. England regulated trade but allowed colonists the right to levy their own taxes.
  • SMUGGLERS soon exploited the English inability to guard every port by secretly trading against Parliament's wishes.

Self Government

  • Colonies in America have been practice self government since the early 1600s. The distance across the Atlantic Ocean made it safe for colonists to develop skills to govern themselves.
  • Despite Britain's efforts to control American trading, it could not oversee the entire American coastline. Colonial merchants soon learned to operate outside of British law. Both trade and taxation were difficult for England to control. Even though they regulated the trade, they allowed colonists to levy their own taxes.
  • Governors were appointed by the King and had almost complete authority
  • The first colonial legislature was the Virginia House of Burgesses (1619)
  • Legislatures controlled salary of the governor and often used this influence to keep the governors in line with colonial wishes. The legislature was elected by property holding males.
  • Colonial economies operated under mercantilism (a system based on the belief that colonies existed in order to increase the mother country's wealth).
  • Smugglers soon exploited Britain's inability to guard every port they were secretly trading from, (against Parliament's wishes). Taxes then became levied by the crown and that terrified the colonists.
  • Official religion was Puritan


  • English Crown granted various proprietors and chartered companies authority to establish colonies in America
  • These grants formed the basis for an extraordinary devolution of political authority from the English Crown to separate polities in the New World
  • Except for New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, both of which were started under the direct supervision of the Crown, these colonies were private ventures little supervised by the English
  • Charters of royal colonies provided for direct rule by the king.