The English Colonies in America
After the discovery of the American continent, there was a continuous migration of people from Europe to the New World. South America was colonized by Spain. The English and the French established their colonies in the North America. By the mid eighteenth century, the English had established their thirteen colonies along the Atlantic coast. Landless peasants, people seeking religious freedom and traders had settled there. Initially the relationship between the colonies and British Government was cordial. Although these colonies were controlled through the governors, they enjoyed political freedom. Each colony had its own assembly elected by the people. It enacted laws concerning local matters. However, the policies followed by the home government (Britain) had resulted in the confrontation. This ultimately led to the American War of Independence at the end of which the colonies became independent. There were several causes for this war.
The British Government followed the policy of mercantilism. According to this policy the colonies existed for the benefit of the mother country. The colonies were expected to furnish raw materials. They had to serve as markets for produced goods. Moreover, the colonies had to ship their goods only in British ships. In these ways the colonies were expected to add more wealth to the home country. The British Government enacted laws to implement this policy of mercantilism.
A series of Navigation Acts were passed by the British Parliament to control the trade of the American colonies. These Acts insisted that all the goods of both exports and imports should be carried in ships owned by England. Custom collectors were appointed in the colonies to implement the Navigation Acts. But, the American colonies considered these Acts as infringement of their rights.
The Molasses Act levied heavy duties on sugar and molasses imported into the American colonies. In addition to this, a series of Trade Acts were also passed to control the trade in the colonies. For example, the Hat Act of 1732 prohibited the import of hats from one colony to the other. The Iron Act 1750 stopped the large-scale production of iron in the colonies. These Acts were opposed by the colonies.
Due to these restrictions, bitterness developed between the home government and the American colonies. They were looking for an opportunity to free themselves from the control of Britain.
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