English colonies in North America are territories that were under the British Empire. It covered most parts of the present day United States of America and Canada. The immigrants who migrated from Europe and settled in these new territories shared many aspects in terms of their political, economic, and religious institutions with their original homelands with minimal differences.
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The political institutions started in the English colonies varied greatly, but by the mid 17th century, the majority of them were similar. This was because the colonies changed in royal provinces. The process was also the same in such private colonies as Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The governor was the equivalent of the crown, and there was an appointed office except for Rhode Island and Connecticut where it was elective. Like the crown, they had immense powers that at times exceeded that of the crown (Martin 85). Their responsibilities covered implementing colonial and trade laws, appointing officers to fill judicial and administrative posts, and ensuring that justice prevailed. The difference with the crown in England was that the governors took part in formulating laws.
The advisory council of the governor assumed the roles of the Privy Council and the House of Lords in England. The difference with the British model was that the council worked as a superior court in certain colonies. Another difference was that, in the three colonies, members were elected to the council. The law making body was the colonial assembly’s lower house, and its roles were the same as those of the House of Commons in England. The administration of justice was carried out by the justices of peace working through the local courts as in England (Martin 138). There emerged variations with the English model in terms of the main unit of the local government in some colonies. The parish was the main unit in Georgia and South Carolina while in New England colonies it was the town.
Political institutions are intertwined with economic development. The slow adoption and, in other cases, the lack of political institutions like in England made the regulation of commerce in the colonies difficult. The Acts of Trade and Navigation were the main tools used to regulate commerce in the colonies, but the colonists ignored them as if they were not beneficial to them. Economically, the colonies were very different from the English motherland, because they practiced a form of economic radicalism which was absent in England. The society in the colonies measured social status in terms of wealth not inheritance. A common man was able to move upwards economically in the colonies compared to England in the sense that economic opportunity was available to everyone. In England, ascending the economic ladder was associated with relationship with the Crown and nobility.
Religion in the colonies was diverse as compared with England which was dominated by the Anglican Church. The Puritans were mainly found in New England’s colonies and had stronger impact on America than other religious groups. They believed in the teachings of John Calvin and exercised high moral standards (Middleton & Lombard 173). The majority of people in the southern regions were the followers of the Anglican Church. Compared with the Puritans, they were easy going. The Scotch-Irish, who settled in western parts of Pennsylvania, were Presbyterians.
People migrated to the colonies to seek religious freedom, especially the Puritans and the Catholics, and for economic reasons, because in England, there was a limited chance for growth and search of land and social freedom (Martin 29).
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