Primary Differences Between Colonial America And England

906 words - 4 pages

There were a myriad of differences between Great Britain and her American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but these differences can be divided into three basic categories: economic, social, and political. The original American settlers came to the colonies for varied reasons, but a common trait among these settlers was that they still considered themselves British subjects. However, as time passed, the colonists grew disenfranchised from England. Separated from the king by three thousand miles and living in a primitive environment where obtaining simple necessities was a struggle, pragmatism became the common thread throughout all daily life in the colonies. It was this pragmatism that led the colonists to create their own society with a unique culture and system of economics and politics.
One facet of this unique system involved the numerous economic differences between England and the colonies. The English government subscribed to the economic theory of mercantilism, which demanded that the individual subordinate his economic activity to the interests of the state (Text, 49). In order to promote mercantilism in all her colonies, Great Britain passed the Navigation Acts in 1651, which controlled the output of British holdings by subsidizing. Under the Navigation Acts, each holding was assigned a product, and the Crown dictated the quantity to be produced. The West Indies, for example, were assigned sugar production and any other colony exporting sugar would face stiff penalties (Text, 50). This was done in order to ensure the economic prosperity of King Charles II, but it also served to restrict economic freedom. The geographical layout of the American colonies made mercantilism impractical there. The cities in the northern colonies were industrial, while the fertile land in the south made those colonies agricultural. Dictating that Massachusetts produce a certain annual allowance of cotton for the crown would be ridiculous. Due to distance, the Crown was unable to directly regulate economic policy and trade within the colonies so the colonists were forced to devise a regulatory system. This system allowed “a young business man [to] borrow money and move into trade, challenging the commercial position of older, more experienced merchants” (Text, 51).
Economic factors, however, were not the only discrepancy between the colonies and England. As time passed, cultural differences became increasingly evident. Pragmatism and diversity were the overlying themes of colonial culture. Indians already lived in America and immigrants from England, France, Spain, Germany, Africa, and Holland soon arrived (Text, 41). These people were all from vastly different cultures, but mutual survival forced them to coexist peacefully. Living side by side created a mix of customs, traditions, and ideas that had never been seen in England. Over time, the different cultures merged and created a uniquely American...

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