Salutary Neglect Essay

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Beginning with the earliest settlers at Jamestown and continuing throughout the colonial period, the colonies were a land of rapid growth and change. The British policy of salutary neglect influenced the development of colonial society. This will be shown through developments in colonial legislative assemblies, commerce, and religion. Britain’s lack of involvement in the colonies due to various events led the colonies towards developing self-governments. The colonies’ independent streak involving self-government began to show itself early on in colonial history with the development of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619. This miniature parliament was the first of many to be developed in America. Later on, England’s submergence into civil war led some colonies to take the first steps in developing intercolonial political unity. The New England Confederation was created by the Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies who took it upon themselves to defend against French and Indian threats now that the English government was busy elsewhere. The Confederation also dealt with intercolonial issues such as criminals who fled from one colony to another and runaway slaves. Finally, Britain was guilty of poor colonial management involving the payment of their royal governors. The royal governors’ salaries were controlled by the colonial assemblies, so the governors’ power was limited from the start. This allowed colonial assemblies to assert their authority. Britain’s inadequate role as a colonial administrator in this regard helped plant the early seeds of colonial political independence in much the same way as it would with colonial commerce. Britain gave early freedom to the colonies regarding economics and the colonies came to expect this freedom. When the earliest colonies were first planted, it was up to enterprising settlers like John Rolfe to determine how the colonies were going to turn a profit. It was the colonies not the British government who decided what...
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