Revolutionary America

Revolutionary America

TOPIC: The social and political climate in England and how it differed in the colonies.

In England, the structure of government reflected the structure of society, with the citizenry accepting and agreeing that the the good, the well-born, and the socially qualified should govern.

In practice, this translated to an aristocratic few, the great landowners, for in England, land remained the key to society, to political power, and to prestige. This society of landowners and their servants did not have a high regard for imagination and change and was characterized by a powerful conservatism and a social order resistant to all but the familiar, the known, and the conventional (Middlekauff, 2005).

With regard to the colonies, this conservatism manifested itself in Britain’s unyielding view of the parent-child metaphor – that the colonies were by definition dependent and subordinate to the mother country. This, coupled with fiscal concerns and an underlying sense of superiority and snobbery (Middlefauff, 2005), led to the British government’s eventual determination to bring the colonies under closer control, reassert parliamentary authority, and restore them to a proper state of dependence (Brown, 2000).

In America, the model for colonial society was mainly English. In their speech, dress, tastes and living arrangements the colonists resembled the people of provincial England. Yet, there were important differences: property in land was far more widely distributed than in Britain; there was no single, established national church that dominated the colonies; and where Britain had a large class of tenants and farm laborers, all the colonies had slave labor (Brown, 2000).

Politically, by 1776, the Americans had become almost completely self-governing, with representative government prevalent in all 13 colonies. Provincial assemblies, legislatures, county, town, and parish governments gave order to their lives, saw to their local interests, and had much to do...

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