Colonial American politics

Colonial American politics

The colonial history of America begins as early as the sixteenth century. Moreover, American colonial history is quite different from that of other colonized nations of the world. The primary reason for this is that North America has seen colonizers from France, Portugal, and England coming and settling there. Each colonizing nation had its particular form of Christianity and its own specific set of customs. For example, if the French colonizers belonged to the Catholic faith, then the British colonizers made an effort to put a distance between themselves and the Church of England. Thus, the politics of the American colonies were deeply influenced by the religious beliefs of the colonizers. Similarly, the colonizers belonged to various strata of society. Unlike other colonized nations, the colonizers did not come to North America to acquire resources. Instead, they came to settle down in the new country. This meant the colonizers belonged to the mercantile classes and tradespeople. Some of them were also preachers and people belonging to other similar professions. Hence, their professional backgrounds too played a significant role in shaping the politics of colonial America. 

Some of the primary features of the politics of colonial America that are also the popular topics for custom essay writing are as follows:

Role of religion

The religious beliefs of the settlers profoundly influenced the colonial politics of America. For example, the Pilgrim Fathers came to America in search of a new life and to flee the persecution they were facing in the hands of the Church of England. They belonged to the Protestant faith, and hence, establishing a Protestant Church in America became a priority amongst the early English settlers. They believed that converting the Native Americans to the Protestant faith was also essential to make their political position in North America stronger. Thus, for the early English settlers, religion played a crucial role in local politics. Followers of any other faith were disregarded and suspected. Similarly, the Presbyterians, Quakers, Anglicans, too, started protecting their beliefs and religious convictions fiercely. Political turmoil and tension, thus, grew amongst the colonizers, but the root of these problems was religion. 

Participation in the governing of the colonies

Entire North America was not a single colony but divided into numerous territories. The British Constitution influenced the Thirteen Colonies of British America. Hence, before the incident of the Boston Tea Party, the British Americans were loyal to King George and the British Crown. Therefore, the politics and the economic and political policies of British Americans were influenced by the political atmosphere of Britain. 

Moreover, the reforms and the state politics of the Thirteen Colonies of British America were influenced by the Whig policies of the British Parliament. Similarly, the Napoleonic Wars too changed the political atmosphere of North America. Napoleon needed funds to continue waging war against Great Britain. To do so, he sold Louisiana for fifteen million dollars. Thus, Louisiana, too, came under the direct rule of the United States of America. This completely changed the political condition of Louisiana. The friction began because a large part of the Appalachian territory, which was a part of Louisiana, belonged to Spain. But this too was resolved after the Pinckney Treaty, thereby making Louisiana firmly a part of the USA. Thus, a rudimentary form of a federal system of governance began to develop across North America. Thus, the politics of Colonial America were also influenced by the various treaties and events occurring across the Atlantic.

Participation in local politics and courts

The local bodies also influenced the politics of colonial America. Since the philosophy of American politics is anti-monarchical, the involvement of people or the 'common man' in the politics of this new country became essential. People belonging to the mercantile classes, tradespeople, farmers, and artisans were actively involved in local politics. They participated in the voting processes and were involved in setting up local bodies that would work for the welfare of the communities. This resulted in studying law and becoming a lawyer, a much sought after profession in America. The local courts were proactive at handling both civil and criminal matters. This meant lawyers had to have a thorough knowledge of the political and legal conditions of the country. Knowledge of the American legal system also became necessary for anyone wishing to pursue a career in politics. Thus, it came to be observed that more and more political leaders of America were lawyers by profession. The policies and legislative framework of the American colonies were such that it prioritized the common man.

Free communities

Since colonial American politics was mostly dependent on the participation of individuals from all professions and backgrounds, it became evident that political thought was free from discriminations. The communities believed in the form of equality and did not discriminate based on occupation. Unlike other countries like France and Spain, which firmly believed in a hierarchical and feudal structure of governance, the colonial politics of America was based on equality. The white American male was allowed to vote, and this was the early stages of the development of a democratic form of governance that prevails today. Although this may sound discriminatory, yet it was the beginning of the idea of an elected form of government that prioritized the welfare of the people. Thus, the early American colonies consisted of free communities that believed in ruling themselves. These beliefs went on to shape American politics and the Constitution of today. 

Thus, colonial American politics was shaped by religious beliefs, cultural identities, and freedom of thought. Participation in local politics also went on to develop the politics of colonial America. But since the colonizers were looking to settle in this 'new country' and start life anew, new and modern thought processes began to emerge. This meant people from all backgrounds came and settled in America. Settlers from various backgrounds expect economic and political policies that will take care of the welfare of all immigrants. All of these led to the development of colonial American politics and, by extensionColonial American politics, the modern American political scenario.  


1011 Words


Apr 16, 2020


3 Pages

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