What type of government did the New England Colonies have?


Quick Answer

The governments in the New England Colonies during the second half of the 1600s consisted of local governors elected by legislature or by white male property owners and included the town-hall meeting as part of their local-affairs system. Overall, the New England Colonies enjoyed a relatively significant degree of political autonomy until King James II ascended the British throne in 1685, but England's1688 Glorious Revolution removed James from power and loosened the autocratic grip on the American colonies. Although they were still controlled by the new British crown after James' departure, many of the New England Colonies continued to initiate legislation and vote on taxation until England asserted its supreme authority in levying taxes during the second half of the 1700s.

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Full Answer

Until the 1760s, England's unofficial, but implicit stance toward the colonies was one of "benign neglect" and exemplified the "hands-off" viewpoint of a succession of British prime ministers. It was believed that Britain's non-interference in colonial economic and political matters would allow the colonies to grow and prosper, and to do otherwise would result in alienation and harm trade relations. England's imposition of the Stamp Act of 1765 and other taxation policies marked a crucial departure from this approach and led to the well-known 1773 protest called the Boston Tea Party, in which taxable British tea was dumped into Boston's harbor by angry colonists. Britain's Parliament issued further acts, designed to curtail liberties and act as punitive measures. These actions only served to heighten the anger of the colonies toward England and led directly to the American Revolution.

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