Before Canada made contact with Europe in 1000 A.D., its territory was largely inhabited by the First Nations people (Blakemore par. 4). The Spanish and Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore and establish settlements in Canada, with the French arriving later in the 16th century. As the French established and developed their colonies, the British joined them. The British developed interest in colonizing Canada, which they showed by establishing colonies in Hudson Bay, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Later on, the British established their dominance in Canada and the North American region, which led to the creation of the thirteen colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. These colonies had similar legal, religious and political systems. Nonetheless, they were bound to be affected by British expansionism on the Atlantic coast and westward. With that in mind, this paper explores the impacts that Britain's territorial advances in Canada and North America had on the thirteen colonies.
The Beginning of the British Rule in Canada
With the French already building their colonies in Canada in the 16th century, territorial advances later by the British were likely to result in a war between these two European powerhouses over control of Canada. In comparison, Blakemore stated that the British colonies were bigger than the French colonies and largely depended on an Agrarian-based economy (par. 7). Besides, while the British colonies were more densely populated, the French colonies maximized their resources by establishing valuable trade contacts and associations with Native Canadian communities. However, despite their efforts to get the natives to support them, the French could not overpower the British forays. Therefore, the French had to surrender their Canadian colonies to the British in 1763 by signing the Treaty of Paris, which ended their protracted war over dominance in North America (Blakemore par. 9).
During the French rule, the Roman Catholic Church oversaw issues such as religious activities in Canada. When the British drove the French away, they allowed the Roman Catholics to continue exercising their administrative duties and only required the priests to focus on parochial roles and leave civic matters to the British. Additionally, the British ensured that they upheld the old laws and customs that governed the Canadian people. A review by Bourinot of formal publications between 1764 and 1774 indicated that during the ten years that Britain had occupied Canada, the British government was determined to rule French Canada justly and implement a governance system that would guarantee maximum benefits to them (29).
This determination led to the enactment of the Quebec Act, which stipulated various privileges that French Canadians would enjoy and, in turn, making Quebec Province one of the most dominant colonies in British Canada (Bourinot 29). This Act extended the territorial boundaries for Quebec Province. The new boundaries covered the eastern region that had been initially appropriated to Newfoundland. Also, the territory extended to the west and southwest regions to include Mississippi and Ohio and annexed the region beyond the Alleghanies that is now surrounded by the Appalachian and the Atlantic range. Issues concerning public and property rights were settled as per the long-standing civil law that the French had legislated. Nonetheless, the British enforced the English criminal law in the new Quebec Province since they felt that this law's lenity and certainty was already being experienced by the natives throughout the decade.
Having been freed from the anxiety caused by the French rule, inhabitants of the Thirteen colonies surrounded by the Appalachian range and the Atlantic Ocean gained became fond of the local self-governance upheld by the British colonialists. These colonies, eventually, laid the foundation for a powerful federal nation aided by the British parliamentary institutions, the power of the common law, and the prosperity, resourcefulness and stability of the Anglo-Normans. However, the growth of the Thirteen colonies threatened the supremacy of the small English minorities, who had expected to assume chief positions in the government of Quebec Province (Bourinot 30).
The Thirteen Colonies Under British Imperial Supremacy
The independence enjoyed by the colonies during the first decade of the British rule was, nonetheless, short-lived. Following the economic devastation caused by the Seven Years' War, the British colonialists were forced to review their economic policies over the colonies. The war had forced the British to remit higher taxes to maintain themselves and the colonies. As such, the British had to establish a mechanism through which the colonies would contribute towards protecting themselves in case another war broke out. For many years, the industries and commercial entities in the 13 colonies were bound by statutes aimed at establishing a British monopoly over their trading networks. However, Bourinot maintained that these statutes were not implemented fully since businessmen in New England still traded goods with the Spanish and French merchants freely (35). Due to the shortcomings of the statues in regulating free trade within the colonies, the British enacted the Stamp Act that introduced internal levies and navigation laws aimed at curbing smuggling of goods in and out of the colonies.
Loss of Economic Freedom
With these new laws in place, the first effect that the British colonial supremacy had over the 13 colonies was that the economic freedom they had enjoyed for many years was violated. George Grenville, who was behind the enactment of the Stamp Act and navigation laws, lacked the egalitarianism possessed by Sir Robert Walpole, who rejected the regulation of trade and industries in the past (Bourinot 35). In introducing these strict laws, Grenville showed that he lacked knowledge of the feelings and economic situation of the people in the 13 colonies. If the Stamp Act is put into perspective, on one hand, it was an equitable policy since the revenues that would be raised after implementing it would enable the 13 colonies to sustain themselves financially in future. Conversely, the implementation of the Stamp Act came at an unfavorable moment when the dominant groups in New England were incensed by the enactment of a statute that would derail the trade networks that had benefited them over the years.
The rising indignation among the colonies inevitably resulted in them opposing the vigorous colonial laws. One of the colonies that suffered the most from the British imperialism was the Province of New York, which was penalized contravening a rule that required it to provide necessities for the British soldiers (Bourinot 36). The British then legitimized the writs of assistance, which had been censured earlier by James Otis, to curb the trafficking of goods in the colonies. James had censured these writs since he considered them to contradict the colonial agreements and violate the natural rights of the colonies' communities. These grounds would later be used by Patrick Henry of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia in court to fight the clerical hegemony of the Anglican priests and the king's veto power over laws in Virginia (Bourinot 36).
Inequalities and Differences Emerged Among the Colonies
On establishing their rule in Canada, the British treated the 13 colonies across various areas differently. At no time was the British territory ever consistent with each colony being forced to adopt a unique governance structure and raisons d'etre. The British established and developed these colonies on different grounds. For instance, the Province of New York was a crown territory, which the British acquired from the Dutch. The Province of South Carolina resembled a Caribbean territory due to its indigo and paddy fields. The Provinces of Pennsylvania and Maryland were founded on religious grounds and administrated by the Penn family and Barons Calvert, who were hereditary primitive leaders. Others such as the Province of Massachusetts began as a Puritan theocracy while the Dominion of Virginia began as a mercantile territory governed by a company ("Did Britain Treat all its Colonies Equally?" par. 2).
The British did not pay attention to the dissimilarities in these colonies and did not interfere with their specific organizational systems. This non-interference policy was also evident in other British colonies far from Canada. For example, during the same time that the 13 colonies were developing, the Royal African Company left the African colonies to govern themselves, whereas the East India Company created settlements in India. Back to the American colonies, the British crown ruler oversaw most of the colonies' affairs. Nonetheless, he developed most of these colonies into crown colonies and appointed governors in London to oversee the colonies on his behalf ("Did Britain Treat all its Colonies Equally?" par. 3).
With time, this non-interference strategy became inconsistent across the 13 colonies. The culmination of the Seven Years' War between India and France marked the turning point of Britain's imperialism in North America, whereby the British started exercising direct rule over the colonies. The Quebec Act of 1774 and the Stamp Act of 1765 signified radical changes in supremacy strategy across the colonies ("Did Britain Treat all its Colonies Equally?" par. 3). As stated earlier, some colonies such as the Province of New York resisted the new vigorous colonial laws that imposed taxes on their people. However, many other colonies in the Americas such as East and West Florida, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec did not resist the increased taxation by the British.
The ensuing situation where some colonies resisted while others did not resist undermined the unification of the13 colonies significantly. Their opposing positions on the increased taxes made them appear like a network of British colonies in North America. The only moment that they seemed to be united before was during the 1754 Albany Conference, where seven of these colonies convened to organize their troops in the forthcoming Seven Years' War ("Did Britain Treat all its Colonies Equally?" par. 3). As a result, whereas most of the American colonies entered the battlefield after an out-and-out insurgence took place in 1775, their decisions to enter the war were made at different times. Besides, even when the 13 colonies appeared to be united, the Caribbean and Canadian provinces and dominions rejected advances by the American insurgents and remained committed to the British. This commitment to the British imperialists by some colonies was due to their higher religious tolerance and standards of living compared to other colonies.
Social Changes and Effects on Families
The 19th-century British romanticized the North American region owing to the wealth that if offered. Whereas British men were attracted to the new farms in North America, British women loved the church towers and garden bowers. This admiration dominated discourses of migration and annexation that spread across the 13 colonies, Ireland and the British Isles in the early 19th century (Buckner & Douglas 11). Emigrant books and artworks celebrated the will of the British to annex the American colonies and bring about positive socio-economic changes. Under the British rule, the unexplored and under-utilized forestlands in the colonies turned into meadows and plantations surrounded by homesteads and townships. These new establishments were booming with joy and life.
The British acquisition of Canada brought about the migration of merchants, farmworkers, missionaries, adventurers, mechanics and agronomists into the 13 colonies (Buckner & Douglas 11). This migration was...
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