Salutary Neglect A Push Essay Topic

For the period before 1750, analyze the way in which the British policy of salutary neglect influenced the development of American society as illustrated in legislature assemblies, commerce and religion.

The policy of salutary neglect influenced the development of American society. It gave the colonies a chance to govern themselves and to develop separately from England. It let them make their own laws that would benefit the people in the colonies. Because of this there was religious freedom. It unified the colonies and gave them a sense of nationalism.

Even though England believed in a system of mercantilism, Sir Robert Walpole espoused a view of “salutary neglect?. In this system the British had very little interference in the international affairs of the American colonies. Walpole believed that this enhanced freedom for the colonists would stimulate commerce. The policy had allowed the colonists to develop their own political institutions to the extent of making their own legislative assemblies as local equivalents of the Westminster parliament to be the main protector of their rights to life, liberty, and property. In Britain, Westminster parliament had greatly increased its own role in the political life of the nation and the political elite there started to believe more in the constitutional doctrine that ultimately sovereignty lay with the king-in-parliament.

The people in Britain believed that the parliament had control over the American colonies and, so long as this authority was restricted to the regulation of Atlantic trade and the control of the colonies external relations, the colonists did not take it as a violation of their rights. The American colonists did not realize that this could be a threat to their own legislative institutions. In the early eighteenth century, both the colonies and Britain were developing distinctive ideas of the power and authority of their own legislatures without clearly defining the boundaries of each others power over what happens in the colonies. (Dickinson, pp. 6)

From the earliest days of English colonial development in the new world, salutary neglect and mercantilism have flawed the relationship between colonists and the mother country. The system of salutary neglect allowed the colonies to develop the spirit of independence that was the foundation of the revolutionary movement. After they get a taste of independence there is no going back. The attempts by the British to make the Americans comply with the British rules only ignited the American flame for revolution.

When England attempted to end salutary neglect and reinstate a tightly controlled mercantilist relationship, the colonists rebelled. Under salutary neglect England’s was too busy with internal trouble brought by the Civil War and Glorious Revolution as well as foreign wars with the Dutch and French so they left the colonies to fend for themselves throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On their own they created governments, economic institutions, and social civilization based on Britain.

They created participatory government with the House of Burgesses, an independent trade economy in Massachusetts, and provided for religious freedom in Pennsylvania. They assumed these institutions were guaranteed them as English citizens.

England’s mercantilists did not agree with this assumption. They believed the colonies existed for the sole purpose of supporting the mother country, which is the main idea of mercantilism. Their citizens thus were to be subservient. Because of the Navigation Acts of 1690?s which limited the goods the colonists could trade, made the American colonists turn to the black market for goods they could no longer get or that were too expensive. The French and Indian War which the English hoped to fight with the help of colonial taxes and militia inspired the Americans to declare their right to grievance before supply, a right they assumed was theirs as citizens of a representative government. All of these misunderstanding about the colonist?s rights would lead them to war.

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Trade flourished between America, Europe, and the West Indies, as well as between the colonies themselves. A triangular trade developed, in which Massachusetts merchants brought in sugar and molasses from the West Indies, converted it into rum, sent the rum to Africa in exchange for slaves, and sold the slaves to West Indian sugar plantations. In addition to the prosperity from sea commerce, the colony developed manufacturing industries, such as ironworks, brickyards, stone quarries, leather tanneries, and distilleries.

Town life spread into central and western Massachusetts. Boston grew steadily and by the 1770s was one of America?s few large cities. Differences between the colonies gradually disappeared as common forms of local government and common experiences among the colonists brought people together. Moreover, the works of Isaac Newton and John Locke were becoming ever more popular in England as well as America, arousing a new spirit of rational inquiry into the laws of nature and the nature of man.

( Microsoft Encarta, ?Triangular Trade?)

The British Tory war party initiated a new war against France by mid-century. In America it became known as the French and Indian War and it was, Rothbard points out, a deliberate try for more land in North America. The British emerged victorious and the Tories swept the Whigs from office. ( )

The policy of salutary neglect united the colonies. It helped them to build a unified society in which they had their own assemblies and law system. It encouraged religious freedom and commerce flourished under it. The repeal of the policy caused much anger in the colonies. This pulled the colonies even closer together and it united them under one cause, which would in the long run give them an independent nation.


1.Irwin Unger; ?These United States??

2.H.T. Dickinson ? Britain and the American Revolution?

3.Microsoft Encarta 2000

4.Internet Sites (listed in the footnotes)

Salutary Neglect

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1. Identify three of the following and evaluate the impact of each of the three on the coming of the American Revolution
The Stamp Act Congress: brought together in NYC 27 distinguished delegates from 9 colonies debated and drew up a statement of their rights and grievances and beseeched the king and Parliament to let go of the Stamp Act. This congress brought around the same table leaders from the different and rival colonies. This was a “significant step of inter-colonial unity.” Wide spread adoption of non-importation. Without unity, a w ar would be drastic just like how the Indians tried to fight off the colonists, but because they weren’t unified, the colonists won. Gave men and woman chances to participate in colonial protests. Public defiance helped spread angry resistance against the British. This fire that was sparked in the people’s hearts was due to the realization that the British was trying to raise revenue through direct taxation of all colonial commercial and legal papers, and newspapers, pamphlets, cards, almanacs, and dice. This revenue would be used to pay off the debt the British owed in the French and Indian war.
In U.S. colonial history, the British parliamentary attempt to raise revenue through direct taxation of all colonial commercial and legal papers, and newspapers, pamphlets, cards, almanacs, and dice. The devastating effect of Pontiac's War (1763-64) an colonial frontier settlements added to the enormous new defense burdens resulting from Great Britain's victory (1763) in the French and Indian War. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Grenville, hoped to meet at least half of these costs by the combined revenues of the Sugar Act (1764) and the Stamp Act, a common revenue device in England. Completely unexpected was the avalanche of protest form the colonists, who effectively nullified the Stamp Act by outright refusal to use the stamps as well as by riots, stamp burning, and intimidation of colonial stamp distributors. Colonists passionately upheld their rights as Englishmen to tax only by their own consent through their own representative assemblies, as had been the practice for a century and a half. In addition to nonimportation agreements among colonial merchants, the Stamp Act Congress was convened in New York (October 1765) by moderate representative of nine colonies to frame resolution of "rights and grievances" and to petition the king and Parliament for repeal of the objectionable measures.

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Bowing chiefly to pressure (in the form of a flood of petitions of repeal) from British merchants and manufacturers whose colonial exports had been curtailed, Parliament, largely against the wishes of the House of Lords, repealed the act in early 1766. Simultaneously, however, Parliament issued the Declaratory Act, which reasserted its right of direct taxation anywhere within the empire, "in all cases whatsoever." The Protest throughout the Colonies against the Stamp Act contributed much to the spirit and organization of unity that was a necessary prelude to the struggle for independence a decade later.
The Boston Massacre: The Boston massacre was no massacre at all, but a Boston mob and a squad of British soldiers. The riot took place on March 5, 1770.
It was called a "massacre" because several colonists were killed and several others were wounded. Here is the story as Paul Revere tells it. "Twenty-one days before, on the night of March 5, 1770, five men had been shot to death in Boston by British soldiers participating in the event known as the Boston Massacre. A mob of men and boys taunted a sentry guard standing outside of the city's costume house. When other British soldiers came to the sentry's support, a free for all ensued and shots were fired into the crowd. Four died on the spot and a fifth died 4 days later. Capt. Preston and six of his men were arrested for murder, but later were acquitted through the efforts of attorneys Robert Auchmuty, John Adams, and Josiah Quincy who took their defense to ensure a fair trial. Later two other soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter." This was one of the reasons we had the American Revolution.
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense: Common Sense was written by Thomas Paine and published in January of 1776. This document was one of many revolutionary pamphlets that was famous during that time. It advocated complete independence of Britain and it followed the natural rights philosophy of John Locke, justifying independence as the will of the people and revolution as a device for bring happiness. Common Sense traces the origin of government to a human desire to restrain lawlessness. But government at its best is, like dress, "the badge of lost innocence." It can be diverted to corrupt purposes by the people who created it. Therefore, the simpler the government, the easier it is for the people to discover its weakness and make the necessary adjustments. The monarchy, Paine asserted, had corrupted virtue, impoverished the nation, weakened the voice of Parliament, and poisoned people's minds. The royal brute of Britain had usurped the rightful place of law.
Paine argued that the political connection with England was both unnatural and harmful to Americans. Reconciliation would cause "more calamities" than it would bring benefits. The welfare of America, as well as its destiny, in Paine's view, demanded steps toward immediate independence.

#2 For the period before 1750, analyze the ways in which Britain’s policy of salutary neglect influenced the development of American Society as illustrated in the following.
Because of Britain’s salutary neglect policy, the colonies enjoyed a lot of freedom, which in effect led to the development of American society. The colonies benefited from a lack of heavy British political or economic rule, so they established their own legislative assemblies, maintained their own commerce, and became a religiously mixed nation. The neglect of Britain forced the colonists to develop a system of self-government, including colonial legislatures, town halls, and a social hierarchy. These establishments managed the nation’s commerce which consisted of the Triangular Trade, trade with foreign countries, as well as trade amongst themselves. This salutary neglect also guaranteed a large extant of religious freedom.
England was deeply involved in civil wars, and hence the colonists were left with their own resources to provide themselves with a form of self-government. One of the earlier examples of self-government was the New England Confederation. Its primary purpose was for protection against the Indians, the French, and the Dutch that the busy English could not provide for them. Although a weak organization, the confederation was the first milestone towards a strong, independent g…

Over a long period of time, the colonies eventually developed their own systems of government. In 1619, the House of Burgesses was established in Virginia. It was the first elected legislative assembly in the English Colonies. Modeled after Parliament, the House of Burgesses consisted of a group of elected officials who ruled the colony, along with the governor. A similar system of government was established in 1620, when the Mayflower Compact was written and signed by the colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Compact established a basic government in the colony, in which the people would, as a community, enact and enforce laws for the good of the colony.
Over time, each of the thirteen English Colonies established assemblies of elected officials. These assemblies established laws which supported the concept of democracy. For instance, in 1649 the colonial assembly of Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion. The Maryland Toleration Act granted everyone in Maryland the freedom of religious toleration. Religious freedom was also established in the colony of Pennsylvania. Freedom of religion brought many settlers to the colonies, especially oppressed religious groups such as the Quakers and Puritans.
The House of Burgesses is an example of Great Britain's use of salutary neglect on forming legislative assemblies. Virginia colonies were essentially a faliure so the investors of the Virginia Company in London gave the colonists a small push to setting up their own government. As a result, in July 1619, a legislative assembly, the House of Burgesses met to establish laws fit for the budding nation. The House of Burgesses came to represent the colony of Virginia, and later the commonwealth of Virginia. Makiong up part of the General Assembly, the burgesses were representing a settlement. The House of Burgesses survived because Britain encourages the colonies to form their own governments and did not enforce the English laws overseas.

During the Spring of 1638, the Connecticut towns of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield formed a legislative assembly in Hartford. After a sermon by Thomas Hooker, the delegates drew up the Fundamental Orders on January 24, 1639. Withoutmention of their loyalty or hate of England and her king, these three towns adopted The Fundamental Orders of Connectict. Inthe first constitution of the United States, it describes a plan for a self government, placing the welfare of the community over one's needs, having an...

Due to England's problems in the late 1660s and early 1700s, they allowed the local governing bodies of the colonies to expand their powers and activities. The colonies were allowed a great amount of self-government. They had individual governments, and passed laws appropriate for that colony. Most of the colonies developed a governing structure similar to that of England. A governor's council made up the upper house of the legislature, while the lower house was the popular elected assembly. The upper house was in charge of amending or rejecting legislation passed by the lower house, while the lower house was responsible for initiating tax bills, exercising administrative oversight concerning the expenditure of funds, and fix qualifications for their own membership. Although there was also a royal governor in charge of each colony, he did little to control the colonies, only looking out for his own well-being. The colonists thought the governor was oppression to their political freedom, and therefore did not give much attention to what they said, or respect them very much. The frequent conflicts between the assemblies and the governors symbolized the American colonies desire for self-rule, which had arisen from the policy of salutary neglect.


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