Governing the Colonies. Generally speaking, English colonists in North America were not granted the same level of rights as those who remained in England.
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Generally speaking, English colonists in North America were not granted the same level of rights as those who remained in England.
In exchange for the small amount of freedom granted to colonists as the settled in the New World, they were expected to surrender some of the guarantees or rights they enjoyed in England.
The history of rights in England goes back to the year 1217. At that time, England was ruled by a cruel and abusive King – John.
John was widely hated. During his reign the nobles rose up in rebellion and he was captured. In exchange for granting the government – and his life – back to him he was forced to sign the Magna Carta, or great charter.
The Magna Carta was a document that provided the nobles rights, or protections, that the king could not remove.
This was the first time in English history that law had been established that was superior to the king.
The Magna Carta is critical in the history of the Western World because it set the stage for the idea that law could rule over the mandates of a monarch.
England continued as a monarchy after the rule of John ended. However, the power of the monarchs began a steady decline after about 1600.
After the reign of King James, England’s new king, Charles, began a civil war against the nation’s lawmaking body, Parilament.
As a result of his attacks on Parliament, and as a result of some political intrigue, Charles was executed in 1649.
Political turmoil followed in the years after the execution of Charles I.
In the process, Parliament became the most powerful lawmaking body in England. This was an important shift because previously decisions about law and rights had been under the very strong control of the king.
At this point England developed a Bill of Rights that drew heavily from the ideas in the Magna Carta.
Under the English Bill of Rights certain freedoms were extended to all the people not just the nobles as had been the case under the Magna Carta.
It was within this atmosphere of expanding rights that English colonies in North America began to grow and flourish.
Early settlers from England brought these ideas of rights under a Parliamentary system with them to North America.
This set the stage for a conflict between the colonists’ expectations and the ways in which they were actually treated by England.