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Authority Central Essay, Research Paper

Authority Central

In the brink of colonization, wealth was in the eyes of many monarchs. England, searching for the best way to amass in wealth, saw mercantilism. Mercantilism was a theory in which a country was to export more and import less, therefore making the gold and silver flow into the country s treasury. A great way to import less was if a country could provide its own needs. When a country can t provide its own needs, a country must simply expand to other places where their need can be supplied. This was the reason for the colonies. But to gain the most wealth, the King must have authority over the colonies. The King tried to centralize the colonies by means of a royal charter and proprietary land grants.

Royal charters were presented to several colonies during the era of colonization. An example of this was when King James I issued royal charters to the Virginia Company of London to colonize Virginia. He did this, without a doubt, since a flourishing trade meant more money and a bigger treasury. At first, the colony was ridden with death and sickness. So the Virginia Company decided to attract more people by giving headrights or land ownership to the settlers. This caused more immigration and, soon after, the tobacco boom. England gained the flourishing trade it hoped for, but it was unable to centralize authority over the colony. And even though King James I tried to rule the colony s government with his own royal administration, the colony still made laws for itself. The House of Burgesses resisted the King s representative and had most of the authority in the colony.

Another example of royal charter was the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Massachusetts Bay Company received a royal charter confirming exclusive rights to settle and trade in most of present-day Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In the original charter, a General Court composed of a governor and advisers were to rule the colony so that the King can have authority. But in 1634, the General Court stopped meeting and later the deputies formed the Bay Colony legislature. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, thus, had total authority over their colony in spite of the King s wishes.

Another way the King thought to improve trade between the colonies and the mother country was to give land away to those who were loyal to the monarch. Since the land was in the hands of the King s loyal friends, the King believed that it was easy to maintain authority over those colonies. This can be seen with the colony of Maryland. Maryland was a proprietary colony, since it was granted to an aristocratic family, the Calverts. Considering that by giving them total authority over the colony meant that the King has little or no control over the colony. The Calverts divided the settlement up by manors. But over the years, Maryland modeled some counties after the government of Virginia and, thereafter, determined to resist the power of the Calvert s manorial courts.

As seen by examples stated above, a royal charter would not have been a better form of centralizing authority over colonial affairs. The colonies always preferred a representative government to fit the needs of those governed. They scorned the Crown s authority and did not respect it. The representative governments of Massachusetts and Virginia show how it was nearly impossible for the King to have authority over the colony. The House of Burgesses, the Bay Colony legislature, and other forms of government controlled the colonies instead of the monarchy. Self-government therefore obliterated the King s hopes of centralizing the authority of the colonies.

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