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Were English Attempts to Increase Imperial Control over the Colonies During the Seventeenth Century Successful in Making the Colonies Dependent on England Socially or Politically?

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English attempts to increase imperial control over the colonies during the seventeenth century did not succeed in making the colonies dependent on England socially or politically due to various reasons. While colonists appreciated British advantages such as protection of their trade ships, they did not feel as though they were dependent on them nor would they trade away their freedom for these perks. On the contrary, colonists mostly thought they could do without English interference due to grievances such as the Navigation Act or Wool Act that encroached on colonial rights. English attempts to take away colonial autonomy were met with resistance and united the colonies together, not with England.

The most prominent English effort to economically establish power over the colonies was in the form of the Navigation Acts of 1651-1696. This was an attempt by England to wrest control over American trade from other empires by passing a series of laws that regulated colonial trade to England’s benefit, forcing colonists to pay extra to ship goods. The law required that all products shipping to and from the colonies had to be transported on English or colonial ships. Theoretically, it was supposed to seal off colonial ports to foreign ships, but its enforcement was lax which led to smuggling of goods from the French and the Dutch. However, this law benefited both parties as England could enjoy American profits and added taxes while the colonies profited as the ships were considered English. Another British attempt at dominance over American trade came in the form of the Wool Act of 1699. It was an English law designed to assist the British wool industry. The law made it illegal to ship wool from the American colonies, but like the Navigation Acts it had lax enforcement. English endeavours to command American trade had limited success as the colonels also saw the benefits of increased trade and protection from the British fleet of their shipments, but ultimately it was not enough for the colonist to ever consider trading their freedom for it.

English aims to politically control the colonies were marked failures as the colonies were used to self-rule without English interference. One such venture was known as the Dominion of New England, which was established by King James II in 1686. It was meant to place Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island under the control of one royal governor. This led to colonial revolt as the colonists viewed the Dominion as an attempt to take away their rights and thus it was disbanded in 1689 and the royal governor was imprisoned by the colonists. Another strike against colonial politics was the Lords of Trade, which were established in 1675 to oversee colonial affairs. They were a blow against the colonies who were used to essentially governing themselves such as proprietors in New York, Maryland, and Carolina, elected officials in New England, and Governor Beckley in Virginia to name several.

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