England was without a doubt the “owner” of the new world in the 17th century. It established colonies on the entire eastern coast and controlled that region with the exception of Florida. In order to have these colonies and region prosper, Great Britain enforced the policy of salutary neglect which limited English control on the colonies and giving them more freedom to do as they see fit. Salutary neglect positively influenced the development of legislative assemblies, commerce, and religion in America before the year 1750.
With the lack of British control over the American colonies, the colonists were essentially left to fend for themselves and this sense of independence led the pilgrims to form their own “rules and regulations” which was imperative if the Americans were to ever succeed. Due to the enforcement of this policy, America was able to establish itself as a separate and free country. In order to make and establish the laws, the colonists needed to first form their own type of government because they could not rely on the British to make or even enforce their laws from such a far ways away.
A change from what the colonists were used to was formed as a result of this. Instead of having to suffer under a malicious monarchy such as they did in England, the settlers wanted to establish a democracy in which wealthy and poor people alike had a say and choice of what to do. This idea of democracy is what is still present in America today and it is thriving unlike other countries whose government is completely controlled by one man or a selective group alone.
It is thriving because everyone has a voice on the matters at hand and this voice is ultimately what leads to the formation of laws that benefit the majority of people in the country on a positive aspect. The first step the colonists took in order to achieve democracy, was to set up the House of Burgesses in 1619. This was established in Jamestown and was for a while the lone government. Although only a few people were included within the House of Burgesses, it gave the people much more of a choice and opinion on what needs to be accomplished in the colony in order to prosper.
Following the House of Burgesses, the Mayflower Compact was established in Plymouth in 1620, which served as the government for that colony, as well as the Frame of Government which was established in 1682 by William Penn in order to give a representative assembly to landowners in the colony of Pennsylvania. In order for a country to prosper, commerce must be successful and with the lack of British interference, trade with foreign countries was able to be completed and sent the American economy down the right path.
Commerce is controlled by the government and because the newly establish democratic government was in control, the Americans were able to trade with whomever they desired and not be stopped by the British. The colonists were able to sell products distinct to America for a hefty price to other countries that were interested and because of this trade with foreign nations, many American colonies were able to prosper and establish very solid bases for their economies. Tobacco was one product that really boosted the economy. This all started with the tobacco rush in Virginia in the year 1612.
John Rolfe and his newly perfected method of curing weed were in an extremely high demand in Europe and because of the free trade, Virginia was able to sell to various countries and form a very firm economic foundation for them. The trading of slaves was also a luxury enjoyed by Americans and again, because of the freedom of trade with foreign countries, colonists were able purchase as many slaves as they wanted, whenever they wanted. Britain did try to control this trade with the Navigation Acts in 1650 but this soon fell apart due to bribery and lack of enforcement.
England was extremely strict on religion and basically only permitted the practice of Protestantism but because they put into effect the salutary neglect policy, religious freedom was extensively enjoyed in America. Catholics, Jews, and other minority religions were seen as outcasts and slobs in 16th and 17th century England, were Protestants reigned supreme. The view of minority religions in Europe was one of the major reasons why people sought out the new world were all religions were accepted and allowed to prosper at will, for the most part. This religious tolerance and freedom once again leads back the policy of salutary neglect.
The Americans were really free to do as they pleased because there was almost no British control and one of the things they chose to allow was all religions. Providence and Pennsylvania in particular, are fantastic examples of the freedom enjoyed by new arriving settlers. Both of these colonies allowed minority religions and both were ultimately ruled by minority religions, Catholics in Providence and Quakers in Pennsylvania. There were some problems with this freedom in certain colonies such as Massachusetts were Puritans ran the colony and placed extremely harsh laws on minority religions but eventually came to accept these other religions.
Separate governments, free trade, and religious tolerance were all influenced by the British and their lack of involvement in America due to the policy of salutary neglect. If the British had not enforced these laws so strictly, America might as well look exactly like England. It is this policy that allowed the colonists of the new world to rely on themselves and come together as one entirely new nation which was able to thrive and win independence.