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Colonial America (1492-1776)
Government Under Colonial Charters



Government Under Colonial Charters
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.27

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    civil, founded, authority, democracy, conflict, lasted, regulate, construction, conduct, citizen, government, peace, trade, charter, result, criminal
     content words:    United States, Plymouth Company, Massachusetts Bay Company, Virginia Company, Great Britain, Indian Wars


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Government Under Colonial Charters
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     Before 1776, the thirteen colonies in the United States were part of England. They were subject to British law. However, England was far away. The colonies slowly developed their own unique forms of government. Colonial governments were part British law, part business, and part American democracy.
 
2     The first British laws that concerned the colonies were laws regarding trade. Most of the colonies had been begun by companies, such as the Plymouth Company, the Massachusetts Bay Company, and the Virginia Company. These companies were in business to make money. England passed laws to regulate their businesses. The laws required that these merchants conduct most of their trade only with England or other English colonies. There were also laws that limited the types of goods that could be made in the colonies. These laws made sure that the profits made by the companies stayed in England. They also made sure that the colonists would continue to need goods made in England.
 
3     England was too far away from the colonies to pass laws governing the everyday actions of the colonies. And at least for a while, it was not interested in doing so. So, it granted charters giving limited governing powers to the company that founded each colony. Major decisions would still be made in England. Then these regulations would be passed on to the colonial rulers who would be responsible for carrying out the laws. So, for years, the wealthy businessmen who owned the companies were often the local government leaders too.

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Colonial America (1492-1776)
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