HST 141 Dr. Kerns
The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 4: The Empire in Transition
Chapter 4 Main Themes:
A thorough study of Chapter 4 should enable the student to understand:
Commonwealth A political body governed by its own elected representatives.
Democracy A system of
government in which the ultimate power to govern resides with the people, and
they exercise that power directly. Although not the prevailing system in
Federation A union of sovereign powers in which each unit retains the power to control its own local affairs.
Imperialism The policy of extending a nation's sovereignty to include possessions beyond the boundaries of the nation (colonies). In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this was directly associated with mercantilism.
Loyalists (Tories) Americans who, for many and varied reasons, remained loyal to the king and were called Tories by American Whigs. The name Tory came from the English political faction that supported the king and was less willing to see Parliament (especially the House of Commons) rise to power. American Tories rejected this classification, calling themselves Loyalists instead. In fact, some Loyalists argued that the real threat to liberty was not the king and Parliament, but groups, such as the Sons of Liberty, that carried out their programs through threats and violence. By opposing such people, the Loyalists contended, they were the ones who stood firm against arbitrary rule and for representative government--in short, that they were the true Whigs.
New Colonial System The system that emerged after 1763 (although there is evidence that the change was taking place in the 1740s) when the British government decided to reorganize the colonial system on more efficient (and profitable) lines. What it did was to alter the relationship between colonies and the mother country, stressing the supremacy of the latter just at the time that most North American provinces were feeling more secure and self-confident than ever before. Characterized by a series of acts that not only taxed the colonies, but also attempted to enforce collection, this "new" system stood in stark contrast to the "old" and raised fears in the colonies that if these actions were not opposed, even worse would follow. From the British standpoint, however, the "new colonial system" was simply an effort to get the colonies to pay for their own administration and to discourage the illegal trade that had flourished during the period of salutary neglect--neither of which concept the mother country felt was unreasonable.
Old Colonial System The period extending from the
mid-seventeenth century to the mid- eighteenth century, characterized by the
acts, regulations, and enforcement institutions used by
Republic A government in which, as in a democracy, the power to govern lies with the people, but the people exercise this power through elected representatives. Colonial elites distrusted this form as well, especially when low qualifications to vote threatened to allow mass participation. Nevertheless, this system was more acceptable than direct democracy was. For example, examine the colonial legislatures.
Right Of Revolution A concept found in the writings of John Locke which holds that if a government denies its people their natural rights, those people have the right--indeed, the duty--to rise up against the oppressive government, overthrow it (by force if necessary), and establish a more responsive government in its place. This, Locke contended, was what had taken place during the Glorious Revolution. It was also, Thomas Jefferson later contended, what brought about the American Revolution.
Seigneuries Large French estates. Such seigneuries along the bank of the
Sovereignty Supreme power, independent of and unlimited by any other force, as in a sovereign state.
Whig The name given the
English political faction responsible for the Glorious Revolution. Basing its
power in Parliament, it opposed arbitrary rule by the monarch, calling instead
for the country to be governed by the representatives chosen by those people
qualified to vote (essentially an electorate limited to the upper-class males).