England left much influence in America, but America eventually formed its own society after overcoming English authority. British colonists brought the way they lived in Britain to America, which made the British way of life common in America, despite Britain being across the Atlantic Ocean. Britain had a prominent role in the colonies, but America formed its own society after the first British colonists arrived in America. Changes in religion, economics, politics, and social structures illustrate this Americanization of the transplanted Europeans. Between the settlement and Jamestown in 1607 and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, one of the most important changes that occurred in the colonies was the extension of British ideals far beyond the practice in England itself.
By 1763, although some colonies still maintained established churches, other colonies had accomplished a virtual revolution for religious toleration and separation of church and state. The dominant church in England shifted between the Anglican Church and the Protestant Church with changes in rulers throughout the seventeenth century. The dominance of the Anglican Church even drove British to journey to the Americas in search of a place to worship. Separatists, who wanted to separate from the Church of England, came to America looking for a place to worship their way. An early effect of how the colonists wanted freedom to worship separate from the tradition of England was the Act of Toleration of 1649, when representative assembly in Maryland passed a statute to allow all Christians that believed in the holiness of Jesus Christ to worship freely. Furthermore, Rhode Island was founded on freedom of religion. Along with religion, America also developed its own economy.
In a similar economic revolution, the colonies outgrew their mercantile relationship with the mother country and developed an expanding capitalist system on their own. Many American colonies, such as Virginia and the Carolinas, were founded for economic reasons. The British wanted to find wealth in unexplored American lands. However, Americans found ways to keep their own economy perpetuating. Agriculture kept the economy in America circulating, and John Rolfe introduced tobacco cultivation in Virginia as an easy way to maintain trade relationships with countries, which kept colonies economically viable in the seventeenth century. Along with trade, America also developed a thriving economy on manufacturing. Even hats made out of beaver fur were manufactured. Lumbering was also important to American economy because timber was used to build ships, and the British needed the timber to build ships to become a powerful force at sea. The British further relied on colonies as source of revenue. This angered Americans and motivated them to want to become an independent nation built on self-government.
Building on English foundations of political liberty, the colonists extended the concepts of liberty and self-government far beyond those envisioned in the mother country. Britain’s government consisted of the monarch and Parliament. The colonies, although they were an extension of Britain, had no representation in the Parliament. This drove the colonists to try to create their own government without British interference. An early form of American democracy can be seen in the Congregational Church government created by the Puritans. In meetings of this government, men could vote, elect officials, and discuss matters of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Another plan for home rule was the Albany Congress, formed in 1754. Benjamin Franklin was a strong participant in the Albany Congress, but when Franklin gave his ideas on how to establish their own government, the colonists rejected it because they wanted more independence than the plan would have given them.
In contrast to the well-defined and hereditary classes of England, the colonies developed a fluid class structure which enabled the industrious individual to rise on the social ladder. Britain had its own class structure of peasants to lords, and placement in a class was most often permanent. This was much unlike in the colonies because social mobility was encouraged by the opportunities to own land, whereas the English followed the tradition of primogeniture, where only the eldest son inherits the whole estate of his parents. American life gave people, excluding slaves, more opportunity to rise in their social ladder. There was even a rebellion in Virginia from 1689 to 1691 named Leisler’s Rebellion where merchants hoping to get rich revolted against the wealthy landowners. Merchants were later able to obtain more wealth as a result of armed conflicts between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Such social mobility gave more people in America more opportunity to reach a higher class, especially as the population in the American colonies grew. This growth in population made the American colonists want more opportunity that they could not get in England.
England had more influence on America at the start of colonizing America, its most famous colony being Plymouth, which was founded in the early seventeenth century. However, the British later used their influence in America to tax the colonists without their representation in Parliament to help make the decisions on taxing the colonies, whose population was growing diverse due to the immigration of people to America with the hopes of becoming rich. The growing diversity in America led to changes in religion, economics, politics, and social structure that differentiated America from its mother country of Britain. Between 1607 when the British built their first colony in Jamestown and 1763 after the Americans helped the British win the French and Indian War, America created its own identity due to the motives of freedom and opportunity that were not present in Britain. The British did not approve of this independent identity, and this led to the armed conflict that was named the American Revolution.