The inhabitants of the French and English colonies had very different political experiences.

Political life in the colonies

In New France, people did not have the right to question government decisions because France was an absolute monarchy; in other words, the king held all the power. In contrast, England had a parliamentary system: people elected the members of parliament who made decisions. The Thirteen Colonies therefore had a more democratic system in which people could express their opinion and participate in politics.

The British administration was not as centralized as that of France, and the English did not supervise their colonies as closely. The English colonies therefore had lots of autonomy and could pass their own laws as long as they did not conflict with the laws of England.

Each colony had an assembly of representatives who had been elected by the landowners. They could vote their own laws, which was not the case in New France.

Political life in the townships

Democracy was most developed in the townships of the northern colonies. Each March, every township elected officers to handle local affairs. During these elections, all free men had the right to vote. Although the elite dominated local affairs, general participation allowed everyone to get involved.

Political ideas in newspapers

In addition to political participation, colonists were able to voice their opinions in the many newspapers that were published in the Thirteen Colonies. People had the right to disagree with the authorities without it being considered treason against the king. Everyone had the right to express their opinion. Unless if they were a woman, servant or slave, of course.

Author: Léon Robichaud

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