Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
So he with difficulty and labor hard
Mov'd on, with difficulty and labor he.
John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674 Book II, line 1,021)
The Dominion of New England is the administrative and political union of English colonies in the New England region of North America. Its political structure represented a more centralized control by the Commonwealth, a major departure from the previous autonomy enjoyed by the colonies.
New England is notable for playing a prominent role in the movement of Dominion self-government and to abolish slavery in British America. The Dominion was also, the first region to be transformed by the Industrial Revolution, centered on the Blackstone and Merrimack river valleys.
In 1666, a Joint session of the Council for Foreign Plantations and Council of Trade put forward a proposal for the administrative union of the colonies north of Dutch New Netherland. The reasons given were a better enforcement of the Navigation Acts, control illegal trade and improve customs revenue against the common practice of ignoring them by the merchants and authorities in the biggest colony, Massachusetts. Also Massachusetts' long history of virtually theocratic rule and little or non tolerance for non-Puritans ran opposite and much to the annoyance of Religious Settlement of the 1660s of the Commonwealth. The idea was no so alien as the loser union of the colonies in the New England Confederation provided a reason to further develop into a more cohesive administrative unit.
Between 1667 and 1674, Massachusetts successfully lobbied against this union, that would in practice meant a loss of autonomy. However, the 1675 hanging of several Quakers, new expulsions of dissents and the Indian rebellion of 1674 changed the outlook in London. Also several conflicts with the Indians prompted the Council of State to seriously reconsider the 1666 proposal. The new design would also included a more centralized and permanent militia. So in 1676 after its passage by Parliament several Orders of Council created the Dominion of New England in America and named Charles Fleetwood as its first Governor-general.
The Dominion was initially unacceptable to most colonists, because they deeply resented being stripped of their traditional rights. Governor-general Charles Fleetwood made important legal and structural changes. One notable change was the introduction of the Church of England into Massachusetts, whose Puritan leaders had previously refused to allow it any sort of foothold.
On his arrival in June 1676, Fleetwood was accompanied by two battalions of the British Army. His commission as Major-general gave him full military command of all actions against the Indians in King Philip's War (1675-1678). The Governor and General Court of Massachusetts took a full month to recognize and meet with Fleetwood. This clear show of contempt did not fall good with Fleetwood who for another month had to wrestle with the Governor and General Court the recognition and legality of his Commission and orders from the Protector, State Council and Parliament. A misstep that would have immediate costs. Being an old Ironside and Cromwellian Fleetwood decide to directly address the persistent obstruction. So he called for a joint meeting of the Governor and General Court in 13 August. The most virulent opposition members had been kept under arrest the night before. Accompanied by his personal guard in the assembly room and the Army guarding the building and vetting the entrance, he proceed to dismiss the governor and all other authorities. The General Court then proceed to named Fleetwood Governor with Simon Bradstreet as Deputy Governor and new members to the Council. The rest of the colonies had already recognized Fleetwood's Commission.
Having secured his political authority in New England he proceed along his staff to revise the colonial militias, reaffirming Fleetwood's and his staff's poor opinion on their recruitment, training and equipment. So a reshuffle of commanders, discharges and retraining was carried out. After several campaigns and failures from the colonial militia a new Dominion Militia was instituted as an auxiliary force. The British Army also took control of the custom houses and new clerks and inspectors were named to staff them, helped by the British Navy that patrolled the coast of New England.
At odds with local elites and authorities, Fleetwood used the Dominion Militia as agents to administer, enforce and oversight the rule of the governor general, the Council and judicial courts. The militia was characterized as "a reformation of manners" or moral regeneration through the suppression of vice and the encouragement of virtue, which he considered much too neglected by Fleetwood and sympathetic Puritans. Only proven God fearing men, certified by a minister were accepted. The Dominion Militia also provided a valuable defence against Indian raids.
Rhode Island, a haven for Baptists, Quakers, Jews, and others feared losing its religious liberties under the Dominion Charter and be engulfed by the intolerant Puritans. During the parliamentary debates of the Charter of the Dominion, Rhode Island send several protests thru its colonial agents. On Fleetwood's arrival petitions were made to his person in order to be not be included in the Dominion. There were rumours of Rhode Islanders amassing an army to defy the Charter. However, most fears and doubts were sweep aside when Fleetwood made clear his policy of religious toleration and orders to establish the Church of England in New England, becoming Rhode Islanders the most staunch allies of the central administration.
The New England Dominion Charter of 1704 kept the unified civil, judicial and military administration of New England, gave more powers to deal piracy, customs and Commonwealth commerce. It abolished the provincial legislatures that had several times blocked the decisions of the Council of New England. Enlarged the membership of the Council, had the power to lay and collect taxes and duties, approve and modify the Dominion's budget, regulate commerce and legislate on all issues of interest of the Dominion. It also merged Plymouth to Massachusetts Bay. It also provided that the Joint Moderator and the High Commissioner would also be members of the Council. The abolition of the provincial legislatures caused the rebellions of 1705-1706 across New England that were suppressed and controlled after a great exertion of the Dominion Militia.
The main issues of the governorships of Andros and Burnet (1705-1730) were the disputes with the Indians, contraband, piracy, the disagreements between Puritans and Dissidents and the Legislatures rebellions of 1705-1706.
Full self-government or charter rule for New England started to gain traction among the merchants of Boston after the French and Indian War (1756-1760) and William Pitt's budget of 1760. The movement for new Charter revived the interest in the reestablishment of the abolished provincial legislatures accountable governors and the safeguard of liberties.
Since the inception of the Confederation England most of New England political life was concerned with township or provincial issues with the exception of Boston and the major port cities. Divisive issues such as slavery, religious non-toleration, the Navigation Acts and the issue of diplomacy or defense against the American Indians were contentious in their nature debate and in the future a major source of confrontation with the Governor-General.
On the establishment of the Dominion under Fleetwood, disputes between the central administration and the provincial ruling oligarchies rose, establishing Governor-General's and Provincial factions. The old governing oligarchy was replaced by clerks and officials loyal to the Dominion and the Commonwealth.
Under Andros' Governor-Generalship the Puritan opposition organized themselves in the Fellows, Brethren or Brotherhood party that rivaled the Toleration party organized by non-Puritans, Rhode Islanders and Dominion administration.
The Brethren having its roots in the Puritan outlook of governance, church and community and a pious life under God’s eyes, became the political expression of political Christianism. Its stance to enshrined in daily life the Puritan morals and the compact of a righteous life in New England. The Brethren or Brotherhood party would later have a major impact when Puritans in the Commonwealth organized themselves politically. It would clash with the religious tolerance to dissidents and the establishment of the Church of England promoted by authorities of the Dominion. The Brethren represented rural interests, the remote and isolated communities and the old settlers and craftsmen in the hinterland.
The Toleration Party, initially affiliated with dissidents, would later also gather the majority of supporters of the policies of the Dominion and the artisans and mercantile interests involved in trade with the Caribbean colonies and burgeoning industrialization.
This early party system was broken down by the Charter Association and the Reform Society that would break the division molded around the Brotherhood and Toleration parties.
Discontent and demands for a New Charter and abrogation of the most pernicious articles of the Acts of Navigation would lead to the establishment of the Charter Association.Initially established as a coordinating body of provincial and local correspondence societies led efforts in London through its agent-generals to lobby for a New Charter that will have a partial success in the Charter of 1765. The unwillingness of Parliament to settle for a more advantageous self government and regional trade would push the Charter Association. for more direct political involvement.
The Charter of 1765 tough not reestablishing the provincial legislatures, provided that the Provincial Governors would be assisted by a five member Provincial Boards. The Charter also separated the legislative powers of the Council and gave them to an elected General Assembly and guaranteed of personal freedoms and rights (Articles of Rights). The Council became the advisory and executive body of the Governor-General.
Demands for home rule, or responsible government, continued despite the new Charter. The General Assembly became the main source of discontent and calls for reform. Correspondence societies coordinated propaganda, petitions, public rallies and debates, and the election of delegates to the General Assembly. The Reform Society, the main coordinating body of provincial and local correspondence societies led efforts in London thru its agent-generals.
The Reform Society would be formed taking advantage of the Charter of 1765 that allowed limited elected representation.The Reform Society would take direct mass actions encouraging to push for a more democratic Charter in town meetings, mass rallies and petitions and candidates to Provincial Boards and the General Assembly. The European Revolutionary Wars (1790-1810) would radicalize the Reform Society and some sections advocate republican independence that would lead to schism in the formation of the more radical the Yankee Association..
Thus by the 1810s New England had the Brotherhood, the Charter Association, the Reform Society and the Yankee Association had its major parties.
In New England, the Congregational Churches are the center of the towns' political and religious life. The Cambridge Platform (1648) is the doctrinal statement for the Puritan Congregational churches in New England. The declaration endorsed the Westminster Confession of the Church of England — except with regard to ecclesiastical organization, instead upholding the existing local Congregational form of church governance followed by the pilgrims and Puritans.
The Puritans intolerance to other religious views, including Quaker, Church of England and Baptist theologies ran against the official Commonwealth policy of toleration. Under the governor-general Fleetwood toleration was imposed with harsh actions and penalties to those that oppose it.
After decades of ignoring pleas to allow the Church of England to be established, an agreement was reached under Fleetwood were it was allowed to be established at least in the major cities in separate premises from the ones used by the Puritans. Equal status was given to both the Church of England in New England and Congregational churches. New England's religious local legislation established a system which required every man, woman and child to belong to a church, and permits each church to tax its members. A system of Triers and Ejectors was established.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England continued its work with the Indians of New England.
Government and Politics
Fleetwood's Commission empowered him to implement the provisions of the Charter of the Dominion. So he named the Council of New England with two members from each colony (province). Later, one of the two delegates was to be elected by the provincial legislatures under Dudley's Governor-generalship. The Charter of 1704 reformed its composition being integrated by members named by the Governor-general, besides the Attorney General, the Lord Chief Justice, the Receiver General, the Commander of the Dominion Militia, the Joint Moderator and the High Commissioner. The Council of New England, advises the Governor-General and supervises the Dominion and provincial administration. Under the Charter of 1765 the Council lost its legislative powers to the General Assembly, becoming in full the advisory and executive body of Dominion under the presidency of the Governor-General. Between 1720-1765 the Governor-General appointed an Advisory Board on proposal of the Provincial-Governors.
Fleetwood established a separate Superior Court of Judicature of the Dominion, and ordered the colonies to create independent courts that in most cases meant that the legislatures loss their judicial powers. The administration of the colonies was kept, however the Governor-general's agents supervised defense and tax collection.
The Governor-general of the Dominion of New England, is the chief executive officer as detailed in Charters of New England (1675, 1704 and 1765). Before the Charter of 1704, the powers of the governor were defined by his commission issued by the Lord Protector and instructions of the Lords of Trade.
When Fleetwood established the Superior Court of Judicature he started the process of the development of an independent judiciary for New England. Several Acts and finally the the Charter of 1704 ordered the establishment of provincial courts of justice and their own hierarchy of dominion, provincial and local courts.
- For complete list see Governors-General of New England
The main parties with seats in the General Assembly, Provincial Boards and active in town meetings are:
- Christian Political Alliance (aka Brethren, New England's oldest political ideology)
- National League
- Home Rule Coalition
- Yankee Unionist Party
- Farmer–Labor Party
The following colonies, later renamed as provinces, are members of the Dominion:
|Province (Former colony)||Capital||Founded / dissolved||Executive||Legislature||Notes|
|Connecticut||Hartford||1636 to date||Governor||General Court (abolished in 1704)|
|Massachusetts Bay||Boston||1629 to date||Governor||Great and General Court (abolished in 1704)|
|Plymouth||Plymouth||1620 to 1704||Governor||General Court (abolished in 1704)||Merged to Massachusetts Bay in 1704.|
|Rhode Island||Providence||1636 to date||President||General Assembly (abolished in 1704)|
|Maine||Portland, later moved to Bangor||1678 to date||President||General Assembly (abolished in 1704)||Created from the claimed northern territories of Massachusetts Bay|
|New Hampshire||Concord||1678 to date||President||General Assembly (abolished in 1704)||Created from the claimed northern territories of Massachusetts Bay|
Each province had a legislature, a Council and a Governor (or President) as part of the political legacy of being independent colonies before their union in the Dominion. The Charter of 1704 abolished the provincial legislatures and provided that the Governors or Presidents would be named by the Governor-general holding office at his pleasure.
The New England town is the basic unit of local government and local division of provincial authority. Annual town meetings held at the meeting house, generally in May, elect the town's representatives to the General court and to transact other community business. Towns often had a village green, used for outdoor celebrations and activities such as military exercises of the town's train band or militia. However, after Fleetwood's military reforms recruitment, training and equipment was more centralized and towns were joined in Sectional Militias.
After the Charter of 1704 towns continued operating as self-governing bodies, as they had done previously, and ignored the governors whenever possible.
The earlier settlers and congregational churches shape the ethos of society in New England. The so-called Puritan way sought both individual and corporate conformity to the teaching of the Bible, with moral purity pursued down to the smallest detail, as well as ecclesiastical purity to the highest level. As a consequence of this for Puritans education was essential to the masses so that they could read the Bible for themselves. Hard work and entrepreneurship characterized New England, as the Puritans endorsed the "Protestant Ethic", which enjoined men and women to work hard as part of their divine calling.
The cultural consequences of the Protestant Ethic are that large segments of the Dominion favor government's responsibility to enforce moral standards, ensure religious worship, Dominion wide prohibition of gambling and strict liquor production and consumption licensing, education highly valued, and engagement in healthful individual and team sports activity promoted.
An example of Puritan mores was the disapproval of Christmas celebrations. Its celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 and spread later to the other towns and villages of the colony becoming by 1670s the official policy. It was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in New England, but as a minor celebration.
Deeply religious congregations at times have chosen isolation from society in order for the community Godly to follow their calling. This has meant that they have their own separate social institutions and social organizations.
The abolishment of slavery led to an awakening of religious fervor that freed slaves emigrates from the southern commonwealths of North America as the calling of an exodus to a promised land of righteous, It also led to the revival of semi isolated townships of mixed white and black individuals treated as equals in following their calling for salvation.
Individually sober dress styles are the norm being popular and widespread in business and utilitarian fashion of New Englander . Though women and men are divided along lines of class and gender being the exception religious worship and political and legal rights, both being equal to all. Social conservatism in private and public life is the norm.
The peerages (Peer of the Commonwealth) created for North America by Lord Protector James Scott in 1671 were disfavored or negatively viewed by New England society due to puritan and equalitarian mores and were rarely given outside the scope of state and military services. Peerage was strictly given to high office holders or after retirement and more as recognition of State or military services. Honours, such as the Order of the Garter, the National Order of Merit, the Order of the Protectorate and the Commonwealth Naval Order, are the ones most usually handed out by the Governor-General.
The New England colonies were settled largely by farmers, who became relatively self-sufficient. Later, aided by the Puritan work ethic and the arrival of wealthier English colonists, New England's economy began to focus on crafts and trade, in contrast to the Southern colonies of Maryland and Virginia, whose agrarian-based economy focused more heavily on foreign and domestic trade. Along with agriculture, fishing, and logging, New England became an important mercantile and shipbuilding center, serving as the hub for trading between the southern colonies and Europe.
The region's economy grew steadily over the entire colonial era, despite the lack of a staple crop that could be exported. All the provinces, and many towns as well, tried to foster economic growth by subsidizing projects that improved the infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, inns and ferries. They gave bounties and subsidies or monopolies to sawmills, grist mills, iron mills, fulling mills, salt works and glass-works. Most important, the legislatures of New England set up a legal system that was conducive to business enterprise by resolving disputes, enforcing contracts, and protecting property rights.
The Massachusetts pound, the currency of the colony of the same name, became the de facto coinage of New England due to its use among Boston merchants and its wide circulation in North America and the Caribbean. From 1690, paper money was issued, denominated in pounds, shillings and pence. The Charter of 1704 allowed the use the mintage of local coinage, becoming the New England pound, under a mint and printer licensed by the London Mint. The Currency Act of 1706 allowed the North American colonies to issue paper currency and mint coinage. Governor-general Andros issued the New England Currency Ordinance of 1709 that established the Public Bank of New England as the dominion's treasury and creating the New England shilling (NE/) replacing the Massachusetts pound and also becoming the main trade currency of North America and the Caribbean.
Focused on shipping as well as production of goods and industrial items, New England conducted a robust trade within the British domains in the mid-18th century. They exported to the Caribbean: pickled beef and pork, onions and potatoes from the Connecticut valley, codfish to feed their slaves, northern pine and oak staves from which the planters constructed containers to ship their sugar and molasses, Narragansett Pacers from Rhode Island, and "plugs" to run sugar mills. However, the Navigation Acts curtailed and restricted legal trade with Spanish, French territories and Louisiana. Contraband was the non officially sanctioned but tolerated until the Customs Regulations and Contraband Act made it illegal.
New England became a key center to the industrial revolution in North America. The Blackstone Valley has been called the birthplace of America's industrial revolution. In the 1780s, the first cotton mill in New England was built, becoming the largest cotton mill of its time.
The Connecticut River Valley became a crucible for industrial innovation pioneering such advances as interchangeable parts and the assembly line which influenced manufacturing processes all around the world. From early in the nineteenth century, the region surrounding Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut serves as New England's epicenter for advanced manufacturing, drawing skilled workers from all over North America.
The rapid growth of textile manufacturing in New England between 1815 and 1860 caused a shortage of workers. Recruiters were hired by mill agents to bring young women and children from the countryside to work in the factories. Between 1830 and 1860, thousands of farm girls moved from rural areas where there was no paid employment to work in the nearby mills. As the textile industry grew, immigration also grew. By the 1850s, immigrants began working in the mills, especially Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Canadians workers.
The economic and financial development of New England centered around Boston. Its stock exchange (The Merchant Exchange) is second in importance to the London Stock Exchange and in competition with New Amsterdam's exchange. The leading financial institution the Public Bank of New England, along the private banks of Boston are the main investors of North America with branches in the main cities and ports.
A notable aspect of New England is its national public school system which is obligatory to all children. The present co-educational national system came to by a series of gradual mergers of local primary schools, grammar and modern schools and the vocational and technical schools of the Industrial Era.
At the pre-college level, New England is home to a number of independent private schools, known as New England prep school, colloquially preppy. These prep schools are elite institutions that have very selective admission criteria and high tuition fees. Some are notable for their academic achievements.
The main educational body of New England is Harvard College (Massachusetts Bay, 1636), associated with Congregationalist Puritans. It includes the Indian College founded in 1640 and sponsored by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England.
The feud between the Church of England and Congregational churches over enrollment and the policies of Harvard established the second university: Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701 by members of the Church of England and Dissenters of the Congregationalists.
The Boston College (1732) and Cromwell Institute were established as private non-denominational colleges. In 1748 Governor-General Shirley sponsored a merger of all non-denominational colleges in one institution as a means to promote humanities, sciences and legal studies in concordance to the models of Gresham College and Durham and improve qualifications of graduates. In 1750 The Council of New England approved the charter and grants for the Dominion University of Columbia.
- Former Massachusetts pound ((NE₤, 1652-1709)
- Landgrave (m)/ landgravines (f) (equivalent to Earl), and cassique (m)/ cassica (f) (equivalent to Viscount).
- A private institution administered by the President and Fellows of Harvard College (Charter of 1650)