The said United Colonies for themselves and their posterities do jointly and severally hereby enter into a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor upon all just occasions both for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare. (Article 1 of the The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England, 19 May 1643)
The United Colonies of New England, commonly known as the New England Confederation, was a military alliance of the English colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. Its primary purpose was to unite the Puritan colonies in support of the church, and for defense against the Native Americans and the neighboring Dutch colony of New Netherland. It was established as a direct result of a war that started between the Mohegan and Narragansetts. Its charter provided for the return of fugitive criminals and indentured servants, and served as a forum for resolving inter-colonial disputes.
In 1675 the said colonies and Rhode Island became by an Act of Parliament the Dominion of New England
During the English Civil War a sixth of the male settlers (several thousands) of the colonies of New England returned to the British Isles to fight or involve themselves in the politics of the Commonwealth of England. One important after effect was freer internal management of colonial affairs, previous charters were acknowledged or approved. However the Lords of Trade of the Commonwealth, under the Navigation Acts, insisted on having their authority carried out and suppress smuggling, insist on trade carried out only in Commonwealth ships, and apply restrictions and collect customs duties to the trade with New Netherland and the Dutch.
Other troubles the members of Confederation had with the Commonwealth was religious persecution of dissidents and their unwillingness to allow the reformed Church of England to settle in their territories.
In 1666 in a Joint session of the Council for Foreign Plantations and Council of Trade a proposal was put for an administrative union the colonies of north of New Netherland. The reasons were for 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 runned opposite and much to the annoyance of Religious Settlement of the 1660s of the Commonwealth.
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 expulsion of dissents and the Indian rebellion of 1674. Also several conflicts with the indians prompted the Council of State to seriously reconsider the 1666 proposal. The new design also included a more centralized and permanent militia. So in 1676 after its passage by Parliament Orders of Council named created the Dominion of New England in America with Charles Fleetwood as its first Governor-general.
According to the Articles of Confederation (1643) and modifications, each member colonies contributed to the Common Treasury according to their population, the common militia was integrated by colonial militia in accordance to their male population, and each colonial government named two Commissioners to administer the common treasury and militia. The President was chosen by a majority of six of the eight commissioners, the same majority for new levies and declare war. Along meeting for the affairs of the treasury and defense, the commissioners can also hear, examine, weigh, debate, propose and decide matters of common interest.
The commissioners were to meet once a year, however the reforms of the statues in 1661 arranged that they should meet at least once a month in Boston and their mandate would be of two years with the possibility of reelections. Also a General Court was established were the delegates of the colonial governments and legislature would hold public and private sessions with the commissioners and be informed once a year of the operations of the Confederation.
Members of the Confederation
The following colonies are members of the Confederation
- Connecticut (established 1636)
- Massachusetts Bay (established 1628) It also includes Maine and New Hampshire.
- New Haven (established 1638,merged to Connecticut 1662)
- Plymouth (established 1628)
Agriculture, Trade and Industries
New England is relatively small, and is relatively densely populated. The New England's economy depended on the success of its trade, in part because its land was not as suitable for agriculture as that of other colonies like Virginia, where large plantations could be established. Colonial authorities, many of whom either are merchants or were politically dependent on trade.
New England is notable for its manufactures and for certain businesses, such as shipbuilding, fisheries, dairy farming, and the fur and lumber trades. Its shipyards were estimated to turn out several hundred ships annually. The fur trade only plays a modest role in the colony's economy, because its rivers do not connect its centers well with the Indians who engaged in fur trapping. Timber, especially for naval purposes began to take on an increasingly important role in the economy after conflicts between England and the Dutch depleted the former's supplies of ship masts
The fishery is important enough that those involved in it were exempted from taxation and military service. Larger communities supported craftsmen.
Some income-producing activities, like the carding, spinning, and weaving of wool and other fibers, took place in the home.
Goods were transported to local markets over roads that were sometimes little more than widened Indian trails.Towns were required to maintain their roads, on penalty of fines, and the colonies in 1640s required special town commissions to lay out roads in a more sensible manner. Bridges were fairly uncommon, since they were expensive to maintain, and fines were imposed on their owners for the loss of life or goods if they failed. Consequently, most river crossings were made by ferry. Notable exceptions were a bridge across the Mystic River, constructed in 1638, and another over the Saugus River, whose upkeep costs were subsidized.