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The major reason that the British colonies in North America are an example of colonialism is because they were run in a colonial way. That is, they were run solely for the benefit of the mother country. The needs of the metropole (or mother country) were always put ahead of the needs of the colony, at least by the British government.
This can be seen most clearly in things like the Navigation Acts. These acts placed limits on what the colonists could produce and to whom they could sell their products. These acts were created to ensure that the colonies did not compete with the metropole and so that their exports would profit the metropole. This is a clear case of colonialism.
Colonialism is when a country sends its citizens to a far away place in order to take advantages of the resources of that place, and still considers them citizens. This was the case with England and the North American colonies. Countries are faced with a limited amount of land, and Great Britain is a tiny country. It also had limited resources and weather. Thus, England needed the space and resources ofNorth America, as well as the prestige that came from global expansion.
As is natural in these cases, citizens of the colony often develop independence. They also might feel like they are second-class citizens and are ignored, expressed or exploited by the mother country. This was certainly the case with the American colonies. People who leave their country to go to colonies tend to be exploratory by nature, rugged, individualist or otherwise have traits that prevent them from fitting in to their old country. Sometimes they just lack the social class or standing to get ahead, and come for economic opportunity. All are risk-takers.
Colonialism in America was a classic example of the prevailing economic theory of the day which was Mercantilism. The theory held that a nation's economy flourished only when it enjoyed a positive cash flow. Colonies were encouraged as a source of raw materials for the mother country and a market for goods manufactured in the mother country. This was the role the American colonies were to provide: a source of tobacco, indigo, etc. and a market for goods manufactured in England.
During the later Imperialist period, the same pattern developed, sources of raw materials and markets for manufactured goods; only in stead of in the Americas, the colonies were in Africa, India, etc. In each instance, the colonies were there for the economic benefit of the mother country.
In further distinguishing the British colonies as a form of colonialism, discuss how the British Empire saw the indigenous population as part of this distinction. (Establishment of colonialism must be set apart from imperialism without actually refering to/comparing to imperialism)
Everything I've ever studied or read about the British colonies in America point to an overwhelming attitude that not only did the mother country expect its citizens to obey without fail every law, rule, and expectation including, but not limited to, taxation without representation, raping the land of its resources and exporting them for the mother country's use, and not considering the needs and wants of the people who actually lived here--suffering through experiences with Indians, weather, wild animals and other such threats that the mother country either discounted or ignored, they also had the audacity to think that the people, the colonies, and everything in them belonged to the King. The fact that the British soldiers were sent to occupy the homes of the citizens placing them, practically, under house arrest in order to subdue the resentment felt by the citizens who were upset at the total disregard of England for their well being. It was a classic case of you work and do all the hard stuff, and I'll take all the benefits. You might call it "distribution of wealth." Those who work hard to provide end up providing for those who don't work for it at all...the recipients of the benefits even go so far as to have an attitude of "you owe this to me". One can not blame the colonists for being upset when it boils down to that.
In reference to your question about the indigenous people, the British treated the native Americans with the same disdain that they had learned when colonizing the rest of the UK, especially Ireland. They dealt with the indigenous population as heathens and treated them as the word implies. In addition the quest for land always outweighed any other desire, including the fates of the people living on it. Land was stripped from the Native Americans again and again, with little or no restitution because they felt it was their right. The attitude of an imperialist country.
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