How did the Northern, Middle and Southern colonies politically develop differently?  

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The colonies differed in their political composition and governance largely along social and economic lines.

The southern colonies were comprised largely of large estates owned by wealthy individuals. Local government consisted of a legislature, such as the Virginia House of Burgesses, whose members were elected by property owning males. Because of the limitations on franchise, the membership of the legislatures was made up primarily of wealthy landowners. There was a royal governor appointed by the crown; however his salary was paid by the legislature. Although he had an absolute veto power, if he interfered to too great a degree with the legislature's wishes, they would simply withhold his salary.

When the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in New England, John Winthrop took advantage of the fact that the Charter did not provide for a company office in England, and carried the Charter with him. As a result, there was no control of the colony from England prior to the dissolution of the Charter just before the Revolution. The Charter provided for a General Court which elected a governor and assistants. Winthrop limited voting for the assembly to "freemen," a term he was unwilling to describe and which allowed him control of the General Court.

Of the middle colonies, New York, after it was taken by the English, was ruled by James, Duke of York (later James II) without a colonial assembly. This practice made the colony unattractive to English settlers who often preferred Pennsylvania instead which was a model of tolerance and allowed a great latitude of civil liberties. James' policies meant that few English women moved to the colony. As a result, many of the Englishmen there married Dutch wives; as a result of which a great deal of Dutch culture was preserved in the colony.