What are the issues surrounding governance in colonial America? Compare the different historical actors and their agency to govern and solve problems.

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Two historical actors who had different approaches to British American colonial governance and problem solving are Thomas Hutchinson and Patrick Henry. Hutchinson held numerous posts before becoming the last British Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Henry served as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

In the late 1760s and 1770s, after the imposition of restrictive policies and practices, many British-American colonists promoted a higher degree of self-governance as opposed to accepting all aspects of British rule. Hutchinson, as a Loyalist representative of the Crown, supported such measures as the Stamp Act that imposed taxes on the colonists. While Chief Justice, when he refused to disavow the act, rebellious colonists of the Sons of Liberty attacked and ransacked his home. He primarily opposed colonists’ claims but also tried to appease them.

Henry was among the elected officials who had become increasingly dissatisfied with British colonial control. He strongly advocated for the colonists’ active participation in self-governance, including their right to raise a militia in order to defend their cause. He adamantly stated these views in a 1775 speech to the Second Virginia Convention. This speech has become famous for his concluding “liberty or death” declaration.

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