What was significant about the creation of the Dominion of New England?

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The Dominion of New England was a short-lived administrative union between the New England colonies, as well as New York and New Jersey, established in 1686. Notably, it was an attempt by King James II and British Parliament to streamline the administration of the colonies and strengthen English rule in...

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The Dominion of New England was a short-lived administrative union between the New England colonies, as well as New York and New Jersey, established in 1686. Notably, it was an attempt by King James II and British Parliament to streamline the administration of the colonies and strengthen English rule in the region.

Before the establishment of the Dominion, the various colonies were administered under the conditions set out in their original charters. They were given a large degree of autonomy in both civil and religious matters. This suited most colonists just fine, as many had come to North America in order to exercise these freedoms.

There was an immediate backlash to the establishment of the Dominion of New England. Colonial leaders in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in particular, refused to cooperate with the regime and openly flouted many of its provisions. They were upset with the establishment of the Church of England as the dominant religious institution of the state and with the taxes imposed by Parliament that they had not consented to.

Even though the Dominion of New England was dissolved in 1689, it is significant in that it can be seen as a precursor to the events that led to the American Revolution a century later.

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Perhaps the most significant and unpopular change that occurred with the creation of the Dominion of New England was that it established the Church of England as the state religion of the colonies within the Dominion. Given that the early English settlers had fled to the New World in search of a place to safely practise their Puritan religion, this caused widespread uproar.

Even those colonists who were not Puritans, however, were generally unhappy with the type of federal control exercised by the Dominion. As a centralized administrative body, it took away certain rights from individual colonies and insisted upon viewing all the colonies concerned as members of the same administrative bloc, with no regard for their differences. As such—and particularly because the sheer size of the Dominion made it ungovernable—the proposed administration was swiftly overthrown.

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