European Colonization of North America

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What were the pros and cons of Britain's colonies in North America?

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As the British claimed land for their colonies, they imagined this land would give them the benefits of extracted resources and labor, increasing the productive capacity of the small island by capturing the productive capacity of other peoples. Unfortunately, these "resources" are not simply something that can be quietly accumulated. They require the disruptions of lives, the devastation of the earth, and the subjugation of huge numbers of people.

The disadvantages of colonization mostly stem from the fact that these people, who are being treated simply as productive resources, weren't a fan of the arrangement. Colonial wars were expansive, eventually taking place in many of Britain's colonies, and were expensive to fight, cutting into the money that these colonial endeavors were supposed to make them.

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It depends on who we're speaking about if we want to analyze advantages and disadvantages. There were certainly more advantages to Great Britain than there were for the colonists. Some of the advantages for Britain included abundant resources for the taking, high taxes that could be levied against the colonists, and the potential for further conquest. For example, Britain could station ships on the American coast in case it entered into conflict in the Caribbean or wanted to venture further south.

One disadvantage for Great Britain was that it didn't have as much oversight or control over its citizens in the far-flung colonies, which obviously led to the Revolutionary War. One of the main reasons Great Britain gave America its independence was that the war was simply too expensive. It had the military might to quell the rebellion, for sure, but the expense outweighed any potential benefit of keeping the colonies, so it gave the (white) American colonists their freedom. Additionally, the colonists had the disadvantage of not having the same rights and freedoms as the British citizens, and they had to pay the hefty taxes without being properly represented in British Parliament.

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Having colonies in North America had advantages and disadvantages for Great Britain. One advantage was the British were able to use their colonies to get raw materials for their factories. By having colonies, Great Britain was able to get these raw materials cheaper than if they had to buy them from other countries. The colonies also provided a guaranteed market for the British factories. They would be able to sell their products in the colonies. Another advantage of having colonies is that it gave Great Britain an opportunity to spread its influence and way of life around the world. Additionally, having colonies gave the British various military bases around the world from which they could operate. This helped Great Britain become and remain a world power. 

Having colonies also posed disadvantages. Having colonies is a huge responsibility. The colonies must be protected, and the needs of the colonists must be taken care of by the British. The colonies, over time, became expensive to operate. The purpose of having colonies is to make money. As the cost of running the colonies increased, the British were making less money. When the British asked the colonists to share in the expense of running the colonies, the colonists fought this idea. When these disputes led to rebellion, these wars were very costly for Great Britain. Eventually, the British lost their colonies as the colonies became independent, not just in the United States, but also around the world.

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