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Foundations of American Political Thought

Readings and Commentary

Edited By Raymond Polin and Constance Polin

Foundations of American Political Thought: Readings and Commentary explains American historical concepts and key political ideas from 1620 to 1910. In this primer for democracy, all verbatim passages and original documents point to their original intentions and ideological movements. Key terms and basic terminology are incisive and essential for a thorough understanding of democracy. This book represents the setting and trends that produced sound progress in American political growth.


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Section One: The Founding Period


~~ cSectlnt {~te {/}' ~ The Founding Period Transplantation, Autonomy, and Self-Determination Biographical/Historical Essays f/he system of government that was set up in each of the British North American settlements in the seventeenth century was a transplant, not an original development. The British colonists carried with them across the Atlantic their instruments and habits of government and social behavior as defi- nitely as they transported the tools and technology they used in the agricultural and commercial pursuits in which they also at once engaged themselves. Although there were some differences that dealt especially with matters of structure, authority, accession to office, and remuneration for official duties among the various royal provinces, proprietary colonies, and charter plantations, there was a great deal of similarity of fundamental political and social institutions and of the traditional beliefs that underlay them. Also, despite the usual "salutary neglect" by the home government, acting especially through the Board of Trade, it did occa- sionally exert influence upon them to bring about some degree of uniformity and coordination as to law and policy. For, notwithstanding their differences in nomen- clature or in chartering provisions, all of the settlements were in the final analy- sis royal or "Crown colonies" because their charters were granted from the Crown and because their standard channel of communication with the home government was through the Board of Trade, an attachment of the Privy Council that served the Crown. 4 I THE FOUNDING PERIOD The fifteen-member Board of Trade that was commissioned in 1696...

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