The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
Remnants of Confederation

At no other time before the period of the American Revolution was there greater affinity for union among the colonies than during the brief years of 1689-91. During this time the New England Confederation was revived for a brief spell, and intercolonial cooperative action for military purposes branched out through all the New England and Middle Colonies, as was evidenced by the New York Conference of 1690, which led to the fiasco of a joint expedition to Canada. These two years are most important in showing the progress of the evolution of the federal principle in America. With "sad distractions" once again because of the brief transition of government in the homeland, the colonists, faced with providing for their own common defense, took the reins of government into their own hands. The course they took was the most natural one. Without hesitation, the colonists resorted to intercolonial union, which is evidence that their combining in time of stress was the accustomed mode of action. The premise of federalism, cooperative action, was now firmly established. It remained for the future for the common ties of heritage and purpose to give rise to a buoyant nationalism that would cement the colonies into a permanent federal union.

For many days after the overthrow of the Andros regime, the excitement of rebellion continued in the Bay Colony; the "Sword yet continued in every Man's hands, and for divers weeks, the Colony continued without any pretence to Civil Government."1 A general court was convened on the basis of the governor and assistants chosen by the freemen in 1686,2 the last election before Dudley assumed the presidency of the Council government. All that was accomplished at this five week session of the General Court was to declare the previous laws of the Colony according to their original charter to be in effect provisionally until further word from the new government in England. It was expected that, because of the triumph of Whiggery in England, a new charter would be given to the colony. Increase Mather

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