THE EMPIRE AND THE COLONIES
By the end of the seventeenth century, the English colonies in America had experienced radical changes in their relations with the great empire to which they belonged. Beginning as trading-company settlements, feudal principalities, or practically republican commonwealths, they had gradually been transformed into real provinces of a world-wide dominion. They were still self-reliant and impatient of external control; but in a hundred different ways their lives were conditioned by the ties which bound them to each other and to their common center in the British Isles.
Importance of imperial relations.
The British government of the early eighteenth century was quite different from what it was when American colonization began. There were, to begin with, important changes in the relations between England and the other peoples of the British Isles. In 1606, England and Scotland were distinct and not very friendly kingdoms, though they happened to have the same King. During the next hundred years, plans of union were frequently discussed but never carried into effect, except for a short time during Cromwell's protectorate. Finally, however, the desire of the Scotch merchants to share in the commercial monopoly established by the Navigation Acts overcame their jealousy of the English. In 1707 the two nations agreed upon the Act of Union, and thenceforth the two kingdoms had not only a common King but also a common Parliament. So the American provinces became dependencies not of England only but of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
The British Act of Union, 1707.