Land of the Brave

Charter Colonies

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Charter Colonies
Meaning and Definition of Charter Colonies: A charter is a written document from the sovereign power of a country that bestowed certain rights, franchises, or privileges. Charter Colonies were written contracts between the British King and the American colonists, defining the share each should have in the government and were not to be changed without the consent of both parties.

The Charter Colonies
The Charter Colonies were all located in New England where colonial government issues were discussed at town meetings.

The names of areas governed as Charter Colonies at the start of the American Revolutionary War were:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts (Charter then Royal)
  • Rhode Island

In early colonial history Massachusetts was one of 6 separate colonies in the region of New England. The other five were Rhode Island, Connecticut Maine, New Hampshire and Plymouth.

Royal, Proprietary and Charter Colonies
There were three types of colonies and systems of government in the British Colonies of North America - Royal, Charter and Proprietary.

  • Royal Colonies were ruled directly by the English monarchy
  • Proprietary Colonies was established in territories which had been granted by the English Crown to one, or more, proprietors who had full governing rights
  • Charter Colonies was generally self-governed, and their charters were granted to the colonists as opposed to proprietors

Prior to the establishment of Royal, Proprietary and Charter colonies the British colonization of North America had been financed and settled under the jurisdiction of joint stock companies operating under charters granted by the crown.

The Rights of Charter Colonies
All of the colonial charters guaranteed to the American colonists the vague rights and privileges of Englishmen, which would later prove to be a critical point of contention, especially in Massachusetts, and one of the major causes of the . In the second half of the 17th century, the Crown looked upon Charters and the Charter Colonies as obstacles to British colonial control and changed the Charter Colony of Massachusetts to a Royal Colony.

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