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The Common Law in Colonial AmericaVolume III: The Chesapeake and New England, 1660–1750$
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William E. Nelson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190465056

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190465056.001.0001

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The Success of British Imperial Policy

(p.132) 10 Conclusion
The Common Law in Colonial America

William E. Nelson

Oxford University Press

From the vantage of the mid-eighteenth century, Britain’s policies toward its continental North American colonies appeared to have enjoyed remarkable success. Those colonies for the most part were well ordered and prosperous. The policy of every monarch beginning with Charles II had been to administer England’s colonies cheaply. That was why the Crown sought to govern through the common law. In fact, the policy of Charles II and James II to govern cheaply by relying on lawyers and the common law rather than through military force or an expensive bureaucracy enjoyed great success into the middle of the eighteenth century. It failed in the long run mainly because William III and his successors did not follow through and control the legal profession with sufficient rigor.

Keywords:   British Empire, common law, localism, Charles II, Puritanism, William III

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