Self-governing colony

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In the British Empire, a self-governing colony was a colony with an elected government in which elected rulers were able to make most decisions without referring to the colonial power with nominal control of the colony. Most self-governing colonies had responsible government.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Colony territory under the political control of an overseas state, generally with its own subordinate colonial government

In history, a colony is a territory under the immediate complete political control and occupied by settlers of a state, distinct from the home territory of the sovereign. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception.

Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments in Westminster democracies are responsible to parliament rather than to the monarch, or, in a colonial context, to the imperial government, and in a republican context, to the president, either in full or in part. If the parliament is bicameral, then the government is responsible first to the parliament's lower house, which is more representative than the upper house, as it has more members and they are always directly elected.

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Self-governing colonies for the most part have no formal authority over constitutional matters such the monarchy and the constitutional relationship with Britain. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in London, serves as the ultimate avenue of appeal in matters of law and justice.

Monarchy of the United Kingdom constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories

The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council judicial body in the United Kingdom

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories and Commonwealth countries. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Council, the Privy Council formerly acted as the court of last resort for the entire British Empire, and continues to act as the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth nations, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories.

Justice Concept of moral fairness and administration of the law

Justice, in its broadest context, includes both the attainment of that which is just and the philosophical discussion of that which is just. The concept of justice is based on numerous fields, and many differing viewpoints and perspectives including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness. Often, the general discussion of justice is divided into the realm of social justice as found in philosophy, theology and religion, and, procedural justice as found in the study and application of the law.

Colonies have sometimes been referred to as "self-governing" in situations where the executive has been under the control of neither the imperial government nor a local legislature elected by universal suffrage, but by a local oligarchy state. In most cases such control has been exercised by an elite class from a settler community.

The executive is the organ exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law.

Universal suffrage Political concept

The concept of universal suffrage, also known as general suffrage or common suffrage, consists of the right to vote of all adult citizens, regardless of property ownership, income, race, or ethnicity, subject only to minor exceptions. In its original 19th-century usage by political reformers, universal suffrage was understood to mean only universal manhood suffrage; the vote was extended to women later, during the women's suffrage movement.

Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious, political, or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

History

North America (1619–1949)

The term "self-governing colony" has sometimes been used in relation to the direct rule of a Crown colony by an executive governor, elected under a limited franchise, such as in Massachusetts between 1630 and 1684.

Crown colony, dependent territory or royal colony were dependent territories under the administration of United Kingdom overseas territories that were controlled by the British Government. As such they are examples of dependencies that are under colonial rule. Crown colonies were renamed "British Dependent Territories" in 1981, and since 2002, Crown colonies have been known officially as British Overseas Territories.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

The first local legislatures raised in England's colonies were the House of Burgesses of Virginia (1619) and the House of Assembly of Bermuda (1620), originally part of Virginia. The Parliament of Bermuda, which now also includes a Senate, is the third-oldest in the Commonwealth of Nations, after the Tynwald and Westminster (currently the Parliament of the United Kingdom). Of the three, only Bermuda's has legislated continuously, with the Royalist camp maintaining control of the archipelago during the Commonwealth of England and the Protectorate.

House of Burgesses

The Virginia House of Burgesses was formed in 1642/43 by the General Assembly. By its creation, the General Assembly then became bicameral.

Colony of Virginia English/British possession in North America (1607-1776)

The Colony of Virginia, chartered in 1606 and settled in 1607, was the first enduring English colony in North America, following failed proprietary attempts at settlement on Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583, and the subsequent further south Roanoke Island by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 1580s.

House of Assembly of Bermuda

The House of Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. The house has 36 Members of Parliament (MPs), elected for a term of five years in single seat constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. Bermuda now has universal voting with a voting age of 18 years. Voting is non-compulsory. The presiding officer of the House is called the Speaker.

However, in the modern sense of the term, the first self-governing colony is generally considered to have been the Province of Canada, in 1841; the colony gained responsible government in 1849. All the colonies of British North America became self-governing between 1848 and 1855, except the Colony of Vancouver Island. Nova Scotia was the first colony to achieve responsible government in January–February 1848 through the efforts of Joseph Howe, followed by the Province of Canada later that year. They were followed by Prince Edward Island in 1851, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland in 1855 under Philip Francis Little. The Canadian colonies were federated as a Dominion in 1867, except for Newfoundland, which remained a separate self-governing colony, was a separate Dominion in 1907-1934, reverted to being a crown colony in 1934, and joined Canada in 1949. However, the term "self-governing colony" is not widely used by Canadian constitutional experts.

Province of Canada 1841-1867 UK possession in North America

The Province of Canada was a British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham in the Report on the Affairs of British North America following the Rebellions of 1837–1838.

British North America

The term "British North America" refers to the former territories of the British Empire in North America, not including the Caribbean. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report. These territories today form modern-day Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Colony of Vancouver Island

The Colony of Vancouver Island, officially known as the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies, was a Crown colony of British North America from 1849 to 1866, after which it was united with the mainland to form the Colony of British Columbia. The united colony joined Canadian Confederation, thus becoming part of Canada, in 1871. The colony comprised Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands of the Strait of Georgia.

Australasia (1852–1907)

In Australasia, the term self-governing colony is widely used by historians and constitutional lawyers in relation to the political arrangements in the seven British settler colonies of Australasia New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia between 1852 and 1901, when the six Australian colonies agreed to Federation and became a Dominion. New Zealand remained a separate colony until 1907, when it too became a Dominion.

Southern Africa (1852–1980)

In southern Africa, the Cape Colony was granted representative government in 1852, followed by responsible government in 1872. Natal became self-governing in 1893, Transvaal in 1906 and Orange Free State in 1908. These four colonies were united as a unitary Dominion, the Union of South Africa, in 1910). Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe), became a self-governing colony in 1923. [1]

Europe (1921–1964)

Malta was also a self-governing colony between 1921 and 1933, 1947 and 1958, and 1962 until independence two years later.

Dominions/Commonwealth realms

The best-known examples of self-governing colonies are the Dominions, during the mid-to-late-19th century and early 20th century. In the Dominions, prior to the Statute of Westminster in 1931, a Governor General, officially the monarch's representative, was a de facto arm of the British government.

After the passing of the Statute of Westminster, the Dominions ceased to be considered colonies, although many colonies which did not have Dominion status were self-governing. However, after that time, the Dominions were largely free to act in matters of defence and foreign affairs, if they so chose and "Dominion" gradually acquired a new meaning: a state which was independent of Britain, but which shared the British monarch as the official head of state. The term Dominion has since largely fallen out of use and been replaced with the term Realm.

Modern times (1981–present)

In 1981, under the British Nationality Act 1981 and reflecting the change in status toward devolved self-government (and depriving colonials of the rights of abode and work in the United Kingdom), self-governing and Crown colonies were renamed "British Dependent Territories". [2] This terminology caused offence to both loyalists and nationalists in the territories and was changed in 2002, by the means of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, to British Overseas Territories. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. Brownlie, Ian; Burns, Ian R. (1979). African Boundaries: A Legal and Diplomatic Encyclopaedia. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 1306. ISBN   9780903983877 . Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. "British Nationality Act 1981". The UK Statute Law Database. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  3. "British Overseas Territories Act 2002". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2009-12-15.