Five European nations founded enduring societies north of the Gulf of Mexico. Only one of them left any lasting legacy upon the political history of postindependence North America: Great Britain. Royal authority in New France and New Spain operated through appointive officials, who owed their posts to court patronage and whose duty it was to maintain order and dispense justice on behalf of absolute monarchs. Under such circumstances, no opportunity arose for settlers to gain experience in lawmaking or to master crucial aspects of civil administration. New Netherland and New Sweden functioned as corporate enclaves staffed by managers, employees, and various independent contractors not as political societies based upon the rights and duties of citizenship. Their formative period left no tradition of self-government, much less any ethos of public service. Only colonists from England established institutions that would influence the future course of both constitutional history and political thought during later centuries.
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