Everywhere among the English-speaking race criminal justice was rude, and punishments were barbarous; but the tendency was to do away with special privileges and legal exemptions.
The participation of the people in their own government was the more significant, because the colonies actually had what England only seemed to have, - three departments of government.
In some of the middle colonies the towns and counties were both active and had a relation with each other which was the forerunner of the present system of local government in the Western States.
In comparison with other men of their time, the Americans were distinguished by the possession of new political and social ideas, which were destined to be the foundation of the American commonwealth.
The residence of the Plymouth settlers in the Netherlands, and the later conquest of the Dutch colonies, had brought the Americans into contact with the singularly wise and free institutions of the Dutch.