Disputes on Sovereignty During the American Revolution 301 imperial government. There was as yet no Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. The colonies came under the remit of the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, who was also responsible for Britain’s more important and difficult relations with France and Spain. Britain had no unified or effective imperial administration in the colonies. Commercial aspects of colonial affairs fell under the control of the Board of Trade and Plantations (Basye, 1925). The Privy Council vetted colonial legislation. The Admiralty had insufficient ships to curb the smuggling that took place along America’s eastern seaboard. Efforts to appoint an Anglican bishop to oversee ecclesiastical affairs, where the clergy of the Church of England dominated, were successfully resisted by the colonists (Taylor, 1993: 331-356). No major politician in Britain was ever appointed as a governor in the American colonies. The responsibilities of these different agents of the British government overlapped and were rarely well-coordinated. While British governments were becoming all too aware of their lack of control over the internal affairs of the colonies in North America, the colonists there were becoming more confident of their ability to manage their own internal affairs. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the British American colonies were still a collection of small faction-ridden societies with little in common. By the 1760s they had developed into quite mature and sophisticated political societies capable of challenging decisions taken at Westminster. The rapid growth in population and demographic expansion, and the rise of an educated and prosperous colonial elite, were developments that were accompanied by a desire of this elite to acquire political influence and social status. They soon held most of the administrative and judicial positions in the colonies (Daniels, 1986), but there were not enough government positions to satisfy their ambitions, and so they sought election to the colonial legislatures. Those who voted for members of the colonial assemblies had to have qualifications in the form of property or the