Pre-revolutionary war Americans were, for the most part, ignored by the British, and it did them the Americans a world of good. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:
The development of the American colonies moved in an arc. They began with a lot of oppression (after the old world model), shook it off as the arc rose toward 1776 and the revolution, then headed slowly back down. My job today is to give you some feel of the times, and I’ll begin with some background.
Perhaps the most important accident of the early America period was a British policy that later became known as salutary neglect. This salutary (healthful) neglect began in 1722, when a Whig named Robert Walpole became the king’s chief minister. The Whigs held what we might call libertarian opinions, and Walpole wanted to govern loosely, to avoid government meddling, and to let natural forces bring prosperity to England. Under Walpole, many of the regulations upon American trade were simply ignored.
This policy lasted, more or less, until 1760, after which the impositions we normally associate with the American Revolution began.