Yes. These countries did unload some of their convicts to America, and they were required to clear land, plant crops and create roads. After America gained independence in 1776, Britain sent convicts to Australia, where they again were required to do similar work.<quoted text>
Though I have seen evidence that England, France, and a couple other European countries did unload some of their criminals here, I haven't seen any evidence to support the conclusion that most early colonists were criminals.
However, the big criminals during colonial days in America were those who were of 'old money' stock, as they allegiance with other criminal leaders who could control a lot on what was happening.
The Political Machines at the '5 Points' in New York had massive influence - as they were a very corrupt sect of politicians who bought votes from the poor Irish-Catholics and Blacks. The city was a rough compound of gangs, pickpocketers, prostitution and illegal cockfighting and other gambling ventures.