American Government from British Colonies to Revolution
While the colonists were treated by Great Britain as minor children or as subjects to be governed, the very new sets of colonies were making their own establishments in the realms of self-government. Colonial self-government ranged on a grand scale from things such as town meetings and councils, to public assemblies and courts. From these assemblies, great leaders and political minds hosted thoughts and brought together a sort of regulation for what early America was to look like in its future. This process, of course, took time and went through a great amount of changes from the first settlers to the Revolutionary period.
New colonial government represented an extension of English government. Courts enforced the common law of England. The General Assembly was elected by voters, and by 1750 most free men could vote. In New England, the towns had town meetings where all free men had a voice. Some diplomatic affairs were handled by London, as were some trading policies. The colonies handled their own affairs with the Native Americans, but Britain (apparently) handled foreign wars with France and Spain.
Councils as a whole would sit as the Supreme Court for the colony. Like the British House of Lords, the council's approval was required for new laws, which usually originated in the Assembly. The council could be viewed as continuous, unlike the Assembly, which would typically meet for a new session each year to deal with taxes, budgets, and new requirements. Like the Assembly, most Council positions were unpaid, and members pursued a number of professions. While lawyers were prominent throughout the colonies, merchants were important in the northern colonies, while planters were more involved in the south. Each colony had a charter, or written agreement between the colony and the king of England or Parliament. Charters of royal colonies allowed direct rule by the king. A colonial legislature was...
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