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Discover_our_World_Yellow / Lesson 6: Colonial Governments

Colonial Governments


The Early Colonial Governments


  • Each of the colonies was formed for different reasons and therefore each was governed in it's own way

  • Royal Governors who were appointed by the King of England ruled 8 out of the 13 colonies

  • In the other colonies-a proprietor named the governor except in CT and RH where votes named the governor


The First Colonial Government


  • The House of Burgesses was created in 1619 in Virginia-it was the first government or assembly

  • An assembly---is a lawmaking body like a government

  • The people that could participate in this government and other colonial governments were: white men who owned property---no other types of people could participate in colonial government


Early Legislation


  • Legislation is the making or passing of laws

  • The legislation of Colonial governments had to be approved by the country of Great Britain

  • Great Britain continued to try to be involved in all laws made by the 13 colonies and there governments


Great Britain's Government


  • Britain's government was called Parliament

  • Many of our American government ideas were derived from Great Britain such as "Innocent until proven guilty"

  • However, England or Britain had a hard time governing the colonies because of it's distance


Colonial Governments


  • The colonial governments were much like county and town governments in England

  • Town governments were basically a group of men who gathered to solve local problems

  • Those who voted at these meetings were white men who owned property

  • Those who could not vote were: women, Catholics, African Americans, Jews, Native Americans, Poor white Men and children


Colonial Governments


  • The members of the colonial Governments were called delegates

  • Delegates were chosen because it was believed that they had time, education and experience for public office

  • At colonial elections, the candidates would give the voters cakes, punch and cookies to help persuade the voters to select them


Colonial Law Enforcement


  • In the 1600s and 1700s the laws were enforced by sheriffs and constables

  • Constables were town officers in charge of keeping people in order

  • People accused of serious crimes were sentenced to death usually by hanging

  • Ordinary crimes such as swearing or misbehaving on Sundays were punished by putting a person in a pillory or in what are called stocks---these were public forms of suffering---one was locked into a wooden structure with holes cut out for their neck and wrists-they would stand there for days

  • Serious crimes were: murder, robbery, and treason

  • Treason: This was the betrayal of one's own country by giving help to the enemy


English Government Ideas


  • Many colonial governments got ideas from an English philosopher who wrote a book about government; his name was John Locke

  • Locke believed that government was responsible for protecting people's natural rights

  • Natural Rights are Rights that all people are born with

  • Locke said if citizens are unhappy with their rulers then they have the right to find other rulers


Freedom of the Press


  • Many Colonial governors were dishonest

  • The Press was the Newspaper Makers

  • In colonial governments the people who made or wrote the newspapers were not allowed to say bad stuff about the governors in the newspapers

  • In 1734 a newspaper writer named John Peter Zenger wrote a story about New York's governor who was dishonest in his newspaper

  • And as a result the New York governor put Zenger in jail

  • Zenger protested this and it went to trial and Zenger was found innocent---so from then on we now have "Freedom of the Press"-which means the newspaper can publish bad stuff about people if it is factual and truthful


The contrast between Independence from Britain & Independence from slave owners


  • The colonial governments eventually were upset with Britain trying to be involved in their law making and in their governments

  • The colonists wanted their own government and Independence from Great Britain

  • At the same time-there were many slaves in the colonies----one female slave named Phillis Wheatley-who received her last name from her slave owner---wrote a poetry book about how the colonists want independence from Britain just like the slaves want independence from their slave owners

  • She wrote: "In every humanGod has implanted a principle, which we call love of freedom, the same principle lives in us, the slaves


Duties of the Colonial Governments


  • Colonial Governments were there to:

    1. Solve local problems
    2. Hold town meetings to discuss issues
    3. Elect Assemblies
    4. Create laws to govern themselves

    The colonial governments lasted until the Revolutionary War and Independence was achieved from Britain-then we began the new government that we have today---The United States Government based on the Constitution