Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

By W. Keith Kavenagh | Go to book overview

THE STRUCTURE AND
FUNCTION OF GOVERNMENT

Introduction

The flow of Englishmen to America began with the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Within twenty years after the first one hundred men and four boys began the arduous task of building the first permanent settlement, seventy thousand others followed them to either Virginia or some other frontier outpost in the New World. Of that total, over twelve thousand found their way to either Virginia, Bermuda, or Maryland. By 1690 the entire colonial population had increased, with the addition of Irish, Scots, and others from Europe, to over a quarter of a million people. Yet despite the influx of other nationalities with their diverse backgrounds, English customs and traditions predominated at all levels.

The English who came to America left behind a complex structure of government and society which they attempted to duplicate in their new surroundings. Superior to all else was the monarch in whose name all laws were made, justice dispensed, and officials chosen to serve in public office. Most of the administrative control, however, was performed by the Privy Council, composed of over forty members representing the chief officials of England, the nobility, and advisers. It was here that policy decisions were made ranging from the smallest details of government to foreign affairs. The Council supervised justices of the peace, concerned itself with poor relief and a multitude of local problems, and prepared legislation for the consideration of Parliament. It recommended approval or rejection of charters and later through the Lords of Trade and Plantations, supervised colonial affairs.

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Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Foundations of Golonial America *
  • Preface v
  • Foundations of Colonial America *
  • Contents xi
  • Colonial Charters *
  • The Structure and Function of Government *
  • The Regulation of the Status and Activities of Individuals *
  • Taxation *
  • Regulation of Economic Activity *
  • Ecclesiastical Affairs *
  • Acts of Parliament and Royal Pr Oclama Tions *
  • Local Government *
  • Land Acquisition *
  • Laws Affecting Property Ownership *
  • Public and Private Records of Land Distribution Deeds, Grants, Patents *
  • Public and Private Records of Land Distribution: Wills and Estates *
  • Glossary *
  • Table of Regnal Years *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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