The Colonial Experience Section 3 Colonial Charters and Self Government

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The Colonial Experience

Section 3
Colonial Charters and Self Government
In 1619 the settlers of Jamestown in Virginia founded the House of Burgesses, America’s first representative assembly for making laws.
In the following years, English Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower agreed that the laws for their colony at Plymouth in Massachusetts would be subject to the colonists’ approval and consent. The document presenting their agreement is known as the Mayflower Compact. As a result of this compact, citizens in many New England towns met regularly to discuss problems and vote directly on laws.
During the French and Indian War Benjamin Franklin organized the Albany Plan of Union to unite the colonies together for a defense against France.
Joint Stock Companies were in which individuals would invest their money in the hopes of making a profit.
The colonies were also expected to produce only what England needed and to buy everything that they needed from England. This trade policy was known as Mercantilism.

Native American Governmental System
Most Native American governmental systems consisted of loose confederations of villages or tribal clans.
Iroquois League of nations was one of the first confederation systems created. Colonial leaders knew about this system, and it may have influenced the confederation plan of government adopted in 1781 by those who wrote the Articles of Confederation.

Colonial Slavery
Slavery in the British North American colonies began with the first transfer of Africans in 1619 to the Jamestown colony in Virginia.
Slavery existed in all 13 colonies.
Slavery grew as the demand for tobacco grew.
Slavery stronger in the southern colonies than it was in the northern colonies.
Christianity would be intermingled with aspects of animism, which believes that spirits exist in natural objects such as trees, rocks, earth, and sky.
Slavery was a direct contradiction to the values of the Declaration of Independence.
Slaves fought for both the British and the colonists during the Revolutionary War since both sides promised them freedom.
After the Revolutionary War was over slavery ended in the northern colonies.
Freedom of the Press
John Peter Zenger was a printer who wrote an article criticizing the governor of New York. He was arrested and brought to trial. The jury accepted his reasoning and declared him innocent of the charge of libel (writing the wrongfully unfavorable opinion of another person.) The ruling established the principle of freedom of the press. This meant that the press had a right to be critical of government.
Rights of English Citizens in America
For the most part, English citizens in America enjoyed the same basic rights as citizens in Great Britain.

Additional lecture material
Mayflower Compact
The settlers in England’s American colonies brought with them their country’s tradition of representative government.
These town meetings were an important element in the development of our democratic heritage.
Despite the power of elected assemblies, none of the English colonies was fully democratic.
Only a minority of people owned property or were permitted to vote for representatives.
Prohibited from voting were all women, all slaves, and the many white males who owned no property.
With the small minority of white male landowners that could vote the basis for a future democracy was well established during colonial times.
With a concern for defense, warriors became the most important group within the tribe.

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