Land of the Brave

Colonial Government

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

American Colonial Government
There were three types or systems of government used within Colonial Government - Royal, Charter and Proprietary. However, they all operated using the following basic principles: 

  • All of the systems of Colonial government in the elected their own legislature (parliament)
  • All of the Colonial Government systems were democratic

  • All of the Colonial Government systems had
    • A Governor
    • A Governor's court
    • A Court System

Colonial Government in the colonies represented an extension of the English government.

Colonial Government - English Common Law
When the first colonists landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 they brought the English Common Law with them. The term "common law" was the name given to the law that emerged as "common" throughout the realm of England and was extended to include the 13 Colonies to be used by Colonial Government. Colonial Government represented an extension of the English government. The court systems and courts in the colonies enforced the Common Law of England.

Colonial Government - Organization and Structure
The organization and structure of Colonial Government was as follows:

  • A Governor held the executive power in the colony and represented the Crown (England) in the colonial government.
  • The Governorís Council was composed of influential and powerful men who advised and supported the Governor. 
  • The Governorís Council exercised various judicial and administrative powers
  • An Assembly was elected by, and therefore represented, the citizens of the towns and counties

The British policy of Salutary Neglect lasted from the 1690's to the  1760's and reduced the level of involvement of Great Britain colonial affairs. Trade laws were not enforced which benefited the colonists boosting their profits from trade.

Colonial Government - Administration
Administration at the local level varied between the three regions:

  • New England Colonies: Town Meetings
  • Southern Colonies: Government at County level
  • Middle Colonies: A mixture of town meetings and county government

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Updated 2018-01-01

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