Sunday, July 30, 2006

30 July 1619: First Representative Assembly in the Americas, The House of Burgesses Meets in Jamestown


Image source: Colonial National Historical Park

Via Wikipedia.

The House of Burgesses was the lower house of the Colony of Virginia. It was the first elected legislative assembly in the New World. Over time the name came to represent the entire official legislative body of the Colony of Virginia, and later, after the American Revolution, the General Assembly of the Independent State.

The changes that created the House of Burgesses were ones the company hoped would make the colony more profitable. The Virginia Company established English Common Law, encouraged private investment from Jamestown settlers which allowed them to own their own land rather than simply being sharecroppers, and created a legislative body similar to the British Parliament that would meet once annually.

Prompted by the Virginia Company, colonial governor Sir George Yeardley helped facilitate elections of representatives, called "burgesses", to this new legislative body that would come from eleven Virginia boroughs adjacent to the James River, along with eleven additional burgesses.

The first meeting of the House of Burgesses occurred on July 30, 1619 at Jamestown.

More here.


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