Part 2: Government and Politics

New England Government

In the early 17th century, New England was the base for a movement called Puritanism. The Puritans wanted to rid the church of England of all Roman Catholicism. Some extreme Puritans, called separatists, were convinced that the Church of England was becoming corrupt and they withdrew from it to form their own congregations. Many would assume that because of this intense movement in New England, their government would be based wholly around the church. But, even though Puritans strongly believed in conforming to God's law, they stayed away from a church-run government for the colony. The purpose of the government was to punch those who didn't follow God's law, but they still believed in the separation of the church and the state. They even forbade ministers from holding any sort of public office for these reasons.
John Winthrop; governor of early New England
John Winthrop; governor of early New England

The New England government was relatively flexible when it came to voting rights compared to England. According to law, all "freemen" were given the right to vote. This accommodated for about 55% of the colony, as opposed to the small 33% of men allowed to vote in England. A man named John Winthrop served as governor for much of the early history of England. Unlike many of the common people, Winthrop was not a separatist and he believed in establishing a strong, pure church as opposed to a severely divided one.

Jamestown Government

The American tradition of representative government began in Jamestown and later influenced other English colonies.
It's often forgotten that the first two successful settlements in America were commercial ventures, licensed by the King.
A part of the problem in the early days of Jamestown was its population of inexperienced, unqualified men seduced
with a promise of riches by the ever-recruiting companies.England soon recognized this, and is credited for implementing
what was then a radical idea--it insisted that a permanent settlement had to have women. Thus the English were successful
in creating a permanent presence in the New World,unlike the more adventuring and wide-ranging French and Spanish.
external image assembly.jpg
By 1618, martial law was abolished and a legislative assembly was created. In April 1619, Governor George Yeardley arrived from London and recommended that two burgesses from each settlement be elected to represent the citizens. Most of the laws passed during that first session involved tobacco and taxes and measures against drunkenness,idleness and gambling. They even approved legislation regulating relations with the Powhatans and mandatory church attendance.