Government and Politics
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The plymouth colony’s government wasn’t a organized system for a long time, mostly because they didn’t have a royal charter authorizing to form a government, however they still had some simple structure: The Mayflower contract was Plymouth’s first official document.
Citizenship was offered to pretty much every young man who asked for it. Full citizen or also called freeman had full rights and privileges such like voting and office work. In order to become a Freeman a man had to be sponsored by an already existing freeman and be accepet by the General Court. Later the waiting-time was about a year between being sponsored and getting excepted. Freeman were also placed on a special status of religious restrictions. The freeman status was also restricted by age, while the official, written minimum age was 21, the actual average was usually in the men’s thirties,
The highest and most powerful executive was Plymouth’s Governor, who was originally elected by the freeman, later by the General Court in their annual election. Assistants were elected at the same election to form a cabinet for the Governor. Constables were nominated by the Governor and by the Assistants, who served as chief administrators of the town, as well as Messengers, responsible for land surveys, carrying out executions etc.
Dates
Governor
1620
John Carver
1621-1632
William Bradford
1633
Edward Winslaw
1634
Thomas Prence
1635
William Bradford
1636
Edward Winslaw
1637
William Bradford
1638
Thomas Prence
1639-1643
William Bradford
1644
Edward Winslaw
1645-1656
William Bradford
1657-1672
Thomas Prence
1673-1679
Josiah Winslow
1680-1692
Thomas Hinckley
The General Court was forming a legislative body, so it was able to make proclamations of laws. In 1636 the first laws where organized and published as the “Book of laws”, they where including crime and their associated punishment: death penalty for treason, murder, witchcraft, arson, sodomy, rape, bestiality, adultery, and cursing on somebody”s parents. The actual number of death penaltry was rare, only one sex-related crime in 1642 was recorded.

Laws also dealt with indenture servitude, a legal status for people to work off debts. They where given exercises and training to complete in order to an exchange of a period of unrecompensed service.

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The image above shows the House of Burgesses. It was the first assembly which was formed by elected representatives of English colonists in North America.
The Virginia Company who was the body by being a part of the effort to encourage people to settle on North America, established the house. It has it’s first meeting in Jamestown on July 30th 1619.

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