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Background And Emergence Of Democracy In The British North American Colonies

923 words - 4 pages

Background and Emergence of Democracy in the British North American Colonies

Beginning in the early 1600's, North America experienced a flood of
emigrants from England who were

searching for religious freedom, an escape from political oppression,
and economic opportunity. Their

emigration from England was not forced upon them by the government,
but offered by private groups

whose chief motive was profit.

The emergence of Democracy in colonial America can be attributed to
the coming about of several

institutions and documents filled with new and "unconventional" ideas
that were brought about by a people

tired of bickering among themselves and being torn apart by strife.
The Anglo-American political thought

in the eighteenth century contained notions of right and freedom,
which fueled their passion for a better

way of life. . The Virginia House of Burgesses, the Mayflower Compact,
New England town meetings,

and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were all early stepping
stones toward a truly democratic

government. These documents and organizations may not have been what
we perceive, today, as being

democratic, but they were a start.

The first permanent English settlement was a trading post founded in
1607 at Jamestown in the

Old Dominion of Virginia. Virginian colonists had the right, granted
to them by The Virginia Company, to

elect a colonial legislature, called the House of Burgesses. Since
Virginia was the first royal colony, it was

only fitting that they should lead the way with the first
representative government in the New World. Other

lawmaking bodies, not that dissimilar to the House of Burgesses, would
soon pop up in other colonies.

The Pilgrims also pioneered the way to democracy. If the Pilgrims had
settled in Virginia, where

they had originally planned, they would have been subject to the
authority of the Virginia Company. In

their own colony of Plymouth, they were beyond any governmental
jurisdiction, so established their own

political organization "to combine ourselves together into a civil
body politic for out better ordering and

preservation… and by virtue hereof (to) enact, constitute, and frame
much just and equal laws, ordinances,

acts, constitutions, and offices… as shall be though most meet
convenient for the general good of the

colony…". This quote, from the unprecedented compact, the Mayflower
Compact, displays their want and
...

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