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Development Of The American Mind Essay

1351 words - 5 pages

Only a fraction of the English population participated in choosing their representatives. In some districts all the free adult males could vote, and in order to vote, the man had to have enough property to yield 40 shillings worth of produce or rent a year. In most of the elections however, the people really had no voice. The aristocrats usually agreed in advance, who would represent the people (it was an "under the table" type of deal). Later, the original counties started to become empty and desolate and new counties started to pop up. Representatives kept on coming from the desolate counties, but none came from the populous ones. This made many people mad. To suppress this anger the Commons stated that, "a member of the House of Commons represented not the people who chose him, but the whole country, and he was not responsible to any particular constituency." Colonial assemblies were a lot more representative than the House of Commons. The uncontested elections were far fewer than in England, and the distribution of representatives was more rational. Every town in the NE colonies had the right to send delegates to the assembly. The unit of representation outside the NE colonies was usually counties. The political organization of new counties was on track with the rapid advance westward and the representation was never as uneven as in England. To colonists representation was a means of acquainting the government with their needs and demands and with the amount and method of taxation they could most easily bear. A colonial assemblyman was supposed to be the agent of the people that chose him. He was supposed to look after the interests of the people first and then those of the colony. Representative government in America was something different from that in England. Government existed to do a job, and it has to be kept responsible to its employers.Americans wanted the clergy to serve, not rule them. This attitude was rooted in the English Reformation. The Anglican Church was the only church supported by state taxation; during much of the colonial period only its members could hold public office. As ex members of the House of Lords, the bishops voted on every act of Parliament, and as presiding judges in courts with jurisdiction, they could impose sentences of excommunication on offenders. Excommunication meant economic ruin and social ostracism. The bishops had a great time in England. In the colonies however, the clergy had no real power. In NE, the Puritan hostility persisted into the 18th century. Ministers were highly respected and influential; but none had real secular authority. The diversity of religious groups, each growing as population grew, made it difficult for any one sect of Christianity to dominate the rest.The Great Awakening was set off by a traveling preacher who combined Calvinism and showmanship. George Whitefield was this person. He had discovered a brand new way to increase the results of preaching. His method?...

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