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The Roots of Representative Government

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1 The Roots of Representative Government
Ch. 9, Sec. 2 The Roots of Representative Government Explain the reasons why the Colonists expected their government to preserve their basic rights as English subjects.

2 The Rights of Englishmen and the Seeds of the American Revolution!
As Englishmen, the colonists living here in the Americas expected certain rights that came from living under the protective arm of the English government. These rights were known as, “The Rights of Englishmen” and they had been guaranteed to all English citizens since 1215.

3 The Magna Carta! The first step in guaranteeing rights.
In 1215, a group of English noblemen and freemen forced King John to accept this document, also known as the GREAT CHARTER. Citizens could not have their property seized by the king or his officials. They could not be taxed unless a council agreed to it. No trials for individuals that were based upon an official’s word without a witness. Punishment was subject to a jury of peers. The Magna Carta limited the powers of the king and over time, these rights were granted to ALL citizens of Great Britain.

4 King John signs the Magna Carta.

5 Parliament and Colonial Government
One of the most important English rights was the right to elect representatives to government. As a result, Parliament was created. Parliament-The chief lawmaking body in England. Prior to the Revolutionary War, this was the colonists’ model for representative government. The Parliament is composed of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. As Englishmen, the colonists also wanted a say so in the laws that governed them, albeit the mainland was 3,000 miles to the east. To make-up for this problem, the colonies formed their own elected assemblies, similar to the House of Commons. The House of Burgesses was the first of these.


7 Although the American colonists governed themselves in many ways, England still had supreme authority over them. Oftentimes, the King would appoint royal governors to rule over them on his behalf. This would upset the colonists as they had no choice in the matter. Also, the colonies had NO representatives to represent them in Parliament. These two issues grew into major concerns during the 1600 and 1700’s and sowed the seeds for Revolution.

8 A Royal Governor’s Rule
In 1685, King James II of England came to power wanted to rule with absolute authority in not only England, but the colonies as well. One of his first acts was to combine Massachusetts and the other Northern colonies into the “Dominion of New England.” Edmund Andros was chosen by King James as the Royal governor. Almost immediately, Andros ended the meeting of colonial assemblies and brought an end to all town meetings. With this done, many of the colonists refused to pay their taxes since their rights as Englishmen had been violated.

9 Governor Andros also placed the Colonial Militia under his direct control and dispensed with the practice of a trial by jury. The actions of Edmund Andros and King James angered not only the colonists, but the citizens of England as well.

10 The Glorious Revolution
The English Parliament decided to overthrow King James for his abuse of power and for not respecting the Rights of Englishmen. This overthrow was called the “Glorious Revolution” and King James was replaced by new rulers, William and Mary. After accepting the throne, William and Mary agreed to uphold the English Bill of Rights.

11 The English Bill of Rights
This was an agreement to respect the rights of all English citizens and of Parliament. By signing it, the king or queen could not cancel laws or impose taxes unless the Parliament agreed to. The bill also stated that there must be frequent elections and meetings of Parliament. In addition, excessive fines and cruel punishments for citizens were forbidden and people had the right to complain to the king or queen without being arrested. Lastly, the English Bill of Rights established an important principle: The government was to be based on laws made my Parliament, not on the desires of a ruler. As a result, the rights of the people were strengthened. Naturally, the American colonists were quick to claim these same rights.

12 Colonial Government King Royal Governor Colonial Assembly Council

13 Shared Power in the Colonies
After the Glorious Revolution, England interfered very little in colonial affairs. Salutary Neglect- England’s “hands-off” policy towards the colonies. Parliament passed many laws regulating trade, the use of money and apprenticeships, but these laws were rarely, if ever, enforced.

14 List and explain at least three traditional rights that were expected by the English colonists.
Describe at least three ways in which the English government angered the colonists in the 1600’s. 3. Explain how Great Britain's policies changed after the Glorious Revolution. 4. At what point did the bond between the Colonies and Great Britain begin to unravel? (It was with this action directly after the French and Indian War). 5. Since the American colonies were owned and controlled by Great Britain, the colonists felt that they had the same __________ as Englishmen. 6. The great charter, which was signed by King John in 1215, granted certain right to all English citizens. 7. Similar to our Congress, this it the chief lawmaking body in English government. It made the laws for both Great Britain and the colonies. 8. What were the colonists lacking, however, in the English government and why was this a major source of disagreement? 9. “Hands-off” policy towards the colonies.

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