Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
(?-1899)
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Editor/Trans.
First Pub. Date
1881
Publisher/Edition
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
1899
Comments
Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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BURGESSES

I.169.1

BURGESSES (IN U. S. HISTORY). I. In New England the supreme legislative body in each colony was The Great and General Court, so called because it exercised judicial functions also. As settlers spread further from the radiant centre of population, they were expected to form township governments, whose deputies were admitted to the general court by vote. At a later period new townships were formally incorporated. Townships were therefore the basis of the New England states; counties were afterward formed, but were always formal divisions of territory, mainly for choice of members to the upper house of the legislature, or for judicial convenience. The active exercise of local government was, and is, altogether in the hands of the town meetings. In Maine the name "plantation" is still retained.

I.169.2

—If in any part of a township the population grows denser, so as to create special interests, such as the lighting or paving of streets, to the care of which the general town meeting, controlled by the agricultural vote, would be incompetent, the legislature of the state will, on application, erect such territory into a borough. The borough is governed, as to the objects and privileges specifically named in the charter, by a warden and a board of burgesses; in all other respects it is still a part of the township. The warden is the executive officer, answering to the mayor of a city, as the burgesses do to the common council. Boroughs are also chartered in Pennsylvania.

I.169.3

—II. In Virginia the lower house of the legislature was known as the house of burgesses until 1776, when it became the house of delegates. (See ASSEMBLY.)

ALEXANDER JOHNSTON.

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