64 House Of Burgesses Facts: A Must Read History For Everyone! | Kidadl


64 House Of Burgesses Facts: A Must Read History For Everyone!

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The House of Burgesses was formed in 1642 and was democratically elected.

The Virginia General Assembly was formed in 1619. It had its first elected assembly as the House of Burgesses in Virginia.

Along with the royally appointed governor of Virginia, the House of Burgesses was also active from 1642-1776. In the 16th century, when European colonies were traveling to the new world and invading them, the orders ran directly from the monarchy of the ruling country. The occupied colonies had less control over what would happen to their government and were not included in ruling their own countries. This practice was called absolute monarchy. It was practiced mainly by Spain and France, and the English followed the method of constitutional monarchy. This limited monarchy allowed the British-owned colonies to have some of their representative assemblies in Virginia. The House of Burgesses was the first representative assembly by the British in Virginia.

History: House Of Burgesses

Governor George Yeardley announced that Virginia had voted for a legislative assembly.

  • The Virginia Company abolished martial law by votes.
  • They created a legislative assembly which was called the General Assembly.
  • It was the first one in the European-owned American colonies.
  • The church at Jamestown was the first place where the meeting was held in the year 1619.
  • Burgesses were chosen through elections.
  • In the first meeting, 22 Burgesses who represented 11 plantations, a Council and Governor George Yeardley attended.
  • Not all people were allowed to vote for the Burgesses. White men who owned a specific amount of property or land were allowed to vote.
  • The House of Burgesses became the lower house in the year 1643, and the royal council of the state became the upper house.
  • King James I, who ruled England at that time, tried to dissolve the assembly. He was an ardent believer in the monarchy. But the Virginia Council took no heed and continued to meet once a year.
  • After the formation of the Virginia Council, each English colony wanted to have its own legislative assembly.
  • George Washington was a member of the House of Burgesses. He served there for 15 years before the American Revolution began.
  • From the year 1758-1765, Washington represented Frederick County. After that, he ran in Fairfax county and represented it until 1775.
  • The House of Burgesses was one of a kind in the region of European-occupied colonies in North America. It allowed the locals to be a part of the ruling government through general elections.
  • Though the democratically elected people had less important roles, it marked the beginning of democracy and was a big step in the direction of independence during the American civil war.
  • To encourage more people to settle in Virginia after a war with native Americans, this was a way to lure in emigrants from the neighboring states by promising them a position in the general assembly of the state.
  • The House of Burgesses was established, which was the lower house of the state-owned general assembly.

Legacy: The House Of Burgesses

George Washington was new to politics when he first obtained a seat in the House of Burgesses.

  • He met with other statesmen who were the famous Burgesses in Virginia, including Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, and John Robinson, in a meeting in Williamsburg.
  • He also met Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and Patrick henry, who were appointed as the new Burgesses.
  • When Washington was elected as President, the house consisted of male landlords.
  • Both the Burgesses and the voters had to be 21 years of age.
  • There were two representatives from each county.
  • The governor had the right to call them at any time, and then elections would be held.
  • Votes were recorded through speaking aloud. Voters would say the name of the candidates out loud, and the sheriff would record them.
  • There was a speaker who looked over the house.
  • The committees were assigned to carry out the functions given by the speaker. They evaluated petitions, wrote bills, and negotiated with people.
  • In Washington's early career, he was given the responsibility of evaluating the petitions of those who came from the Indian and French wars.
  • The house showed his solo authority to tax Virginians in 1760.
  • The Virginia Revolutionary Convention was formed after the house was dissolved by the governor, as Burgesses protested against the Boston Tea Party incident.
  • This incident occurred due to the high taxes which were being imposed by the British government on the American colonies.
  • This tyranny led to a rebellion in the American colonies. This was what led to the American revolution in Masschetus.
  • The Sons of Liberty were responsible for the act. They were formed by people in 13 American colonies.
  • The group was first formed in opposition to the Stamp Act, which was imposed in 1765.
  • In the Stamp Act, the British put undue taxes on people for commodities such as paper.
Burgesses began to overturn harsh laws

Cultural Impact

The House of Burgesses was a bicameral body where Burgesses were appointed through a general election.

  • The House of Burgesses assembly met once a year.
  • There was a royally appointed advisory council.
  • To encourage settlers to move to Virginia, there was an instruction given to the governor Sir George Yeardley, which was known as the great charter.
  • In the great charter, people who moved to Virginia would be given 50 acres of land. They would be landowners and not tenants.
  • The House of Burgesses was formed by the settlers. They would have a small authority in personal affairs and that of the state.
  • The Virginia Company also settled in Bermuda, where the House of Assembly was formed next.
  • The restoration of King Charles II was welcomed by the Virginian colonists as they were loyal to him. He further took control of the exports of the country, and the rights of the Burgesses were further diminished and lessened.
  • Under the leadership of Nathaniel Bacon, Bacon's rebellion was led from 1676-1677. This was an armed rebellion by the Virginian settlers against the English parliament.
  • After that, there were measures taken by the military government to avoid incidents like this. Richard Henry Lee was behind the Lee Resolution in June 1776.
  • He is also called the founding father of Virginia.
  • The United States Declaration of Independence was led by the second continental congress for the colonies' independence from Great Britain.
  • In 1776, the House of Burgesses was called the House of Delegates. It is still considered as the lower house of the general assembly of Virginia.
  • The House of Burgesses became an influential part of the economy of Virginia when it took control to set the tax rates. It acquired great economic power in the colony.

Authority In Town

The colonial government appointed the House of Burgesses at the Virginia convention.

  • This bicameral assembly was made by the English government under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.
  • Burgesses served a separate chamber under the authority of the royal governor of the royal colony.
  • The governor's council was also present in the general assembly.
  • King James of England was not in favor of the General Assembly of the Virginia colony.
  • The Virginia Company resisted and still met in Virginia house.
  • Colonial Virginia was the first of the colonies to have general assemblies and prompted other colonies to demand the ruling British government to allow elected Burgesses in their region too.
  • Burgesses began to overturn harsh laws and resolve the conflict of armies in English civil wars.
  • The royal governor still had corporate control over the export of goods. They would buy tobacco at a minimum price and then sell it at a higher price.
  • King James I demanded direct control of the colonial press to prove his authority in Virginia.
  • John Gilman of Virginia still holds a position in the independent republic of Virginia.
  • The Virginia Company of London, which managed the state affairs of the Virginia colony, appointed Sir Thomas Dale as the marshal.
  • Seeing the House of Burgesses take control of electoral politics, Britain wanted strict disciplinary measures to be taken in the Virginia house.
  • The Stamp Act was introduced in 1765. Playing cards, papers, and documents required a stamp which was a form of tax. It was put out without consulting the colonial legislature.
  • It required people to pay tax in British sterling instead of the local currency. The British currency was hard to obtain for the locals. So, Patrick Henry, a colonist, spoke up against the Stamp Act and was accused of treason by others in the House of Burgesses.
  • Patrick Henry was one of the first Burgesses to spark the flame of American independence. His opposition to the stamp law ignited the idea of revolution among Americans. He is also called one of the founding fathers of American independence.
  • In 1776, when the American revolution silently began, there was the incident known as the famous Boston Tea Party.
  • British ships carrying 342 chests of tea were crossing the sea and landing in America. They were coming through the Boston Harbor. Some Americans disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and threw away all the tea into the sea. This was the first act of rebellion from America towards the British colonies.
  • This mercantile and political protest caused quite an uproar, and stricter measures were further taken by the British government to ensure that incidents like this did not happen in the future.
Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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