Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

Acronyms

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pp. xi-xiv

Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

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One. Introduction

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pp. 1-11

Representation is the elemental concept in the study of legislatures. The literature devoted to it is voluminous. In almost every examination, however, scholars take the existence of representative institutions as a given. Little attention has been given to how representative assemblies developed and what that process might tell us about how the relationship between the representative and the represented evolved. Pitkin’s (1967) study of the concept of representation has deservedly stood as a standard work on the...

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Two. The Emergence of Representative Assemblies in the Colonies

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pp. 12-28

It would be easy to assume the colonial assemblies were all fashioned out of the same English mold. But nothing could be further from the truth. The assemblies were established at different times, by different groups of people, for different reasons, using different legal mechanisms. Their unique histories had significant implications for the representational orientations they initially adopted....

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Three. Who Could Vote and Who Could Represent

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pp. 29-56

With the rise of representation, two critical questions had to be addressed. First, who could vote for the assembly? Second, who could serve in it? Standards for voting and service were largely lifted from English practices but applied loosely. Who could vote and serve differed across the colonies. Over time qualifications were generally tightened. Paradoxically, because of the economic success the colonists enjoyed, tighter standards failed to limit their ability to vote for and serve in the assembly to the same extent...

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Four. The Apportionment of Assembly Seats

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pp. 57-84

Another question that had to be addressed with the rise of representative systems was how representation would be apportioned within each colony. Geography was the usual basis of representation in England. The House of Commons also used multimember districts, with two or three members from each shire, town, or borough. Multimember districts had developed in the thirteenth century for pragmatic reasons. Because travel was onerous and fraught with dangers—bandits being the most unnerving of them—it...

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Five. Election Mechanics and Candidate Emergence

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pp. 85-112

Assembly elections were seen as consequential events. Much was published hyping their significance and urging voters to participate. Rhode Island’s governor counseled that there was a “very greate neede that the Persons Elected as Deputies for to sitt in the said Assembly bee Prudent & able Persons that may advise in a Business of soe great concern to the whole Colony” (ERTPr, vol. XV 1899, 133). A Maryland writer reminded fellow freeholders that these contests were “A Business of the highest Concern to...

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Six. Campaigns and Voters

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pp. 113-157

Assembly campaigns became progressively less subdued and less mannerly affairs over time. By the eighteenth century their mere approach generated excitement. One Delawarean confided in his diary, “People Very Busey Now about ye Election Being Ney at hand” (“Fare Weather” 1962, 69). A letter to George Washington noted, “Our news here and below—are very triffling—Election of Burgesses take up the whole talk at present” (LW, vol. II 1899, 345–46). Enthusiasm often morphed into...

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Seven. Expectations for the Representative’s Role

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pp. 158-198

In England, representatives were initially to behave as delegates, acting as attorneys promoting and protecting their clients’ interests (Bailyn 1967, 162–63; Huntington 1966, 389). Thus a late-sixteenth-century discourse on politics observed, in regard to Parliament, that “everie Englishman is entended to bee there present, either in person or by procuration and attornies” (Smith [1583] 1906, 49). Members “were preoccupied with local and special interests” (Beer 1957, 615)....

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Eight. Representation in the Colonial Legislative Process

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pp. 199-230

Over time colonial lawmakers came to defer to the wishes of their constituents. Much of the evidence supporting this assertion is anecdotal. Most voting in the assemblies was conducted by means of some form of tellers. Recorded votes were rare, except in the later years in three assemblies, and most legislative journals reveal much about procedure but little about debates. To understand how lawmakers reached decisions we often have to rely on personal journals, such as the one kept by William Williams, a...

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Nine. Colonial Representatives and the Enduring Dilemma of Representation

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pp. 231-234

Representative institutions did not arrive in America prepackaged, with set expectations for the role of either the representative or the represented. Save for New York, it took a relatively short period of time for a representative assembly to emerge in each of the colonies. Yet in each the process unfolded differently, and in none did it transpire in a smooth, uninterrupted fashion. As a result the assemblies that emerged were not modeled on Parliament. Rather, they were practical institutions devised to solve...

Appendix A: Instructions to Representatives

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pp. 235-254

Appendix B: Initial Floor Vote and Town Position on the 1754 Massachusetts Excise Bill

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pp. 255-258

References

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pp. 259-312

Index

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pp. 313-326