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January 24, 2024

House of Burgesses Legislative Assembly

House of Burgesses Legislative Assembly

Cause and Outcome of the Event

The inaugural legislative conference in the House of Burgesses was inspired by the provisions of the Magna Carta, which was established by King John of England in 1215 (Gottlieb, 2018). Magna Carta is referred to as the great charter which had provisions for individual’s rights and guiding principles on subjection to the law. Jamestown, Virginia, was the host of the assembly in 1619, the first English settlement in America. It was led by governor George Yeardley who abolished martial law in favor of a legislative assembly as was voted by the Virginia Company. The proceedings were partly influenced by the fact that Britain was a restricted monarchy whereby the authority of the ruler is checked by other institutions that were constitutionally sanctioned, such as the representative assembly.

The model of the House of Burgesses resembled the British parliament. English landowners had reiterated convening with their leaders for deliberation in local matters, with the meeting held at least annually with the appointed governor. Major discussion issues were the determination of local laws and local taxation (Gottlieb, 2018). Burgesses constituted elected representatives from the eleven settlements, thus creating twenty-two slots with every male adult have the chance to vote. The establishment of the House of Burgesses set precedence with each new English colony demanding its legislature, thus being paramount in colonial development.

House of Burgesses Legislative Assembly

House of Burgesses Legislative Assembly

The first law to be passed in the House of Burgesses was the law on the pricing of tobacco (Gottlieb, 2018). Tobacco farming is the main economic activity. Other laws to be passed included the prohibition of gambling, idleness, and drunkenness. There was a principle that ensured observance of the Sabbath was mandatory. All laws passed had to be voted by the Virginia Company.

Impact of the event on the Development of American Civilization

The House of Burgesses had a big role in the development of American Civilization. It successfully defended the rights of colonists while England was increasing her regulations before the revolutionary war. The success included fighting against the Stamp Act and the closure of the Boston Harbor hence giving voice to colonies (Gottlieb, 2018). It also led to the establishment of the House of Delegates in the aftermath of the 1776 declaration for the independence of Virginia.

House of Burgesses Legislative Assembly

Notably, the House of Burgesses is the foundation of the American Government. For instance, the proliferation of democracy across the colony declared independence and subsequent smooth transition into a democratic republic. The House was a platform for America to practice democracy for over a century before independence; thus, it is accredited for its role in America’s strong democracy (Gottlieb, 2018). The House initiated Virginia Conferences, which led to the establishment of the Virginia Constitution. It also formed a continental assembly that led to the adoption of the American constitution. Markedly, the constitution drafted in the early days of independent America has longer than any other constitution in history.

Trade and taxation are common concepts in modern American society but were formally introduced under the mercantilism system of colonial economies. England tried to regulate trade and maintenance of the right to tax but found it difficult to control. The House asserted its sole authority to tax Virginians in the 1760s, which promoted gradual economic growth and stability that is currently witnessed (Gottlieb, 2018).  England’s economic, religious and democratic suppression inspired the emergence of famous Burgesses such as George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson, who inspired the American Revolution and established the articles of Confederation and declaration of independence. apa.


Gottlieb, M. S. (2018). House of Burgesses. Encyclopedia Virginia.