Virtual Representation

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of virtual representation held that people like the American colonists did not need to be able to elect their own representatives to Parliament.  The theory held that the members of Parliament already represented everyone in the British Empire.  They did not just represent the people who elected them.  Instead, they had the interests of all the people in mind.  Therefore, it didn't matter who elected them or where they were from because they would govern in a way that kept everyone's interests in mind, no matter where they lived or whether they could vote.  The American colonists rejected this idea, helping to lead to the Revolutionary War.

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beautifulsunshine16 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Virtual representation means that Parliament stood above narrow interests of constituents and considered welfare for all subjects when deciding issues. In other words, the colonists are not being represented because no colonist is a Member of Parliament. 

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etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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A British historian, David Starky, thinks that the idea of taxation without representation preceeds the Magna Carta in English culture. If he's correct, then the idea of virtual representation must of been basically repugnent to Englishmen.

I don't know why they declined actual representation, but I would speculate that many of them had experience with the corrupt nature of British government, and they did not believe they could have a voice, even if they sent representatives.

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