What motives explain the development of representative assemblies in the various colonies?

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One motive behind representative assemblies was to provide local governance in a way that would be equitable to all citizens who were eligible to vote. Unlike England, the colonies did not have any titled aristocrats. The people in the colonies came from a world with virtual representation in Parliament, but they wanted more control over local affairs since Parliament was thousands of miles away and could not be responsive to every local need. In Virginia, the stakeholders in the governance of the colonies created the House of Burgesses. To be a member, one had to own property, since property owners were considered the main stakeholders in government. For the Pilgrims, representative government meant the town meeting where one had to be a landowner and also be in good standing with the local church.

The people of the American colonies thought that representative government was one of their inherent rights as English people. The population was quite socially mobile, and if one could own property and become successful, one had a legitimate right to self-government. The colonists feared autocratic tyranny by one person as something alien to English culture. At this time they still valued being English; however, they looked to themselves to provide for their own local leadership. Over time, they assumed more power over their own affairs as England backed off on its enforcement of Parliament's laws through a system called salutary neglect. This policy gave the local assemblies more power, which they would be unwilling to give up without a fight.

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