The System of Government in the Southern Colonies

The southern colonies of Colonial America consisted of Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In the southern colonies, there were two styles of government: royal and proprietary.

Ownership Government The proprietary government was led by an individual or group of individuals who reported to the monarch. The king would grant a land grant to an individual or group. This one or group would effectively possess the colony. They would control all of the people’s actions. They also controlled all government institutions. The other colonists had no voice or authority over the governance. The only southern colony to have a proprietary government was Maryland.

Administration Royal The other southern colonies were ruled by a monarchy. Royal colonies belonged to the crown and were directly governed by the English monarchs. There was a governor who reported directly to the crown in the royal government. The colony’s governor was frequently sent directly from England. There existed a colonial legislature formed of the economic elite of society. The governor might appoint members of the legislature, but they were typically elected at the county level. It was the planter class in the southern colonies. This was a central government that was strong.

The monarchy’s administration was democratic. Governmental decisions were frequently taken at the county level, while laws were enacted by the legislature. This legislative was depending upon the class hierarchy. Only white men over the age of 18 who held land in the colony were eligible to vote and hold public office. This was a minor population in the majority of colonies. However, these rules may be repealed if the monarchy’s governor determined that they were not in its best interest. The colony’s primary purpose was to enrich the English monarchy.

An interesting fact is that the colonial legislature controlled the governor’s salary. This was crucial to the colonists because it gave them greater control over whether or not the laws they desired were passed. When he had to revoke laws to comply with the demands of the monarch, the governor was typically seen negatively. The monarch declared that any governor who wilfully defied the crown’s directives or wishes would perish. Because it took so long to deliver reports to the crown and receive a response, laws were sometimes repealed by the crown several months after they were enacted.

Alterations in Government By merely writing a new charter, the crown might alter the colony’s governance. A royal colony may transform into a proprietary colony, or a proprietary colony may transform into a royal colony. This might occur if the king believed that the colony was not behaving in a way that suited the crown, or if he feared that the colony was going too far away from his supervision. After the Americas declared their independence from England and the monarchy, both forms of government eventually ceased to exist.


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