Primary Resource

Defining the Franchise (1656)

The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its March 1656 session, revises a previous, more restrictive law to define the franchise as consisting of all freemen. Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

WHEREAS we conceive it something hard and unagreeable to reason that any persons shall pay equall taxes and yet have no votes in elections, Therefore it is enacted by this present Grand Assembly, That soe much of the act for chooseing Burgesses be repealed as excludes freemen from votes, Provided allwaies that they fairly give their votes by subscription and not in a tumultuous way, and it is further provided by this act that the rest of the act of March, 1654, concerning choosing Burgesses (this clause only excepted) be and remain in full force, any act provided to the contrary notwithstanding.