Primary Resource

"Election of burgesses by whome" (1670)

The following law, "Election of burgesses by whome," passed by the General Assembly in its October 1670 session, defines the franchise as consisting of all property-holding "ffreeholders and housekeepers."

Transcription from Original

WHEREAS the usuall way of chuseing burgesses by the votes of all persons who haveing served their tyme are ffreemen of this country who haveing little interest in the country doe oftner make tumults at the election to the disturbance of his majesties peace, then by their discretions in their votes provide for the conservasion thereof, by makeing choyce of persons fitly qualifyed for the discharge of soe greate a trust, And whereas the lawes of England grant a voyce in such election only to such as by their estates real or personall have interest enough to tye them to the endeavour of the publique good; It is hereby enacted, that none but ffreeholders and housekeepers who only are answerable to the publique for the levies shall hereafter have a voice in the election of any burgesses in this country; and that the election be at the courthouse.