Colonial government influenced the development of representative government in many ways and made it what it is today.
In colonial times, there were two principles that greatly influenced the United States government; these principles included limited government and representative government. Representative government is a government in which people elect delegates to make laws and conduct government that is mainly democratic, while limited government is a governing or controlling body whose power exists only within predefined limits with little democratic features. The 13 colonies of America began an early development of a democratic representative government coming from different documents from various colonies with laws made up of democratic beliefs. Despite this, many aspects of colonial government weren’t democratic. At this time, colonial democracy was still a work in progress but would continue to grow as a democracy. Many other features in Colonial America influenced a democratic government.
Documents that influenced this were the “Maryland Act of Toleration” (Document 1) and the “Voting Requirements” (Document 2). As stated in the Maryland Act of Toleration (Document 1), “This assembly ordered and enacted that no person or persons within Maryland professing to believe in any Christianity shall from now on be in any way troubled.” This means that anyone who believed in Christianity in Maryland could not be harmed or harassed.
This also says that the assembly of Maryland made this law. Since the assembly of Maryland was made up of representatives selected by the people, this enforces the idea of democracy and election of the public people because it shows that this law was made by the public people of Maryland. Another document that influenced a democracy was the Voting Requirements (Document 2). According the Voting Requirements (Document 2, all men who were christian and white could vote in elections in a democratic way. This means that the Voting Requirements gave a certain amount of people a chance to have a say in the American government to elect their own representatives and create laws for their government.
Another requirement mentioned in the Voting Requirements (Document 2) was that the government had to require a certain amount of land owned by a colonist to be able to vote. Many places including Massachusetts had a low minimum of owned property for $2 rent a year.This is democratic because it gives poor men a chance to vote under a low property requirement and helps get an opinion of all opinions when voting.
These documents revolutionized the Colonial Government and progressed the development of democracy in America Colonial America may have had many democratic features, but some of it was also undemocratic. “The Slave Ships” and the “Maryland’s Act of Toleration” documents (Documents 5 and 1) prove that Colonial America was still largely undemocratic. One of these reasons of non-democracy was that the slave ship was a cruel place where slaves were forced into tight, terrible conditions and taken to America through the Middle Passage. The Middle Passage was a route for slave ships to import slaves from Africa to America. In this document it explains that slaves didn’t have any rights and were treated unfairly in every way possible. This was undemocratic because slaves had no rights and couldn’t succeed or become free of slavery.
Maryland’s Act of Toleration was also undemocratic for many reasons regarding the protection of certain religions. According to Maryland’s Act of Toleration (Document 1), “Christianity shall from now on be in any way troubled, interfered with or embarrassed in respect to his/her religion.” This states that only Christians were protected during these times, excluding the protection of Islam, Judaism, etc. This is undemocratic because it only gives protection and rights to one religion with no regard to religious freedom for other religions.
Colonial America was also undemocratic because of strict voting requirements from “The Voting Qualifications” (Document 2), and the unfairness to women from “The Lady’s Law” (Document 4). Even though Colonial America was beginning to develop some democratic features, many aspects of colonial life were largely undemocratic. Colonial America had an early development of a democratic representative government that influenced the future of American government.
However, Colonial America still had many qualities that were indefinitely undemocratic. As time went on, American democracy began to progress into what it is today, but it is believed that Colonial America had aspects of democratic and undemocratic qualities.