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Colonial Governments of the Thirteen Colonies

Unique Governmental Systems of the Thirteen Colonies


New York

In 1664, King Charles II gave New York as a proprietary colony to The Duke of York, the future King James II. James was quickly able to seize New Amsterdam, a colony founded by the Dutch. He renamed this colony New York. He chose to give citizens a limited form of self government. Ruling powers were given to a governor. In 1685, New York became a royal colony. King James II sent Sir Edmund Andros to be the royal governor. He ruled without a legislature, causing dissension and complaint amongst the citizens.


Pennsylvania Colony was a proprietary colony founded when William Penn was awarded a charter by King Charles II in 1681. He set up the colony as one of religious freedom. The government included a representative legislature with popularly elected officials. All taxpaying freemen could vote.


Georgia was established in 1732, given to a group of twenty-one trustees by King George II as a buffer colony between Florida and the rest of the English colonies. General James Oglethorpe led the settlement at Savannah as a refuge for the poor and persecuted. In 1753, Georgia became a royal colony, setting up an effective government.

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