The Foundations of Democracy in America
The American tradition of representative government began in Jamestown and later influenced other English colonies.
The Virginia Company of London charter proclaimed that the colonists would enjoy "all liberties, franchises and immunities" as they would in England, but between 1606 and 1619, Jamestown proved itself of becoming a permanent settlement, not just a commerical enterprise for the London stockholders. Men such as Sir Edwin Sandys realized that the colony needed women and children.
A Governor and Counsell of Burgesses
By 1618, martial law was abolished and a legislative assembly was created. In April 1619, Governor George Yeardley arrived from London and recommended that two burgesses from each settlement be elected to represent the citizens. The first meeting of the 22-member assembly met on July 30 - Aug. 3, 1619 at a church in Jamestown.
Most of the laws passed during that first session involved tobacco and taxes and measures against drunkenness, idleness and gambling. They even approved legislation regulating relations with the Powhatans and mandatory church attendance.
On the last day of assembly, they approved the "greate Charter of 1618" that became the first Constitution of Virginia.
Virginia Becomes a Royal Colony
After the Virginia Company was dissolved in 1624, the British government declared Virginia a Royal Colony with its seat of government being Jamestown until 1699.