Dorchester's Town Meeting Form of Government
Dorchester claims the credit of having been the first plantation to establish the New England town meeting by selectmen, when on the 8th of October, 1633, it passed an order establishing that form of town government.
This act acquires some importance from the fact of its precedence, and that the example was followed the next year by the other settlements, and led to the law of the General Court, passed in 1636, regulating town governments, which has continued in force to the present day.
"Imprimus It is ordered that for the general good and well ordering of the affayres of the Plantation there shall be every Mooneday before the court by eight of the Clocke in the morning, and presently upon the beating of the drum a generall meeting of the inhabitants of the Plantation at the meeting-house, there to settle (and sett downe) such orders as may tend to the generall good as aforesayd; and every man to be bound thereby, without gaynesaying or resistance. It is also agreed that there shall be twelve men selected out of the Company, that may or the greatest part of them, meete as aforesayd, to determine as aforesayd ..." Edward Everett said: It set the example in 1633 of that municipal organization which has prevailed throughout New England and has proved one of the chief sources of its progress."
Dorchester prides itself as having established the system of local government by town meeting, which has so powerfully influenced the character of our people and the structure of our institutions.
Fourth Report of the Record Commisioners of the City of Boston. 1880. Dorchester Town Records.Second edition, 1883. Boston, 1883.
Dorchester Old and New, 1630-1930. Dorchester: Chapple Publishing Company for the Dorchester, Massachusetts, Tercentary Committee, 1930.
Everett, Edward. Dorchester in 1630, 1776, and 1855. An Oration Delivered on the Fourth of July, 1855. Boston, 1855.
History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Boston: Ebenezer Clapp, 1859.
Littlefield, George Emery. Early Schools and School-Books of New England. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965.
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Created: August 17, 2003 Modified: July 20, 2008