Foreign rule breaks down
In all phases of colonial development, a striking feature was the lack of controlling influence on the part of the English government. During their formative period, the colonies were, to a large degree, free to develop as their inclinations or force of circumstances dictated. The English government, as such, had taken no direct part in founding any of the several colonies except Georgia, and only gradually did it assume any part in their political direction. The fact that the King had transferred his immediate sovereignty over the new-world settlements to stock companies and proprietors did not, of course, mean that the colonists in America would necessarily be free or partially free of outside control. Under the terms of the Virginia and Mssachusetts Bay charters, for example, complete governmental authority was vested in the companies involved, and it was expected that these companies would be resident in England. Inhabitants of America, then, would have no more voice in their government than if the King himself had retained absolute rule. In one way or another, however, exclusive rule from the outside was broken down. The first step in this direction was a decision on the part of the London (Virginia) Company to permit Virginia colonists representation in the government. Instructions issued by the Company to its appointed governor in 1619 provided that free inhabitants of the plantations should elect representatives to join with the governor and an appointive "Council" in passing ordinances for the welfare of the colony.
This event proved one of the most far-reaching in its effects of any occurring in the colonial period. From that time onward, it was generally accepted that the colonists had a right to participate in their own government. In most instances, the King, in making future grants, provided in the charter that freemen of the colony involved should have a voice in legislation affecting them. Thus, charters awarded to Cecil Calvert of Maryland, William Penn of Pennsylvania, the proprietors of the Carolinas, and the proprietors of New Jersey specified that legislation should be with "the consent of the freemen." In only two cases was the self-government provision omitted. These were New York, which was granted to Charles II's brother, the Duke of York, later to become King James II, and Georgia, which was granted to a group of "Trustees." In both instances, however, the exception was short-lived, for the colonists demanded legislative representation so insistently that the authorities soon found it expedient to yield.
At first the right of colonists to representation in the legislative branch of the government was of limited importance. Ultimately, however, it served as a stepping-stone to the establishment-of almost complete domination by the settlers. This was achieved through elective assemblies, which first seized and then utilized, to the maximum, control over financial matters. In one colony after another, the principle was established that taxes could not be levied, or collected revenue spent -even to pay the salary of the governor or other appointive officers- without the consent of the elected representatives. Unless the governor and other colonial officials agreed to act in accordance with the will of the popular assembly, the assembly failed to appropriate money for this or that vital function. Thus there were instances of independent-minded governors who were voted either no salary at all, or a salary of one penny. In the face of this threat, governors and other appointive officials rapidly tended to become pliable to the will of the colonists.