House of Burgesses, Williamsburg
the original house of burgesses was established in jamestown in 1619. a burgess was a freeman of a borough. these elected colonists assembled in the house of burgesses. in 1699 the house of burgesses was moved to middle plantation about eight miles northeast of jamestown. middle plantation was soon renamed williamsburg in honor of king william III. the williamsburg house of burgesses was built in 1705 and was destroyed by fire in 1745. the building was rebuilt in 1753 and was used by the burgesses until 1779 when the capital of virginia was moved to richmond. the house of burgesses burned again in 1832 and was reconstructed in 1934. the house of burgesses is one of the most beautiful public buildings built in colonial america.
The last room of the Capitol we visited was the most famous House of Burgesses - the Lower Chamber of the first legislative body in the New World, the room in which for the first time the idea of American Indedence from British was officially spoken in public.
We were sitting on benches where the Burgesses sat while our guide was walking around and talking on great historical events which took place at this place. I found it very interesting. Let me share some most important events.
1698 - the Burgesses decide to move the colony's government from Jamestown to nearby Middle Plantation, soon renamed Williamsburg;
1699 - 1705 - the first Capitol building is under construction (the Burgesses met in the Wren Buiiding till 1704);
1747 - a fire destroys the Capitol (the Burgesses meet at the Wren Building again);
1751 - 1753 - construction of the second Capitol building;
1765 - Patrick Henry delivers his Caesar-Brutus speech against the Stamp Act. Copies of his speech, published in newspapers throughout the colonies, helped start the Revolution;
1776 - debates over Mason's the Virginia Declaration of Rights; the Declaration was adopted by Burgesses on 12 June and became later a model for the Bill of Rights;
1779 - Jefferson's first attempt at A Bill For Religious Freedom;
1779 - the last meeting of Burgesses in Williamsburg's Capitol, they decide to move the capital to safer location in Richmond. The building servs as an admiralty court, a law school, a military hospital, a grammar school and a female academy;
1793 - the west wing is sold for its bricks and demolishes;
1832 - a fire destroys the remains of the east wing;
1828 - 1934 - reconstruction of the Capitol of 1705-1747.
Patterned after the British House of Commons, the House of Burgesses was certainly a seat of power for early Virginia politics. The Capitol's real and symbolic arm of power stretched as far west as the Mississippi River and as far east as the Atlantic Ocean.
The House of Burgesses was the lower house in the Colonial system of government. It emulated the British House of Commons in that its members were elected (though only by white, protestant landowners). It voted on legislation and conferred with the upper house. Of course, the king had final say over any law passed by the colonial legislature.