Section 25. New England Towns. A brief reference to the origin and development of the New England Towns might not be inappropriate at this juncture, as showing their lawful claim to being the germs of our State and national life.

When settlers came over from England to Massachusetts, they usually came in congregations led by their ministers, and settled together in parishes, or townships. In this way the soil of Massachusetts gradually became covered with little self-governing Republics, called townships, or towns. The church in the village was used not only for religious services, but also for transacting public business, and was always called the meeting house. At a later time it was used only as a church and another building, called the townhouse or townhall was used for public purposes.1

The New England town is a striking example of a pure democracy, in that all the qualified inhabitants meet and directly manage and control their own local concerns; New England thus produced the township, with its local self-government, the basis and central element of our entire political system. In the process of governmental construction came the county made up of several towns, next the State composed of several counties and lastly the United States comprising the various States.

As the New England towns became more populous the plan of government by the system of meetings of the electors became impracticable and was superseded by the representative model, with a legislative or governing body, and an executive head and subordinate officers.2

1 History of U. S. by John Fiske.