Theodore Roosevelt > New York > Page 87
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  New York.  1906.

Page 87
 
The government of the colony was at once put on the basis on which it stood until the outbreak of the Revolution. There was a governor appointed by the king, and a council likewise appointed; while the Assembly was elected by the freeholders. The suffrage was thus limited by a strict property qualification. Liberty of conscience was granted to all Protestant sects, but not to the Catholics; and the Church of England was practically made the State Church, though the Dutch and French congregations were secured in the rights guaranteed them by treaty. It was thus essentially a class or aristocratic government,—none the less so because to European eyes the little American aristocracy seemed both poor and rude. In a frontier community such as New York then was, it was comparatively easy for any man to acquire property and position, and thus step into the ranks of the relatively large ruling class. 1
Note 1. Many of the leading families in colonial times were descended from the Old World gentry. Many others sprang from successful adventurers of almost unknown ancestry; and there was every gradation between these two extremes. The Livingstons, for instance, one of the really noted New York families, were descended from a young Scotch factor, just like hundreds of penniless, pushing young Scotchmen who have come to this country in the steerage of sailing-ship or steamer during the present century. Of the men of high social standing in the Old World who came over to make their fortunes in the New, probably the majority failed, and their descendants slipped down into the lower ranks of the population. [ back ]

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