Fast Fact About State and Local Government

The first New York State Constitution was ratified in 1777, before the American Revolution.
Fact Background: 

In 1683, and under British rule, the Charter of Liberties and Privileges was passed.  Based loosely on the Magna Carta, it outlined the principles by which the colony would be governed, and split New Netherlands into 12 parts, giving birth to the county system which is still in use today.  In 1703, the position of Town Supervisor was created to distribute the costs of County government amongst the towns.  In 1777, before the American Revolution, the first New York State Constitution was enacted, recognizing counties, towns, and cities as the units of local government. In specific, the 1777 New York Constitution recognized the colonial charters of both New York, and the city of Albany.  It also directed the legislature to “arrange for the organization of cities and incorporated villages and to limit their power of taxation, assessment, borrowing and involvement in debt”.   In the 1790’s villages began to emerge as a local government structure, by granting rights and privileges to unincorporated hamlets.[1]



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