The earliest forms of representative government were to be found in Maryland from its founding in 1632. In this book, David W. Jordan traces the establishment of the legislative assembly, the development of that central institution through the seventeenth century, and changing opinions about its proper place in the governance of Maryland. Considerable discord initially existed in Maryland and other colonies over the appropriate powers and organization of any assembly of freemen. The colonial proprietors - the Calverts -never envisaged as active a body as many colonists desired, nor one so independent of proprietary dominance. Specific issues of contention varied, but throughout the century debates erupted over the role of the freemen and their representatives within the legislature. Ultimately, the resumption of proprietary authority in 1715 brought an important acknowledgment of substantial gains in representative government that became the foundation of the American political system.