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[205] levied taxes to meet their own expenses.1 In like
Chap XIV.}
manner, the self-perpetuating vestries made out their lists of tithables, and assessed taxes without regard to the consent of the parish.2 These private levies were unequal and oppressive; were seldom, it is said, never, brought to audit, and were, in some cases at least, managed by men who combined to defraud the public.3

For the organization of the courts, ancient usage could be pleaded. It was a series of innovations, which gradually effected a revolution in the system of representation.

The members of the first assembly convened after

the restoration, had been chosen for a term of service extending only through two years; the rule of biennial assemblies was adopted in Virginia.4 The law, which limited the duration of legislative service, and secured the benefits of frequent elections and swift responsibility, was now silently, but ‘utterly abrogated and repealed.’5 Thus the legislators, on whom the people had conferred a political existence of two years, assumed to themselves, by their own act, an indefinite continuance of power. The parliament of England, chosen on the restoration, was not dissolved for eighteen years. The legislature of Virginia retained its authority for almost as long a period, and yielded it only to an insurrection. Meantime ‘the meeting of the people, at the usual places of election,’ had for their object, not to elect burgesses, but to present their grievances to the burgesses of the adjourned assembly.6

1 Hening, ii. 315, 316.

2 Ibid. ii. 310.

3 Culpepper, in Chalmers, 355.

4 Hening, i. 517.

5 Ibid. ii. 43.

6 Ibid. ii. 211, 212.

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Hening (2)
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