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Database: Old State House

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DB Old State House

This building housed the Massachusetts government from 1713 to 1798. Before the revolution, that would have meant the governor, his advisors, and the elected assembly. Of course, by 'elected', I mean 'selected by white male property-owners' since they were the only people that had the right to vote.

The assembly also had rather limited power - the governor had a veto over anything they decided, and on occasion dissolved the assembly when they didn't vote his way. Less a governor, more a dictator.

In 1767 a gallery was installed above the meeting floor here so the general public could watch their legislature at work - this was a very novel idea at the time. Of course, some of the representatives probably regretted the decision later, when crowds used the area to heckle those who voted pro-British. Then again, perhaps that was the point all along.

The government moved out of the building to a bigger space in 1798 and the old building was turned over to merchants, including a wine seller and a wig-maker, making it the colonial equivalent of a shopping mall, though one that mainly dealt in wine and wigs.

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