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Exhibition Join In: Voluntary Assocations in America

“Virginia Charter of 1606” in Ebenezer Hazard, Historical Collections: Consisting of State Papers and Other Authentic Documents, Intended as Materials for an History of the United States of America. Philadelphia: Printed by T. Dobson [1792–1794]. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (001.00.02)

Governing By Company

In 1606, King James I of England granted a charter to a group of investors to fund and operate a colony in Virginia. A charter is a formal, written grant of privileges, typically recognizing the right of a group to act as a body. The charter outlines the body’s purpose, financial structure, and its scope of activity. The Virginia Charter created the Virginia Company and established both a governing council in London and a subsidiary council in Virginia that made by-laws subject to review by the King. Government by corporation existed in other early colonies, such as Sagadahoc, Maine; Cuper’s Cove, Newfoundland; Bermuda; Plymouth; and Massachusetts-Bay.