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The Minutemen and Their World: A Review

The center of New England political life in colonial times was the town meeting, at which all citizens who owned property with an assessed annual rental value of a little over 3 pounds could vote, for local selectmen and town magistrates, a clerk and the local minister and their representative to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, who in turn represented their interests before the General Council in Boston which advised the royally appointed governor. According to Gross, "politics was, as ever, over who got what of a community's scarce resources and whose values would prevail in local life." As the population increased, later settlers arrived whose views often conflicted with those of the established families. The newcomers or 'outlivers' tended to live further outside the town and were interested in measures such as the building of roads which would improve their access to schools and other town facilities. The older inhabitants were more interested in minimizing their tax burdens and retaining the largest possible property tax base, which meant resisting secessionist tendencies. The Massachusetts General Court was forced to intervene in these disputes, resulting in the formation of separate townships for Acton in 1735 and Lincoln twenty years later.

Another complicated dispute which cut across social

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