The North Carolina Biennial Act was passed in 1715 by an assembly of colonial representatives meeting at New River. At the time, England was nurturing a relationship with Carolina for exclusive export of tobacco, cotton, corn and other products from the vast Carolina plantations to England so the Act was virtually ignored. In 1736 Governor Gabriel Johnston wrote the king asking for permission to limit the effectiveness of the Act. It was nearly a year before the king sent his wishy-washy reply. The kings message did, however, limit expansion of colonial assemblies.

Disposition of the North Carolina Biennial Act


By an Act passed in Carolina in the time of the Lords Proprietors relating to biennial and other assemblies and regulating elections and members, I observe that there is a power given to the assembly of this colony to meet with out the consent of the Crown. The charter to the Lords Proprietors does not warrant this proceeding. The power of calling of parliaments is admitted to be an inherent privilege in the Crown, and I believe this is the first instance that such an attempt has been made to deprive the Crown of it. I think you should show your disapprobation of a law which in so high a degree encroaches upon the prerogative of the Crown. But I must observe to you, if the facts are true which are stated in the memorial of Mr. Smyth the Chief Justice, I think it cannot be considered as an Act in force, not having received a due confirmation agreeable to the rules settled by the Lords Proprietors themselves.

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