The New York General Assembly dates to 1683 when proprietary governor Thomas Dongan appointed representatives to advise him on governing the province. That body was shortlived and was not reconstituted until 1691. That first elected Assembly consisted of seventeen members.
After 1691, one of the more significant sub-themes running through the history of the provincial Assembly is the struggle between Assembly representatives for colonial (American) rights and prerogatives and the British or Imperial agenda personified by the royal governors. The Assembly's right to raise monies for governmental operations (not the least of which was the governor's salary and expenses) fostered a tension and also a working relationship between the two polar interests that culminated in the so-called American Revolutions of 1775-83.
By 1775, thirty-nine assemblymen represented sixteen political jurisdictions (counties and manors).
Initially, assemblymen represented counties except for Rensselaerswyck - which sent its own representative beginning in 1691. The representative of the "city and county of Albany" was most often a city-based notable.
Albany representatives (with years elected or dates of service):
[ overall roster under the State gobernment ]
Sources: Assembly Journals have been printed. Members of the Assembly are listed in the Civil List and . . . of the Colony and State of New York, various compilers (Albany, 1867), the most convenient resource, list of members. An institutional essay appears on pages 387-91. The Assembly has been the subject of a number of scholarly studies. Chief among them are Beverly McAnear, "Politics in Provincial New York, 1689-1761" (Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1935) - the first of a number of essential works on early New York. See also, Patricia U. Bonomi, A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (New York, 1971).
posted privately: 5/20/04; last revised 1/21/10