Township government was established in Providence, Rhode Island in 1636. Of all the forms of governments within America, this particular government is the oldest, providing continuous service. A hallmark of township government is the Annual Town Meeting held in April. Citizens gather, discuss issues, propose actions and vote to make decisions. This grassroots form of government had been closest to the people; and it might be regarded as having been among the most democratic.
Edwardsville Township originally was the federal “Township 4 North of the base line Range 8 West of the 3rd Principal Meridian”. The lines dividing this township were surveyed in 1808, the subdivision lines were surveyed later, in 1813 and 1814, and the township was platted in 1815. In 1820, state legislation made the federal geographic townships the “body politic for school purposes”—this appears to be the first political role for the geographic townships. In 1827, pursuant to the act, the county was divided into seven election districts. These new subdivisions may have replaced the former county townships. One was called the “Edwardsville district”, which might be the first time this name was used for county subdivision purposes. In 1849 and continuing through 1875, the county was divided into sixteen “precincts”, one being “Edwardsville”, the largest. The geographic townships became county political townships.
For more information on the early history of Edwardsville Township, including a brief biography of the first elected Township Supervisor John A. Prickett, click here.