All the citizens were expected to attend the annual town-meeting, and such male inhabitants as were not citizens were privileged to attend and to propose and discuss measures, although they had no right to vote.
Interested cliques could control the business of the town-meeting in ordinary times, and boisterousness marred its democractic excellence in exciting times.
A school committee consisting of any number of members divisible by three is chosen, one-third each year, at the annual town-meeting or at a special meeting which is held in the same month.
In Massachusetts, as in New England generally, the word " town " is used, officially and colloquially, to designate a township, and during the colonial era the New England town-meeting was a notable school for education in self-government.
Thus for nearly two centuries it preserved intact its old " town " government, disposing of all its affairs in the " town-meeting " of its citizens.
Intercourse with a schoolmaster who had continued to drink tea, and in 1776 a town-meeting directed the town clerk to proceed with his duties without reference to the Stamp Act.
Although the tendency in Massachusetts is towards chartering as cities " towns " which have a population of 12,000 or more, the democratic institution of the town-meeting persists in many large municipalities which are still technically towns.'
The town hall is not large enough for an assemblage of all the voters, but actually the attendance is usually limited to about Zoo, and since 1901 there has been in force a kind of referendum, under which any measure passed by a town-meeting attended by 700 or more voters may be referred, upon petition of loo legal voters, to a regular vote at the polls.