Madras Presidency, also known as Madras Province and known officially as Presidency of Fort St. George, was a province of British India. At its greatest extent, Madras Presidency included much of southern India, including the present-day Indian State of Tamil Nadu, the Malabar region of North Kerala, Lakshadweep Islands, the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, Brahmapur and Ganjam districts of Orissa and the Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, and Udupi districts of Karnataka. The capital was at Madras, now known as Chennai.
The Presidency had its origins in the Agency of Fort St George established by the British East India Company soon after the purchase of the village of Madraspatnam in 1639. Madras was upgraded to a Presidency in 1652 before reverting to its previous status as an Agency. In 1684, Madras was elevated to a Presidency once again and Elihu Yale appointed its first President. From 1785 onwards, as per the provisions of the Pitt's India Act, the ruler of the Presidency of Fort St George was styled Governor instead of President and was made subordinate to the Governor-General at Calcutta. Madras made a significant contribution to the Indian freedom movement in the early decades of the 20th century. Madras was the first province in British India where the system of dyarchy was first implemented. The Presidency was dissolved when India became independent on August 15, 1947. On January 26, 1950, when the Republic of India was inaugurated, Madras was admitted as one of the states of the Indian Union.
The judicial, legislative and executive powers are rested in the Governor who is assisted by a Council whose constitution has been modified by reforms enacted in 1861, 1909, 1919 and 1935. As per the Montague-Chelmsford reforms of 1919, a system of dyarchy was established and regular elections were conducted till the outbreak of the Second World War. The head of the government was known as Prime Minister. In 1908, the province comprised 22 districts each under a District Collector. Each district was further sub-divided into taluks and firqas. The smallest unit of administration was the village.