The City of Methuen was originally organized as a Town by Chapter 12 of the Acts and Resolves 0f 1725. "Being an act for dividing the City of Haverhill and erecting a new Town there and in parts adjacent by the name of Methuen"; the name of the Town was given by Governor Dummer after Lord Methuen.

- The City functioned under a Selectmen/Open Town Meeting form of government from 1726 until 1917. (see TOC Records Link)

- The General Court, by Chapter 116 of the Acts and Resolves of 1916, established a Selectmen/Representative Town Meeting form of government.

- The General Court, thereafter, by Chapter 289 of 1917, allowed the Town to organize as a City.

- On January 7th, 1921, the Supreme Judicial Court, in the case of Attorney General ex rel. Mann vs. City of Methuen, 236 Mass. 564, found that the City Charter had not been appropriately adopted under the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Though the Court did not strike down the Charter, it left open the legality of all City action thereafter.

- The General Court subsequently enacted Chapter 241 of 1921, providing for the establishment of a Selectmen/Representative Town Meeting form of government.
This Charter existed from 1921 to 1973.

- On January 1st, 1973, Methuen's first Home Rule Charter became effective. Said Charter established a strong Town Administrator with a twenty-one member Town Council. Said Charter was written by the first Home Rule Charter Commission. This "Town Form" was declared to be, in law, a City by the Appeals Court on December 12th, 1978 in the case of Chadwick vs. Scarth, 6 Mass. App. 725.

- On January 1st, 1978, Methuen's second Home Rule Charter became effective. Said Charter, while keeping the Town Manager/Town Council form of government, reduced the Town Manager's power by requiring Council approval of such matters as contracts and appointments, was written by the second Home Rule Charter Commission.

- On May 4th, 1993, at a Special Town Election, the citizens accepted Chapter 332 of the Acts and Resolves of 1992 providing for a Mayor and lifetime term limitations forthe Mayor and City Council.

- On November 2nd, 2009, Methuen's third Home Rule Charter Commission was elected.

For a complete listing of all Charter amendments, see Chronology of Charter Amendments.