Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639)
This document was the first written constitution in North America. Written by Puritan clergymen, The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was adopted by the residents of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield and remained the colony’s law until 1662. It was composed of a preamble and eleven orders, and named God’s requirement for “good and orderly government” to “order and dispose” of peoples’ affairs as the reason for people to “associate and conjoin” themselves into a Commonwealth. The purpose of the Commonwealth was “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus,” as well as to formulate “Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees” to guide civil affairs.
The Orders provided for election of a governor and six magistrates. This body had lawmaking, executive, and judicial power. It also included guidelines for representation and paying taxes. It was followed two years later by the Massachusetts Body of Liberties.
1. What is the significance of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut?
2. How are the ideas of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut similar to our government today?