Analysis of The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638)
Connecticut was founded and settled between 1635 and 1636 by Congregationalists who were dissatisfied with the Puritan government of the Massachusetts colony. These Congregationalists established the towns of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield along the Connecticut River, and held an assembly in 1638 to formalize the relationship between the three towns and establish a legal system. Roger Ludlow, the leader of the assembly, drafted the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which became the basis of the government of the colony and later the State of Connecticut. Elements of the Fundamental Orders, such as government by the consent of the governed and voting rights and procedures, were unique for their time and can be seen as the basis for the US Constitution adopted by the newly independent American colonies 150 years later. The religious beliefs of the Congregationalist groups who separated themselves from Massachusetts play a prominent role in the formulation of the Fundamental Orders. Also referred to as Separatists or Independents, their core philosophy is autonomous governance, in which each congregation runs its own affairs. Phrases from the preamble to the Fundamental Orders, such as “the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God” underscore the belief that in establishing their government these congregations are merely fulfilling their duty to God. Also, unlike other governing documents of its day, the Fundamental Orders do not contain any reference to the British Crown, or any other power or government outside of Connecticut, further illustrating their belief in their own sovereignty and their capacity for self-governance. Also included in the preamble is the idea of separation of church and state, stated as follows: “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of...
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