The 17th century was a time of rapid English colonization. Throughout the years, several colonies emerged, grew, and developed in the "New World." In order to effectively reach their goals and survive, people had to establish standardized rules and orders through documents within their communities that would reshape and form their changing lifestyles. Two of the most famous of these documents are the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written by pilgrims of Connecticut in 1639, and the Mayflower Compact, which was written by Plymouth settlers in 1620.
In 1639, a group of pilgrims, being persecuted for their religious beliefs, left Massachusetts and sought out to colonize the area that is now Connecticut and build up a community essentially religious in design. There, on January 24, 1639, they developed the first written constitution - the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The colonists did not believe that their old government was fair and rational towards their rights, and they believed that they should be ruled by an “orderly and decent Government established according to God.” The document called for an assembly of elected representatives from each town to make laws and also called for the popular election of a governor and judges.
The Mayflower Compact was also a document of self-governance, but was less religious. It instead focused on rules and laws to keep order. The Mayflower Compact was written when in 1620 the settlers aboard the Mayflower landed north of their original destination in Virginia. The Mayflower Compact was designed to provide a framework of government for Plymouth in the absence Virginian authority, but, however, was not a constitution. According to the Compact, the colonists believed that they would be most successful under their own self rule.
Overall, both were written by Pilgrims escaping religious persecution in order to establish a set of rules for themselves. However, the Fundamental Orders were more complex than the...
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