Fundamental Orders Of Connecticut
[January 14-24, 1639]
For as much as it hath pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Harteford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connecticut and the Lands thereunto adjoining; And well knowing where a people are gathered together 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, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; doe therefore associate and conjoined our selves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and doe, for our selves and our Successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintained and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we tow professes, as also the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practiced amongst us; As also in our Civil Affaires to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered & decreed, as followeth:
1. It is Ordered . .. that there shall be yearly two general Assemblies or Courts, the on [one] the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September, following; the first shall be called the Courte of Election, wherein shall be yarely Chosen . .. soe many Magistrates and other pub like Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the years ensuing and until another be choosers, and no other Magistrate to be chosen for more than one year; provided always there be sixe chosen besides the Governor; which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose shall have power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and doe cohabite within this Jurisdiction, (having been admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Towne wherein they live,) or the mayor parte of such as shall be the present.
3. It is Ordered . .. that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Courte before, to be nominated the next Election; and to that end yet shall be lawful for echo of the Townes aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to to be put to Election; and the Courte may ad so many more as they judge requisite.
4. It is Ordered . .. that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved congregation, and formerly of the Magistracy within this Jurisdiction; and all the Magistrates Freemen of this Commonwealth: and that no Magistrate or other public officer shall execute any parte of his or their Office before they are severally sworn....
5. It is ordered . .. that to the aforesaid Courte of Election the several Townes shall send their deputes, and when the Elections are ended they may proceed in any pub like service as at other Courts. Also the other General Courte in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.
8. It is Ordered . .. that Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield shall have power, each Towne, to send fewer of their freemen as their deputys to every General Courte; and whatsoever other Townes shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Courte shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said Townes being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole Towne to give their vats and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the pub like good, and unto which the said Townes are to be bound.
9. It is ordered . .. that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoints a time and a place of meeting together before any General Courte to advise and consult of all such things as may concerned the good of the public, as also to examine their owned Elections? Whether according to the order, and if they or the greyest parte of them find any election to be illegal they may include such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Courte; and if yet prove true, the Courte may fine the party or parties so intruding and the Towne, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to goes to a new election in a legal way, either in parte or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment....
10. It is Ordered . .. that every General Courte, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest parte of Magistrates the Freemen themselves doe call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and 4 other Magistrates at lest, with the mayor parte of the deputies of the several Townes legally chosen; and in case the Freemen or mayor parte of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and mayor parte of the magistrates, shall call a Courte, it shall consist of the mayor parte of Freemen that ate present or their deputies, with a Moderator chosen by them: In which said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grunt levies, to admit off Freemen, dispose of lands indisposed of, to several Townes or persons, and also shall have power to call ether Courte or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or dealer otherwise according to the nature of the offence; and also may dealer in any other matter that concerns the good of this commonwealth, except election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen.
In which Courte the Governor or Moderator shall have power to order the Courte to give liberty of speech, and silence unreasonable and disorderly speaking, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major parte of the Court.
II. It is ordered . .. that when any General Courte upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sums or sums of money to be levied upon the several Townes within this Jurisdiction, that a Committee be chosen to sett out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every Towne to pay of the said levy, provided the Committees be made up of an equal number out of each Towne.a