Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,14 January 1638

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,14 January 1638

  • The People of Windsor, Hartford, & Wethersfield near the Connecticut River wish to establish a peaceful union in an orderly government according to God & to deal with the people’s affairs in a public state or commonwealth in order to maintain the liberty & purity of the gospel, the discipline of churches & maintaining civil order through laws, rules & orders with those decrees
    1. 2 general assemblies or courts per year (April & September). The first one is to elect magistrates & public officers. The governor is a one year term & can be reelected later. Magistrates can only be elected for one year, no more. All of these must swear an oath to administer laws
    2. Elections work like this: every voter writes a name down on a piece of paper. The name with the most votes is the governor for one year. Magistrates & officers are nominated separately & voted upon separately, so long as there are more votes than blank votes
    3. Magistrates can’t be nominated if they’ve just served a term as a magistrate. Another will have to be chosen
    4. A governor can’t serve back to back terms. He also must be a member of an officially approved church & have been a magistrate in Connecticut. No magistrate can take office without swearing an oath to serve according to laws & justices
    5. The  court of election will have towns send their deputies, once elections are over, to fulfill their deputies. The September general court is for making laws & public concerns of the Commonwealth
    6. The governor will convoke the Constables of every town to call the standing courts with 14 days’ warning. If the governor doesn’t do this freemen can send men there. If the freemen don’t do this, the Constables can send them
    7. From time to time, each town will have its freemen meet & elect deputies to send to the courts. Once elected, they’ll take an oath of fidelity. Names will be presented & will be voted on. Those  with the largest number of votes will have a warrant signed by a constable registering them as deputies
    8. The towns will send 4 deputies each appointed from eligible freemen all receiving the largest number of votes
    9. The deputies can choose the time & place of the General Courts & to decide topics of discussion & proposal of laws. Any disorderly conduct at meetings can be fined. Any elections seen as illegal will be examined & an outcome will be determined by the deputies
    10. General courts consist of a governor, or a court moderator, & at least four magistrates, with a majority of deputies. The court represents the supreme power of the commonwealth & only it may establish laws, repeal laws, levy taxes, apportion unapportioned land & give the magistrates powers to execute laws. It can give liberty to speak in general courts & silence those in disorder
    11. When the General Court decides on an amount & frequency of a tax, a committee will be set up to ensure each town pays it & provide it to the Commonwealth

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