Q:

What were the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut?

A:

The preamble and 11 orders enumerated by the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut governed the colony from 1639 until 1662. This document, which governed Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield, followed other codified laws in New England at the time, except in a more compact form. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were inspired by Thomas Hooker's sermon delivered May 31, 1638.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut proscribed that the colony elect one governor and six magistrates. No one could serve as governor more than once every two years. The General Court, or elected body established by the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, convened every September and April. During the fall term, men were nominated by deputies from each town for governor and magistrate. Every April term featured the election, meaning a governor's term was just one year.

The governor and magistrates served as the upper house of the Connecticut General Court. Freemen in each town elected deputies, the representatives of each town at the General Court sessions. The General Court handled lawmaking, administrative duties, judicial process and executive authority over Connecticut, with no mention of England or the English monarchy.

Despite the Puritan origins of the preamble, no religious test was ascribed to voters. The General Court was regarded as the supreme authority of the colony until the charter of Connecticut in 1662. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were based on a similar document in Massachusetts.


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