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branches), and in some also elected the upper or less numerous branch. These representative legislatures voted local taxes, made local laws which Colonial courts adjudicated. The Colonies were practical schools for teaching representative government, and their apt scholars were learning faster than their brothers in the mother country who had less opportunity for study, for, relatively, fewer men voted for Members of Parliament in England than voted for Colonial Houses of Legislature in America. A people so rapidly advancing in knowledge and practice of self-government would naturally grow less amenable to control from beyond seas-less submissive to interference in their political affairs, and would seek the best means of escape from control, or from interference. That means was union among themselves, and we shall now consider how the means came to be adopted.
BEGINNINGS OF UNION
In many accounts of American beginnings of govern-
Less than a score of years later a convention was
tion, went from Massachusetts to the valley of the
gue that "the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people, by God's own allowance; that the privilege of election, which belongs to the people, must not be exercised according to their humors, but according to the blessed will and law of God; that they who have power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set bounds and limitations of the power and place to which they call them; because (1) the foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people; because (2) by a free choice, the hearts of the people will be more inclined to the love of the persons chosen and more readily lend obedience.” His text, he further said, should "persuade us, as God hath given us liberty, to take it !
The pulpit taught politics as earnestly as it did religion in those days, and soon, in January, 1639, a convention of the men of the three towns, Windsor, Wethersfield and Hartford, met in the latter place and adopted the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The purpose of the convention is plainly stated in the preamble they adopted: “We, the inhabitants of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, dwelling in and
upon the river of Conneotiout and the land thereto adjoining, knowing that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be one Publio State or Commonwealth; and do, for ourselves and successors, and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into combination and confederaoy together."
Then followed the Eleven Articles of “the first written constitution, in the modern sense of the term, as a permanent limitation on governmental power, known in history, and certainly the first American constitution of government to embody the democratic idea." They provided for a Governor, at least six Magistrates, and a General Court, consisting of elected Representatives from each town, which was to make laws for the Commonwealth and elect the Governor and the Magistrates.
In this document was the life principle of the American Union; and in it the reader, comparing its text with that of the present Constitution of the United States, will discover how similar were the relations of the Connecticut towns and the Commonwealth and the States of the Union and the United States. A citizen of any town was a citizen of the Commonwealth, and no religious test was demanded of a citizen to acquire the right to vote.
This brief review of the significant beginning of American Union and constitution making can be concluded with the notable words of Bancroft: “More than two centuries have elapsed and the world has been made wiser by the most various experiences; lu
political institutions have become the theme on which the most powerful and cultivated minds have been employed, and so many constitutions have been framed or reformed, stifled or subverted, that memory may despair of a complete catalogue;—but the people of Connecticut have found no reason to deviate essentially from the form of government established by their fathers. No jurisdiction of the English monarch was recognized; the laws of honest justice were the basis of their Commonwealth; and therefore its foundations were lasting."
From the first constitution to unite and form an American State we proceed to the first constitution to form a confederation in America. This was the instrument adopted in May, 1643, by Massachusetts, Providence, Connecticut and New Haven (Providence and New Haven were then separate Colonies), which created the United Colonies of New England. This confederation is more interesting for the causes which led to its formation, the spirit in which it was made, and its omission of any reference to the English government, than for its accomplishments. As early as in 1634, New England local government was threatened with extinction by Charles I. Bishop Laud, whom we have seen helping Charles in his schemes for absolutism, that same Laud and his associates obtained from Charles authority to establish government, dictate laws and regulate the Church in New England. Boston built forts. The old commercial company, which had “financed” the Mayflower venture, sought to recover their losses by gaining title to all New England lands. Connecticut told her neighbors that they could fight better for their lands if the Colonies were united. Charles' Lords of Council demanded the re