• Ali Assareh

Today in Legal History: First modern written constitution enacted in this US Colony (Jan 14, 1639)

Today, on Jan 14, 1639, three towns in the Colony of Connecticut - Windsor, Hartford (the current capital) & Wethersfield - adopted the first written constitution in modern history.


It was called "The Fundamental Orders," and believed to have been drafted by the only trained lawyer in the Colony.


The Orders called for two annual meetings: one in April, and a second in September. The April meetings were to elect a governor, and the September meetings were to enact laws.


However, in a brilliant move designed to prevent hastily-made decisions out of passion, nominations for governorship had to be made at a September meeting (with the voting to come in the April meeting) - giving enough times for cooler heads to prevail.


The preamble of the Orders reads, in part:


"...[W]e the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and ... 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..."


You can see the full text here; https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/order.asp


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