Fundamental Orders

Fundamental Orders,

in U.S. history, the basic law of the Connecticut colony from 1639 to 1662, formally adopted (Jan. 14, 1639) by representatives from the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, meeting at Hartford. Thomas HookerHooker, Thomas,
1586–1647, Puritan clergyman in the American colonies, chief founder of Hartford, Conn., b. Leicestershire, England. A clergyman, he was ordered to appear before the court of high commission for nonconformist preaching in England and fled (1630) to Holland.
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, John HaynesHaynes, John,
c.1594–1654, colonial governor of Massachusetts and then of Connecticut. He emigrated (1633) from England to Massachusetts and as governor (1635) banished Roger Williams, an act he later regretted. Haynes moved (1637) to Hartford, Conn.
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, and Roger LudlowLudlow, Roger,
b. 1590, d. after 1664, one of the founders of Connecticut, b. England. Educated at Oxford and admitted to the Inner Temple to study law, he was elected (1630) an assistant of the Massachusetts Bay Company and in the same year sailed to America.
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 were most influential in framing the document. It was not "the first written constitution that shaped a government," as it has been popularly called; nor did it mark the beginning of a "commonwealth democracy"—another misconception fostered by 19th-century historians straining hard to mark the foundations of American democracy. Its provisions for voting in what is now Connecticut reveal how far from democratic it actually was. However, this deficiency is no reflection on the importance or soundness of the document, for political democracy as we know it today was virtually nonexistent in the 17th cent. except in such rare cases as the Rhode Island colony under Roger Williams. Indeed the Puritans regarded unconfined democracy as an aberration. To them only the most substantial, respectable, and reliable Christians were considered worthy to build up a community essentially religious in design. The Fundamental Orders consisted of a preamble and 11 orders or laws. The preamble bound the inhabitants of the three towns to be governed in all things by the orders that followed, and these were similar to the statute laws elsewhere in New England, differing only in that they were shaped into a brief, clear, compact frame of government (Ludlow, a lawyer, is believed chiefly responsible for the excellence of the final form). The government, or "combination," as Hooker called it, confirmed the system that had functioned in the three towns since 1636 and was very like the Massachusetts model. The main concern of the Fundamental Orders was the welfare of the community; the individual always had to give way if the needs of the community at large so required. The charter of Connecticut in 1662 superseded and was largely based on the Fundamental Orders.


See C. M. Andrews, The Beginnings of Connecticut, 1632–1662 (1934).

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This reasoning had appeared in the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" in 1639, the first written constitution organizing a government in America: "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
If space and time really are fundamental orders of all possible existents (as Newton and Einstein believed), then something like McCall's theory has a good chance of being right.
The first constitution in the colonies, the Fundamental Orders, composed by Roger Ludlow, was adopted by representatives from Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield in Connecticut.
He was a preacher of such fire and energy that he has been called perhaps "the most powerful pulpit orator among the ministers of New England." Under his guidance there were adopted by the General Assembly at Hartford on January 14, 1639, certain "Fundamental Orders," which Charles Borgeaud called "the first written constitution of modern democracy." At the behest of fellow ministers he undertook, with <IR> JOHN COTTON </IR> , a Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline (1648), a strong defense of the New England Congregational way against the criticisms of English Presbyterians.

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