The first colonial constitution - HISTORY
Year
1639

The first colonial constitution

In Hartford, Connecticut, the first constitution in the American colonies, the “Fundamental Orders,” is adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford.

The Dutch discovered the Connecticut River in 1614, but English Puritans from Massachusetts largely accomplished European settlement of the region. During the 1630s, they flocked to the Connecticut valley from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in 1638 representatives from the three major Puritan settlements in Connecticut met to set up a unified government for the new colony.

Roger Ludlow, a lawyer, wrote much of the Fundamental Orders, and presented a binding and compact frame of government that put the welfare of the community above that of individuals. It was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that “the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people.” In 1662, the Charter of Connecticut superseded the Fundamental Orders; though the majority of the original document’s laws and statutes remained in force until 1818.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Gold prices soar

After being released from government control, gold reaches a new record price on January 14, 1980, exceeding $800 an ounce.Gold is scattered sparsely throughout the earth’s crust and since ancient times has been treasured for both its scarcity and metallurgic properties. Before ...read more

Albert Schweitzer born

The theologian, musician, philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning physician Albert Schweitzer is born on this day in 1875 in Upper-Alsace, Germany (now Haut-Rhin, France).The son and grandson of ministers, Schweitzer studied theology and philosophy at the universities of Strasbourg, ...read more

Operation Niagara launched

U.S. joint-service Operation Niagara is launched to support the U.S. Marine base at Khe Sanh.The Khe Sanh base was the westernmost anchor of a series of combat bases and strongholds that stretched from the Cua Viet River on the coast of the South China Sea westward along Route 9 ...read more

General Miles reports on Sioux

General Nelson Miles, commander of the U.S. Army troops in South Dakota, reports that the rebellious Sioux are finally returning to their reservation following the bloody massacre at Wounded Knee.Since the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Miles fought to force resistant Indians ...read more

Joseph Conrad returns to London

On this day in 1894, Joseph Conrad returns to London to settle down after a long career at sea. There, he begins rewriting a story he had been working on during his travels, which becomes his first novel, Almayer’s Folly.Conrad was born in Poland, as Jozef Teodor Konrad ...read more

Marilyn Monroe marries Joe DiMaggio

It was the ultimate All-American romance: the tall, handsome hero of the country’s national pastime captures the heart of the beautiful, glamorous Hollywood star. But the brief, volatile marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio–the couple wed on this day in 1954–barely got ...read more

Explosion rocks USS Enterprise

An explosion aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise kills 27 people in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on this day in 1969. A rocket accidentally detonated, destroying 15 planes and injuring more than 300 people.The Enterprise was the first-ever nuclear-powered aircraft carrier when it ...read more

Benedict Arnold, American traitor, born

Benedict Arnold, the American general during the Revolutionary War who betrayed his country and became synonymous with the word “traitor,” was born on this day in 1741.Arnold, who was raised in a respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, apprenticed with an apothecary and was a ...read more