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its neglect to appear at the time named. This mode of proceeding was in perfect keeping with the character of James II., who was an obstinate and cruel tyrant as well as a bigotted religionist, alike destitute of all principles of honor, faith or humanity. Indeed it very soon became too apparent that it was not to be expected that arguments drawn from reason, humanity, justice, charters, compacts, or any other consideration, would have the least influence over a monarch who trampled on the constitution, laws, and liberties of the English nation, and whose ministers and officers shed the blood of his subjects, and wreaked their vengeance on all who made even a show of opposition to their piratical proceedings.
75. In October, 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, who had assumed the government of Massachusetts the previous year, arrived at Hartford, and in the naine of the crown demanded the surrender of their charter. After much struggle and debate in the assembly and protests against this demand, which was continued until the evening, when the charter was produced and laid upon the table. After its production, suddenly the lights were extinguished, and Captain Wadsworth, in the most silent and secret manner, carried it off and secreted it in a hollow tree, which thereafter received the name of the Charter Oak, where it was kept secreted until the government was resumed. Andros, however, proceeded to declare the government dissolved, and held a brief and tyrannical dominion over the colony until the revolution in 1688, when the government was resumed by the colonists by their former magistrates, when the freemen voted, “they would re-establish government as it was before, and at the time Andros took it, and so have it proceede as it did before according to charter-engaged themselves to submit to it accordingly, until there should be a legal establishment amongst them. The assembly having formed and enacted, ordered and declared, that all the
'99 ławs of the colony made according to the charter, and courts constituted for the administration of government as they were before the late interruption, should be of full force and virtue for the future, and until it see cause to make further or other alterations, according to charter."(a)
The successors of the Stuarts silently suffered them to retain it until the American revolution without any struggle or resistance.
This charter continued to be maintained as the fundamental law of the state until the year 1818, when a new constitution of government was formed and adopted by the people.(6)
Subsequent to the American revolution all connection with the crown of England was broken off and dissolved. But notwithstanding this the constitution of the state until 1818 remained in all other respects the same unaltered basis of government, in its principles, regulations, and efficient powers, which it ever had been from its first formation and establishment. The legislature of the state, upon the declaration of independence being made on the 4th of July, 1776, made a declaration of the rights and privileges of the people of the state, wherein it was declared, “The people of this state, being by the providence of God free and independent, have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves, as a free, sovereign, and independent state; and having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent constitution of government, whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election of the people; they have the best security for the preservation of their civil and religious rights and liberties. And forasmuch as the free fruition of such liberties and privileges, as humanity,
(a) I Trum. 377.
(5) 1 Story, 76.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF
[CHAP. T. civility, and christianity call for, as is due to every man in his place and proportion, without impeachment and infringement, hath been and ever will be of church and commonwealth, and the denial thereof, the disturbance if not the ruin of both.
Be it enacted and declared by, &c., that the ancient form of civil government contained in the charter of Charles II., King of England, and adopted by the people of this state, shall be and remain the civil constitution of this state, under the sole authority of the people thereof, independent of any king or prince whatever. And that this republic is and shall forever be and remain a free, sovereign, and independent state, by the name of the state of Connecticut.”
At as late a period as 1798, a devout wish was uttered by one of the ablest jurists of that state, that its citizens might glory in that system of government and jurisprudence which at the first was the product of wisdom, was perfected and matured by long experience, which had carried it safe through many a storm, withstood every attack for more than a century and a half, and which had grown venerable by age, and the wisdom of its regulations, and the rich profusion of blessings which it conferred as the noblest birthright of themselves and their children, and the highest interest and honor of the state as an independent member of a great nation and the rising empire of America.
§ 76. Until the session in October, 1698, the assembly consisted of but one house, and the magistrates and deputies acted together. At this session it was enacted that the general assembly should consist of two houses; that the governor or, in his absence, the deputy governor, and magistrates should compose the first, which should be called the upper house; that the other should consist of the deputies, regularly returned from the several towns in the colony, which should be called the lower house.
The lower house were authorized to choose a speaker to preside, and when formed, to make such officers and rules as they should judge necessary for their regulation, It was further enacted that no act should be passed into a law, nor any law already enacted be repealed, nor any other act proper to the general assembly be passed except by the consent of both houses. They also ordained at this session that the county courts should consist of one chief justice and two justices of the quorum.(a) The two houses did not, however, form separately until the session on 11th May, 1699.
Until 1708 the law required the governor to be chosen from among the magistrates. The democratic spirit of the age became dissatisfied with this provision, and at the May session, 1808, (13th May,) this law was repealed, and provision was made by which the freemen were at liberty to elect the governor from among themselves at large, and thus practically asserted the fundamental creed of all democratic institutions, that it is not place but merit which should entitle the citizen to places of power and trust.
§ 77. The subjects of legislation were generally such as the wants and necessities of an infant colony seemed to demand, and up to this period the semi-annual sessions of the assembly were usually very short, not exceeding ten or twelve days, and the expenses of administering the government very small—the whole not exceeding about £800. At the October session the superior court was made a circuit court, and was required to hold two terms annually in the respective counties of Hartford, New Haven, Fairfield, and New London.(6) It consisted of a chief justice and four other judges, three of whom made a quorum. The fees of the former were 10s. per day while in the public service; the other judges were allowed the fees by law payable to the Bench.(a) All testamentary affairs were managed by a court of probate, in each county, of one judge and clerk, from which an appeal lay to the county court.(6)
(a) 1 Trumb. 399.
(6) Ibid. 452.
The character of the laws of this colony bear so striking a resemblance to those of Massachusetts, that it is not deemed advisable to devote time to a separate consideration of them. Its criminal code declared those offences criminal which were so declared in the Holy Scriptures : those were idolatry, blasphemy of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, witchcraft, murders, murder through guile by poisoning or other devilish practices, bestiality, sodomy, rape, man stealing, false witness, conspiracy against the colony, arson, children cursing or smiting father or mother, being a stubborn or rebellious son, and treason.(0)
The descent and distribution of real estate was among all the children, the eldest son to receive a double share. Fraudulent conveyances against creditors were declared void : lands were subject to claims of judgment creditors, to be set off on execution by the appraisal of three appraisers.(d)
Process in courts of justice were in the name of the king. Insolvents without any estate, might be relieved from imprisonment by two assistants, but if required by the creditor, must satisfy the debt by service. Bills and bonds were made assignable, and assignees might maintain suits in their own name.
Magistrates, justices of the peace, and ministers were
(a) 1 Trumbull, 453.