Connecticut Constitution, 1776




Instead of drafting a new Constitution in 1776 like 11 of the original states, Connecticut chose to continue under the old Royal Charter with such legislative amendments as seemed necessary from time to time. This made it much easier for the Congregational Church to continue as the established church of the state. Regardless of the apparent lack of preference for one religion or sect in the Charter, Connecticut was very much dominated by the Congregational Church. Although religious persecution had generally disappeared by the time of the Revolutionary War, many still felt that the ecclesiastical laws of the church and the colony denied liberty of conscience. In fact, the Congregational Church continued as a dominant power in state politics for nearly a generation after the declaration of our nation’s independence.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Religious Institutions Group

An Act containing an Abstract and Declaration of the Rights and Privileges of the People of

this State, and security the same.

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, Civility and Christianity call for, as is due to every Man in his Place and Proportion, without Impeachment and infringement, hath ever been, and will be the Tranquility and Stability of Churches and Commonwealths; and the Denial thereof, the Disturbance, if not the Ruin of both.

Paragraph 1. Be it enacted and declared by the Governor, and Council, and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, That the ancient Form of civil Government, contained in the Charter from Charles the Second, 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.

* * * *

Source: the federal and state constitutions, colonial charters, and other organic laws of the united states 257-58 (Ben: Perley Poore, 1878).