Plans for a free government
A number of people have been promoting the 1638 The Fundamental Orders as an original plan for free government. There was also talk by a Pastor Thomas Hooker of "the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people."
This idea of "free consent" was popular at the time because so many had come to America to become "freemen". No one became a freeman because they arrived in America. Most were clearly subjects and compacts like the Mayflower Compact were devised to assure that loyalty of subjects.
Before we go further, it should be understood that the original republic was one in which a freeman was free from arbitrary civil authority which was limited by his natural and more fundamental rights. The individual was also religiously allowed to accept or reject his God as King or his kings as gods. This acceptance was determined by his practice of either Pure Religion or his indulgence in public religion.
The word “republic” was used because those early pilgrims and separatists knew its origins. It is a shortened form of the Latin idiom “Libera res publica”, meaning “free from things public.” The heads of the government were “titular” in authority, meaning that they held authority “in name only.” In an indirect democracy, the mob elects those that govern the whole, while, in the republic, you only elected representatives with a limited authority.
A Freeman had and is defined as someone who had a free hold title in land. In colonial America, “The ordinary citizen, living on his farm, owned in fee-simple, untroubled by any relics of Feudalism, untaxed save by himself, saying his say to all the world in townmeetings, had gained a new self-reliance. Wrestling with his soul and plow on week days, and the innumerable points of the minister’s sermon on Sundays and meeting days, he was becoming a tough nut for any imperial system to crack.”
It was for these reasons and their fierce self reliance and independence that the Freemen of America were able to lawfully sign the Declaration of Independence claiming an unwarranted usurpation by the king. These Freemen were still a minority in America, and today they are almost none existent.
- “Liber homo. A free man; a freeman lawfully competent to act as juror. An allodial proprietor, as distinguished from a vassal or feudatory.”
“Before the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the people were the fountainhead of justice. The Angloe-Saxon courts were composed of large numbers of freemen and the law which they administered, was that which had been handed down by oral tradition from generation to generation. In competition with these popular, nonprofessional courts the Norman king, who insisted that he was the fountainhead of justice, set up his own tribunals… The angloe-Saxon tribunals had been open to all; every freeman could appeal to them for justice.”
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
In the spring of 1638 three Connecticut towns, Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, chose representatives and held a general court at Hartford. At its opening session the Reverend Thomas Hooker preached a powerful sermon on the text that "the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people." According to the reports of history the freemen of three towns assembled at Hartford, and adopted The Fundamental Orders of 1638
The document neither references a "dread Sovereign" nor the "gracious Lord the King." There is no mention of government or power outside of the people of Connecticut itself except a reference that 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 according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require".
The "word of God" would include Deuteronomy 17 which includes instructions for making a constitution and of course the directives of Christ including what we should not be like. "do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth".
There was no limiting of the vote to members of Puritan congregations. This Fundamental Orders of Connecticut appears to be the first written constitution in the Western tradition which created a form of government, and it may seem to be the prototype of the United States Federal Constitution, adopted one hundred and fifty years later. You may also the Iroquois Constitution and the Mayflower Compact to expand your understanding. A free society is operated by Perfect law of liberty through faith, hope, and charity where every man and women rules their own life according to what is written upon their hearts and mind by virtue or vice. Those people who stand fast in the liberty of Christ where His truth has set them free will hear his voice. Those who are slothful in the way or reject the way of righteousness for covetous practices which use force, fear, and fealty will be seduced and again return to the ways of Cain, Nimrod, Pharaoh and Caesar returning to Egypt and Babylon finding themselves entangled in a yoke of bondage.
The Fundamental Orders
|Fundamental Orders of Connecticut||Comment'|
|Order For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we 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 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 according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also, the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said Gospel is now practiced amongst us; as also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made, ordered, and decreed as followeth:|| The Fundamental Order's authors talk about all this being "according to the truth of the said Gospel". But was it?
|Order 1. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that there shall be yearly two General Assemblies or Courts, the one the second Thursday in April, the other the second Thursday in September following; the first shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time, so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor for the year ensuing and until another be chosen, and no other Magistrate to be chosen for more than one year: provided always there be six chosen besides the Governor, which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose, shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God; which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity, and do cohabit within this Jurisdiction having been admitted Inhabitants by the major part of the Town wherein they live or the major part of such as shall be then present.|| We see in paragraph one that "Magistrates and other public Officers ... Governor [shall] be chosen... and sworn according to an Oath...[and] shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established... which choice shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and have taken the Oath of Fidelity..."
|Order 2. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the election of the aforesaid Magistrates shall be in this manner: every person present and qualified for choice shall bring in (to the person deputed to receive them) one single paper with the name of him written in it whom he desires to have Governor, and he that hath the greatest number of papers shall be Governor for that year. And the rest of the Magistrates or public officers to be chosen in this manner: the Secretary for the time being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choice and then shall severally nominate them distinctly, and every one that would have the person nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written upon, and he that would not have him chosen shall bring in a blank; and every one that hath more written papers than blanks shall be a Magistrate for that year; which papers shall be received and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworn to be faithful therein; but in case there should not be six chosen as aforesaid, besides the Governor, out of those which are nominated, than he or they which have the most writen papers shall be a Magistrate or Magistrates for the ensuing year, to make up the aforesaid number.||Comment +5. Comment|
|Order 3. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magistracy which was not propounded in some General Court before, to be nominated the next election; and to that end it shall be lawful for each of the Towns aforesaid by their deputies to nominate any two whom they conceive fit to be put to election; and the Court may add so many more as they judge requisite.||Comment +5. Comment|
|Order 4. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that no person be chosen Governor above once in two years, and that the Governor be always a member of some approved Congregation, and formerly of the Magistracy within this Jurisdiction; and that all the Magistrates, Freemen of this Commonwealth; and that no Magistrate or other public officer shall execute any part of his or their office before they are severally sworn, which shall be done in the face of the court if they be present, and in case of absence by some deputed for that purpose.||Comment +5. Comment|
|Order 5. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that to the aforesaid Court of Election the several Towns shall send their deputies, and when the Elections are ended they may proceed in any public service as at other Courts. Also the other General Court in September shall be for making of laws, and any other public occasion, which concerns the good of the Commonwealth.||In Section 5 we can see that they "Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, were trying to establish that some people were "making of laws" for others which is an usurpation of God as the Law maker and was clearly part of the age old sin of Cain and Nimrod where men ruling over other men.|
|Order 6. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the Governor shall, either by himself or by the Secretary, send out summons to the Constables of every Town for the calling of these two standing Courts one month at least before their several times: And also if the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates see cause upon any special occasion to call a General Court, they may give order to the Secretary so to do within fourteen days warning: And if urgent necessity so require, upon a shorter notice, giving sufficient grounds for it to the deputies when they meet, or else be questioned for the same; And if the Governor and major part of Magistrates shall either neglect or refuse to call the two General standing Courts or either of them, as also at other times when the occasions of the Commonwealth require, the Freemen thereof, or the major part of them, shall petition to them so to do; if then it be either denied or neglected, the said Freemen, or the major part of them, shall have the power to give order to the Constables of the several Towns to do the same, and so may meet together, and choose to themselves a Moderator, and may proceed to do any act of power which any other General Courts may.||Comment +5. Comment|
|Order 7. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that after there are warrants given out for any of the said General Courts, the Constable or Constables of each Town, shall forthwith give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some public assembly or by going or sending from house to house, that at a place and time by him or them limited and set, they meet and assemble themselves together to elect and choose certain deputies to be at the General Court then following to agitate the affairs of the Commonwealth; which said deputies shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the several Towns and have taken the oath of fidelity; provided that none be chosen a Deputy for any General Court which is not a Freeman of this Commonwealth. The aforesaid deputies shall be chosen in manner following: every person that is present and qualified as before expressed, shall bring the names of such, written in several papers, as they desire to have chosen for that employment, and these three or four, more or less, being the number agreed on to be chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court; whose names shall be endorsed on the back side of the warrant and returned into the Court, with the Constable or Constables' hand unto the same.||In section 7 we see that they were forming an indirect democracy where those "chosen for that time, that have the greatest number of papers written for them shall be deputies for that Court" which gave power to some who had "taken the oath of fidelity".|
|Order 8. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield shall have power, each Town, to send four of their Freemen as their deputies to every General Court; and Whatsoever other Town shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputies as the Court shall judge meet, a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said Towns being to be attended therein; which deputies shall have the power of the whole Town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said Towns are to be bound.||In section 8 it was "Ordered, sentenced, and decreed that a "number of Freemen" "shall have the power of the whole Town to give their votes and allowance to all such laws and orders as may be for the public good, and unto which the said Towns are to be bound." "Be Bound" does not sound like a free government if a few men can bind the whole town to rules of a few.|
|Order 9. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court, to advise and consult of all such things as may concern the good of the public, as also to examine their own Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the greatest part of them find any election to be illegal they may seclude such for present from their meeting, and return the same and their reasons to the Court; and if it be proved true, the Court may fine the party or parties so intruding, and the Town, if they see cause, and give out a warrant to go to a new election in a legal way, either in part or in whole. Also the said deputies shall have power to fine any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due time or place according to appointment; and they may return the said fines into the Court if it be refused to be paid, and the Treasurer to take notice of it, and to escheat or levy the same as he does other fines.||By section 9 "it is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that the deputies thus chosen shall have power and liberty to appoint a time and a place of meeting together before any General Court" yo "fine the party or parties... and to escheat or levy the same as he does other fines."|
|Order 10. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that every General Court, except such as through neglect of the Governor and the greatest part of the Magistrates the Freemen themselves do call, shall consist of the Governor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and four other Magistrates at least, with the major part of the deputies of the several Towns legally chosen; and in case the Freemen, or major part of them, through neglect or refusal of the Governor and major part of the Magistrates, shall call a Court, it shall consist of the major part of Freemen that are present or their deputies, with a Moderator chosen by them: In which said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant levies, to admit of Freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several Towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except the election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen. In which Court the Governor or Moderator shall have power to order the Court, to give liberty of speech, and silence unseasonable and disorderly speakings, to put all things to vote, and in case the vote be equal to have the casting voice. But none of these Courts shall be adjourned or dissolved without the consent of the major part of the Court.|| section 10 "it is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, ... said General Courts shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwealth, and they only shall have power to make laws or repeal them, to grant levies, to admit of Freemen, dispose of lands undisposed of, to several Towns or persons, and also shall have power to call either Court or Magistrate or any other person whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deal otherwise according to the nature of the offense; and also may deal in any other matter that concerns the good of this Commonwealth, except the election of Magistrates, which shall be done by the whole body of Freemen."
|Order 11. It is Ordered, sentenced, and decreed, that when any General Court upon the occasions of the Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum, or sums of money to be levied upon the several Towns within this Jurisdiction, that a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every Town to pay of the said levy, provided the committee be made up of an equal number out of each Town.
|| By section 11 a man's property is not his own and if the "Commonwealth have agreed upon any sum, or sums of money to be levied upon the several Towns within this Jurisdiction" your neighbor by vote can take from neighbor in violation of the law of God to not covet.
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- “Freeman; the possessors of allodial lands.” See Liberi, Blacks 3rd. & Oxford Dictionary
- History of the U.S. Vol.1 James Truslow Adams, p. 176.
- Ld. Raym. 417; Kebl. 563.
- Black’s 3rd Ed. page 1105.
- Clark’s Summary of American law. Common Law Chat 1 pp.530.
- The Fundamental Orders were adopted by the Connecticut Colony council on January 14, 1639 O.S. (January 24, 1639 N.S.). The fundamental orders describe the government set up by the Connecticut River towns, setting its structure and powers. They wanted the government to have access to the open ocean for trading.
- Original URL: http://www.constitution.org/bcp/fo_1639.htm
Original date: 1997/09/03 — Last updated: 2013/10/31
- Original URL: http://www.constitution.org/bcp/fo_1639.htm
- Note that the year recorded in the document is 1638, because the British calendar in use at the time began the new year on March 25 instead of January 1 as does the Gregorian calendar we use today. Britain did not convert to the Gregorian calendar until 1751, when 11 days had to be added to their dates to get the Gregorian dates. In 1639 they were still 10 days behind the Gregorian calendar.
- Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them [unto him], and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
- Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
- Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
- To join or become joined together; unite. "CONJOINTS. Persons married to each other. Story, Confl. of L. Sec. 71; Wolff. Dr. de la Nat. Sec. 858." By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
- PUBLIC. By the term the public, is meant the whole body politic, or all the citizens of the state; sometimes it signifies the inhabitants of a particular place; as, the New York public.
2. A distinction has been made between the terms public and general, they are sometimes used as synonymous. The former term is applied strictly to that which concerns all the citizens and every member of the state; while the latter includes a lesser, though still a large portion of the community. Greenl. Ev. 128.
3. When the public interests and its rights conflict with those of an individual, the latter must yield. Co. Litt. 181. if, for example, a road is required for public convenience, and in its course it passes on the ground occupied by a house, the latter must be torn down, however valuable it may be to the owner. In such a case both law and justice require that the owner shall be fully indemnified.
4. This term is sometimes joined to other terms, to designate those things which have a relation to the public; as, a public officer, a public road, a public passage, a public house.
- STATE, government. This word is used in various senses. In its most enlarged sense, it signifies a self-sufficient body of persons united together in one community for the defence of their rights, and to do right and justice to foreigners. In this sense, the state means the whole people united into one body politic; (q. v.) and the state, and the people of the state, are equivalent expressions. 1 Pet. Cond. Rep. 37 to 39; 3 Dall. 93; 2 Dall. 425; 2 Wilson's Lect. 120; Dane's Appx. §50, p. 63 1 Story, Const. §361. In a more limited sense, the word `state' expresses merely the positive or actual organization of the legislative, or judicial powers; thus the actual government of the state is designated by the name of the state; hence the expression, the state has passed such a law, or prohibited such an act. State also means the section of territory occupied by a state, as the state of Pennsylvania. ... 9. The several states composing the United States are sovereign and independent, in all things not surrendered to the national government by the constitution, and are considered, on general principles, by each other as foreign states, yet their mutual relations are rather those of domestic independence, than of foreign alienation. 7 Cranch, 481; 3 Wheat. 324; 1 Greenl. Ev. §489, 504. Vide, generally, Mr. Madison's report in the legislature of Virginia, January, 1800; 1 Story's Com. on Const. §208; 1 Kent, Com. 189, note b; Grotius, B. 1, c. 1, s. 14; Id. B. 3, c. 3, s. 2; Burlamaqui, vol. 2, pt. 1, c. 4, s. 9; Vattel, B. 1, c. 1; 1 Toull. n. 202, note 1 Nation; Cicer. de Repub. 1. 1, s. 25.
STATE, condition of persons. This word has various acceptations. If we inquire into its origin, it will be found to come from the Latin status, which is derived from the verb stare, sto, whence has been made statio, which signifies the place where a person is located, stat, to fulfil the obligations which are imposed upon him.
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