Jan 14: The First Step Toward Independence

More political science…in honor of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, adopted this day in 1639. I kind of romanticize it in my head – a bunch of lonely Englishmen, becoming Americans, enduring long, cold, dark nights, with nothing to pass the time but to establish "the first written constitution as a permanent limitation on governmental power, known in history." Here's how the Harvard Classics does it: “It is the work of the Connecticut Yankee.” Sounds like a description that was written close to closing time.

I was going to read it online, but when I saw that the printed text uses the old spelling, whereas the online version doesn’t, I crawled down to the bottom shelf and got the printed text. What better to add to this project of meaningless affectation than a reading with added meaningless affectation?

Okay, bam, Vol 43, pp. 60-65. This is a great volume, by the way (“American Historical Documents”). Think of how many people had a volume containing the text of the annexation of Hawaii without knowing it!

Oh, I see the point of cleaning up the spelling: “…vppon the River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adoiyneing”. My son, who is a terrible speller, would be very reassured…but seriously, who is supposed to read this? I studied 16th century history in college, and I kind of like the random spellings, but wouldn’t it be a little off-putting?

Or maybe it’s supposed to be fascinating and a little inaccessible and magical. It’s not that hard to read (“doe therefore assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State or Comonwelth”), and it makes you feel like an adept.

Otherwise? It’s just bylaws – one of those documents where it doesn’t seem significant unless you’re told why it is (in this case, I guess), because it limits terms of office – and, oddly enough for a seventeenth century New England state, has very little God in it, much less God than you would find on a presidential debate on NBC.

And finally, as to the title -- having been forced to study English Puritanism I find the Reading Guide's title over-determined. Isn't it really more of a step towards Cromwell's Commonwealth than a nation formed with a bunch of dissolute Virginians?