Guide to Connecticut Constitutional History

Connecticut's Four Constitutions

Connecticut Constitutional History, 1636-1776
by Henry S. Cohn

Connecticut Constitutional History, 1776-1988
by Wesley W. Horton


The two articles that comprise Connecticut's Four Constitutions were commissioned by the Museum of Connecticut History in 1988 to accompany an exhibit at the Old State House in Hartford featuring the four Constitutions of the state and other historical works. The Museum and State Archives at the Connecticut State Library hold the originals of the documents.

These articles are presented here with the permission of the authors, but may not be further reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the Connecticut State Library.

Editor's Note
These articles were commissioned by the staff of the Raymond Baldwin Museum of Connecticut History in conjunction with an exhibit at the Old State House featuring a display of the four Constitutions of Connecticut and other historical materials on the "Constitution State."

The articles were funded by a grant from the United States Constitution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut and represent the first effort to study Connecticut's constitutional history in one hundred years. The articles were printed by the Connecticut Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section, in part with a grant from the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division.

Henry S. Cohn is an Assistant Attorney General and President of the Connecticut Consortium for Law Related Education. His article on the Fundamental Orders of 1639 and the Charter of 1662 is intended as a reference work for the general public and is being used at this time in some high school classrooms. The article concludes as Connecticut declares itself a State in 1776.

Wesley W. Horton is a practicing attorney in Hartford and is recognized as an expert in appellate litigation, especially in the Connecticut appellate courts. Continuing the history after 1776, Mr. Horton has provided a discussion of the 1818 Constitution and the Constitution of 1965. As the emergence of the judiciary as a separate branch of government is a major development of post-1818 constitutional law, Mr. Horton's article stresses the holdings of the courts throughout this time period.

While no attempt has been made to integrate these two articles into a comprehensive whole, each in its own way tells the dramatic story of this State's constitutional history. Both articles have benefited by the assistance of the Baldwin Museum staff, educator Margaret Richards, and State Historian, Professor Christopher Collier.