Under the Constitution of 1818: The First Decade

Under the Constitution of 1818: The First Decade

Under the Constitution of 1818: The First Decade

Under the Constitution of 1818: The First Decade

Excerpt

CONNECTICUT has so often been called "The Land of Steady Habits" that one is surprised to discover a period when the foundations of the state were shaken, and political strife threatened to disrupt all peace and harmony. About 1800 there appeared a political party which maintained that the state had no legal constitution, and that the public policies upheld by tradition were subversive of civil and religious liberty. This party, usually called Republican, originated as a branch of the national organization associated with Thomas Jefferson, but within a few years after 1800 its activities were focussed on local affairs. The Republicans objected to many features of contemporary politics, especially the fact that legislative and other governmental powers were derived from a charter granted by Charles II in 1662. From the Republican point of view it was undignified for a sovereign state to be governed according to rules laid down by a king who had once held the community in subjection. Mere prejudice against the royal charter would not have led to serious consequences, but the reform party injected into this constitutional controversy some issues which were more certain to excite popular passions. Republicans protested that the ruling party monopolized all offices, manipulated elections to maintain itself in power, and, worst of all, favored one religious sect to the discomfiture of others. The last charge laid bare the major cause of the upheaval which convulsed the state several years later.

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