Book, Code of 1650
4.75" by 7.25"
Paper and Leather
Early American Government; Civil Compact; Colonial Connecticut
Miss Jennie Mallory, Milwaukee, 1933
*This edition is undated, but was most likely produced between the dated editions published in 1822 and 1830.
Our previous ambassador introduced the arrival of Europeans upon the American continent. The story picks up as these newcomers set about making the continent their own, establishing the traditions upon which they would build and govern their New World communities. One example of this effort is this week’s artifact ambassador: an 1822 re-printing of the earliest compacts and laws of colonial Connecticut called the Code of 1650. This ambassador conveys the exertions of early colonists toward producing a better means of governance than that they experienced in Europe. From these efforts arose the unique forms of government by voluntary compact which would later inform the ideas immortalized in history as the United States Constitution.
The 1650 code begins with a confident declaration, although these early arrivals in colonial Connecticut had every temporal reason for insecurity in this new land. “[W]e the Inhabitants…of Windsor, Hartford and Weathersfield…well-knowing when a people are gathered together, the word of God requires, that to meinteine the peace and union of such a people, there should bee an orderly and decent government established…doe therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to bee as one publique State of Commonwealth; and do…enter into...confederation together, to meinteine and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospell…as also in our civil affaires to be guided according to such lawes...as shall be made...as followeth.” What followed were a plethora of edicts for societal guidance, including, for example, how leaders would be elected, how the laws were to be enforced, the manner in which to raise livestock so as not to infringe upon neighbors’ rights, and even guidance as to how to interact with the Native peoples who lived near their settlements.
Our 1820s publication—which was actually the first time this compact had been officially published from the original 1650 manuscripts—was produced at a time when Americans were reflecting on the formative years of their young Nation and considering their own responses to the new issues arising in their century. Juliette Kinzie, who was born in Connecticut in 1806, would probably have joined in this communal reflection. Perhaps we living today need to do the same—reflecting on our nation’s roots, its principles, and its effort to work together to create a community which reflected its members’ principles—to better inform our choices in the years ahead.
To read this compact, check out a recently digitized edition athttps://archive.org/details/codeof165000conn/page/n7
The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Wisconsin—the organization which owns the Agency House—supports as its primary mission to keep the spirit of our country’s early days alive, just as this re-printing attempted to do in 1822. Learn more about the NSCDA athttp://nscda.org/about-us/
Stay tuned for our next artifact ambassador which tells the continuing story of how these colonies continued on their path to self-government!