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The First Newspaper to Print the Declaration of Independence Attempts to Make Sense of the Connecticut Constitution (SOLD)
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“A Succinct Account of the Constitution of the Free and Independent State of Connecticut” occupies the entire front page.

[CONNECTICUT]. Newspaper. Pennsylvania Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., July 27, 1776. 4 pp., 7¾ x 9½ in.

Inventory #23147       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Historical Background

When the 13 colonies declared independence on July 4, 1776, most of the new states threw off the yoke of their colonial charters and drafted state constitutions. Not so Connecticut. The state continued to operate under the charter granted by England in 1662. The Connecticut General Court did, in fact, delete references to the monarchy and other trappings of royal control, but day-to-day operation of government remained largely unchanged. This ambiguous arrangement remained until 1818, when the state finally called a Constitutional Convention.

Connecticut’s reasoning rested on the fact that its charter of 1662 had been written primarily by Governor John Winthrop and other state legislators and served to codify a considerable degree of independence for the state. Moreover, England’s benign neglect was even more pronounced in Connecticut, with no royal officials to interfere with local control. Unlike most other colonies, Connecticut citizens picked their own leaders, and John Trumbull, the state’s governor in 1776, helped spark the Revolution and was the only colonial governor to support independence. In short, Connecticut had a stable government dominated by local, freely elected authorities, and a court and legislative system operating quite nicely under the 1662 charter along with some unwritten provisions widely recognized by the state’s judges. Moreover, the structure of elections in the state also ensured continuity via incumbents or their hand-picked successors. With such stability in place, there was little need to draft a Revolutionary state constitution beyond removing the language of royal control.   

As such, this report describes the existing system of courts, elections, local assemblies, divorce and probate courts, and other structures of government.

Also reports news from other New England cities including Boston, New London, and Hartford; war news, desertion notices, advertisements, and an article on page three relating an exchange between George Washington and one Colonel Patterson, a representative of General Howe, who demanded the surrender of American troops at New York City.

Sources

Wesley W. Horton, “Connecticut: The Unconstitution State,” Connecticut Constitutional History, 1776-1988, Connecticut State Library. http://www.cslib.org/cts4ch.htm