[Footnote t: "New Haven Antiquities," p. 104. See also "Hutchinson's History," for several causes equally extraordinary.]
[Footnote u: Code of 1650, pp. 50, 57.]
[Footnote *: This was not peculiar to Connecticut. See, for instance, the law which, on September 13, 1644, banished the Anabaptists from the State of Massachusetts. ("Historical Collection of State Papers," vol. i. p. 538.) See also the law against the Quakers, passed on October 14, 1656: "Whereas," says the preamble, "an accursed race of heretics called Quakers has sprung up," etc. The clauses of the statute inflict a heavy fine on all captains of ships who should import Quakers into the country. The Quakers who may be found there shall be whipped and imprisoned with hard labor. Those members of the sect who should defend their opinions shall be first fined, then imprisoned, and finally driven out of the province. - "Historical Collection of State Papers," vol. i. p. 630.]
[Footnote x: By the penal law of Massachusetts, any Catholic priest who should set foot in the colony after having been once driven out of it was liable to capital punishment.]
[Footnote y: Code of 1650, p. 96.]
[Footnote z: "New England's Memorial," p. 316. See Appendix, E.]
These errors are no doubt discreditable to human reason; they attest the inferiority of our nature, which is incapable of laying firm hold upon what is true and just, and is often reduced to the alternative of two excesses. In strict connection with this penal legislation, which bears such striking marks of a narrow sectarian spirit, and of those religious passions which had been warmed by persecution and were still fermenting among the people, a body of political laws is to be found, which, though written two hundred years ago, is still ahead of the liberties of our age. The general principles which are the groundwork of modern constitutions - principles which were imperfectly known in Europe, and not completely triumphant even in Great Britain, in the seventeenth century - were all recognized and determined by the laws of New England: the intervention of the people in public affairs, the free voting of taxes, the responsibility of authorities, personal liberty, and trial by jury, were all positively established without discussion. From these fruitful principles consequences have been derived and applications have been made such as no nation in Europe has yet ventured to attempt.
In Connecticut the electoral body consisted, from its origin, of the whole number of citizens; and this is readily to be understood, *a when we recollect that this people enjoyed an almost perfect equality of fortune, and a still greater uniformity of opinions. *b In Connecticut, at this period, all the executive functionaries were elected, including the Governor of the State. *c The citizens above the age of sixteen were obliged to bear arms; they formed a national militia, which appointed its own officers, and was to hold itself at all times in readiness to march for the defence of the country. *d