Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gerber on Law and Religion in Colonial Connecticut

Scott D. Gerber, Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law has posted Law and Religion in Colonial Connecticut, which is forthcoming in the American Journal of Legal History 55 (April 21015); 205:
Montesquieu famously concluded in The Spirit of the Laws that each form of government has an animating principle — a set of “human passions that set it in motion” — and that each form can be corrupted if its animating principle is undermined. For the colony of Connecticut the animating principle was Puritan Congregationalism.

Part I of my paper chronicles how central Puritan Congregationalism was in the organic law, statutory law, and common law of the so-called River Colony at which Connecticut was originally planted. Part II explores the law of the New Haven Colony, a separate community settled in 1638 that joined with the River Colony in 1665 to create a unified Connecticut Colony. Part III examines the law of the Connecticut Colony and endeavors to discern when Connecticut’s laws began to deviate from Puritan Congregationalism. Part IV concludes the paper by assessing the events that led to the official demise in the Connecticut Constitution of 1818 of Puritan Congregationalism as the animating principle of Connecticut.