Connecticut and its Constitutions



Special issue: 200th Anniversary of the Constitution of 1818

Members of the Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society have selected and commented on notable sections of the state constitution adopted in 1818. Please note that this is the text as adopted in 1818. To find the numerous amendments adopted after 1818 and up until the constitutional convention of 1965, visit the Secretary of the State’s website HERE.

Stories in the issue:

  • State Historian Walt Woodward: “The Revolution of 1818” The perfect storm that begot a constitution.
  • Secretary of State Denise Merrill: “The Unfinished Road to Early Voting” Why, oh, why can’t we have early voting in Connecticut? (at least not yet)
  • “The People’s Governor” by Litchfield Historical Society’s Linda Hocking How the country’s second secretary of the treasury bridged the divide between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans. 
  • “What We Got in the Constitution of 1818” by judges Jon Blue and Henry Cohn
  • “Rights for All?” by Ramin Ganeshram and Elizabeth Normen. Why were African American and Native American men disenfranchised in the Constitution of 1818?
  • “The Greater Hartford League of Women Voters” by Elizabeth Rose
  • “Site Lines: Where the Constitution Began–The Old State House” by Jacob Orcutt

Toleration Party Ticket, 1816-1817. Connecticut Historical Society

6-Part Podcast

These lectures about the constitution were originally given and recorded at Connecticut’s Old State House (episode numbers subject to change). For more episodes of Grating the Nutmeg, visit or For information about attending the Fall 2018 talks live visit

Available Now:

Episode 45 (Part 1)—Trouble in the Land of Steady Habits
The social and environmental events that led to the Constitution of 1818. State Historian Walter Woodward. February 2018

Episode 55 (Part 2)—The Collapse of Connecticut Federalists’ Dominance
The political upheaval that led to the Constitution of 1818. Dr. Richard Buel Jr., Professor Emeritus, Wesleyan University. April 2018

Episode 56 (Part 3)—The Debates of the Constitution of 1818
Attorney Wesley Horton, president of the Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society. April 2018

Coming Later This Fall—or attend in person on the dates noted:

Episode 59(Part 4)—A Milestone in Church-State Relations in Connecticut?
Robert J. Imholt, Professor Emeritus, Albertus Magnus College. September 18, 2018

Episode 60 (Part 5)—How White or Black Must the Voter Be: The Parameters of Suffrage and the Constitution of 1818
Independent historian Dr. Peter Hinks and retired archivist Dr. Bruce Stark. October 16, 2018

Episode 63 (Part 6)—Why the Constitution of 1818 Matters today
Judge Henry Cohn and Judge Jon Blue. November 13, 2018


On behalf of Civics First, South Windsor High School educators Erin Simcik and Gregory Frank are developing lesson plans about the Constitution of 1818 for grades three, eight, and high school. The curriculum will be available free online at The project will provide a valuable teaching toolin conjunction with Connecticut Explored’s annotated constitution poster. Multiple lessons created in an inquiry format will enable students to engage with a variety of age-appropriate primary and secondary resources to build better understanding of democracy and governance.

Fall 2018 Lecture Series & Conference

Association for the Study of Connecticut History, Fall Conference about the Constitution of 1818: November date to be announced.

Avon Free Public Library: September 10, October 2, October 22, November 7.

Connecticut Historical Society and UConn School of Law: September 26, October 10, October 25.

Connecticut’s Old State House: September 18, October 16, November 13.

More About Connecticut’s Government

“Are we the Constitution State?” by Walter Woodward, State Historian, Spring 2005. Woodward argues that the Fundamental Orders were not the first written constitution–and perhaps not a constitution at all.

The Land of Steady Constitutional Habits,” by Wesley Horton, Fall 2012. Horton discusses all of the state’s constitutional documents

The Standing Order: Connecticut’s Ruling Aristocracy,” by David Corrigan, Fall 2012. Corrigan describes the small group of families that initially ruled Connecticut.

The Unsteady Meaning of ‘The Land of Steady Habits,’” By Walter Woodward, Fall 2012. Just where did our reputation as “the Land of Steady Habits” come from?

The ‘Notorious’ Hartford Convention,” by Dr. Matthew Warshauer, Summer 2012. What does the War of 1812 have to do with the Constitution of 1818? A lot.

Reflections on the 1965 Constitutional Convention,” by Lawrence J. DeNardis, Summer 2014

“‘No Taxation Without Representation’: Black Voting in Connecticut,” by Katherine Harris, Spring 2016

Gaining Religious Equality: Jews Petition in 1843” by Mary Donohue, Spring 2016. What did it take for Jews to get equal rights in Connecticut?

West of Eden: Ohio Land Speculation Benefits Connecticut Public Schools,” by Lary Bloom, Summer 2007

Connecticut in the War of 1812

Also find more suggested resources and articles at

The 200th Anniversary of the Constitution of 1818 projects were supported by
CT Humanities 






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