Categories: Constitution of 1818, CT Live, CTH Insider
Grants to Explore the Constitution of 1818 Now Available
Connecticut Humanities is pleased to offer small grants for projects that examine the Connecticut Constitution of 1818 and contextualize its lasting impact on our state. Awards may not exceed $3,000. Applications are due to CTH by 11:59 PM on December 1, 2017, January 5, 2018, and February 2, 2018.
What types of projects will be funded?
Lectures (series or stand-alone), panel discussions, digital media projects, historical performances, exhibits, book reading programs, mock debates, or other ideas that you present to CTH.
Background on the Constitution of 1818
Prior to 1818
- Unlike other states, after the American Revolution Connecticut did not form a new state constitution. Instead, they chose to rely on the Charter of 1662 as the framework for government.
- Connecticut’s government was based on membership in and leadership by the Congregational Church (thanks to the premise that mankind as a whole was evil and corrupt and unfit for political participation)
- To participate in government, one had to, among other things, own property, be approved by the town’s freemen and selectmen, and be a member of the Congregational Church
- Religion and law were intertwined – for example, all law books in Connecticut began: “There is no Power but of God,” and not adhering to accepted religious practices (e.g. attending church on Sundays, fasting, etc.) met with legal consequences
- CT Blue Laws were a way CT leaders sought to legislate sin out of existence and thus avoid the wrath of God
- Everyone, regardless of religious preferences, was taxed to support the Congregational Church.
Change Comes in 1818
- In 1818, enough dissenters from the Congregational Church organized to unseat the Federalist Party in Connecticut (the traditional party of the Congregationalists). Consequently, the newly empowered state Republicans called for a constitutional convention to overhaul the state’s government along more liberal lines. The Republican aim was disestablishment of the Congregational Church.
- Among other things, the 1818 constitution:
- Called for a separation of church and state and equality before the law of all Christian denominations
- No longer required property ownership to vote
- Gave greater independence to the judicial branch – their decisions could no longer be appealed to the executive branch
- Gave each existing town two Representatives in the House. This tended to provide over-representation for rural farmers and under-representation to growing industrial areas, which the state legislature later addressed with the constitution of 1965.
Some ideas/themes from which to approach the topic may include (but are not limited to):
- Religious freedom
- Voting rights
- Political divisions
- Political media coverage
- Connecticut’s agricultural crisis
- The state’s changing population demographics
- How governments organize
- Checks and balances in a system of government
- How people modify governments that aren’t working for them
For more information
For more information and program guidelines visit http://cthumanities.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/1818-Commemoration-Grant-Guidelines-11.2.17-3.pdftps://cthumanities.org/grants/grant-documents/1818-grants/