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Hoker befor he went away preached against yt as one reports who hard him.”
It seems clear, therefore, that no inconsiderable cause of this desire for removal to Connecticut, so strongly manifested by Hooker and his associates at the General Court in the autumn of 1634, was due to a real, if little openly proclaimed, want of sympathy with the intensity of the theocratic conceptions then governing the leaders of Massachusetts; and certainly, on the part of Hooker, as we shall have occasion to see, to a stronger and clearer conviction of democracy as the essential basis of government than they possessed.
The discussion at the General Court in September, 1634, resulted, however, in a temporary delay. The people of Newtown accepted an enlargement of their territories ; but it was only a palliative, and by September of the following year enough settlers were in Connecticut to justify the Massachusetts General Court, held that month, in appointing a temporary constable for the preservation of good order among them. In the late spring of 1636 the main body of settlers, led by Hooker, Stone, and Haynes, made their way through the forest; and the early summer saw Hooker and his parishioners building their new homes at the spot which was soon to bear the name of Hartford.
It was not merely with the erection of new dwellings and the tillage of new fields that these settlers were speedily occupied. Though a commission was appointed by Massachusetts with temporary authority for their government, it was speedily discovered that they were without the bounds of the Massachusetts patent; and, therefore, without the fundamental constitution which that charter gave to the colony from which they had come forth. They were obliged to erect political institutions for themselves; and, though much of the technical skill shown in this constructive work may well be owing to the legal training of Roger Ludlow and the executive experience of John Haynes, the animating spirit of the new constitution was undoubtedly the democratic spirit of Hooker. A chance auditor of an address given by him at a Thursday lecture on May 31, 1638, before the General Court of the little colony, recorded in shorthand the declaration of principles which Hooker then set forth, and which, had it not been for the long-undeciphered notes of this hearer, would have remained unknown to us. Taking as his text the thirteenth verse of the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Hooker drew the following doctrines :
“1. The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people, by God's own allowance. II.
The privilege of election, which belongs to the people, therefore must not be exercised according to their humours, but according to the blessed will and law of God. III. They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place unto which they call them.”
And he gives as the first of the “reasons ” for these “doctrines "that “the foundation of authority is laid, in the free consent of the people.”
Here, then, we have the declaration of Hooker's principles, which was to be embodied in January, 1639, in the fundamental laws or first constitution of Connecticut,- a basal compact which clearer and more fully than any political agreement heretofore formulated recognized the foundation of authority as existent in the people, and the officers of government as responsible to them. It was the first adequate and distinct enunciation of what might be called the fundamental political principle after which Puritanism had been groping through two generations of struggle on English soil, and which Puritanism as a whole was far from having attained,— the principle that a self-governing democracy is the proper basis of the State. Of the far-sighted soundness of Hooker's clear-visioned utterance and of the deep-seated and thorough-going character of his own democracy there can be no question. If it was for no other utterance than this, he deserves high place among the founders of New England.
Though Hooker was thus a moulding force in shaping the political foundations of Connecticut, his interests were, primarily, pastoral and religious rather than political. Indeed, we may truly say that the civil principles which seemed so clear to his keen-sighted vision were but the application to governmental affairs of truths which appeared to him formative in ecclesiastical organization. To quote the title given to this lecture, his conception of the foundation of government in the free consent of the people was but the transference to the realm of politics of his “Principle of Congregational Independency,” or the self-governing power of a local Congregational church. Hooker's writings are, with one exception, sermons and collections of sermons, addressed, primarily, to the initiation and upbuilding of the Christian life, as his intense and emotional Puritanism understood that life to be. But that exception is a conspicuous one, and shows Hooker to have been no less eminent as an expounder of the principles of ecclesiastical government, as New England generally understood those principles, than as a pioneer in the
exposition of political truths which won far less general following in his day. The volume in which Hooker set forth what he deemed the fundamental basis of the Church is that entitled “A Survey of the Summe of Church-Discipline,” and passed through many vicissitudes before it was finally published.
The outbreak of the great Civil War in England in 1642 was followed by the speedy abolition of Episcopacy by Parliament and the summons of the assembly of divines to meet at Westminster in July, 1643, to advise in the reorganization of the government of the English Church and the new formulation of its doctrine. Hooker, Cotton, and Davenport were invited by men of influence in the Parliamentary party, such as the Earl of Warwick who had known and befriended Hooker at Chelmsford, Lord Say and Sele, and Oliver Cromwell, to allow these friends to present their names for summons by Parliament to membership in that great assembly. Cotton and Davenport had inclined to go; but Hooker“ liked not the business,” and in a phrase which sounds characteristic of him, though recorded by Winthrop, “nor thought it any sufficient call for them to go three thousand miles to agree with three men.
He clearly discerned the overwhelmingly Presbyterian