This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for July 5, 2017: Graveyard Shift At Ace’s Truck Stop

July 5, 2017: birthday: Thomas Hooker

The Puritan colonial leader and founder of Connecticut, Thomas Hooker, was born today in 1586.

Hooker emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony to serve as a preacher in the Puritan faith. Upon arrival, however, he found himself in a disagreement with the colony’s pastor and its rules for voting. Only formal church “members” could vote, though mere attendance or baptism did not make you a member. Members were required to complete lengthy interviews questioning their devotion to their faith, and so actually very few settlers were members eligible to vote in society.

Hooker believed strongly in the suffrage rights of all church attendees and Puritans especially. He left the Massachusetts colony to form his own colony in what is now Connecticut. In his opening sermon in the new colony, he argued that “the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.”

Hooker initiated history’s first government-forming constitution in the form of the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.” This would set the stage for the American Constitution many years later.

Though Hooker died in his 60s of illness, he had many influential descendants, such as 20th-century banking tycoon J.P. Morgan.