Connecticut: Notes - Archontology

Connecticut: Notes

Terms of Office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor

The principal sources for determining the terms of office of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut are the proceedings of the May sessions of the General Court or Assembly and the journals of two Houses sitting in plenary sessions. The election date ("Second Thursday in May") was prescribed by the Charter of 1662 which continued in effect until 1818.

The Assembly journals dating back to the 17th century describe in details the process of counting votes and oath-taking ceremony, but a peculiar method of record keeping leaves no clues for the verification of dates of these key events. In their daily work, the secretaries of the legislature of Connecticut did not follow the convenient tradition of inserting the dates before each daily session. Although it was a common practice in many other American states, the Connecticut General Court records bear only the initial date of the session, normally as a part of the following formula "At a General Assembly of the Governor and company of His Majesty's English Colony of Connecticut, in New-England, in America, holden at Hartford in said colony, on the second Thursday of May…"

The events following the opening of the session were recorded as continous text without daily entries. This tradition also affects the dating of laws passed before 1818. As usual, the laws were dated by the May or October session without any reference to the actual date of passing by either house.

As noted in the introduction, the counting of votes cast in the General Election for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in Connecticut occurred on the date prescribed by the Charter. However, any time when the candidates failed to attain a popular majority, the election devolved on the houses of the General Assembly, voting in separate sessions. In such cases, the counting of popular votes, proclamation of results and balloting in the houses delayed the election and oath-taking by a day or two. Such differences are mentioned in the proceedings of the General Court, although with no reference to the actual dates. In a few cases, the editors of the The Public Records of the Colony/State of Connecticut supplemented additional information from the unpublished collections of the House journals preserved in the state archives.

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