Exploration and Settlement of Connecticut

Exploration and Settlement of Connecticut


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The first European settlers in the Connecticut area were the Dutch. Settlement did not occur until 1633, when a small fort was erected at the site of Hartford, then called New Hope.In that year, a small party from Plymouth also entered the Connecticut River. The Dutch asserted their claim to the lands, but the Massachusetts group, instead of retreating down river, sailed farther north and established a trading post at Windsor.The Dutch concentrated their main settlement efforts on Manhattan Island and never made a serious effort to colonize Connecticut.The Connecticut ColonyThe settlements that developed along the Connecticut River in the 1630s were the result of a search for fertile farmland more than a search for religious freedom.Thomas Hooker, a prominent minister in Newtown (Cambridge), Massachusetts, harbored clear democratic leanings, but was not an outspoken dissident. A settlement was established at Hartford, followed later by villages at Wethersfield and Windsor, where a small Pilgrim community already existed.At this time, another group of Puritans set up a trading post at the mouth of the Connecticut. Fort Saybrook was the fruit of the labors of John Winthrop Jr., son of the Massachusetts governor.In 1639, representatives from Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor met to establish a government for the growing settlements. The settlers emulated many of the practices used in Massachusetts, but placed additional limitations on the governor’s powers and instituted more liberal voting standards.The Connecticut Colony grew over the years and by the middle of the 17th century incorporated Fairfield, Farmington, Middletown, New London, Norwalk, Saybrook and Stratford.The New Haven ColonyThe Rev. In 1638, they founded a settlement at New Haven on Long Island Sound, a community intended to be both a trading post and a Bible Commonwealth. Puritanism's grip was strong in New Haven and the vote was restricted to church members, which rendered it considerably less democratic than the Connecticut colony. Other settlements along the Sound soon fell into the New Haven orbit, including Branford, Guilford, Milford, Stamford and Southold.Security was a major concern of the four major New England colonies — Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, all of whom refused to deal with independent-minded Rhode Island. In 1637, Connecticut was engulfed in the Pequot War, which resulted in that tribe's virtual extermination.The Connecticut Colony and New Haven existed as separate political entities until 1662, when a charter was granted to the Connecticut Colony. Initially, New Haven was not pleased about its absorption by a larger neighbor, but they were formally merged in 1665.


See Indian Wars Time Table.


Colony Of Connecticut

Robert, Earl of Warwick, was the first proprietary of the territory, under a grant in 1630 from the Plymouth Council. It was next held by Lords Say and Seal, and Lord Brooke, and others, to whom the Earl transferred it to 1631. The grant included that part of New England which extends from the Narragansett river, one hundred and twenty miles on a straight line southwest to the coast, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. This is the original patent of Connecticut.

During this latter year, Mr. Winslow, Governor of Plymouth, at the instance of Wahquimacut, a sachem near the Connecticut, visited the river, and the fertile valley through which it passes, and, after his return, decided to take measures to commence a settlement on its banks.

Meanwhile, the Dutch at New York, who had become acquainted with the river about the same time, intending to anticipate the people of Plymouth, built a fort at Hartford in 1633, and placed two cannon there. In October that year, William Holmes, who commanded the Plymouth Expedition, proceeded in a vessel for Connecticut, bearing a commission from the Governor of Plymouth, to build a fort for themselves. On reaching the Dutch fort, Holmes was forbidden to proceed, at the hazard of being blown to pieces but, being a man of spirit, he coolly informed the garrison that he had a commission from the Governor of Plymouth to go up the river, and that he should go. They poured out their threats, but he proceeded, and landing on the west side of the river, erected his house below the mouth of a tributary river, at Windsor. The house was erected with the utmost dispatch, and fortified with palisades. The Dutch, considering Holmes and his men intruders, sent, the next year, a band of seventy men to drive them from the country but finding them strongly posted, they did not proceed.

In the autumn of 1635, a company, consisting of sixty men, women and children, from the settlements of Newtown and Watertown, in Massachusetts, commenced their journey through the wilderness to the Connecticut River. On their arrival, they settled at Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford. They commenced their journey on October 25th but, due to the wilderness spread before them being filled with swamps, rivers, hills, and mountains, they took a great deal of time passing the rivers, and in getting their cattle over them, that, after all their exertions, winter came upon them before they were completely prepared.

By November 25th, the Connecticut River was frozen over, the snow was deep, and the season so tempestuous, that a considerable number of the cattle driven from Massachusetts could not be brought across the river, and a considerable number perished. The loss of the Windsor settlers, in cattle, was estimated at almost two hundred pounds sterling in value. The sufferings of the people for want of food during the winter, were often severe. After all the help they were able to obtain from hunting and the Indians, they were forced to subsist on only acorns, malt, and grains.

During the same month in which the emigrants commenced their journey to Connecticut, John Winthrop, son of the Governor of Massachusetts, arrived at Boston with a commission as Governor of Connecticut, under Lords Say and Seal, and Lord Brook, the proprietors, and with authority to erect a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Accordingly, soon after his arrival, he dispatched a bark of thirty tons, with twenty men, to take possession of the Connecticut River, and to build a fort at its mouth. This was accordingly erected, and called Saybrook Fort, as the settlement was called Saybrook Colony, and which continued independent until 1644. A few days after their arrival, a Dutch vessel from New Netherlands (New York) appeared, to take possession of the river but, as the English had already mounted two cannon, their landing was prevented.

The next June, 1636, the Reverend Messrs. Hooker and Stone, with a number of settlers from Dorchester and Watertown, moved to Connecticut. With no guide but a compass, they made their way one hundred miles, over mountains and through swamps and rivers. Their journey, which was on foot, lasted a fortnight, during which they lived upon the milk of their cows. They drove one hundred and sixty cattle. This party chiefly settled at Hartford. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone became the pastors of the church in that place, and were both eminent men and ministers.

The year 1637 is remarkable in the history of Connecticut, for a war with the Pequots, a tribe of Indians, whose principal settlement was in the present town of Groton. Prior to this time, the Pequots had frequently annoyed the infant colony, and in several instances had killed some of its inhabitants. In March of this year, the commander of Saybrook Fort, with twelve men, was attacked by them, and three of his party killed. In April, another portion of this tribe assaulted the people of Wethersfield, as they were going to labor in their fields, and killed six men and three women. Two girls were taken captive by them, and twenty cows were killed. In this perilous state of the colony, a court was summoned at Hartford, on May 11th. After mature deliberation, it was determined that war should be commenced against the Pequots. Ninety men, nearly half the able men of the colony, were ordered to be raised forty-two from Hartford, thirty from Windsor, and eighteen from Wethersfield.

With these troops, together with seventy River and Mohegan Indians, Captain John Mason, to whom the command of the expedition was given, sailed down the Connecticut River to Saybrook. Here a plan of operations was formed, and agreeably to which, on June 5th, about the dawn of day, Captain Mason surprised one of the principal forts of the enemy, in a place called Mystic, and now the present town of Stonington. On their near approach to the fort, a dog barked, and an Indian, now discovering them, cried out, 'Oh wanux! Oh wanux!,' or, Englishmen! Englishmen!

The troops instantly pressed forward and fired. The destruction of the enemy soon became terrible but they rallied at length, and made a brave resistance. After a severe and protracted conflict, Captain Mason and his troops being nearly exhausted, and victory still doubtful, he cried out to his men, 'We must burn them!' At the same instant, seizing a firebrand, he applied it to a wigwam. The flames spread rapidly on every side and as the sun rose upon the scene, it showed the work of destruction to be complete. Seventy wigwams were in ruins, and between five and six hundred Indians lay bleeding on the ground, or smoldering in the ashes. [This event later became known as the Mystic Indian Massacre.]

But, though the victory was complete, the troops were now in great distress. Besides two killed, sixteen of their number were wounded. Their surgeon, medicines and provisions, were upon some vessels, on their way to Pequot harbor, now New London. While consulting what should be done in this emergency, how great was their joy to discern their vessels were sailing directly towards the harbor, under a prosperous wind! And soon after, a detachment of nearly two hundred men from Massachusetts and Plymouth, arrived to assist in prosecuting the war.

Sassacus, the great sachem of the Pequots, and his warriors, were so appalled at the destruction of their fort, that they fled towards the Hudson River. The troops pursued them as far as a great swamp in Fairfield, where another action took place, in which the Indians were entirely vanquished. This was followed by a treaty with the remaining Pequots, about two hundred in number, agreeably to which they were divided among the Narragansetts and Mohegans. Thus terminated a conflict, which, for a time, was eminently distressing to the colonies. This event of peace was celebrated, throughout New England, by a day of thanksgiving and praise.

During the expedition against the Pequots, the English became acquainted with Quinipiac, or New Haven and the next year, in 1638, the settlement of that town was commenced. This, and the adjoining towns, soon after settled, were distinguished by the name of Colony of New Haven.

Among the founders of this colony, which was the fourth in New England, was Mr. John Davenport, for some time a distinguished minister in London. To avoid the indignation of the persecuting Archbishop Laud, he fled, in 1633, to Holland. Hearing, while in exile, of the prosperity of the New England settlements, he planned a removal to America. On his return to England, Mr. Theophilus Eaton, an eminent merchant in London, with Mr. Hopkins, afterwards Governor of Connecticut, and several others, determined to accompany him. They arrived in Boston in June, 1637.

Though the most advantageous offer were made by the government of Massachusetts, to choose any place within their jurisdiction, they preferred a place without the limits of the existing colonies. Accordingly, they fixed upon New Haven as the place of their: future residence and on the 28th of April they kept their first Sabbath in the place, under, a large oak tree, where Mr. Davenport preached to them.

The following year, on January 24th 1639, the three towns on the Connecticut River, Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, finding themselves outside the limits of the Massachusetts patent, assembled their freemen at Hartford, and formed themselves into a distinct commonwealth, and adopted a constitution. This constitution, which has been much admired, and which,. for more than a century and a half, underwent little alteration, ordained that there should annually be two general assemblies one in April, and the other in September. In April, the officers of government were to be elected by the freemen, and to consist of a governor, deputy-governor, and five or six assistants. The towns were to send deputies to the general assemblies. Under this constitution, the first governor was John Haynes, and Roger Ludlow the first deputy-governor.

The example of the colony of Connecticut, in forming a constitution, was followed, the next June, by the Colony of New Haven. The planters assembled in a large barn. Among other rules, it was established that none but church members should vote, or be elected to office that all the freemen of the colony should annually assemble and elect its officers and that the word of God should be the only rule for ordering the affairs of the commonwealth.

In October following, the government was organized, when Mr. Eaton was chosen governor. To this office he was annually elected until his death in 1657. No other of the New England colonies was so much distinguished for good order and tranquility as the colony of New Haven. Her principal men were eminent for their wisdom and integrity, and directed the affairs of the colony with so much prudence, that she was seldom disturbed by divisions within, or by aggressions from the Indians from without. Having been bred to mercantile employments, the first settlers belonging to this colony were inclined to engage in commercial pursuits but in these they sustained several severe losses, and, among those, a new ship of one hundred and fifty tons was lost at sea in 1647, and which was freighted with a valuable cargo, and with seamen and passengers from many of the best families in the colony aboard. This loss discouraged, for a time, their commercial pursuits, and engaged their attention more particularly in the employments of agriculture.

The Dutch at New Netherlands early proved themselves troublesome neighbors to the Connecticut Colonies. Besides claiming the soil as far east as the Connecticut River, they plundered the property of settlers adjoining their territory, instigated the Indians to hostilities, supplied them with arms, and otherwise disturbed their pence. These were among the causes which induced these colonies to Unite with the other New England colonies in the memorable confederacyof 1643.

In 1644, the little colony of Saybrook, which until now had been independent, was united with Connecticut she having purchased the soil and jurisdiction of George Fenwick, one of the proprietors, for about two thousand pounds.

In 1650, Governor Stuyvesant concluded a treaty of amity and partition, at Hartford, between the Dutch and English. By this treaty the former relinquished all claim to the territory, except the land which they then occupied. A divisional line was also established, and pledges exchanged to abide in peace.

The harmony of the two people, however, was not of long duration. A war broke out in 1652 between England and Holland, taking advantage of which, and notwithstanding his pledge, Stuyvesant, it was understood, was plotting to overthrow the English. Ninigret, the famous sachem of. the Narragansetts, and the wily and implacable enemy of the colonies, spent the winter of 1652-3 in New York with the Dutch governor. The colonies became alarmed.

A meeting of the commissioners was convened, and a majority decided upon war against the Dutch but, Massachusetts, refusing to furnish her quota, had prevented hostilities. Connecticut and New Haven, indignant at the course pursued by Massachusetts, applied to Cromwell for aid, then Protector of England, and, in 1654, four or five ships were dispatched to reduce the Dutch. Peace, however, was concluded between Holland and England before the fleet arrived, During this year the Legislature of Connecticut sequestered the Dutch houses, land, and property of all kinds, at Hartford, at which time the latter prosecuted no further claims in New England.

Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, after which, Connecticut, expressing her loyalty, applied for a charter. It was in the king's heart to deny her request but, providentially, as it were, her agent, Governor Winthrop, went about to urge her petition, and presented to the Monarch a ring which had belonged to Charles I, and by him had been given to his grandfather. This act of courtesy so won the heart of the king, that he not only gave a liberal charter to the colony, but confirmed the very constitution which the people had adopted. The date of this charter was May 30th, I662. Under this the people of Connecticut lived and flourished until the adoption of the present constitution in 1818, for a period of one hundred and fifty-six years.

This charter included New Haven, and most of the territory of Rhode Island. But the former utterly refused to be united, and this opposition persisted until 1665, when a reluctant consent was obtained, and the two were made one. In 1663, Charles conferred a charter on Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which, however, as it included a portion of territory already granted to Connecticut, laid the foundation for a controversy between the two colonies, which lasted nearly sixty years.

From the calamities of King Philip's War, in 1675, involving the New England Colonies, Connecticut was comparatively exempted yet, she promptly responded to demands made upon her for aid in that dark period of New England history. Her captains were brave, and her soldiers unyielding, in the terrible swamp-fight with the Narragansetts, on December 29th 1675. Connecticut's troops suffered more than those of either Massachusetts or Plymouth, and were compelled to return home.

On December 30th 1686, Sir Edmund Andros, 'glittering in scarlet and lace,' landed at Boston, as Governor of all New England. In the autumn of 1687, Andros, attended by some of his council, and a guard of sixty troops, went to Hartford, and entering the House of Assembly, then in session, demanded the charter of Connecticut, and declared the colonial government be dissolved. Reluctant to surrender the charter, the assembly protracted its debates until evening, when the charter was brought in and laid on the table. Upon a pre-concerted signal, the lights were at once extinguished, and a Captain Wadsworth, seized the charter, and hastened it away, under cover of night, and secreted it in the hollow of an oak. [This tree eventually became known as the Charter Oak, and a bridge across the Connecticut River is named for it at Hartford.] The candles, which bad been extinguished, were soon re-lighted, without disorder but the charter had disappeared. Sir Edmund Andros, however, assumed the government, which was administered in his name, until the dethronement of James II, in 1689, and the elevation of the Prince of Orange, as William III.

On this event, Connecticut, spurning the government which Andros had appointed, and 'which,' an 1800s historian says, 'they had always feared it was a sin to obey,' The secreted charter was taken from its hiding place, May 19th, 'discolored, but not effaced.' The assembly was convened, and the records of the colony were once more opened.

Not long after, another encroachment upon the rights of the colony was attempted and nobly resisted. In 1692, Colonel Fletcher was appointed Governor of New York, with a commission to take command of the militia of Connecticut. As this was a power which the charter had reserved to the colony, the demand of the colonel was denied. In the autumn of 1693, Fletcher went to Hartford, intending to enforce his commission. The legislature was in session. The demand was repeated, and refused. The Hartford companies were then ordered to assemble, before which Fletcher directed his commission to be read.

But presently nothing could be heard but the noise of the drums, which Captain Wadsworth, the senior officer of the companies, commanded to be beaten. 'Silence!' exclaimed Fletcher, and Wadsworth's aid exclaimed, 'Drum, drum, I say!' Fletcher repeated, 'Silence!' and Wadsworth cried, 'Drum, drum!' Wadsworth turned to Fletcher, upon whom his eyes glared with fire and indignation, adding, 'Sir, if I am interrupted again, I will make the sun shine through you in a moment!' This was enough. The crest of the haughty colonel instantly fell, and soon after he departed for New York. On a representation of the affair to the king, he decided that the command of the militia, in time of peace, should be with the governor but, in case of war, a determinate number should be placed under the orders of Fletcher.

Source: A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857


Early History of Native Americans in Connecticut

The names of the Connecticut tribes included the Narragansett, Mohegans, Wampanoag, Mohawk, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck, Abenaki and Pequot.

Before the arrival of European settlers in the 1500s and 1600s, Connecticut was home to a number of indigenous peoples.

Thousands of Native Americans lived in what is now the state of Connecticut before European settlers came to the area. They were all part of the Algonkian Indian family. The Pequot tribe was the most powerful. These Indians lived near the Thames River to the south. The Mohicans, a branch of the Pequot, lived near present-day Norwich.

These Native Americans gave the state its name. Connecticut comes from an Indian word "Quinatucquet," which means "Beside the Long Tidal River."

The Dutch navigator, Adriaen Block, was the first European of record to explore the area, sailing up the Connecticut River in 1614, and though the Dutch established a trading post, it was the British who fully colonized the area In 1633, Dutch colonists built a fort and trading post near present-day Hartford, but soon lost control to English Puritans migrating south from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Pequot were hostile to colonial settlement and conducted frequent, violent raids. In May 1637 the English settlers, led mainly by Captain John Mason and assisted by Mohegan and Narragansett warriors, attacked Pequot settlements on the Mystic River, sparking the Pequot War. The war pushed the main body of the Pequot out of Connecticut and destroyed the resistance of those remaining, many of whom were enslaved by the Mohegans or English.


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Governor John Haynes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony led 100 people to Hartford in 1636. He and Puritan minister Thomas Hooker are often considered the founders of the Connecticut colony. Hooker delivered a sermon to his congregation on May 31, 1638, on the principles of government, and it influenced those who wrote the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut later that year. The Fundamental Orders may have been drafted by Roger Ludlow of Windsor, the only trained lawyer living in Connecticut in the 1630s they were transcribed into the official record by secretary Thomas Welles. The Revolution John Davenport and merchant Theophilus Eaton led the founders of the New Haven Colony, which was absorbed into Connecticut Colony in the 1660s.

In the colony's early years, the governor could not serve consecutive terms, so the governorship rotated for 20 years between John Haynes and Edward Hopkins, both of whom were from Hartford. George Wyllys, Thomas Welles, and John Webster, also Hartford men, sat in the governor's chair for brief periods in the 1640s and 1650s.

John Winthrop the Younger of New London was the son of the founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and he played an important role in consolidating separate settlements into a single colony on the Connecticut River. He also served as Governor of Connecticut from 1659 to 1675, and he was instrumental in obtaining the colony's 1662 charter which incorporated New Haven into Connecticut. His son Fitz-John Winthrop also governed the colony for 10 years starting in 1698.

Major John Mason was the military leader of the early colony. He was the commander in the Pequot War, a magistrate, and the founder of Windsor, Saybrook, and Norwich. He was also Deputy Governor under Winthrop. Roger Ludlow was an Oxford-educated lawyer and former Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He petitioned the General Court for rights to settle the area, and he led the March Commission in settling disputes over land rights. He is credited as drafting the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1650) in collaboration with Hooker, Winthrop, and others. He was also the first Deputy Governor of Connecticut.

William Leete of Guilford served as governor of New Haven Colony before its merger into Connecticut, and he also served as governor of Connecticut following Winthrop's death in 1675. He is the only man to serve as governor of both New Haven and Connecticut. Robert Treat of Milford served as governor of the colony, both before and after its inclusion in the Dominion of New England under Sir Edmund Andros. His father Richard Treat was one of the original patentees of the colony. Roger Wolcott was a weaver, statesman, and politician from Windsor, and he served as governor from 1751 to 1754. Oliver Wolcott was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and also of the Articles of Confederation, as a representative of Connecticut and the nineteenth governor. He was a major general for the Connecticut Militia in the Revolutionary War serving under George Washington.

The original colonies along the Connecticut River and in New Haven were established by separatist Puritans who were connected with the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies. They held Calvinist religious beliefs similar to the English Puritans, but they maintained that their congregations needed to be separated from the English state church. They had immigrated to New England during the Great Migration. In the middle of the 17th century, the government restricted voting rights with a property qualification and a church membership requirement. [1] Congregationalism was the established church in the colony by the time of the American Revolutionary War. [2]

The economy began with subsistence farming in the 17th century and developed with greater diversity and an increased focus on production for distant markets, especially the British colonies in the Caribbean. The American Revolution cut off imports from Britain and stimulated a manufacturing sector that made heavy use of the entrepreneurship and mechanical skills of the people. In the second half of the 18th century, difficulties arose from the shortage of good farmland, periodic money problems, and downward price pressures in the export market. In agriculture, there was a shift from grain to animal products. [6] The colonial government attempted to promote various commodities as export items from time to time, such as hemp, potash, and lumber, in order to bolster its economy and improve its balance of trade with Great Britain. [7]

Connecticut's domestic architecture included a wide variety of house forms. They generally reflected the dominant English heritage and architectural tradition. [8]


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The name Connecticut is derived from the Mohegan-Pequot word that has been translated as "long tidal river" and "upon the long river", [3] referring to the Connecticut River. Evidence of human presence in the Connecticut region dates to as much as 10,000 years ago. Stone tools were used for hunting, fishing, and woodworking. Semi-nomadic in lifestyle, these peoples moved seasonally to take advantage of various resources in the area. They shared languages based on Algonquian. [4] The Connecticut region was inhabited by multiple Indian tribes which can be grouped into the Nipmuc, the Sequin or "River Indians" (which included the Tunxis, Schaghticoke, Podunk, Wangunk, Hammonassett, and Quinnipiac), the Mattabesec or "Wappinger Confederacy" and the Pequot-Mohegan. [5] Some of these groups continue to abide in Connecticut, including the Mohegans, the Pequots, and the Paugusetts. [6]

Various Algonquian tribes long inhabited the area prior to European settlement. The Dutch were the first Europeans in Connecticut. In 1614 Adriaen Block explored the coast of Long Island Sound, and sailed up the Connecticut River at least as far as the confluence of the Park River, site of modern Hartford. By 1623, the new Dutch West India Company regularly traded for furs there and ten years later they fortified it for protection from the Pequot Indians, as well as from the expanding English colonies. The site was named "House of Hope" (also identified as "Fort Hoop", "Good Hope" and "Hope"), but encroaching English colonists made them agree to withdraw in the 1650 Treaty of Hartford. By 1654 they were gone, before the English took over New Netherland in 1664.

The first English colonists came from the Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Original Connecticut Colony settlements were at Windsor in 1633 at Wethersfield in 1634 and in 1636, at Hartford and Springfield, (the latter was administered by Connecticut until defecting in 1640.) [7] The Hartford settlement was led by Reverend Thomas Hooker.

In 1631, the Earl of Warwick granted a patent to a company of investors headed by William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele, and Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke. They funded the establishment of the Saybrook Colony (named for the two lords) at the mouth of the Connecticut River, where Fort Saybrook, was erected in 1636. Another Puritan group left Massachusetts and started the New Haven Colony farther west on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in 1637. The Massachusetts colonies did not seek to govern their progeny in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Communication and travel were too difficult, and it was also convenient to have a place for nonconformists to go.

The English settlement and trading post at Windsor especially threatened the Dutch trade, since it was upriver and more accessible to Native people from the interior. That fall and winter the Dutch sent a party upriver as far as modern Springfield, Massachusetts spreading gifts to convince the indigenous inhabitants in the area to bring their trade to the Dutch post at Hartford. Unfortunately, they also spread smallpox and, by the end of the 1633–34 winter, the Native population of the entire valley was reduced from over 8,000 to less than 2,000. Europeans took advantage of this decimation by further settling the fertile valley.

The Pequot War Edit

The Pequot War was the first serious armed conflict between the indigenous peoples and the European settlers in New England. The ravages of disease, coupled with trade pressures, invited the Pequots to tighten their hold on the river tribes. Additional incidents began to involve the colonists in the area in 1635, and next spring their raid on Wethersfield prompted the three towns to meet. Following the raid on Wethersfield, the war climaxed when 300 Pequot men, women, and children were burned out of their village, in Mystic. [8]

On May 1, 1637, leaders of Connecticut Colony's river towns each sent delegates to the first General Court held at the meeting house in Hartford. This was the start of self-government in Connecticut. They pooled their militia under the command of John Mason of Windsor, and declared war on the Pequots. When the war was over, the Pequots had been destroyed as a tribe. In the Treaty of Hartford in 1638, the various New England colonies and their Native allies divided the lands of the Pequots, along with surviving Pequots, taken captive by the various tribes, amongst themselves.

New Haven Colony, 1638-1664 Edit

In 1637 a group of London merchants and their families, disgusted with the high Church Anglicanism around them, moved to Boston with the intention of creating a new settlement. [9] The leaders were John Davenport, a Puritan minister, and Theophilus Eaton, a wealthy merchant who brought £3000 to the venture. They understood theology, business and trade, but had no farming experience. The good port locations in Massachusetts had been taken, but with the removal of the Pequot Indians, there were good harbors available on Long Island Sound. Eaton found a good location in spring 1638 which he named New Haven. The site seemed ideal for trade, with a good port lying between Boston and the Dutch city of New Amsterdam (New York City), and good access to the furs of the Connecticut River valley settlements of Hartford and Springfield. The settlers had no official charter or permissions, and did not purchase any land rights from the local Indians. Legally, they were squatters. [10] Minister Davenport was an Oxford-educated intellectual, and he set up a grammar school and wanted to establish a college, but failed to do so. The leaders attempted numerous merchandising enterprises, but they all failed. Much of their money went into a great ship sent to London in 1646, with £5000 in cargo of grain and beaver pelts. It never arrived. [11]

The history of the New Haven colony was a series of disappointments and failures. The most serious problem was that it never had a legal title to exist, that is a charter, though the same can be said for Connecticut for most of this period. The larger, stronger colony of Connecticut to the north did obtain Royal charter in 1662, and it was aggressive in using its military superiority to force a takeover. New Haven had other weaknesses as well. The leaders were businessmen and traders, but they were never able to build up a large or profitable trade, because their agricultural base was poor, and the location was isolated. Farming on the poor soil of the colony was a formula for poverty and discouragement. New Haven's political system was confined to church members only, and the refusal to widen it alienated many people. More and more it was realized that the New Haven colony was a hopeless endeavor. Oliver Cromwell recommended that they all migrate to Ireland, or to Spanish territories that he planned to conquer. After Cromwell died three regicides who (with Cromwell) had voted to execute King Charles I escaped from England and hid in New Haven. The colony had a very negative standing in London, and plans were afoot to merge it with New York. But the Puritans of New Haven were too conservative, and too wedded to their new land to leave or join the Anglicans in New York. One by one in 1662-64 the towns joined Connecticut until only three were left and they too submitted to the Connecticut Colony in 1664. They gave up their theocracy but became well integrated, with numerous important leaders and (after Yale opened in 1701), influential academics. [12]

Under the Fundamental Orders Edit

The three River Towns, Wethersfield, Windsor and Hartford, had created a general government when faced with the demands of a war. On January 14, 1639, freemen from these three settlements ratified the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" in what John Fiske called "the first written constitution known to history that created a government. It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father. The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies." [13] Rapid growth and expansion grew under this new regime. [14]

On April 22, 1662, the Connecticut Colony succeeded in gaining a Royal Charter that embodied and confirmed the self-government that they had created with the Fundamental Orders. The only significant change was that it called for a single Connecticut government with a southern limit at the Long Island Sound, including today Suffolk County on Long Island, and a western limit of the Pacific Ocean, which meant that this charter was still in conflict with the New Netherland colony.

Indian pressures were relieved for some time by success in the ferocious Pequot War. While the Pequots themselves gathered again along the Thames River, other tribes, especially the Mohegans, grew more powerful, though they had a rivalry with the Narragansetts located in Western Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut, and this rivalry shaped in a large part diplomatic matters between both Indian tribes and colonial affairs. King Philip's War (1675–1676) spilled over from Plymouth Colony Connecticut provided men and supplies. Connecticut's contribution to the war also included the large number of Indian allies they brought into the war, including the Mohegans, led by Uncas and the Pequots, of which a small population had reformed from runaway slaves taken at the end of the Pequot War. The participation of Native Allies is in a large part responsible for the Colonial Victory, and this participation was largely due to Connecticut's involvement, as they generally had the best relationships with their local Native tribes, in particular the Mohegans. [15] The colonists had seen some Indians as a potential deadly threat, and mobilized during both the Pequot war and King Philip's War to eliminate them. More than three-fourths of all adult men provided some form of military service. [16] Given the numbers of Native troops fighting with the colonists, along with estimates of Native populations, it is likely that an even larger proportion of Native troops served with Connecticut.

The Dominion of New England Edit

In 1686, Sir Edmund Andros was commissioned as the Royal Governor of the Dominion of New England. Andros maintained that his commission superseded Connecticut's 1662 charter. At first, Connecticut ignored this situation. But in late October 1687, Andros arrived with troops and naval support. Governor Robert Treat had no choice but to convene the assembly. Andros met with the governor and General Court on the evening of October 31, 1687.

Governor Andros praised their industry and government, but after he read them his commission, he demanded their charter. As they placed it on the table, people blew out all the candles. When the light was restored, the charter was missing. According to legend, it was hidden in the Charter Oak. Sir Edmund named four members to his Council for the Government of New England and proceeded to his capital at Boston.

Since Andros viewed New York and Massachusetts as the important parts of his Dominion, he mostly ignored Connecticut. Aside from some taxes demanded and sent to Boston, Connecticut also mostly ignored the new government. When word arrived that the Glorious Revolution had placed William and Mary on the throne, the citizens of Boston arrested Andros and sent him back to England in chains. The Connecticut court met and voted on May 9, 1689 to restore the old charter. They also reelected Robert Treat as governor each year until 1698.

According to the 1650 Treaty of Hartford with the Dutch, the western boundary of Connecticut ran north from the west side of Greenwich Bay "provided the said line come not within 10 miles (16 km) of Hudson River." On the other hand, Connecticut's original charter in 1662 granted it all the land to the "South Sea" (i.e. the Pacific Ocean).

ALL that parte of our dominions in Newe England in America bounded on the East by Norrogancett River, commonly called Norrogancett Bay, where the said River falleth into the Sea, and on the North by the lyne of the Massachusetts Plantacon, and on the south by the Sea, and in longitude as the lyne of the Massachusetts Colony, runinge from East to West, (that is to say) from the Said Norrogancett Bay on the East to the South Sea on the West parte, with the Islands thervnto adioyneinge, Together with all firme lands . TO HAVE AND TO HOLD . for ever.

Dispute with New York Edit

Needless to say, this brought it into territorial conflict with those states which then lay between Connecticut and the Pacific. A patent issued on March 12, 1664, granted the Duke of York (later James II & VII) "all the land from the west side of Connecticut River to the east side of Delaware Bay." In October 1664, Connecticut and New York agreed to grant Long Island to New York, and establish the boundary between Connecticut and New York as a line from the Mamaroneck River "north-northwest to the line of the Massachusetts", crossing the Hudson River near Peekskill and the boundary of Massachusetts near the northwest corner of the current Ulster County, New York. This agreement was never really accepted, however, and boundary disputes continued. The Governor of New York issued arrest warrants for residents of Greenwich, Rye, and Stamford, and founded a settlement north of Tarrytown in what Connecticut considered part of its territory in May 1682. In 1675, with King Philip's War posing significant pressure on Connecticut, New York attempted to land a force at Saybrook, in an attempt to take hold of the Connecticut River, and to assert their claim over all lands west of the Connecticut River itself, though these forces were repelled by Connecticut Colonial forces without a fight. Finally, on November 28, 1683, the states negotiated a new agreement establishing the border as 20 miles (32 km) east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. In recognition of the wishes of the residents, the 61,660 acres (249.5 km 2 ) east of the Byram River making up the Connecticut Panhandle were granted to Connecticut. In exchange, Rye was granted to New York, along with a 1.81-mile-wide (2.91 km) strip of land running north from Ridgefield to Massachusetts alongside Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties, New York, known as the "Oblong".

Dispute with Pennsylvania Edit

In the 1750s, the western frontier remained on the other side of New York. In 1754 the Susquehannah Company of Windham, Connecticut obtained from a group of Native Americans a deed to a tract of land along the Susquehanna River which covered about one-third of present-day Pennsylvania. This venture met with the disapproval of not only Pennsylvania, but also of many in Connecticut including the Deputy Governor, who opposed Governor Jonathan Trumbull's support for the company, fearing that pressing these claims would endanger the charter of the colony. In 1769, Wilkes-Barre was founded by John Durkee and a group of 240 Connecticut settlers. The British government finally ruled "that no Connecticut settlements could be made until the royal pleasure was known". In 1773 the issue was settled in favor of Connecticut and Westmoreland, Connecticut was established as a town and later a county.

Pennsylvania did not accede to the ruling, however, and open warfare broke out between them and Connecticut, ending with an attack in July 1778, which killed approximately 150 of the settlers and forced thousands to flee. While they periodically attempted to regain their land, they were continuously repulsed, until, in December 1783, a commission ruled in favor of Pennsylvania. After complex litigation, in 1786, Connecticut dropped its claims by a deed of cession to Congress, in exchange for freedom for war debt and confirmation of the rights to land further west in present-day Ohio, which became known as the Western Reserve. Pennsylvania granted the individual settlers from Connecticut the titles to their land claims. Although the region had been called Westmoreland County, Connecticut, it has no relationship with the current Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

The Western Reserve, which Connecticut received in recompense for giving up all claims to any Pennsylvania land in 1786, constituted a strip of land in what is currently northeast Ohio, 120 miles (190 km) wide from east to west bordering Lake Erie and Pennsylvania. Connecticut owned this territory until selling it to the Connecticut Land Company in 1795 for $1,200,000, which resold parcels of land to settlers. In 1796, the first settlers, led by Moses Cleaveland, began a community which was to become Cleveland, Ohio in a short time, the area became known as "New Connecticut".

An area 25 miles (40 km) wide at the western end of the Western Reserve, set aside by Connecticut in 1792 to compensate those from Danbury, New Haven, Fairfield, Norwalk, and New London who had suffered heavy losses when they were burnt out by fires set by British raids during the War of Independence, became known as the Firelands. By this time, however, most of those granted the relief by the state were either dead or too old to actually move there. The Firelands now constitutes Erie and Huron Counties, as well as part of Ashland County, Ohio.

Connecticut was the land of steady habits, with a conservative elite that dominated colonial affairs. [17] The forces of liberalism and democracy emerged slowly, encouraged by the entrepreneurship of the business community, and the new religious freedom stimulated by the First Great Awakening. [18]

Yale College was founded in 1701 to educate ministers and civil leaders. After moving about it settled in New Haven. Just as Yale College dominated Connecticut's intellectual life, the Congregational church dominated religion in the colony. It was officially established until 1818, and the residents of each town were all required to attend Sunday services and to pay taxes to support it (or else prove they supported a Baptist or some other Protestant church). [19]

Centralizing forces made the Congregational church even more powerful and more conservative. The Saybrook Platform was a new constitution for the Congregational church in 1708. Religious and civic leaders in Connecticut around 1700 were distressed by the colony-wide decline in personal religious piety and in church discipline. The colonial legislature sponsored a meeting in Saybrook comprising eight Yale trustees and other colonial worthies. It drafted articles which rejected extreme localism or Congregationalism that had been inherited from England, and replaced it with a system similar to what the Presbyterians had. The Congregational church was now to be led by local ministerial associations and consociations comprising ministers and lay leaders from a specific geographical area. Instead of the congregation from each local church selecting its minister, the associations now had the responsibility to examine candidates for the ministry, and to oversee a behavior of the ministers. The consociations (where laymen were powerless) could impose discipline on specific churches and judge disputes that arose. The result was a centralization of power that bothered many local church activists. However, the official associations responded by disfellowshipping churches that refuse to comply. The system survived to the mid-nineteenth century, well after Congregationalism was officially this disestablished in the state of Connecticut. [20] [21]

The Platform marked a conservative counter-revolution against a non-conformist tide which had begun with the Halfway Covenant and would later culminate in the Great Awakening in the 1740s. The Great Awakening bitterly divided Congregationalists between the "New Lights" who welcomed the revivals, and the "Old Lights" who used governmental authority to suppress revivals.

The legislature, controlled by the Old Lights, in 1742 passed an "Act for regulating abuses and correcting disorder in ecclesiastical affairs" that sharply restricted ministers from leading revivals. Another law was passed to prevent the opening of a New Light seminary. Numerous New Light evangelicals were imprisoned or fined. The New Lights responded by their own political organization, fighting it out town by town. Although the religious issues decline somewhat after 1748, the New Light versus Old Light factionalism spilled into other issues, such as disputes over currency, and Imperial issues. However, the divisions involved did not play a role in the coming of the American Revolution, which both sides supported. [22]

The career of a soldier was not held in high prestige in Connecticut. However, London demanded some assistance in its numerous wars against France, so the colony sent soldiers into Canada, 1709–1711, during Queen Anne's War. Silesky argues that Connecticut followed the same procedure for the rest of the century. Elites in control of the government used cash bounties to encourage poor men to volunteer to serve temporarily. [23]

Governor Jonathan Trumbull was elected every year from 1769 to 1784. Connecticut's political system was practically unaffected by the Revolution.

The conservative elite strongly supported the American revolution, and the forces of Loyalism were weak. Connecticut designated four delegates to the Second Continental Congress who would sign the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott. [24]

In 1775, in the wake of the clashes between British regulars and Massachusetts militia at Lexington and Concord, Connecticut's legislature authorized the outfitting of six new regiments, with some 1,200 Connecticut troops on hand at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. [25]

Getting word in 1777 of Continental Army supplies in Danbury, the British landed an expeditionary force of some 2,000 troops in Westport, who marched to Danbury and destroyed much of the depot along with homes in Danbury. On the return march, Continental Army troops and militia led by General David Wooster and General Benedict Arnold engaged the British at Ridgefield in 1777, which would deter future strategic landing attempts by the British for the remainder of the war.

For the winter of 1778–79, General George Washington decided to split the Continental Army into three divisions encircling New York City, where British General Sir Henry Clinton had taken up winter quarters. [26] Major General Israel Putnam chose Redding as the winter encampment quarters for some 3,000 regulars and militia under his command. The Redding encampment allowed Putnam's soldiers to guard the replenished supply depot in Danbury and support any operations along Long Island Sound and the Hudson River Valley. [27] Some of the men were veterans of the winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania the previous winter. Soldiers at the Redding camp endured supply shortages, cold temperatures and significant snow, with some historians dubbing the encampment "Connecticut's Valley Forge." [28]

The state was also the launching site for a number of raids against Long Island orchestrated by Samuel Holden Parsons and Benjamin Tallmadge, and provided men and material for the war effort, especially to Washington's army outside New York City. General William Tryon raided the Connecticut coast in July 1779, focusing on New Haven, Norwalk, and Fairfield. The French General the Comte de Rochambeau celebrated the first Catholic Mass in Connecticut at Lebanon in summer 1781 while marching through the state from Rhode Island to rendezvous with General George Washington in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Rochambeau and Washington also planned in Wethersfield the Battle of Yorktown and the British surrender. New London and Groton Heights were raided in September 1781 by Connecticut native and turncoat Benedict Arnold.

New England was the stronghold of the Federalist party. One historian explains how well organized it was in Connecticut:

It was only necessary to perfect the working methods of the organized body of office-holders who made up the nucleus of the party. There were the state officers, the assistants, and a large majority of the Assembly. In every county there was a sheriff with his deputies. All of the state, county, and town judges were potential and generally active workers. Every town had several justices of the peace, school directors and, in Federalist towns, all the town officers who were ready to carry on the party's work. Every parish had a "standing agent," whose anathemas were said to convince at least ten voting deacons. Militia officers, state's attorneys, lawyers, professors and schoolteachers were in the van of this "conscript army." In all, about a thousand or eleven hundred dependent officer-holders were described as the inner ring which could always be depended upon for their own and enough more votes within their control to decide an election. This was the Federalist machine. [29]

Given the power of the Federalists, the Republicans had to work harder to win. In 1806, the state leadership sent town leaders instructions for the forthcoming elections. Every town manager was told by state leaders "to appoint a district manager in each district or section of his town, obtaining from each an assurance that he will faithfully do his duty." Then, the town manager was instructed to compile lists and total up the number of taxpayers, the number of eligible voters, how many were "decided republicans," "decided federalists," or "doubtful," and finally to count the number of supporters who were not currently eligible to vote but who might qualify (by age or taxes) at the next election. These highly detailed returns were to be sent to the county manager. They, in turn, were to compile county-wide statistics and send it on to the state manager. Using the newly compiled lists of potential voters, the managers were told to get all the eligibles to the town meetings, and help the young men qualify to vote. At the annual official town meeting, the managers were told to, "notice what republicans are present, and see that each stays and votes till the whole business is ended. And each District-Manager shall report to the Town-Manager the names of all republicans absent, and the cause of absence, if known to him." Of utmost importance, the managers had to nominate candidates for local elections, and to print and distribute the party ticket. The state manager was responsible for supplying party newspapers to each town for distribution by town and district managers. [30] This highly coordinated "get-out-the-vote" drive would be familiar to modern political campaigners, but was the first of its kind in world history.

Connecticut prospered during the era, as the seaports were busy and the first textile factories were built. The American Embargo and the British blockade during the War of 1812 severely hurt the export business, and bolstered the Federalists who strongly opposed the Embargo and the War of 1812. [31] The cutoff of imports from Britain did stimulate the rapid growth of factories to replace the textiles and machinery. Eli Whitney of New Haven was a leader of the engineers and inventors who made the state a world leader in machine tools and industrial technology generally. The state was known for its political conservatism, typified by its Federalist party and the Yale College of Timothy Dwight. The foremost intellectuals were Dwight and Noah Webster, who compiled his great dictionary in New Haven. Religious tensions polarized the state, as the established Congregational Church, in alliance with the Federalists, tried to maintain its grip on power. The failure of the Hartford Convention in 1814 wounded the Federalists, who were finally upended by the Republicans in 1817.

Up until this time, Connecticut had adhered to the 1662 Charter, and with the independence of the American colonies over forty years prior, much of what the Charter stood for was no longer relevant. In 1818, a new constitution was adopted that was the first piece of written legislation to separate church and state in Connecticut, and give equality all religions. Gubernatorial powers were also expanded as well as increased independence for courts by allowing their judges to serve life terms.

Connecticut started off with the raw materials of abundant running water and navigable waterways, and using the Yankee work ethic quickly became an industrial leader. Between the birth of the U.S. patent system in 1790 and 1930, Connecticut had more patents issued per capita than any other state in the 1800s, when the U.S. as a whole was issued one patent per three thousand population, Connecticut inventors were issued one patent for every 700–1000 residents. Connecticut's first recorded invention was a lapidary machine, by Abel Buell of Killingworth, in 1765.

Starting in the 1830s, and accelerating when Connecticut abolished slavery entirely in 1848, African Americans from in- and out-of-state began relocating to urban centers for employment and opportunity, forming new neighborhoods such as Bridgeport's Little Liberia. [32]

In 1832, Quaker schoolteacher Prudence Crandall created the first integrated schoolhouse in the United States by admitting Sarah Harris, the daughter of a free African-American farmer in the local community, to her Canterbury Female Boarding School in Canterbury. Many prominent townspeople objected and pressured to have Harris dismissed from the school, but Crandall refused. Families of the current students removed their daughters. Consequently, Crandall ceased teaching white girls altogether and opened up her school strictly to African American girls. [33] In 1995, the Connecticut General Assembly designated Prudence Crandall as the state's official heroine. [34]

Connecticut manufacturers played a leading role in supplying the Union forces with rifles, cannon, ammunition, and military materiel during the Civil War. The state furnished 55,000 men. They were formed into thirty full regiments of infantry, including two in the U.S. Colored Troops made up of black men and white officers. Two regiments of heavy artillery served as infantry toward the end of the war. Connecticut also supplied three batteries of light artillery and one regiment of cavalry. The Navy attracted 250 officers and 2100 men. A number of Connecticut men became Union generals Gideon Welles was a moderate whom Lincoln made Secretary of the Navy. Casualties were high: 2088 were killed in combat, 2801 died from disease, and 689 died in Confederate prison camps. [35] [36] [37]

Politics became red hot during the war. A surge of national unity in 1861 brought thousands flocking to the colors from every town and city. However, as the war became a crusade to end slavery, many Democrats (especially Irish Catholics) pulled back. The Democrats took a peace position and included many Copperheads willing to let the South secede. The intensely fought 1863 election for governor was narrowly won by the Republicans. [38] [39]

Connecticut's extensive industry, its dense population, its flat terrain, its proximity to metropolitan centers, and the wealth of its residents made it favorable grounds for railroad building, starting in 1839. By 1840, 102 miles of line were in operation, growing to 402 in 1850 and 601 in 1860. The main development after the Civil War was the consolidation of many small local lines into the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad – popularly called "the Consolidated." It sought a monopoly of all transportation, including urban streetcar lines, inter-urban trolleys, and freighters and passenger steamers on Long Island Sound. It was a highly profitable enterprise, until it was bought out in 1903 and suffered serious mismanagement. [40] [41]

Railroads Edit

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, commonly called the New Haven, dominated Connecticut travel after 1872. New York's leading banker, J. P. Morgan, had grown up in Hartford and had a strong interest in the New England economy. Starting in the 1890s Morgan began financing the major New England railroads, and dividing territory so they would not compete. In 1903 he brought in Charles Mellen as president (1903-1913). The goal, richly supported by Morgan's financing, was to purchase and consolidate the main railway lines of New England, merge their operations, lower their costs, electrify the heavily used routes, and modernize the system. With less competition and lower costs, there supposedly would be higher profits. The New Haven purchased 50 smaller companies, including steamship lines, and built a network of light rails (electrified trolleys) that provided inter-urban transportation for all of southern New England. By 1912, the New Haven operated over 2000 miles of track, and 120,000 employees. It practically monopolized traffic in a wide swath from Boston to New York City.

Morgan's quest for monopoly angered reformers during the Progressive Era, most notably Boston lawyer Louis Brandeis, who fought the New Haven for years. Mellen's abrasive tactics alienated public opinion, led to high prices for acquisitions and to costly construction. The accident rate rose when efforts were made to save on maintenance costs. Debt soared from $14 million in 1903 to $242 million in 1913. Also in 1913 it was hit by an anti-trust lawsuit by the federal government and was forced to give up its trolley systems. [42] The advent of automobiles, trucks and buses after 1910 slashed the profits of the New Haven. The line went bankrupt in 1935, was reorganized and reduced in scope, went bankrupt again in 1961, and in 1969 was merged into the Penn Central system, which itself went bankrupt. The remnants of the system are now part of Conrail. [43]

The automotive revolution came much faster than anyone expected, especially the railroads. In 1915 Connecticut had 40,000 automobiles five years later it had 120,000. There was even faster growth in trucks from 7,000 to 24,000. Local government started upgrading the roads, while entrepreneurs opened dealerships, gasoline stations, repair shops and motels. [44]

Politics Edit

The Republicans dominated state politics after 1896, and had a lock on the legislature where the one-town, one representative rule guaranteed that small rural towns could easily outvote the growing cities. While the Republicans developed factions over personalities, they drew together for elections. The Democrats had more internal dissension over issues, particularly the liberalism of William Jennings Bryan, and they were weakened in general elections. The rural Yankee Democrats battled the urban Irish for control of the state party. [45] Most of the factory workers voted Republican (except the Irish Catholics, who were generally Democrats), so most of the industrial cities voted Republican.

In 1910, the Democrats elected their gubernatorial candidate Simeon Baldwin, a prominent professor at the Yale Law School. As the Republican vote was split between President William Taft and ex-president Theodore Roosevelt, the Democrats flourished in 1912, carrying the state for president, reelecting Baldwin, sweeping all five congressional districts with ethnic Irish candidates, and taking the state Senate. Only the malapportioned House remained in Republican hands and dominated by rural areas. The state did not participate much in the "progressive era," and the Democrats passed only one piece of liberal legislation, which set up a system of workman's compensation. In 1914, the Republicans consolidated again and restored their control of state politics. [46] J. Henry Roraback was the Republican state leader from 1912 to his death in 1937. His machine, says Lockard, was "efficient, conservative, penurious, and in absolute control." [47] Until the New Deal coalition of the 1930s pulled ethnic voters solidly into the Democratic Party, Roraback was unbeatable with his strong rural organization, funding from the business community, conservative policies, and a hierarchical party organization. [47] Connecticut was the last state (in 1955) to adopt the party primary system, and it was used only if a loser wanted to challenge the choice of the state convention.

World War I Edit

When World War I broke out in 1914, Connecticut's large machine industry received major contracts from British, Canadian, and French interests, as well as the U.S. forces. The largest munitions firms were Remington in Bridgeport, Winchester in New Haven, and Colt in Hartford, as well as the large federal arsenal in Bridgeport. [48]

The state enthusiastically supported the American war effort in 1917–1918, with large purchases of war bonds and a further expansion of war industry, and emphasis on increasing food production in the farms. Thousands of state, local and volunteer groups mobilized for the war effort, and were coordinated by the Connecticut State Council of Defense. [49] Young men were eager to serve whether as volunteers or draftees. [50]

As the war ended the worldwide epidemic of "Spanish Flu" hit the state. Fatalities were high because the state was a travel hub, was heavily urbanized so germs spread faster, and had many recent immigrants in densely settled areas. An estimated 8500-9000 people died, about one percent of the population, and about one-quarter contracted the disease. [51]

Early 20th-century immigrants and ethnicity Edit

Connecticut factories in Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury and Hartford were magnets for European immigrants. The largest groups were Italian, and Polish and other Eastern Europeans. They brought Catholic unskilled labor to a historically Protestant state. A significant number of Jewish immigrants also arrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. [52] Connecticut's population was almost 30% foreign-born by 1910.

These ethnic groups supported the World War (the small numbers of German Americans tried to keep a low profile, encountering hostility and suspicion after the US entered the war.) Ethnic organizations supported an Americanization program for the many recent immigrants. [53] Since transatlantic civilian travel was almost impossible in 1914–20, the flow of new immigrants ended. Recently arrived Italians, Poles and others had to cancel plans to return to their home villages. They moved up as higher-paying jobs opened in the munitions industry. They deepened their roots in American society, and became permanent residents. Instead of identifying with their former ancestral villages, the Italians developed a new pride in being both Americans and Italians. Their children, born in the U.S. and bilingual, flourished economically in the prosperous 1920s. [54] [55] The Poles enlisted in large numbers, and generously supported war bond efforts. They were motivated in part by the government's commitment to a process to support an independent Poland, which was achieved after the end of the war. [56]

Nativists in the 1920s opposed the new immigrants as a threat to the state's traditional social and political values. The Ku Klux Klan had a small anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant following in Connecticut in the 1920s, reaching about 15,000 members before its collapse nationwide in 1926 following scandals involving top leaders. [57] [58]

Depression and War years Edit

With rising unemployment in urban and rural areas producing disaffection with Republican leaders, Connecticut Democrats saw a chance to return to power. The hero of the movement was Yale English professor Governor Wilbur Lucius Cross (1931–1939), who emulated much of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies by creating new public services, contributing to infrastructure projects, and instituting a minimum wage. The Merritt Parkway was constructed in this period as part of the investment in infrastructure.

In 1938, the state Democratic Party was wracked by controversy, and the Republicans elected Governor Raymond E. Baldwin. Connecticut became a highly competitive, two-party state.

On September 21, 1938, the most destructive storm in New England history struck eastern Connecticut, killing hundreds of people. [59] The eye of the "Long Island Express" hurricane passed just west of New Haven and devastated the Connecticut shoreline between Old Saybrook and Stonington, which lacked the partial protection from the full force of wind and waves provided to the western coast by the barrier of Long Island, New York. The hurricane caused extensive damage to infrastructure, homes and businesses. In New London, a 500-foot sailing ship was driven into a warehouse complex, causing a major fire. Heavy rainfall caused the Connecticut River to flood downtown Hartford and East Hartford. An estimated 50,000 trees fell onto roadways. [60]

The lingering Depression soon gave way to an economic buildup as the United States invested in its defense industry before and during World War II (1941–1945). Roosevelt's call for America to be the Arsenal of Democracy led to remarkable growth in munition-related industries, such as airplane engines, radio, radar, proximity fuzes, rifles, and a thousand other products. Pratt and Whitney made airplane engines, Cheney sewed silk parachutes, and Electric Boat built submarines. This was coupled with traditional manufacturing including guns, ships, uniforms, munitions, and artillery. Connecticut manufactured 4.1 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking ninth among the 48 states. [61] Ken Burns focused on Waterbury's munitions production in his 2007 miniseries The War. Although most munitions production ended in 1945, new industries had resulted from the war, and manufacturing of high tech electronics and airplane parts continued.

Postwar prosperity Edit

Connecticut's suburbs thrived as people moved to newer housing via subsidized highways, while its cities peaked in the 1950s and then began a slow downhill slide as population spread into widely dispersed regions. Connecticut built the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) and other essential weapons for The Pentagon. At the beginning of the 1960s, the increased job market gave the state the highest per capita income in the nation. The increased standard of living could be seen in the various suburban neighborhoods that began to develop outside major cities. Construction of major highways such as the Connecticut Turnpike, subsidized by federal investment, resulted in former small towns becoming sites for large-scale residential and retail development, a trend that continues to this day, with offices also moving to new locations.

Fairfield County, Connecticut's Gold Coast, was a favorite residence of many executives who worked in New York City. It attracted scores of corporate headquarters from New York, especially in the 1970s, when Connecticut had no state income tax. Connecticut offered ample inexpensive office space, high quality of life to people who did not want to live in New York City, and excellent public schools. The state did not offer any tax incentives for corporations to move their headquarters. [62]

Connecticut industrial workers were very well-paid, many of them in defense industries building nuclear submarines at Electric Boat shipyards, helicopters at Sikorsky, and jet engines at Pratt & Whitney. Labor unions were very powerful after the war, peaking in clout in the early 1970s. Since then the private sector labor unions have dramatically declined in size and influence with the decline in industry as factories closed and jobs were moved out of state and offshore. The public-sector unions, covering teachers, police, and city and state employees, have become more powerful, with influence in the Democratic Party. [63]

Deindustrialization left many industrial centers with empty factories and mills and high unemployment. As wealthier whites moved to suburbs, African American and Latino made up a higher proportion of urban populations, reflecting their later arrival in the Great Migration and immigration, and relative inability to find and move to other jobs. They had gained middle-class status through good-paying industrial jobs and became stranded. African Americans and Latinos inherited againg urban spaces that were no longer a high priority for the state or private industry. By the 1980s crime and urban blight were major issues. The poor conditions were catalysts for militant movements pushing to gentrify ghettos and desegregate the urban school systems, which were surrounded by majority-white suburbs. In 1987, Hartford became the first United States city to elect an African-American woman as mayor, Carrie Saxon Perry.

Politics Edit

Connecticut had very strong state parties, with the GOP led by leaders, such as A. Searle Pinney. John Bailey was the state chairman of the Democrats from 1946 to his death in 1975 he was also the party's national chairman, 1961 until 1968. [64] These party leaders controlled their legislative delegations and ran the state conventions that selected nominees for the top offices. The old WASP element was still a factor in rural Connecticut, but Catholics comprised 44% of the state's population and dominated all of the industrial cities. With the ethnics loyal to the Democratic Party, and labor unions at their peak, the Democratic Party strongly endorsed the New Deal coalition and its liberalism. The Republican Party was mildly liberal, typified by Senator Prescott Bush, a wealthy Yankee whose son and grandson were later each elected as president from their new conservative base in Texas. Connecticut had some difficulty in projecting its identity, with no big-league sports teams and its media markets dominated by outside television stations in New York, Providence, Rhode Island and Springfield, Massachusetts. Bailey's contact with the liberal element that dominated the Democratic Party was Ella Grasso. He promoted her from the legislature, to Secretary of State, to Congress, and finally to the governorship.

Bailey's usual success in dictating the state ticket was upset in 1970, when the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Congressman Thomas Meskill, defeated a lackluster Democrat. More complex was the situation of Senator Thomas Dodd, a Democrat who had been censured by the Senate for his misuse of campaign funds. Dodd lost the Democratic primary, but ran as an independent and split the vote. The result was that liberal Republican Lowell Weicker won the Senate seat with 42% of the vote. Bailey had an easier time in 1974 gaining re-election of Senator Abe Ribicoff. In 1950 Ribicoff was elected as the first Jewish and non-WASP governor in the state's history. Weicker was repeatedly reelected until being narrowly defeated in 1988. He was elected governor in 1990 as an independent. [65] [66]

In 1974 Democrats elected as governor Ella T. Grasso, the daughter of Italian immigrants. She was the first woman of any state to be elected governor in her own right. She was reelected in 1978. [67] She faced a major crisis in 1978 when "The Blizzard of 78" dropped 30 inches of snow across the state, crippling highways and making virtually all roads impassible. She "Closed the State" by proclamation, and forbade all use of public roads by businesses and citizens, closing all businesses. Effectively residents were restricted to their homes. This relieved the rescue and cleanup authorities from the need to help the mounting number of stuck cars, and allowed clean-up and emergency services for shut-ins to proceed. The crisis ended on the third day, and Grasso won accolades from all state sectors for her leadership and strength. [68]

The late 20th century Edit

Connecticut's dependence on the defense industry posed an economic challenge at the end of the Cold War. The resulting budget crisis helped elect Lowell Weicker as Governor on a third party ticket in 1990. Despite campaigning against a state income tax, Weicker's remedy to the budget crisis, a state income tax, proved effective in balancing the budget but was politically unpopular. Weicker retired after a single term.

Until the late nineteenth century Connecticut agriculture included tobacco farms. This brought in immigrants from the West Indies, Puerto Rico, and the black South. In the off-season they turned to the cities for temporary apartments, schooling and services, but with the decline of tobacco they moved there permanently. [69]

With newly "reconquered" land, the Pequots initiated plans for the construction of a multimillion-dollar casino complex to be built on reservation land. The Foxwoods Casino was completed in 1992 and the enormous revenue it received made the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation one of the wealthiest in the country. With the newfound money, great educational and cultural initiatives were carried out, including the construction of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. The Mohegan Reservation gained political recognition shortly thereafter and, in 1994, opened another successful casino (Mohegan Sun) near the town of Uncasville. The economic recession that began in 2007 took a heavy toll of receipts, and by 2012 both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods were deeply in debt. [70]

Casinos provide an example of the shift in the economy away from manufacturing to entertainment, such as ESPN, financial services, including hedge funds and pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer.

In the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 65 state residents were killed. The vast majority were Fairfield County residents who were working in the World Trade Center. Greenwich lost 12 residents, Stamford and Norwalk each lost nine and Darien lost six. [71] A state memorial was later set up at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. The New York City skyline can be seen from the park.

A number of political scandals rocked Connecticut in the early 21st century. These included the 2003 removal from office of the mayors of Bridgeport, Joseph P. Ganim on 16 corruption charges, [72] as well as Waterbury mayor Philip A. Giordano, who was charged with 18 counts of sexual abuse of two girls. [73]

In 2004, Governor John G. Rowland resigned during a corruption investigation. Rowland later pleads guilty to federal charges, and his successor M. Jodi Rell, focused her administration on reforms in the wake of the Rowland scandal.

In April 2005, Connecticut passed a law that grants all rights of marriage to same-sex couples. However, the law required that such unions be called "civil unions", and that the title of marriage be limited to those unions whose parties are of the opposite sex. The state was the first to pass a law permitting civil unions without a prior court proceeding. In October 2008, the Supreme Court of Connecticut ordered same-sex marriage legalized.

In July 2009, the Connecticut legislature overrode a veto by Governor M. Jodi Rell to pass SustiNet, the first significant public-option health care reform legislation in the nation. [74]

The state's criminal justice system also dealt with the first execution in the state since 1960, the 2005 execution of serial killer Michael Ross and was rocked by the July 2007 home invasion murders in Cheshire. As the accused perpetrators of the Petit murders were out on parole, Governor M. Jodi Rell promised a full investigation into the state's criminal justice policies. [75]

On April 11, 2012, the State House of Representatives voted to end the state's rarely enforced death penalty the State Senate having previously passed the measure on April 5. Governor Dannel Malloy announced that "when it gets to my desk I will sign it". Eleven inmates were on death row at that time, including the two men convicted of the July 2007 Cheshire, Connecticut, home invasion murders. Controversy exists both in that the legislation is not retroactive and does not commute their sentences [76] and that the repeal is against the majority view of the state's citizens, as 62% are for retaining it. [77]

In 2011 and 2012, Connecticut was hit by three major storms in the space of just over 14 months, with all three causing extensive property damage and electric outages. Hurricane Irene struck Connecticut on August 28 with the storm blamed for the deaths of three residents. Damage totaled $235 million, including 20 houses that were destroyed in East Haven. [78] Two months later in late October, the so-called "Halloween nor'easter" dropped extensive snow onto trees in northern Connecticut that still had foliage, resulting in a significant number of snapped branches and trunks that damaged property and power lines, with some areas not seeing electricity restored for 11 days. [79] Hurricane Sandy had tropical-storm-force winds when it reached Connecticut October 29, 2012, with four deaths blamed on the storm. [80] Sandy's winds drove storm surges into coastal streets, toppled trees and power lines, and cut power to 98 percent of homes and businesses en route to more than $360 million in damage. Some sections along the southeast coast of Connecticut had no power for more than 16 days. [81]

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children and 6 staff, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut, and then killed himself. [82]


Portugal: Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco de Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral

Portugal led the others into exploration. Encouraged by Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese seamen sailed southward along the African coast, seeking a water route to the East. They were also looking for a legendary king named Prester John who had supposedly built a Christian stronghold somewhere in northwestern Africa. Henry hoped to form an alliance with Prester John to fight the Muslims. During Henry’s lifetime the Portuguese learned much about the African coastal area. His school developed the quadrant, the cross-staff and the compass, made advances in cartography, and designed and built highly maneuverable little ships known as caravels.

After Henry’s death, Portuguese interest in long-distance trade and expansion waned until King John II commissioned Bartolomeu Dias to find a water route to India in 1487. Dias sailed around the tip of Africa and into the Indian Ocean before his frightened crew forced him to give up the quest. A year later, Vasco da Gama succeeded in reaching India and returned to Portugal laden with jewels and spices. In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered and claimed Brazil for Portugal, and other Portuguese captains established trading posts in the South China Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea. These water routes to the East undercut the power of the Italian city-states, and Lisbon became Europe’s new trade capital.


Connecticut River (The Fresh River)

A navigable waterway, peaceable natives and lots of fur-bearing animals. To a Dutch explorer on the North American coast in the early seventeenth century, that combination spelled money. Henry Hudson's 1609 voyage, in which he outlined the American territory that the Dutch would claim, was only a first step. Over the next five years, several smallscale explorations took place-to discover whether there was money to be made in the territory, and where. The most determined of these explorers was Adriaen Block, who made four voyages on behalf of a group of Amsterdam merchants, and who also made a remarkably accurate map of the whole area (right).

In 1611, Block became the first European to explore the Connecticut River, which he named the Versche, or Fresh, River. In addition to studying the land and water (he found the river dangerously shallow in places), Block initiated contact with the Indians of the region. He discovered, perhaps by accident, that the polished shell pieces the Pequots made from local shells-called sewan or wampum-were highly prized by the Mohawks far to the north and west. The Mohawks, in turn, had plentiful beavers to trade. Thus, far before the English had even heard of wampum, the Dutch set themselves up as middle men in a three-way trade. The Pequots got European manufactured goods such as cloth and cookware the Mohawks got the wampum they valued and the Dutch got the furs that Europeans clamoured for.

The lively, unimpeded trade didn't last long, however. English settlers from New England who were unhappy with the Puritan administrations of the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies began filtering into the territory in about 1630. In 1633, Massachusetts governor John Winthrop wrote a terse letter to Wouter Van Twiller, director-general of New Netherland, informing him that King Charles claimed the river for England, based on the 1497 voyage of John Cabot to the New World. Van Twiller replied hopefully that "as good neighbors wee might live in these heathenishe countryes…. I should bee very sorrye that wee should bee occation that the Kinges Majestie of England and the Lords the States Generall should fall into anye contention."

But contention was already upon them. The Dutch had far fewer people in their colony, and it was all they could manage to keep their major settlements on the North River (the future New York City, Kingston, and Albany) manned. They watched helplessly as the Fresh River became the Connecticut River, and would-be Dutch settlements became English cities.

That said, recent archaeological and archival work suggests that the extent of Dutch presence in the Connecticut area was much greater than has previously been known-which may help to explain why a Dutch legacy remains in Connecticut: in place names, in locations scouted by the Dutch as suitable for settlement, and in the complicated tangle of cultures that defined the region's beginnings, as Dutch, English and Indian groups vied with one another.

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Contents

Though spending much of his time at sea, Block called Amsterdam his home. There, on October 26, 1603, he married Neeltje Hendricks van Gelder, with whom he would have five children between 1607 and 1615. In 1606 they moved into a house called De Twee Bontecraijen ("The Two Hooded Crows") on Amsterdam's Oude Waal street, where they would live the rest of their lives. [2]

In the 1590s, Block already was active in the shipping trade, transporting wood from Northern Europe to deforested Spain. He is for example mentioned delivering Norwegian timber in April 1596 in Bilbao. From there he headed for Ribadeo to buy goods for Cádiz. In April 1601, he was part of a convoy of ships leaving Amsterdam for the Dutch East Indies, at that time probably as far as the Moluccas, returning home in 1603. [2]

In the spring of 1604, after delivering goods in Liguria, Block sailed on to Cyprus buying cargo (rice, cotton, nuts, etc.) he hoped to sell in Venice. This trade fell through, and he headed home to Amsterdam. Passing Lisbon, he came upon a Lübeck-based ship returning from a trip to Brazil. He had written permission from Dutch authorities to capture enemy ships, which he put to use as a privateer, taking the ship and its load to Amsterdam. Though the ship and some of its goods were returned to its owners, Block made a lot of money, with which he probably bought the house on the Oude Waal. [2]

Early voyages (1611–1612) Edit

Following Hudson's contact with the Native Americans in the Hudson Valley in 1609, the Dutch merchants in Amsterdam had deemed the area worth exploring as a potential source of trade for beaver pelts, [3] which were a lucrative market in Europe at the time.

Cornelis Rijser successfully returned in the St. Pieter in 1611, and Block and his fellow captain Hendrick Christiaensen returned the next year in 1612, bringing back furs and two sons of a native sachem in the Fortuyn and another ship outfitted by a group of Lutheran merchants. It took about ten weeks to sail to New Netherland, sometimes longer. The prospect of successful fur trade prompted the States General, the governing body of the Dutch Republic, to issue a statement on March 27, 1614, stipulating that the discoverers of new countries, harbors, and passages would be given an exclusive patent good for four voyages undertaken within three years to the territories discovered if the applicant should submit a detailed report within 14 days after his return.

The 1614 expedition Edit

In 1613, Block made a fourth voyage to the lower Hudson in the Tyger accompanied by several other ships especially equipped for trading. While moored along southern Manhattan, the Tyger was accidentally destroyed by fire. [3] Over the winter, he and his men, with help from the Lenape (La-Na-Pae), built the 44.5-foot (13.6 m) ship 16-ton Onrust (Dutch for "Restless"). [4]

In this later ship, he explored the East River and was the first known European to navigate the Hellegat (now called Hell Gate) and to enter Long Island Sound. Traveling along the Sound, he entered the Housatonic River (which he named "River of Red Hills") and the Connecticut River, which he explored at least as far as the site of present-day Hartford, today's capital of the state of Connecticut some sixty miles up the river. [5] Leaving Long Island Sound, he charted Block Island, which is named for him and Narragansett Bay, where he possibly named "Roode Eylandt" after the red (Dutch rood) color of its soil. [6] On Cape Cod, he rendezvoused with one of the other ships of the expedition and left the Onrust behind before returning to Europe.

Life in the colony Edit

Block's exploration would lead to the eventual colonization of Connecticut. The life was hard, as it was settled in the winter as a result of the Connecticut River turning to ice. Block sailed upstream and established the Dutch base that later became Hartford.

He is credited with naming Fishers Island (Vischer's Island) after a shipmate. Though it lies physically closer to Connecticut than New York, the island is a part of Long Island's Suffolk County.

New Netherland company Edit

Upon returning, Block compiled a map of his voyage together with known information of the time. The Block map was the first to apply the name "New Netherland" to the area between English Virginia and French Canada, as well as the first to show Long Island as an island.

On October 11, 1614, Block, Christiaensen, and a group of twelve other merchants presented to the States General a petition to receive exclusive trading privileges for the area. Their company, the newly formed New Netherland Company, was granted exclusive rights for three years to trade between the 40th parallel north and the 45th parallel north. [3]

After his return to Amsterdam in July 1614, he would not return to the New World again. In 1615, Block was Commissary-General of three men-of-war and eleven whaleships sent to Spitsbergen by the Noordsche Compagnie. He remained sailing until his death in 1627. He was buried in Amsterdam's Oude Kerk in a grave next to his wife.

A multimillion-dollar redevelopment on the Connecticut River in Hartford, Connecticut is named "Adriaen's Landing" after Block. Adriaen Block has a middle school in Flushing, Queens (NYC) named after him.


3f. Reaching to Connecticut


Upon his taking the throne, King James II demanded that Connecticut give up the charter granted by Charles II in 1662. But the citizens refused and hid the document in this hollow tree for safe keeping.

Despite a few internal problems, Massachusetts Bay Colony was thriving by the mid-1630s. It would only be a matter of time before individuals within the colony would consider expansion.

There were obstacles to consider. Establishing a new colony was never easy. Pequot Indian settlements west of the Connecticut River were an important consideration. Nevertheless, the Puritan experiment pushed forward, creating new colonies in the likeness of Massachusetts Bay.

Thomas Hooker was a devout Puritan minister. He had no quarrels with the religious teachings of the church. He did, however, object to linking voting rights with church membership, which had been the practice in Massachusetts Bay.


A statue to Thomas Hooker, one of the founders of Connecticut, stands in downtown Hartford.

In 1636, his family led a group of followers west and built a town known as Hartford . This would become the center of Connecticut colony. In religious practices Connecticut mirrored Massachusetts Bay. Politically, it allowed more access to non-church members.

In 1639, the citizens of Connecticut enacted the first written constitution in the western hemisphere. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut called for an elected governor and a two-house legislature. It served as a model for other colonial charters and even future state constitutions after independence was achieved.

In 1637, under the leadership of John Davenport , a second colony was formed in the Connecticut River Valley, revolved around the port of New Haven . Unlike the citizens in Hartford, the citizens were very strict about church membership and the political process. They even abolished juries because there was no mention of them in the Bible. Most citizens accused of a crime simply reported to the magistrate for their punishment, without even furnishing a defense.


This map shows the area known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 17th century. Settlers soon branched out and settled the areas that would be known as Connecticut and Rhode Island.

New Haven was merged into its more democratic neighbor by King Charles II in 1662.

Connecticut provides a great example of the strictness of colonial society. Laws based on scripture, called Blue Laws , were applied to Connecticut residents. Examples include the death penalty for crimes that seem minor by modern standards. Blue laws condemned to death any citizen who was convicted of blaspheming the name of God or cursing their natural father or mother. These laws were in effect at least as late as 1672 in colonial Connecticut.


Connecticut: History

In 1614 the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block sailed through Long Island Sound and explored the Connecticut River. The Dutch built a small fort in 1633 on the site of present-day Hartford, but they abandoned it in 1654 as English settlers moved into the area in increasing numbers.

Edward Winslow of Plymouth Colony was apparently the first English colonist to visit (1632) Connecticut, and in 1633 members of the Plymouth Colony established a trading post on the site of Windsor. This small Pilgrim enterprise was soon absorbed by Puritan settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Company. These settlers had been attracted to the area by the excellent reports brought back by one of their members, John Oldham, in 1633. Oldham returned to the Connecticut area in 1634 and established still another trading post, which became Wethersfield. The following year Puritans flocked in great numbers to the Connecticut River Valley.

In 1636, Thomas Hooker and his congregation left Newtown and settled near the Dutch trading post that had been established on the site of Hartford. The Pequot people resisted white settlement, but they were defeated by the English in the short Pequot War of 1637. Relations remained relatively peaceful until King Philip's War in 1675–76. In 1638–39 representatives of the three Connecticut River towns—Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield—met at Hartford and formed the colony of Connecticut. They also adopted the Fundamental Orders, which established a government for the colony.

A second colony, Saybrook, had been established at the mouth of the Connecticut River in 1635 by an English group. The colony's founders (who included Viscount Saye and Sile and Baron Brooke, for whom the colony was named) sold the Saybrook settlement to Connecticut colony in 1644. Connecticut's population expanded gradually, and by 1662 the colony included over a dozen towns, including Saybrook, New London, Fairfield, and Norwalk, as well as East Hampton and Southampton on Long Island. Another Puritan settlement, New Haven, was established in 1638. It was not connected with Connecticut colony.

In 1643, New Haven and Connecticut colonies joined with Massachusetts Bay colony and Plymouth colony to form the New England Confederation, a loose union for mutual defense. In 1662, Connecticut sent its governor, John Winthrop (1606–76), to London to secure a royal charter for the colony. He obtained the charter, by which Connecticut won its legal right to exist as a corporate colony and also acquired New Haven.

The years from 1750 to 1776 saw much bitter disagreement between radicals and conservatives in the colony. In 1776, the patriot governor, Jonathan Trumbull, was reelected almost unanimously (Connecticut and Rhode Island were the only colonies privileged to elect their chief executives), and he was the only governor of any colony to be retained in office after the outbreak of the American Revolution. There was little fighting in Connecticut during the Revolution—skirmishes at Stonington (1775), Danbury (1777), New Haven (1779), and New London (1781)—even though the state was the principal supply area for the Continental Army.

After the war the state relinquished (1786) to the United States its claims to western land, except for the Western Reserve (an area in Ohio). This claim was retained until part of the land was given to Connecticut citizens in 1792 and the remainder sold in 1795. In 1799, Connecticut's long dispute with Pennsylvania over the Wyoming Valley was finally settled. Connecticut was one of the first states to approve the U.S. Constitution (see Constitutional Convention).

The Embargo Act of 1807, passed during the administration of Thomas Jefferson, was vehemently denounced throughout New England the ports on Long Island Sound and on the Connecticut River had developed a lively carrying trade with which the embargo interfered. The War of 1812 was also so unpopular that New England Federalists, meeting at the Hartford Convention in late 1814, considered secession. In 1818 the Jeffersonians came into power in the state, and a new constitution, replacing the old charter of 1662, was adopted. It disestablished the Congregational Church and greatly extended the franchise, although universal manhood suffrage was not proclaimed until 1845.

Meanwhile, after Connecticut's shipping industry had been ruined by the embargo and the war, the state turned to manufacturing. Artisans and craftsmen had become increasingly numerous in late colonial days, and from native iron ore Connecticut forges had produced guns for the Patriot soldiers. Modern mass production had its beginning in the state when Eli Whitney, probably the best known of Connecticut's inventors, established (1798) at New Haven a firearms factory that began making guns with standardized, interchangeable parts. Earlier, in 1793, he had invented and manufactured the cotton gin at New Haven. The manufacture of notions (buttons, pins, needles, metal goods, and clocks) gave rise to the enterprising Yankee peddler, who, with horse and cart, traveled the nation hawking his wares. Connecticut's insurance industry also developed during this period, and in 1810 the Hartford Fire Insurance Company was established.

Connecticut, which had placed limitations on slavery in 1784 and abolished it in 1848, supported the Union during the Civil War with nearly 60,000 troops. During and after the war, industry expanded greatly. Immigration provided a cheap labor supply as English, Scottish, and many Irish immigrants, who had arrived in large numbers even before the war, were followed by French Canadians and, in the late 19th and early 20th cent., by Italians, Poles, and others.

During World Wars I and II Connecticut prospered, providing munitions and other supplies for the war effort. Between the two wars, however, the Great Depression left many unemployed. Connecticut's industries continued to grow and develop in the years following World War II. In 1954 the world's first nuclear-powered submarine was launched at Groton, and guns, helicopters, and jet engines were among key manufactures of the cold war period.

During the 1970s, as manufacturing began to decline, Connecticut's heavy industry–dependent major cities fell into a state of decay. The growth of financial, insurance, real estate, and service industries, however, helped make Connecticut one of the wealthiest states in the nation many of these business moved to the state from New York. This wealth has been enjoyed primarily by the state's affluent suburbs, while the central cities have further crumbled, as evidenced by Bridgeport's bankruptcy filing in 1991. The development of Native-American-owned casinos in SE Connecticut during the 1990s supplanted defense industries as the main economic engine in that region. In 2012 many of the state's coastal communities suffered significant flooding during Hurricane Sandy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


2b. Joint-Stock Companies


As the city of London filled to capacity in 1600, Richard Hakluyt suggested to Queen Elizabeth that settlements in the New World might relieve the city of some of its poorer folks.

Compared with other European nations in 1600, England was relatively poor.

As new agricultural techniques made fewer farmers necessary, the poor multiplied in the streets of cities such as London and Bristol. Much to the dismay of the wealthier classes, the impoverished were an increasingly burdensome presence and problem.

A Pain to Spain

REASONS OR MOTIVES for the raising of a public stock to be employed for the peopling and discovering of such countries as may be found most convenient for the supply of those defects which this Realm of England most requires [the following]:

8. Where colonies are founded for a public-weal, they may continue in better obedience and become more industrious than where private men are absolute backers of a voyage. Men of better behavior and quality will engage themselves in a public service, which carries more reputation with it, than a private, which is for the most part ignominious in the end, because it is presumed to aim at a profit and is subject to rivalry, fraud, and envy, and when it is at the greatest height of fortune can hardly be tolerated because of the jealousy of the state.

&ndash Richard Hakluyt, "Reasons for Raising a Fund to Settle America On the Value of Colonies to England" (January 5, 1607)

Joint-Stock Company

The joint-stock company was the forerunner of the modern corporation. In a joint-stock venture , stock was sold to high net-worth investors who provided capital and had limited risk . These companies had proven profitable in the past with trading ventures. The risk was small, and the returns were fairly quick.


Granted a charter by King James I in 1606, the Virginia Company was a joint-stock company created to establish settlements in the New World. This is a seal of the Virginia Company, which established the first English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.

But investing in a colony was an altogether different venture.

The risk was larger as the colony might fail. The startup costs were enormous and the returns might take years. Investors in such endeavors needed more than a small sense of adventure.

Expedition Investors, Leaders, and Laborers

Who led these English colonial expeditions ? Often, these leaders were second sons from noble families. Under English law, only the first-born male could inherit property. As such, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert were all second sons with a thirst to find their own riches.

Merchants who dissented from the Church of England were also willing investors in New World colonies. There were plenty of Puritans who had the necessary capital, and with the Catholic-leaning Stuart monarchs assuming the throne the Puritans' motive to move became stronger.

With an excess landless population to serve as workers, and motivated, adventurous, or devout investors, the joint-stock company became the vehicle by which England finally settled the Western Hemisphere.

This starkly contrasted with Spanish and French settlements. New Spain and New France were developed by their kings. The English colonies were developed by their people. Many historians argue that the primary reason the relatively small and late English colonization effort ultimately outlasted its predecessors was because individuals had a true stake in its success.


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