One of the original thirteen English
-American colonies, was probably first discovered by a European, Adriaen Block
(q. v.), at the mouth of the Connecticut River
, in 1613.
That stream the Dutch
called Versch-water (freshwater) River; the Indians called it Quanek-ta-cut, “long river.”
laid claim to the adjoining territory by right of discovery, while the English
made a counter-claim soon afterwards, based upon a patent issued by the King
to English subjects.
The agent of the Dutch West India Company took formal possession by proclamation of the Connecticut Valley
as early as 1623 in the name of the States-General
, and a peaceable and profitable trade with the Indians might have been carried on had not the Dutch
exasperated the natives by seizing one of their chiefs and demanding a heavy ransom for his release.
A Dutch embassy which visited Plymouth
tried to get the Pilgrims to abandon Cape Cod Bay
and seat themselves, under the jurisdiction of New Netherland, in the fertile Connecticut Valley, and a Mohegan chief, moved by equally strong self-interest, invited them to the same territory, his object being to make the English
a barrier between his people and the powerful and warlike Pequods.
In 1632 Edward Winslow
visited the Connecticut Valley
, and confirmed the truth of all the pleasant things the Dutch
had said about it. The fame of it had already reached Old England, and two years before Winslow
's visit Charles I, had granted the soil of that region to Robert, Earl
and he transferred it to William, Viscount Say and Seal; Robert, Lord Brook, and their associates.
This was the original grant of Connecticut
, and the territory was defined as extending westward from the Atlantic
to the Pacific Ocean
, having purchased the valley from the Indians, the rightful owners, built a redoubt just below the site of Hartford
, called Fort Good Hope
, in 1633, and took possession.
, of Massachusetts
, wrote to Van Twiller
had granted the valley to English subjects, and the Dutch
must “forbear to build there.”
courteously replied that the Dutch
had already purchased the country from the Indians and “set up a house, with intent to plant.”
finally withdrew, and in 1635-36 the first permanent settlement in the valley was made at Hartford
by emigrants from Massachusetts
The first church was built there in 1635, and the first court, or legislative assembly, was convened at Hartford
The next year occurred the distressing war with the Pequods, which resulted in their annihilation.
A year later a settlement was begun on the site of New Haven, and a sort of theocratic government for it was established.
's son, John, came from England
and assumed the office of governor of the colony in the Connecticut Valley
in 1636, with instructions to build a fort and plant a colony at the mouth of the Connecticut River
A dispute with the Plymouth
people arose about the right of emigrants from Massachusetts
in the valley, but it was soon amicably settled.
A constitution for the government of the colony in the valley was approved by a general vote of the people (Jan. 14, 1639). It was a remarkable document, and formed the basis of a charter afterwards obtained from the King
On the restoration of monarchy in England
, the Connecticut
colonists had fears regarding their political future, for they had been stanch republicans during the interregnum.
The General Assembly therefore resolved to make a formal acknowledgment of their allegiance to the King
, and ask him for a charter.
A petition to that effect was signed in May, 1661, and Governor Winthrop
bore it to the monarch.
He was at first coolly received, but by the gift to the King
of a precious memento of the sovereign's dead father, the heart of Charles was touched, and, turning to Lord Clarendon, who was present, he said, “Do you advise me to grant a charter to this good man and his people?”
“I do, sire,” answered Clarendon
“It shall be done,” said Charles, and Winthrop
was dismissed with a hearty shake of his hand and a blessing from the royal lips.
A charter was issued
May 1, 1662 (N. S.
). It confirmed the popular constitution, and contained more liberal provisions than any that had yet been issued by royal hands.
It defined the boundaries so as to include the New Haven colony and a part of Rhode Island
on the east, and westward to the Pacific Ocean
The New Haven colony reluctantly gave its consent to the union in 1665, but Rhode island
A dispute concerning the boundary-line between Connecticut
and Rhode Island
lasted more than sixty years.
The charter, engrossed on parchment and decorated with a finely executed miniature of Charles II.
(done in Indiaink by Samuel Cooper
, it is supposed, who was an eminent London
miniature painter of the time), was brought across the sea in a handsome mahogany box, in which it is still preserved in the State Department of Connecticut
It was of so general a character, and conferred such large powers, that when Connecticut
became an independent State it was considered a good fundamental law for the commonwealth, and was not changed until 1818.
It provided for the election of the governor of the colony and the magistrates by the people, substantially as under the previous constitution; allowed the free transportation of colonists and merchandise from England
to the colony; guaranteed to the colonists the rights of English citizens; provided for the making of laws and the organization of courts by the General Assembly, and the appointment of all necessary officers for the public good; for the organization of a military force, and for the public defence.
Determined to hold absolute rule over New England
, King James II, made Andros
a sort of viceroy, with instructions to take away the colonial charters.
For the purpose of seizing that of Connecticut
, whose General Assembly had refused to surrender it, Andros
arrived at Hartford
, where the Assembly was in session in their meeting-house, Oct. 31, 1687 (O. S.). He was received by the Assembly with the courtesy due to his rank when he appeared before them, with armed men at his back, and demanded the charter to be put into his hands.
It was then near sunset.
A debate upon some unimportant subject was continued until after the candles were lighted.
Then the long box containing the charter was brought in and placed upon the table.
A preconcerted plan to save it was now put into operation.
Just as the usurper was about to grasp the box with the charter, the candles were snuffed out. When they were relighted the charter was not there, and the members were seated in proper order.
The charter had been carried out in the darkness by Captain Wadsworth
, and deposited in the trunk of a hollow oak-tree on the outskirts of the village (see charter Oak
was compelled to content himself with dissolving the Assembly, and writing in a bold hand “Finis” in the journal of that body.
When the Revolution of 1688 swept the Stuarts from the English
throne, the charter was brought from its hiding-place, and under it the colonists of Connecticut
flourished for 129 years afterwards.
Under the charter given by Charles II., in 1662, Connecticut
, like Rhode Island
assumed independence in 1776, and did not frame a new constitution of government.
Under that charter it was governed until 1818.
In 1814, Hartford, Conn.
, became the theatre of a famous convention which attracted much anxious attention
for a while (see Hartford convention
). In 1818 a convention of delegates from each town in the State
assembled at Hartford
and framed a constitution, which was adopted by the people at an election on Oct. 5.
During the Civil War
furnished to the National
army 54,882 soldiers, of whom 1,094 men and ninety-seven officers were killed in action, 666 men and forty-eight officers died from wounds, and 3,246 men and sixty-three officers from disease.
There were reported “missing” 389 men and twenty-one officers.
Population in 1890, 746,258; in 1900, 908,355.
Until this time no person could be elected to a second term immediately following the first.