The History of Colonial Connecticut
The area was explored by the Dutch explorer Adrian Block (c.1567 – 1627). The first settlement by Europeans in Colonial Connecticut were made in 1633 by Dutch settlers on the site of present day Hartford. In the same year a trading post was established on the Connecticut river by settlers from the Plymouth Colony, A colonist called John Oldham (1600-1636) of Massachusetts explored the valley and his favorable reports led to the founding of Colonial Connecticut by Thomas Hooker in 1636. Thomas Hooker was a leading Puritan clergyman who grew dissatisfied with the rigid practices and government of the Puritan church in Massachusetts. He established the new colony with about 100 colonists who shared his views. Thomas Hooker inspired the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," which was one of the first written democratic constitutions that established a representative government. This famous constitution was in force for 180 years. In 1662 Colonial Connecticut secured a royal charter from King Charles II. The charter included the New Haven Colony.
Picture of Thomas Hooker
Native American Indians and Conflicts in Colonial Connecticut
The Native American Indians of Connecticut included the Narragansett, Mohegan, Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck, Abenaki and Pequot. The settlers in Colonial Connecticut were involved in the following conflicts:
- The Pequot War of 1637
- King Philip's War (1675 - 1677 ) named after Metacomet of the Wampanoag tribe. During King Philip's War, up to one third of America's white population was wiped out
- The French Indian War (1756 - 1763)
- The American Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783). The United States of America is created and Colonial Connecticut becomes a state
Religion in Colonial Connecticut
The Puritans dominated New England and Colonial Connecticut. Although many left Europe in order to obtain religious freedom they did not tolerate any other form of religion. The Puritans were a Reform movement in the Anglican church that aimed at purifying the church of corruption. Puritans were classed as dissenters. the religion of the Puritans was strict and austere. They enforced a strict moral code and were strongly opposed to sensual pleasures and were strong advocates of propriety, modesty and and decorum. The Congregational Church eventually grew out of the Puritan Church and was formally established Colonial Connecticut.
Government in Colonial Connecticut
On 23 April, 1662 John Winthrop Jr. obtained a charter for Connecticut from King Charles II of England. Colonial Connecticut became a Charter Colony which was largely self-governed. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were adopted by free men of Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. The charter established the rules of government, but allowed the Connecticut colonists a great amount of freedom within those rules. John Haynes was elected as the first Governor. The organization of Government in Colonial Connecticut was structured as follows:
- The Governor of Colonial Connecticut held the executive power in the colony representing the Crown (England)
- The Governor’s Council of Colonial Connecticut was composed of influential and powerful men who advised and supported the Governor and had judicial and administrative powers
- An Assembly was elected by and represented, the citizens of the towns and counties of Colonial Connecticut
- Town Meetings
The Union of New Haven and Connecticut Colonies was completed in 1665.
1662 Charter of Connecticut
Natural Materials and Raw Resources in Colonial Connecticut
The Natural materials and raw resources available to the colonists in Colonial Connecticut were fish, whales and timber from the dense forests. Farming was difficult for crops like wheat because of the poor soil but corn, pumpkins, rye, squash and beans were raised.
Life in Colonial Connecticut - Economy, Trade, Industries and Jobs
The way of life in Colonial Connecticut was determined by religion, wealth, status and how colonists could make a living. The majority of the workforce in Colonial Connecticut consisted of manual workers, servants, apprentices, sailors, hired hands and semi-skilled tradesmen. These were colonists of the lower class could not vote nor hold public office. few owned property and most were illiterate. The lower classes were bolstered by Indentured Servants and some slaves. The Middle class citizens of Colonial Connecticut could vote but few held public office. They ran stores or small businesses, were skilled tradesmen or belonged to professions. The Upper class consisted of wealthy and well educated minor aristocrats who could vote and held high public office. The economy of Colonial Connecticut was based on manufacture and industries such as ship building and the manufacture and export of rum. The way of life focussed on town life. The names of the major towns in Colonial Connecticut were Hartford and New Haven. In towns along the coast, the colonists made their living fishing, whaling, shipbuilding and shipping. The economy of other parts of Colonial Connecticut was based on timber products, the fur trade, maple syrup, copper, livestock products, horses, rum, whiskey and beer.
Facts about the Connecticut Colony
New England Ship Yard