Connecticut

 

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1766 Map of the Connecticut Colony

State Seal of ConnecticutConnecticut, one of the original thirteen English-American colonies, was probably first discovered by a European, ADRIAN BLOCK, at the mouth of the Connecticut River, in 1613. That stream the Dutch called Versch-water (fresh-water) River; the Indians called it Qua-nek-ta-cut, " long river." The Dutch laid claim to the adjoining territory by right of discovery, while the English made a counterclaim 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 of Holland, 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 selfinterest, invited them to the same territory, his object being to make the English a barrier between his people and the powerful and warlike Pequods.

Early Settlements

In 1632 Edward Winslow visited the Connecticut Valley, and confirmed the truth of all the pleasant things the Dutch and Indians 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 of Warwick, 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. The Dutch, 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. Governor Winthrop, of Massachusetts, wrote to Van Twiller at Manhattan that England had granted the valley to English subjects, and the Dutch must " forbear to build there." Van Twiller courteously replied that the Dutch had already purchased the country from the Indians and "set up a house, with intent to plant." The Dutch finally withdrew, and in 163536 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 in 1636.

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. Governor Winthrop'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 (January 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. 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 refused. A dispute concerning the boundaryline 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 India-ink 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 defense.

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, October 31, 1687. 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. Andros 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, Connecticut, became the theatre of a famous convention which attracted much anxious attentionfor a while. In 1818 a convention assembled at Hart-ford and framed a constitution, which was adopted by the people at an election on Oct. 5. During the Civil War the State 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; 389 men and twenty-one officers " missing." Population in 1890, 746,258; in 1900, 908,355.

GOVERNORS OF THE CONNECTICUT COLONY
Name. Date.
John Haynes

1639 to 1640

Edward Hopkins

1640 " 1641

John Haynes

1641 " 1642

George Wyllys

1642 " 1643

John Haynes.. alternately from

Edward Hopkins

1643 " 1655

Thomas Welles

1655 " 1656

John Webster

1656 " 1657

John Winthrop

1657 " 1658

Thomas Welles

1658 " 1659

John Winthrop 1659

" 1665

Until this time no person could be elected to a second

term immediately following the first.

GOVERNORS OF THE NEW HAVEN COLONY

Name.

Date.

Theophilus Eaton

1639 to 1657

Francis Newman

1658 " 1660

William Leete

1661 " 1665

GOVERNORS OF CONNECTICUT.

Name.

Date.

John Winthrop

1665 to 1676

William Leete

1676 " 1683

Robert Treat

1683 " 1687

Edmund Andros

1687 " 1689

Robert Treat

1689 " 1698

Fitz John Winthrop

1698 " 1707

Gurdon Saltonstall

1707 " 1724

Joseph Talcott

1724 " 1741

Jonathan Law

1741 " 1750

Roger Wolcott

1750 " 1754

Thomas Fitch

1754 " 1766

William Pitkin

1766 " 1769

Jonathan Trumbull

1769 " 1784

Mathew Griswold

1784 " 1786

Samuel Huntington

1786 " 1796

Oliver Wolcott

1796 " 1798

Jonathan Trumbull

1798 " 1809

John Treadwell

1809 " 1811

Roger Griswold

1811 " 1813

John Cotton Smith

1813 " 1817

Oliver Wolcott

1817 " 1827

Gideon Tomlinson

1827 " 1831

John S. Peters

1831 " 1833

H. W. Edwards

1833 " 1834

Samuel A. Foote

1834 " 1835

H. W. Edwards

1835 " 1838

W.W. Ellsworth

1838 " 1842

C. F. Cleveland

1842 " 1844

Roger S. Baldwin

1844 " 1846

Clark Bissell,

1846 " 1849

Joseph Trumbull

1849 " 1850

Thomas H. Seymour

1850 " 1853

Name.

Date.

Charles H. Pond

1853 to 1854

Henry Dutton

1854 " 1855

W T. Minor

1855 " 1857

A. H. Holley.. .

1857 " 1858

William A. Buckingham

1858 "" 1866

Joseph R. Hawley

1866 " 1867

James E. English

1867 " 1869

Marshall Jewell

1869 " 1870

James E. English

1870 " 1871

Marshall Jewell

1871 " 1873

Charles R. Ingersoll

 

1873 " 1876

R. D. Hubbard

1876 " 1879

Charles B. Andrews

1879 " 1881

H. B. Bigelow

1881 " 1883

Thomas M. Waller

1883 " 1885

Henry B. Harrison

 

1885 " 1887

Phineas C. Lounsbury

1887 " 1889

Morgan G. Bulkeley

 

1889 " 1891

 

1891 " 1893

Luzon B Morris

1893 " 1895

O Vincent Coffin

1895 " 1897

Lorrin A. Cooke

1897 " 1899

George E, Lounsbury

1899 " 1901

George P. McLean

1901 " 1903

Abiram Chamberlain

1903 " 1905

Henry Roberts

1905 " 1907

UNITED STATES SENATORS.

Name.

No. of Congress.

Date.

Oliver Ellsworth

1st to 4th

1789 to 1797

William S. Johnson

1st

1783 " 1791

Roger Sherman

2d

1791 " 1793

Stephen Nix Mitchell

3d

1793 " 1795

James Hillhouse

4th to 11th

1796 " 1811

Jonathan Trumbull

4th

1795 " 1796

Uriah Tracy

4th to 9th

1796 " 1807

Chauncey Goodrich

10th " 12th

1807 " 1813

Samuel W. Dana

11th " 16th

1810 " 1821

David Daggett

13th " 15th

1813 " 1819

James Lanman

16th " 18th

1819 " 1825

Elijah Boardman

17th

1821 " 1823

Henry W. Edwards

18th to 19th

1823 " 1827

Calvin Willey

19th " 21st

1825 " 1831

Samuel A. Foote 20th " 22d

1827 " 1833

Gideon Tomlinson

22d " 24th

1831' " 1837

Nathan Smith

23d

1833 " 1835

John M. Niles

24th to 25th

1835 " 1839

Perry Smith

25th " 27th

1837 " 1843

Thaddeus Betts

26th

1839 " 1840

Jabez W Huntington

26th to 29th

1840 " 1847

John M. Niles

28th " 30th

1843 " 1849

Roger S. Baldwin

30th " 31st

1847 " 1851

Truman Smith 31st " 33d

1849 " 1854

Isaac Toucey

32d " 34th

1852 " 1857

Francis Gillett

33d

1854 " 1855

Lafayette Foster

34th to 39th

1855 " 1867

James Dixon

35th " 40th

1857 " 1869

Orris S. Ferry

40th " 44th

1867 " 1875

William A. Buckingham

41st " 43d

1869 " 1875

William W Eaton

43d " 46th

1875 " 1881

James E. English

44th

1875 " 1877

William H. Barnum

44th to 45th

1875 " 1879

Orville H. Platt

46th

1879 "

Joseph R. Hawley

47th

1881 "

 

 

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