Map of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies
|Status||Colony of England (1636–1707)|
Colony of Great Britain (1707–76)
New Haven (joint capital with Hartford, 1701–76)
|Common languages||English, Mohegan-Pequot, Quiripi|
|Legislature||General Court of the Colony of Connecticut|
|March 3 1636|
|Today part of||United States|
The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut, originally known as the Connecticut River Colony or simply the River Colony, was an English colony in New England which became the state of Connecticut. It was organized on March 3, 1636 as a settlement for a Puritan congregation, and the English permanently gained control of the region in 1637 after struggles with the Dutch. The colony was later the scene of a bloody war between the colonists and Pequot Indians known as the Pequot War. Connecticut Colony played a significant role in the establishment of self-government in the New World with its refusal to surrender local authority to the Dominion of New England, an event known as the Charter Oak incident which occurred at Jeremy Adams' inn and tavern.
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 Rev. 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 prior to 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. Congregationalism was the established church in the colony by the time of the American Revolutionary War.
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. 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.
Connecticut's domestic architecture included a wide variety of house forms. They generally reflected the dominant English heritage and architectural tradition.
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