The Connecticut Colonies

THE Connecticut colonists worked in harmony as brethren of the same nation and creed until their fusion into one commonwealth in 1665. They managed their private and public affairs prudently and were prosperous. Troubles with the Dutch, concerning territorial boundaries, were amicably settled with Stuyvesant when he visited Hartford in 1650; but the mutterings of dissatisfaction which fell from the lips of the neighboring Indian tribes gave them some disquietude, and made them heartily approve and join the New England Confederacy formed in 1643. The following year the little independent colony at Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut River, which had been formed in 1639, was annexed to that of Connecticut at Hartford, and was the precursor of the final union of the three colonies about twenty years afterwards.

On the restoration of monarchy in England, in 1660, the Connecticut colonists had fears regarding their future. Their sturdy republicanism and independent action in the past might be mortally offensive to the new monarch. The General Assembly of Connecticut, therefore, resolved to make a formal acknowledgement of their allegiance to the crown and ask the king for a charter. A petition was accordingly framed and signed in May, 1651, and Governor John Winthrop bore it to England. He was a son of Winthrop of Massachusetts, and was a man of rare attainments and courtly manners, and then about forty-five years of age. He obtained an interview with the king, and was received with coolness. His name and the people over whom he was the chosen ruler were associated with radical republicanism, and the king received the prayer of the petitioners with disfavor. Winthrop left the royal presence, disappointed but not disheartened, and sought and obtained another interview.

The "merrie monarch" was now in more genial mood. He chatted freely with Winthrop about America-its soil, productions, the Indians and the settlers; yet he hesitated to promise a charter. Winthrop, it is said, finally drew from his pocket a gold ring of great value, which the king's father had given to the governor's grandfather, and presented it to his majesty with a request that he would accept it as a memorial of the unfortunate monarch, and a token of Winthrop's esteem for, and loyalty to King Charles, before whom he stood as a faithful and loving subject. The king's heart was touched. Turning to Lord Clarendon, who was present, the monarch said: "Do you advise me to grant a charter to this good gentleman and his people?" "I do, Sire," responded Clarendon. "It shall be done," said Charles, and he dismissed Winthrop with a hearty shake of his hand and a royal blessing.

The governor left Whitehall with a light heart. A charter was issued on the first of May, 1652. It confirmed the popular constitution of the colony, and contained more liberal provisions than any yet 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, and the boundary between Connecticut and Rhode Island remained a subject of dispute for more than sixty years. That old charter, engrossed on parchment, is among the archives in the Connecticut State Department. It bears the miniature portrait of Charles the Second, drawn in India ink by Samuel Cooper, it is supposed, who was an eminent London miniature painter of the time.

During King Philip's war, the colonists of Connecticut did not suffer much from hostile Indians, excepting some remote settlers high up the Connecticut River. They furnished their full measure of men and supplies, and their soldiers bore a conspicuous part in that contest between the races for supremacy.

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