The Connecticut Colony was one of America’s 13 founding colonies, founded by English settlers in the early 17th century. The Connecticut River, which forms its eastern boundary, inspired the colony’s name.
Thomas Hooker and a group of followers who had fled the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of more religious freedom established the first permanent English settlement in Connecticut in 1633.
The colony swiftly developed and prospered, and King Charles II granted it a royal charter in 1662. Connecticut was well-known for its agricultural, particularly tobacco production, as well as shipbuilding and trading businesses.
The colony was instrumental in the American Revolution and was the fifth state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788.
Connecticut Colony Facts
1. The Connecticut Colony was Founded in 1633
Although Thomas Hooker and his friends did establish a community in Connecticut in 1633, contrary to popular belief, it was not the first permanent English settlement in the region.
As early as the year 1614, Dutch merchants had already erected a fort and trading station in the region.
Also Read: Facts About the New Hampshire Colony
After leaving the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of greater religious freedom, a company led by Hooker established the first permanent English settlement in Connecticut in the year 1635. They did so in the state of Connecticut.
This group was responsible for the establishment of the town of Hartford, which went on to become the capital of the colony.
2. The Colony was Granted a Royal Charter in 1662
During the 17th century, the Connecticut Colony experienced rapid expansion and prosperity, which led to King Charles II granting the colony a royal charter in the year 1662.
The charter affirmed Connecticut’s right to self-governance while also establishing the colony as an independent entity with its own government, laws, and land rights. Additionally, the charter created Connecticut as a separate colony.
Also Read: Plymouth Colony Facts
This enabled the colony to gain greater independence and authority over its own affairs, as well as the ability to extend its territorial holdings and increase its population.
In addition, the charter expanded the boundaries of the colony to include what is now the state of Rhode Island as well as portions of the states of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania.
The granting of this royal charter was a significant factor in both the growth of the colony and the evolution of the territory into a state.
3. The Pequot War Lasted from 1636 to 1637
Between 1636 and 1637, the Connecticut Colony settlers and the Pequot Indians fought the Pequot War. Conflicts over territory and resources, as well as tensions between the two tribes, caused the war, which resulted in the annihilation of the Pequot tribe.
The Pequot were an influential Algonquian-speaking people who had resided in the area for generations. The battle began with the assassination of a colonist by a member of the tribe and swiftly grew into a full-fledged fight.
In May 1637, Connecticut and Massachusetts colonists raided and burnt a fortified Pequot hamlet, murdering hundreds of people, chiefly women and children, with the help of the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes.
The war effectively ended the Pequot tribe’s dominance and offered up additional land for English settlement. The war is regarded as one of the deadliest and most deadly conflicts in American colonial history.
4. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut Were Written in 1639
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which date back to 1639 and are widely regarded as one of the earliest examples of a written constitution anywhere in the world, were penned by Connecticut’s founders.
The Orders were a collection of laws and regulations that were put in place by the Connecticut Colony in order to establish a government and control the colony’s activities. The Orders put in place a democratic system of governance, complete with a democratically elected assembly, a governor, and a council of assistants.
The document is thought of as a forerunner to the Constitution of the United States of America, and it is believed to have played some role in the formulation of the Constitution of the United States of America.
5. The Dominion of New England Tried to Annex the Colony
Sir Edward Andros, governor of the Dominion of New England, attempted to seize control of the Connecticut Colony and unite New England’s numerous colonies into a single, centralized administration in 1687.
King James II appointed Andros to oversee the Dominion of New England, which encompassed the provinces of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York.
Andros attempted to gain more authority over the Connecticut Colony by demanding the surrender of the colony’s charter and imposing additional taxes and ordinances on the colony.
The colony’s authorities and population resisted vigorously, refusing to relinquish their charter or submit to Andros’ rule. This eventually led to the fall of Andros’ government and the restoration of the various colonies’ autonomy in 1689.
6. The Colony was the Fifth State in the Union
When the Connecticut Colony approved the United States Constitution on January 9, 1788, it became the fifth state in the Union. On that date, the state was formally admitted to the Union.
Prior to that, the colony was self-sufficient and self-governing. Connecticut’s ratification of the United States Constitution, along with the other states’ ratifications, signaled the foundation of the new federal government and the end of the Articles of Confederation era.
Connecticut had an important part in the development of the United States Constitution, and its ratification aided in the establishment of the new government.
7. Connecticut was Involved in Several Pivotal Battles During the War
Connecticut had an important part in the American Revolutionary War. Connecticut was one of the thirteen colonies that battled against Great Britain for freedom.
Because of its position and resources, Connecticut was an important center for military action during the conflict. Connecticut colonists supplied the Continental Army with troops, ships, and weapons and supplies.
The state also sent a large number of men to fight in the war, and several of its officials, like Governor Jonathan Trumbull and General Israel Putnam, played key roles in the war effort.
Connecticut was involved in several pivotal battles during the war, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Battle of Saratoga, and the Battle of Yorktown.
8. It was Founded Through the Joining of Several Smaller English Communities
Connecticut was founded through the union of numerous lesser English communities in the region.
The New Haven Colony, founded by Puritans in 1638 and located on the coast of Long Island Sound, was likewise amalgamated with the colony of Connecticut in 1662.
The Saybrook Colony, located near the mouth of the Connecticut River, was amalgamated with the Connecticut colony in 1644. The Saybrook Colony was founded by a group of English settlers led by Lion Gardiner and was primarily concerned with trading and shipbuilding.
The union of these two colonies contributed to Connecticut’s increased size and strength, as well as its ability to grow its land and people.
9. William Leete of Guilford was Governor of Both New Haven and Connecticut
William Leete of Guilford, Connecticut, was the governor of New Haven Colony prior to its merger with Connecticut, and he also served as governor of Connecticut after Governor John Winthrop Jr. died in 1675.
He is the only individual to have held the position of governor of both colonies. Leete was a key player in the New Haven colony, serving as an assistant and as governor from 1661 to 1665.
Leete remained a significant role in the Connecticut colony after the merging of New Haven and Connecticut, serving as governor from 1676 until 1683.
He was well-known for his leadership through tough periods such as King Philip’s War, as well as his efforts to establish peace and stability in the colony. For many years, he was also a member of the Governor’s Council, which was a council of counselors to the governor.
10. The Colony Grew to be a Major Exporter of Food and Commodities
The Connecticut Colony’s economy began in the 17th century with subsistence farming, as the initial settlers were primarily concerned with providing food to feed themselves and their children.
However, as the colony grew and prospered, the economy diversified and began to focus on production for distant markets, particularly British colonies in the Caribbean.
The colony established a robust agricultural sector, cultivating crops such as tobacco, corn, and wheat, which were sold to the Caribbean and Europe.
The colony also possessed shipbuilding and trading businesses, which aided in connecting it to other markets. Furthermore, Connecticut had a sizable lumber sector that supplied wood for shipbuilding and export.
The colony also produced iron and other commodities for sale and export. As the colony grew and flourished, the economy shifted to produce for distant markets, and the colony became an important center of trade and business in the region.