Settlements In The Connecticut Valley
Early claimants.—One of the patentees who had received lands from the Council of New England was the Earl of Warwick, whose grant covered a large part of the Connecticut Valley. In 1631 he transferred his rights to Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Brooke and others, who contemplated founding a Puritan colony, but for several years they did nothing to settle their domain. In 1633 the Dutch erected a fort where Hartford now stands, and shortly afterward men from Plymouth built a trading post ten miles farther up the river. In 1635 the English patentees, wearied with the Providence Island project, sent out settlers under John Winthrop, Jr., who erected Fort Saybrook at the mouth of the river. Scarcely were the cannon in place when a Dutch vessel appeared, but finding the English strongly posted, the Dutch made no attempt to take possession.
The migration of 1635-36.—A more important movement came from Massachusetts. Congregations from Watertown, Dorchester, and Cambridge, desiring better lands, migrated to the rich Connecticut Valley. The first Dorchester men arrived at Windsor in the summer of 1635. In June, 1636, the Rev. Thomas Hooker led the Cambridge people to Hartford, the rest of the Dorchester congregation joined those already at Windsor, and the people of Watertown settled at Wethersfield. By the end of 1636 eight hundred people were living in the three towns. Another congregation from Roxbury settled at Springfield.
The Pequot War.—The Pequot Indians saw with chagrin the increasing numbers of the whites. The settlers also angered them by purchasing lands from the Mohegans, and ignoring the Pequot chiefs. In 1633 the Pequots had murdered a Virginia sea-captain named Stone, and Governor Winthrop had inquired concerning the homicide. In 1634, fearing the Dutch and the Narragansetts, the Pequots had sought an alliance with Massachusetts Bay Colony. As a price of forgiveness for Stone's murder and for protection, Winthrop demanded heavy tribute. In 1636 John Oldham, who had come to collect the tribute, was murdered at Block Island. Though the Pequots were probably not guilty, Endicott led a force against them, destroying several wigwams and seizing considerable maize. Angered by the raid, the Pequots attempted to form an alliance with the Narragansetts, but Williams prevented it, and in the ensuing war Mohegans and Narragansetts fought on the white man's side. In the spring of 1637 Pequots attacked Wethersfield. A general court was immediately convened at Hartford to take measures for protection, and an expedition was sent against the Pequot fort on the Mystic River, where the defenders were exterminated. Another stronghold to the westward was also destroyed. A remnant of the tribe was wiped out near New Haven by Connecticut and Massachusetts troops and the captives were made slaves, some being retained in New England, others being shipped to the West Indies. The Indian menace was thus removed and the settlers were free to push farther into the wilderness.
"The Fundamental Orders."—In 1639 Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield formed a constitution, which provided that the freemen were to hold two general meetings each year. At one of these meetings the governor and assistants were elected, who, with four representatives from each town, were to make up a general court with legislative and judicial powers.
New Haven.—The successful issue of the Pequot War opened the Connecticut Valley to another important migration. This was led by Rev. John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, who had come to New England to plant a colony on purely theocratic lines. In 1638 they founded New Haven, and the following year drew up a form of government. Citizenship was restricted to church membership and an annual general court of freemen was to elect a governor and assistants, who were to conduct all governmental affairs, the only restriction on their authority being the law of Moses. Guilford, Milford, and Stamford sprang up in the neighborhood, and each adopted a similar form of government.
Settlement of Long Island.—English settlements also appeared on Long Island. In 1632 Sir Edmund Plowden obtained a grant from Charles I of Long Island and a portion of the adjoining coasts. Three years later the Council for New England assigned Long Island to Sir William Alexander. In 1640 settlers from New Haven obtained a title to Long Island from Alexander's representative and settled at Southold. Others from Massachusetts attempted a settlement opposite Manhattan, but, being driven away by the Dutch, moved to Southampton at the eastern end of the island.
Next: Politics Administration And Expansion
Previous: Expansion Of The Massachusetts Bay Colony Rhode Island