Connecticut History

Connecticut History

North America

According to 800zipcodes, Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Surrounded by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York State to the west, and the Long Island Sound to the south.

Named for the Connecticut River, the largest river in the US that roughly cuts the state, the capital city is Hartford. The Corridor of Knowledge around Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts, the latter of which is just 5 miles north of the Connecticut state line, make up New England’s second most populous metropolitan region (with about 1, 8 million residents and 110,000 college students.), Southwestern Connecticut is considered part of the New York metropolitan area, three of the eight Connecticut counties are in the New York City area combined statistic, commonly called the area tri-state. Connecticut’s population center is in Cheshire, New Haven County.


The name of the state is an English version of the Algonquian word “quinatucquet”, which means “on the long river”. The Connecticut region was inhabited by the Mohegan tribe prior to European colonization. The first European explorer in Connecticut was the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block. After exploring this region in 1614, Dutch fur traders sailed down the Connecticut River (then known to the Dutch as Versche Rivier, “Sweet River”) and built a fort at Dutch Point, what is now Hartford., which they called “House of Hope” (in Dutch: Huis van Hoop).

John Winthrop, then from Massachusetts, received permission to create a new colony at Old Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut River in 1635. This was the first of three distinct colonies that were later combined to make Connecticut. Saybrook Colony was a direct challenge to the Dutch claims. The colony was nothing more than a small outpost that never grew. In 1644, the Saybrook Colony was transformed into the Connecticut Colony.

The first English settlers arrived in 1633 and settled at Windsor, and then Wethersfield the following year. However, the main group of settlers arrived in 1636. The settlers were Puritans from Massachusetts, led by Thomas Hooker. Hooker had excelled in England and was a professor of theology at Cambridge. He was also an important political writer with a significant contribution to constitutional theory. He broke with the political leaders of Massachusetts, and, like Roger Williams created a new system of government in Rhode Island, Hooker and his cohort established the Connecticut Colony in Hartford in 1636. This was the second of the three colonies.

The third colony was founded in March 1638. New Colony Haven (originally known as the Quinnipiack Colony) was created by John Davenport, Eaton Theophilus, and others in New Haven. The New Haven colony had its own constitution, “The New Haven Colony Fundamental Agreement,” which was signed on June 4, 1639.

Because the Dutch were overtaken by the flood of English settlers from Massachusetts, they left their fort in 1654.

Neither the establishment of the Connecticut Colony or the Quinnipiack Colony took place with the sanction of the English Crown and they were independent political entities. They, of course, were presumably English, but in a legal sense, they were nothing more than Massachusetts Bay secessionist outposts. In 1662, Winthrop took advantage of this void in political life and obtained in England the charter by which the colonies of Connecticut and Quinnipiack were united. Although Winthrop’s letter favored the Connecticut colony, New Haven held a government post with Hartford until after the American Revolution.

Winthrop was very politically astute and got the charter from the newly restored Charles II, who granted the most liberal political conditions.

Colonial settlements of historical importance that included:

  • Windsor (1633)
  • Wethersfield (1634)
  • Saybrook (1635)
  • Hartford (1636)
  • New Haven (1638)
  • Fairfield (1639)
  • Guilford (1639)
  • Milford (1639)
  • Stratford (1639)
  • Farmington (1640)
  • Stamford (1641)
  • New London (1646)

His first Constitution, “Fundamental Orders,” was adopted on 14 January of of 1639, while its current constitution, the third of Connecticut, was adopted in 1965. Connecticut is the fifth of the original 13 states. The original constitutions influenced the US Constitution, as one of the main authors was Roger Sherman of New Haven.

The western limits of Connecticut have undergone changes over time. According to the Treaty of Hartford with the Dutch, signed on 19 of September of 1650, but never ratified by the British, the western boundary of Connecticut ran north from Greenwich Bay at a distance of 20 miles. This agreement was observed by both sides until war broke out between England and the Netherlands in 1652. No other limits were drawn. The conflict over uncertain colonial boundaries continued until the Duke of York captured New Holland in 1664. On the other hand, the original Connecticut Charter in 1662 granted all the land to the South Sea, that is, the Pacific Ocean. The largest number of royal colonial concessions were for a long time East-West portions. Connecticut took its concession seriously, and established a ninth county between the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers, named Westmoreland County. This resulted in the brief Pennamite War with Pennsylvania.

The Connecticut lands also extends into northern Ohio, called the Western Reservation lands. The western section of the Reservation was created largely by people from Connecticut, and they brought Connecticut names to Ohio. Agreements with Pennsylvania and New York ended Connecticut’s land claims with its neighbors, creating the Connecticut Panhandle. The lands of the Western Reserve were turned over to the federal government, which brought the state to its current boundaries with minor adjustments with Massachusetts.

Connecticut History