A second wave of Puritans, seeking the prime land that had already been occupied in Massachusetts by the first wave of settlers, found and colonized the Connecticut River Valley, expanding British holdings in the Americas and creating a new government markedly different from the one developing in the Massachusetts Bay.
As more and more settlers poured into Massachusetts Bay as part of the Great Puritan Migration
In the fall of 1632, Edward Winslow
Robert Rich, second earl of Warwick
Because Winthrop’s authority did not include the right to establish a governing body, he secured the cooperation of the Massachusetts General Court, which authorized the establishment of basic government institutions similar to those existing in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These institutions provided for the participation of all Christian freeholders in the election of individuals to office in the towns and in the General Court for Connecticut. This franchise—relatively broad compared to that in the older colony, which restricted participation to those who were recognized members of a church—has led many commentators to view Connecticut as fundamentally more democratic than the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
In 1637, the first General Court of Connecticut met at Hartford, comprising representatives of the towns of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield. This general court prepared for war against the powerful Pequots
The settlers in the Connecticut River Valley, flush with their victory over the Pequots, immediately turned their attention to creating a stable government for the colony. They drew up a constitution, called the Fundamental Orders
All these settlements flourished under the neglect of the British government, for during most of the first thirty years of Connecticut settlement, the British were wholly preoccupied with their own Civil Wars and the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell. With the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, the lack of a royal charter for any group in Connecticut (in contrast to Massachusetts Bay) became an urgent issue. In 1661, John Winthrop, Jr., was commissioned to go to England and secure a royal charter. Winthrop proved to be a highly successful maneuverer, and in 1662, he won for Connecticut the desired charter, issued on May 3. On January 5, 1665, although somewhat reluctantly, the independent colony at New Haven agreed to be incorporated into Connecticut. The conquest of New Amsterdam by the English that same year eliminated any foreign competition for control of Connecticut.
Overall, the first thirty years of settlement in Connecticut brought many new émigrés from England, although new immigrants were few during the 1640’. The supply of good land during these years ensured that this overwhelmingly agricultural society would remain relatively homogeneous socially. Although some who came subsequently left, those who stayed were soon able to acquire enough land for a “competency,” that is, a standard of living that enabled them and their families to live with modest comfort. Few would have been able to achieve this level had they remained in England. For them, living in Connecticut was the realization of a dream.
Connecticut is also particularly important to the history of colonial America as a result of the Fundamental Orders, framed by Hooker and Ludlow. This document, one of the most important and elaborate early American constitutions, was a model for later such documents and enshrined the principle of separation of church and state that was eschewed by the nearby theocracy of Massachusetts Bay.
Charles II (of England); Oliver Cromwell; John Davenport; Thomas Hooker; Roger Ludlow; John Winthrop.