KIDS: Early Connecticut History

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Connecticut History
A Robin's Eye View of Colonial Connecticut History 


 
 
 
  {The Colonial Robin}      Hi, I'm the ConneCT Kids Colonial Robin, and I'm going to tell you about the colonial history of our great state of Connecticut as seen by the robins. In fact, I wear these colonial clothes to remind you of our proud past, and all that has gone into making our state what it is today. My robin ancestors passed down these stories to me, and now I can tell them to you. Let's start when the first settlers came to this land.    
   
Early Connecticut History

Before the first settlers came to Connecticut, robins lived here along with Native American tribes http://www.kidinfo.com/American_History/Native_Americans.html

We watched them hunt and fish in the woodlands and streams. They made many trails to allow them to travel between villages to trade http://www.ctvisit.com/travelstories/details/connecticuts-historic-trails/87 . You can still hike many of these trails today http://www.traillink.com/state/ct-trails.aspx.

These Native Americans gave something else to Connecticut - its name. The name Connecticut comes from a Native American word "Quinatucquet," which meant "Beside the Long Tidal River." Do you know how long the Connecticut River is? (Answer 360 miles from Vermont to Long Island Sound) I have flown over it many times.

The first Europeans we saw landing on Connecticut shores were Dutch traders (http://www.coldspringschool.com/history/early.html) who sailed up the Connecticut River around the year 1614, and landed near Hartford. By the year 1633, they had purchased land from the Pequot Tribe and made a permanent settlement.

Within the next year, we saw many English settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, exploring throughout the Connecticut Valley area. They were impressed with the beauty of the countryside and decided to stay. It was in the town of Wethersfield (http://www.wethersfieldct.com/) that they planted the first crop.

The English settlers gave us the name "Robin," because our red breasts reminded them of a character in many of their poems, songs and stories called "Robin Redbreast." We knew that we were a member of the thrush family, but we didn't mind being called robins.

In 1636, one of the most famous early Connecticut settlers, the Reverend Thomas Hooker, traveled from Massachusetts with a group of colonists. They founded the town of Hartford (http://www.hartford.com, which soon became an important center of government and trade.

Many of the settlers bought land along the river from the Mohegan Indians. When we returned to Connecticut each spring we saw new settlements and villages from Saybrook to Windsor. Their fields provided lots of food for our new chicks.

By 1637, trouble began between the settlers and the Pequot Indians. The Indians wanted to take the lands that had been purchased from the Mohegans. In that year, Captain John Mason led the colonists to victory over the Pequots.

Because they wanted to create a plan for the type of government they wanted, Thomas Hooker, John Haynes and Roger Ludlow wrote a document which has been called the first written constitution. This was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut  http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?a=3188&q=392290#HISTORICAL Many historians have said that this was the basis for the United States Constitution. It was adopted in 1639 by Freeman of Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. At the same time, the first Governor, John Haynes, was chosen.

By 1660, the colonists had become uneasy about their legal standing with England. The colonies were still under English rule then, but there were many disagreements about land claims. Governor John Winthrop went to England in 1662 to talk to King Charles II. He returned with a royal charter  http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?a=3188&q=392290#HISTORICAL. This document was important because it gave the colony a legal basis and the approval of the King.

The colony continued to grow peacefully for the next 20 years, but every spring when we returned our nests, we heard more and more that the colonists were unhappy about the rule of England. They became afraid that they would lose their charter and their lands. England was far away, and the colonists wanted to decide their own government, future and way of life.

In October of 1687, the English Governor, Sir Edmund Andros, who had been appointed by King James, came to Connecticut to take away the charter and the colonists' legal rights. A large assembly was called to discuss the situation, and the charter was put on a table. Suddenly, someone put out the candles, and in the darkness the charter was taken away. Captain Wadsworth of Hartford is credited with taking the charter and placing it in a hollow spot in a large oak tree. This tree became known as the Charter Oak http://colonialwarsct.org/1687.htm. I like to think that some of my ancestors who had not yet left for the winter, sat in the branches of the tree and guarded the charter.

{Charter Oak Tree}

Many generations of robins would come and go before the next major crisis. During that time, Connecticut continued to grow and prosper, but troubles with England increased. I will tell you about that in the next section - Connecticut in the Revolutionary War.

Robin Redbreast  (Poem Excerpt)

Call for the Robin Redbreast
CALL for the robin redbreast and the wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover,
And with leaves and flowers do cover...

-- John Webster

    {Colonial Robin}

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Content Last Modified on 7/15/2014 9:58:02 AM