Connecticut was one of the first 13 colonies established in the New World, and it has a history full of famous people and sayings. This state was first inhabited by the Native Americans, then the Dutch, who got pushed out by the Puritans. With its long past of wars, growth, and fighting against slavery and for independence, the “Provision State” has its share of fascinating stories.
Before Europeans arrived to settle the area, the Mohegan, Pequot, and Nipmuc peoples made the land that we today call Connecticut their home. They spoke the Algonquian language and lived in wigwams – dome-shaped homes made from tree saplings covered in bark.
In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block became the first known explorer to land. He and his crew sailed up the Connecticut River and made a map of the region. About six years later, Dutch settlers began moving into the area. They built small forts and settlements, including the town of Wethersfield in 1634, which is the state’s oldest permanent settlement today. The Dutch started trading for beaver furs with the Pequot tribe.
The arrangement worked well until a large group of Puritans, led by Thomas Hooker, started arriving from Massachusetts in 1636. Hooker founded the Colony of Connecticut at the city of Hartford. The Puritans were in search of a life where they could express their religion freely, and in 1639 they created a document they called the “Fundamental Orders.” This is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution, as it awarded certain rights to members of that society.
The addition of so many more settlers created a strain on the fur trade. Tensions between local tribes started heating up, and the Pequot wanted to control the business. They attacked other tribes that tried to trade with the settlers. In an attempt to control the Pequot, the settlers captured their chief, Tatobem, holding him for ransom. Unfortunately, they ended up killing the chief which started a war between the settlers and the Pequot. The war ended with the Pequot losing and nearly being eliminated.
More English moved into the area, effectively pushing out the Dutch settlers. In 1662, a Royal Charter from the King of England made the Colony of Connecticut an official English colony. The eighteenth century brought even more unrest as the Americans became unhappy with English rule. When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Connecticut was one of the first colonies to join.
Famous People and Sayings
The Connecticut militia fought at the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. This is where General Israel Putnam said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Another famous patriot from the colony, Nathan Hale, was a spy for General George Washington. When he was caught by the enemy and sentenced to death, he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
During the war, Connecticut was instrumental in providing necessities for soldiers, such as food, supplies, and weapons. Because of this, Washington nicknamed it the “Provision State.”
After the war, Connecticut worked with the other colonies to form a government. On January 9, 1788, it ratified the new U.S. Constitution and became the fifth state to join the Union.
Connecticut was at the center of the anti-slavery movement in the 1800s, before the Civil War broke out. A lot of abolitionists who abhorred the thought of such an institution lived in the state, some of them famous, such as John Brown, who led the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was also a resident.
Connecticut outlawed slavery in 1848 and joined the side of the North when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Keeping in theme with its nickname, industry became a big part of the state’s success, even unto today.