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Before Europeans arrived in Connecticut, the land was inhabited by Native American tribes. Some of the major tribes were the Mohegan, the Pequot, and the Nipmuc. These tribes spoke the Algonquian language and lived in dome shaped homes made from tree saplings covered in bark called wigwams. For food, they hunted deer; gathered nuts and berries; and grew corn, squash, and beans.
The first European to visit Connecticut was Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. Block and his crew sailed up the Connecticut River, mapping out the region for future Dutch settlers.
In the 1620s, Dutch settlers began moving into the region. They wanted to trade for beaver furs with the Pequot Indians. They built small forts and settlements including the town of Wethersfield in 1634 which is Connecticut's oldest permanent settlement.
In 1636, the English arrived when a large group of Puritans from Massachusetts led by Thomas Hooker founded the Colony of Connecticut at the city of Hartford. They came looking for freedom of religion. In 1639 they adopted a constitution called the "Fundamental Orders." It is considered the first document to establish a democratic representative government.
As more settlers moved into the land, tensions with the local Native Americans began to mount. The Pequot tribe wanted to control the fur trade. They attacked other tribes who tried to trade furs with the settlers. Some traders didn't like that the Pequot were trying to control the fur trade. They captured Tatobem, the Pequot chief, and held him for ransom. However, they ended up killing the chief and a war broke out between the Pequot and the settlers. In the end, the settlers won the war and the Pequot were nearly eliminated.
During the 1640s and 1650s, more and more English moved into the region. Soon the Dutch were getting pushed out. In 1662, the Connecticut Colony was granted a Royal Charter from the King of England making it an official English colony.
In the 1700s, the American Colonies began to be unhappy with English rule. They especially didn't like taxes such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Act of 1767. When war broke out in 1775, Connecticut was one of the first colonies to join in. The Connecticut militia fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill where Connecticut General Putnam made the famous statement "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Nathan Hale was another famous patriot from Connecticut. He served as a spy for General George Washington. When Hale 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."
Connecticut not only provided soldiers for the war, but also helped by supplying the Continental Army with food, supplies, and weapons. For this reason George Washington gave the state the nickname the Provision State.
Becoming a State
After the war, Connecticut worked with the rest of the colonies to form a government. Connecticut ratified the new U.S. Constitution on January 9, 1788 and became the fifth state to join the United States.
A Growing State
During the 1800s, Connecticut became more industrialized. Railroads moved into the region linking the state with New York and Massachusetts. New inventions such as vulcanized rubber and the assembly line changed the way people worked. The state became known for the manufacture of all sorts of goods including clocks, guns, hats, and ships.
Connecticut was also a center for the anti-slavery movement in the 1800s. Many abolitionists lived in the state including John Brown, who led the raid on Harper's Ferry, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1848, Connecticut outlawed slavery. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Connecticut fought on the side of the North. The manufacturing capability of the state helped supply the Union Army with weapons, uniforms, and ships.
from the Project Gutenberg Archives
More US State History:
- 1614 - Dutch explorer Adriaen Block is the first European to visit Connecticut.
- 1634 - Wethersfield is established as the first permanent settlement by the Dutch.
- 1636 - Thomas Hooker founded the Colony of Connecticut at the city of Hartford.
- 1636 - The Pequot War begins.
- 1639 - The first written democratic constitution, the Fundamental Orders, is adopted
- 1662 - The Connecticut Colony receives the Royal Charter from the King of England.
- 1701 - Yale University is founded in New Haven.
- 1775 - Connecticut militiamen fight at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
- 1776 - Nathan Hale is hung by the British for spying.
- 1788 - Connecticut adopts the U.S. Constitution and becomes the fifth state.
- 1806 - Noah Webster publishes his first dictionary.
- 1843 - Charles Goodyear invents the process for vulcanizing rubber.
- 1848 - Slavery is outlawed.
- 1901 - Connecticut is the first state to establish speed limits for cars.
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