Connecticut: From Colony to State

The founding of the Connecticut colony began in 1636, when the Dutch established the first trading post in the Connecticut River Valley in what is now the city of Hartford. John Oldham, a settler from Massachusetts, explored the valley and his favorable reports led to the establishment of colonial Connecticut by Thomas Hooker. Unlike the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Connecticut did not require its citizens to be members of a particular church in order to vote. Puritans allowed dissident churches such as Anglican and Baptist to be created, and settlers who supported their own church could avoid a fine.

The economy of colonial Connecticut was based on wood products, fur trade, maple syrup, copper, livestock products, horses, rum, whiskey and beer. In cities along the coast, settlers earned their living fishing, whaling, shipbuilding and shipping. Connecticut also relied on manufacturing and industries such as shipbuilding and the manufacture and export of rum. The Old Lights succeeded in passing a Roaming Act that restricted itinerant Great Awakening ministers from preaching in a Connecticut city without an invitation.

Native American Indians in colonial Connecticut included the Narragansett, Mohegan, Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck, Abenaki, and Pequot. The natural materials and raw resources available to settlers were fish, whales, and wood from dense forests. In 1643, Connecticut became a founding member of the New England Confederation. The settlers eventually allowed themselves to be absorbed by a larger colony and when they did they chose Connecticut.

New Hampshire was the first state to have its own state constitution and become one of the original 13 colonies. Today Connecticut is in the middle of the large urban-industrial complex along the Atlantic coast, bordered by Massachusetts to the north, Rhode Island to the east, Long Island Sound to the south and New York to the west. Home of Eli Whitney and Samuel Colt, Connecticut was one of the leading manufacturers of weapons and other weapons.