The Founding of Connecticut: Thomas Hooker and the Puritans

Thomas Hooker, a Puritan minister from Leicestershire, England, is widely regarded as the founder of the Connecticut colony. In 1636, Hooker and Governor John Haynes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony led a group of 100 people to settle in Hartford. This group was motivated by Hooker's sermon advocating for the separation of religion and politics. The settlers soon approved the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut”, a document that set out the fundamental principles of government in the colony.

The settlers then went to war with the Pequot tribe, eventually forcing them to surrender. Connecticut's new settlers used Massachusetts civil and church law to establish their initial government. From 1703 to 1875, Connecticut had two capitals; General Assembly sessions met alternately in Hartford and New Haven. The man who became famous as the “father of Connecticut” was born in 1586 in a small town in the county of Leicestershire, in central England.

Reverend John Davenport and merchant Theophilus Eaton led the founders of the colony of New Haven, which was absorbed by the colony of Connecticut in the 1660s. Not only was Hooker one of the leading figures in the Colony of Connecticut, but he was also one of New England's foremost Puritan theologians. In Connecticut, whether he was a hired man or not, if he entered the colony as a free person, he had to wait for a probationary period of one to two years, during which he was closely watched to make sure he was a righteous puritan. The founding of the Connecticut colony began in 1636 when Dutch traders established a trading post in what is now Hartford.

The original colonies along the Connecticut River and in New Haven were established by separatist puritans who were connected to the colonies of Massachusetts and Plymouth. Thomas Hooker is remembered as an influential figure in both religious and political life in colonial America. His sermon advocating for religious freedom inspired Connecticut's Fundamental Orders, which established civil government and ensured Connecticut's existence as a separate colony independent of Massachusetts. He was also a major general in the Connecticut Militia during the Revolutionary War.