Reaching to Connecticut

Despite a few internal problems, Massachusetts Bay Colony was thriving by the mid-1630s. It would only be a matter of time before individuals within the colony would consider expansion.

Establishing a new colony was never easy. Pequot Indian settlements west of the Connecticut River were an important obstacle but the Puritan experiment pushed forward, creating new colonies similar to the first one.

Puritan minister Thomas Hooke had no quarrels with the religious teachings of the church. He did, however, object to linking voting rights with church membership, which had been the practice in Massachusetts Bay.

In 1636, his family led a group of followers west and built the town of Hartford, which became the center of Connecticut colony. In religious practices, Connecticut mirrored Massachusetts Bay and politically it allowed more access to non-church members. In 1639, the citizens of Connecticut enacted the first written constitution in the western hemisphere. It served as a model for other colonial charters and even future state constitutions after independence was achieved.

In 1637, under the leadership of John Davenport, a second colony was formed in the Connecticut River Valley, around the port of New Haven. Unlike the citizens in Hartford, this colony was very strict about church membership and the political process. Juries were abolished because there was no mention of them in the Bible. Citizens accused of a crime reported to the magistrate for their punishment, without even furnishing a defense.

New Haven was merged into its more democratic neighbor by King Charles II in 1662. Connecticut provides an example of the strictness of colonial society. Laws based on the Bible called Blue Laws, were applied to Connecticut residents. Blue laws condemned to death any citizen who was convicted of blaspheming the name of God.

Source: Reaching to Connecticut
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