U.S. #772 – Click the image to read the neat story behind Connecticut’s famed “Charter Oak.”

Connecticut Becomes 5th State

On January 9, 1788, Connecticut ratified the U.S. Constitution, making it the fifth state to join the young United States.

English colonists from Massachusetts founded Connecticut’s first permanent European settlement, Windsor, in 1633.  Most of these settlers left Massachusetts seeking political and religious freedom.  Other settlements quickly followed, including Hartford, New London, Saybrook, and Wethersfield.  In 1636, Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor united to form the Connecticut Colony, also known as the River Colony.

U.S. #1637 – The state flag bears three grapevines – a symbol of good luck, peace, and proof of God’s greatness.

As the number of Connecticut colonists grew, the native Pequot Indian tribe grew hostile, fearing that settlers would challenge their control of the region.  After several Indian attacks, Captain John Mason led a small army aided by Mohegan and Narragansett warriors against the Pequot in 1637.  Mason quickly defeated the Pequot.

U.S. #1959 – The Connecticut state bird and flower – the robin and mountain laurel.

The colony of New Haven was founded as a Puritan theocracy, or church-ruled state, in 1638.  Five years later, Branford, Guillford, Milford, Stamford, and Southhold (located on Long Island) joined the New Haven colony.  By 1660, many towns had joined the Connecticut Colony, including Fairfield, Farmington, Middletown, New London, Norwalk, Saybrook, and Stratford.  In 1662, John Winthrop, Jr., of the Connecticut Colony, was granted a charter from the King of England.  This charter gave the colony control of a 73-mile-wide strip of land running from Narragansett Bay to the Pacific Ocean (at that time, the distance to the Pacific was unknown).  This area included the New Haven Colony.  Despite objections from the New Haven colonists, the two were united in 1665.

U.S. #2340 pictures the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan in the coastal city of Mystic.

A century later, as America waged war on England, the majority of Connecticut colonists favored independence.  And on June 14, 1776, a resolution was passed backing this action.  On July 4, 1776, Connecticut adopted the Declaration of Independence.  Two years later, Connecticut approved the Articles of Confederation – the forerunner of the United States Constitution.

U.S. #3567 pictures the harbor at Mystic Seaport.

When the fighting broke out in Massachusetts in 1775, hundreds of Connecticut men joined the patriot forces.  Connecticut’s governor, Jonathan Trumbull, was the only colonial governor to hold office throughout the revolution, because he sided with the patriots.  Trumbull was a close friend and trusted adviser to George Washington, who called him Brother Jonathan.  Nathan Hale was also a leading patriot from Connecticut.  Hanged by the British for being a spy, Hale’s dying words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” have made him a legend.

U.S. #4281 pictures the Connecticut state flag with different types of boats along the shoreline.

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Connecticut’s delegates played an important role in bringing about the Great Compromise, sometimes called the Connecticut Compromise.  Delegates from large states wanted congressional representation to be based on population, while smaller states wanted representation to be equal.  The Connecticut Compromise provided for representation based on population in the House and equal representation in the Senate.  This compromise allowed both large and small states to fully support a central government and earned Connecticut the nickname, “The Constitution State.”  Connecticut ratified the United States Constitution on January 9, 1788, making it the fifth state to join the Union.

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  1. Having grown up in Massachusetts, and even living in Lexington for 8 years (now 50 years ago), I was filled with the history of Massachusetts, but never paid much attention to Connecticut’s story. Thanks for filling me in. It was fascinating to me.

  2. Fascinating history on the beginnings of the original thirteen states (New England) of USA. One bit of information not often given in the historical digests, is the provenance of the names by which we now refer to those States. We know where the names of Maine/Vermont/Hampshire originated from, but where do the names of Connecticut and Massachusetts come from (First Nations tribal names?). Perhaps one of our readers can enlighten us further; and many thanks again Mystic for this great service. GdR

  3. From Wikipedia: The word “Connecticut” is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for “long tidal river.”[12]

  4. Also from Wikipedia: The Massachusetts Bay Colony was named after the indigenous population, the Massachusett, whose name can be segmented as mass-adchu-s-et, where mass- is “large”, -adchu- is “hill”, -s- is a diminutive suffix meaning “small”, and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place. It has been translated as “near the great hill”,[61] “by the blue hills”, “at the little big hill”, or “at the range of hills”, referring to the Blue Hills, or in particular the Great Blue Hill which is located on the boundary of Milton and Canton.[62][63] Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset, from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock (meaning “hill shaped like an arrowhead”) in Quincy where Plymouth Colony commander Miles Standish and Squanto, a Native American, met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621.[64][65]

  5. My research found the following: Connecticut is an anglicized Algonquian word for long tidal river. The state is named for the Connecticut River,

    Massachusetts is again an anglicized word of the indigenous population

  6. Another interesting piece of this history is how Southhold Connecticut became southhold Long Island in the colony of New York.

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