« PreviousContinue »
District of Connecticut, ss. BE it remembered, that on the twenty-second day of June, in the 420 year
of the Independence of the United States of America, Maltby, Goldsmith & Co. and Samuel Wadsworth, of the said district, have deposited in this of. fice the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit: “A complete History of Connecticut, civil and eccle“siastical, from the emigration of its first planters, from England, in the year " 1630, to the year 1764; and to the close of the Indian wars. In two volumes. “By Benjamin Trumbull, D. D. With an Appendix, containing the original " Patent of New England, never before published in America"-In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “ An act for the encouragement)f learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
R. I. INGERSOLL,
State-St. New Haven.
UTHENTIC history is of great utility; especially, to the countries tics and morals; forms the head and heart for usefulness, and is an important part of the instruction and literature of states and nations. While it instructs, it affords an exalted pleasure. No man of genius and curios., ity can read accounts of the origin of nations, the discovery, settlement, and progress of new countries, without a high degree of entertainment. But in the settlement of his own country, in the lives of his ancestors, in their adventures, morals, jurisprudence and heroism, he feels himself particularly interested. He at once becomes a party in their affairs, and travels and converses with them, with a kind of filial delight. While he beholds them braving the horrors of the desert, the terrors of the savage, the distresses of famine and war, he admires their courage, and is pleased with all their escapes from danger, and all their progress in settlement, population, opulence, literature and happiness. While he contemplates their self-denial and perseverance in surmounting all dangers and enduring all hardships, to form new churches, and lay the foundations of new colonies and empires, and the immensely happy consequences of their conduct in turning the wilderness into gardens and fruitful fields, and in transmitting liberty and religion to posterity, he is struck with a pleasing astonishment. The pious man views a divine hand conducting the whole, gives thanks, adores and loves. No history is better calculated to produce these happy effects, than that of New-England and Connecticut.
Connecticut, originally consisting of two colonies, replete with Indians, and connected as it was with the neighboring colonies, affords much in. teresting matter for history. An authentic and impartial account of the affairs of the colony had long been an object of the wishes of the legislature, and of many gentlemen of principal character both in church and commonwealth.
In these views the writer, many years since, determined to attempt the compilation of the history which is presented to the public in the fóllowing sheets. He wished for the improvement which such a work might afford him, and for the pleasure of contributing bis mite to the service of the community in which he received his birth and education, and has enjoyed such distinguished liberty and iinmunities.
In pursuance of his design, he collected all books and manuscripts from which he could expect assistance." He read the records of Connecticut, New-Haren and the United Colonies; and extracted whatever he judged important. He made a journey to Boston, examined the collec tion of the Rev. Mr. Prince, and minuted every thing which he could find relative to Connecticut. To him, at the time he was about writing the Chronological History of New-England, the ancient ministers, and other principal gentlemen in Connecticut, had transmitted accounts of the settlement of the towns and churches to which they respectively be
longed. In this collection, important information was found, which could have been obtained from no other source. The author visited most of the principal towns, and places of burial, and obtained from records, monuments, and men of intelligence, whatever they could communicate on the subject. The ministers and clerks of the respective towns, and other gentlemen of character, assisted him in his researches. The honorable legislature, having been made acquainted with his design, passed a generous resolve, which gave him access to their records and papers on file.
His excellency governor Trumbull, than whom no man had a more thorough acquaintance with the history of the colony, employed his influence and friendship for his assistance, and furnished him with many important papers. In a letter to him on the subject, he expresses himselt in this manner_“I wish you success, and to afford you all the assistance in my power. I imagine the earliest times of the colony will be attended with the most difficulty, to collect the facts with sufficient certaintywherein the great excellency of a bistory consists. Such an one I have long desired to see. It must be a work of time and indefatigable labour and industry, since it has been so long neglected, a. I the materials, many of them, almost lost, and others scattered, and all need so much care in collecting, time in comparing, and judgment in compiling.” The truth of these observations, the author hath fully experienced ; how far he hath acted upon them must be determined by the public opinion.
The honorable George Wyllys, Esq. late secretary of the state, was second to none in the assistance and encouragement which he afforded. From these various sources, the author, in 1774, found himself possessed of an ample and important collection ; and determined to write the first volume of the history, as soon as might be, with convenience. But before he had entered upon the work, the war commenced between Great-Britain and her colonies, and the universal attention was turned to a very ditferent object. It was conceived to be dangerous for any of the public papers to be kept so near the sea coast as the place of his residence. A great number of papers, therefore, which he had received from governor Trumbull, and others which had been taken out of the office at Hartford, were returned to their respective offices.
For a number of years after the war, the state of the country was altogether unfavorable for publications of this kind. It was nevertheless still hoped that an opportunity would present for the publication of such a work to advantage, and the design of writing was not wholly given up.
However, before the writer had entered upon the work, he was invited, by a vote of the General Association of the state, to compile a different history. Many objections presented themselves to his mind against engaging in the work proposed by that venerable body. But after these had been fully communicated, the solicitation was renewed. In consequence of which, and the opinion and advice of some principal gentlemen of the legislature, he was induced to undertake the writing of a general history of the United States of America, from the first discovery of this porthern continent until the year 1792, including three complete centuries. In making collections for this, and in the compilation of it, all the leisure hours which he could possibly redeem, by early rising and an indefatigable attention to business, from the stated labours of his office, have been, for nearly ten years, employed.
In the progress of this work it became necessary to have frequent recourse to his former collections, which, by this time, had been in a manner forgotten. By this means the ideas of the ample materials which had been prepared, for the history of Connecticut,' were revived in his mind. When he contemplated the pains and expense at which they had
been collected, the countenance which he had received from the legislature, and the general expectations which had been entertained with respect to a history of Connecticut, it appeared to him not very consistent with that respectful and generous treatment which he owed more particularly to his own state, to publish a large history of the United States, while he neglected theirs. It also appeared to be a duty, which he owed to himself and family, as well as the public, not to suffer all his former pains and expense, in his collections for the history of Connecticut, to be lost. Upon a mature view of the case, and the advice of a number oi his brethren in the ministry, he determined to suspend the writing of the history of the United States, until he should publish one volume, at least, of the history of Connecticut. If this should meet the public approbation, it might assist him in introducing a larger work, and render it more extensively useful. If the history of Connecticut should be unpopular, it would give him a profitable admonition, and prevent a greater misfortune, by a larger and more expensive publication.
About the middle of December, 1796, he began to look over and arrange his papers and to compile the following history. Since that time he hath examined the papers on file in the secretary's office, and taken, out such as were necessary, composed and copied off with his own hands the history now published, besides preaching twice on every Lord's day, lectures on proper occasions, and aitending the other duties of his office.
The death of that truly worthy gentleman, the honorable George Wyllys, the former secretary, considerably retarded the work, as more time has been employed in examining the files than otherwise would have been necessary.
In compiling the history, great pains have been taken to exhibit the state of the country when the first settlements commenced, to present every important transaction in a candid and clear view, and to make such an arrangement of the whole, as that every preceding chapter might prepare the way for the next, and add perspicuity to the story.
As this is the first history of the colony, and as time effaces ancient records and papers, and eradicates from the mind of man the remembrance of former transactions, the compiler judged it expedient to make it more full and particular, than otherwise might have been necessary or proper. He imagined, that no person would, probably, hereafter have the same advantages which he has had, nor take the same pains which he has taken, to examine the ancient records, histories and manuscripts of the country. He wished to assist future historians, and that nothing useful and important, respecting church or state, might be lost. As he has aimed at information and usefulness, he has avoided all circumlocutions, reasonings and opinions of his own, and attempted to fill every page with history. The florid and pompous style has been avoided, as. unnatural and improper in historic writings, and the easy and familiar has been attempted. The compiler has judged his time too precious, and the field of usefulness before him too extensive, to busy himself in rounding periods, and guarding against every little matter which might afford business for the critic. He has, however, aimed at authenticity, propriety and perspicuity. He has wished to avoid the dull and dry manner, and to write with a becoming deference to the public.
The account which has been given of the sources wlience the compiler has obtained his information, the quotations in the body of the work, the references made in the marginal notes to authors, records, and manuscripts, with the appendix, it is imagined, will be abundantly suflicient to authenticate what has been written. Indeed, very little has been taken upon tradition. Had the history been written more leisurely and with fewer avocations
it might have been more perfect; but as it was desired to make as short a pause as possible in writing the history of the United States, it was judged inexpedient to employ more time upon it.
The author is under great disadvantages for historic writing. He can command no time for himself. The work of the ministry, which is his chosen and beloved employment, after all his application, so engrosses his time, that sometimes for weeks and months, after all his application, he cannot find a single day for the compilation of history. When he has attempted it, he has been able scarcely to write a page without interruption. Often he has been so fatigued with other studies, as to be in circumstances not the most favorable for composition.
It may, possibly, be thought a great neglect, or matter of partiality, that no account is given of witchcraft in Connecticut. The only reason is, that after the most careful researches, no indictment of any person for that crime, nor any process relative to that affair, can be found. The minute in Goff's journal, published by governor Hutchinson, relative to the execution of Ann Coles, and an obscure tradition that one or two persons were executed at Stratford, is all the information to be found relative to that unhappy affair.
The countenance and assistance which the honorable legislature have given the writer, by allowing him a free access to the public records and papers, is most respectfully acknowledged.
The attention and complaisance with which he has been treated by the secretaries of the state, and their respective families, while he has had occasion to examine the public records and papers, challenge the warmest expressions of his gratitude.
To his brethren in the ministry, the gentlemen of the bar, and the towns who have so generously encouraged and supported the subscription, he returns his grateful acknowledgments.
The labor of collecting the materials for the history and compilement, has been almost incredible. The expense of publication will be great. However, should it meet a favorable reception, assist the legislator or divine, the gentlemen of the bench or of the bar ; should it afford instruction and pleasure to the sons and daughters of the state, and in any degree advance its morals or literature, it will be an ample compensation.