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memorable fight. Yet it was the very existence of it in their constitution which formed one of the weakest spots in their political armor, and contributed much to their overthrow. Indeed, but for the desire to continue this peculiar institution, there would have been little opposition to the proposed union.
Thus I have attempted to show that financial disaster prevented New Haven from obtaining a charter of her own, or acquiring the importance and influence necessary to maintain her separate colonial existence; that the boldness of her defense of the Regicides deprived her of that favor at Court which might have been of great assistance in her time of need; and that her narrow ecclesiastical polity provoked an internal enemy which was ready to coöperate with Connecticut in accomplishing her overthrow. Such, then, was her insecurity, her isolation and her weakness, when Connecticut advanced the claim to legal jurisdiction and inaugurated that contest which ended New Haven's existence as a separate and independent colony. An account of this controversy will occupy the remainder of our time.
The Puritans who left Massachusetts Bay and founded the colony of Connecticut in the region about Hartford in 1635, like the New Haven colonists, had no charter, but established their own independent government and on a more liberal basis than that of Quinnipiac. The leaders of that colony possessed not only rare political acumen, but business sagacity as well. They at once realized that the Connecticut river provided the only convenient outlet for their settlements and early took steps to secure possession of that highway to the sea. In 1644 Connecticut acquired from Mr. Fenwick of Saybrook the vague and indefinable rights supposed to inhere in what was known as the “Warwick Grant,” whatever that may have been. The patent or deed of this grant was supposed to be in England, and it was not known what extent it had. Connecticut may have assumed that it covered the territory of Quinnipiac, but evidently it did not have sufficient assurance of it to permit of a claim to that region then.
When the Puritan Commonwealth came to an end in 1660, and Charles II. became king, some of the friends of the Connecticut colonists were appointed to influential positions in the new government. It seemed a favorable time, therefore, for that colony to apply for a royal charter. As Governor Winthrop was about to visit England on private business, he was authorized to procure one to cover all the territory belonging to the colony, even though it comprised the sister republic of New Haven.
To pave the way for her intended comprehensive charter, Connecticut took occasion to notice an act passed by the New Haven Court appointing a committee to “set out the bounds with lasting marks” between the two colonies, and advanced a definite claim to the Quinnipiac territory. In a letter to New Haven, in which they objected to "further proceedings in this nature,” the Connecticut authorities claimed to be "the true proprietors of these parts of country” and declared that New Haven could not "be ignorant" of their "real and true right to them, “both by conquest, purchase and possession.” They admitted that they "had hitherto been silent” and had "foreborne to make any absolute challenge” to their own, but now saw "a necessity at least to revive the memorial of their right and interest."
This bold claim occasioned great surprise and indignation at New Haven. The ruling party there were not slow to resent it and did not for a moment think of permitting it to go unchallenged. In May, 1661, a committee was appointed to consult with Connecticut in reference to the “dividing line betwixt them, and of some seeming right to this jurisdiction which they pretend." This was the beginning of that long and heated controversy which was characterized by indignant stubbornness on the part of New Haven and uncompromising insistence on the side of Connecticut, and which ended only with the unconditional surrender of the former.
When Mr. Davenport learned of Connecticut's ambitious plans for a charter, he sought to dissuade his friend Winthrop from his purpose to visit England, and warned him not to be concerned in "so unrighteous an act” as the inclusion of the New Haven Colony in the proposed instrument. Winthrop's reply was quite reassuring. He said, in effect, that no such thing was intended and that the Connecticut magistrates had agreed and expressed in the presence of some ministers, that if the new patent should be found to include New Haven, that colony should be at full liberty to join with them or not. Evidently the Connecticut governor did not intend that New Haven should be forced into an acceptance of the patent against its will; but he was confident that he could procure so satisfactory a charter that the shore colony would desire to accept its privileges. He failed to comprehend the tenacity with which the Davenport party clung to their peculiar polity or to realize the pugnacity of Mr. Davenport himself. He and his friends at Hartford probably counted upon the support of that growing party in the New Haven Colony which openly expressed dissatisfaction with the theocratic government maintained there, and the members of which coveted the privileges of their neighbor's more liberal system; for, in Connecticut, all freemen could vote whether church members or not.
The attitude of William Leete, the timid governor of New Haven, was certainly such as to encourage Winthrop in the hope of a speedy and peaceful union of the two colonies. He even went so far as to urge him to procure a charter including both. “I wish that you and wee could procure one Pattent, to reach beyond Delaware," he wrote, "where we have expended a thousand pounds to procure Indian title, veiw, & begin to possesse. If war should arise between Holland & England, it might suit the king's interest; a little assistance might reduce all to England. But our chiefe ayme is to purchase our owne peace
for which we pray.” Governor Leete explained later that he meant by this that Winthrop should make his patent "a covert, but no control” to the New Haven jurisdiction, "untill we accorded with mutual satisfaction to become one, which I have beene, & still am a freind to promote in a righteous & amicable way.” The consciencestricken hinderer of the king's officers was anxiously looking for
a protecting shelter, and thought to take refuge under the roof of Connecticut's evident favor at the Court of Charles II.
The position thus taken by the New Haven governor met with severe criticism from the independent party; Mr. Davenport declared that "it was not done by him according to his public trust as governor, but contrary to it.”
Governor Winthrop's mission to England was successful beyond expectation. With the assistance of influential friends, the evidently judicious use of five hundred pounds placed at his disposal, and the aid of a ring, a memento to Charles I, a most liberal charter was obtained for Connecticut. The document granted privileges and immunities which made the colony practically self-governing; so highly was it valued that not even the tyrannical Governor Andros could obtain a surrender of it. Indeed, so excellent were its provisions that it was used as a State constitution for nearly thirty years after the formation of the Union.
As Mr. Winthrop decided to remain in England another year, he forwarded the charter to New England, where, in October, 1662, it was presented to the grantees at a meeting of the General Court held at Hartford. As was anticipated, the new patent included in its jurisdiction the territory of New Haven, although that colony was not expressly named in the instrument. A report of this fact had, in some mysterious way, reached the ears of the disaffected residents of the shore colony in time to enable some of them to reach Hartford and be present at the reading of the charter. Immediately, upon their own request, these persons, residents of Southhold, L. I., Guilford, Stamford and Greenwich, were formally taken under the protection and government of the Connecticut Colony. However justified Connecticut might have been, technically, in thus deliberately and without warning dismembering a sister colony, the act was certainly characterized by an entire lack of courtesy and a disposition to take unfair advantage. These persons had deliberately settled in a colony whose peculiar policy was recognized and generally accepted. They had voluntarily subjected them
selves to that jurisdiction, the legality of which, then, was no more questionable than that of Connecticut. To offer their allegiance to another colony before a formal union had been made was unseemly to say the least. As to the acceptance of them by Connecticut, a due regard for the feelings of their New Haven friends would have first prompted, at least a considerate and formal, if firm, announcement of the investment of a superior authority.
After thus appropriating several towns in its jurisdiction, Connecticut sent to the New Haven Colony a copy of the new charter, calling attention to its provisions and expressing an "earnest desire that there may be a happy and comfortable union” between them. When, at the same time, the New Haven authorities received information that they had already been dispossessed of several of their towns, their indignation was great; but their immediate acknowledgment of the notification was calm and dignified. They promised to communicate the message to the freemen and answer as soon as convenient; "only we desire that the issuing of matters may be respited until we may receive fuller information from the Honored Mr. Winthrop or satisfaction otherwise, and that in the meantime this colony may remain distinct, entire and uninterrupted, as heretofore, which we hope you will see cause lovingly to consent unto, and signify the same to us with convenient speed." Three weeks later the freemen of the New Haven Colony met to consider the Connecticut claim and take measures for the preservation of their independence. All looked to Mr. Davenport for advice and suggestion. He was very willing and ready to proffer them, for he bitterly opposed the union. He had labored long and suffered much to establish in the new world a state whose government should be in the hands of church members only. The loss of colonial independence would mean the failure of his cherished hopes.
The reply sent to Connecticut by the New Haven freemen declared that nothing could be found in the new patent to warrant the alteration of "the orderly settlements of New England,” renewed the request to be left "distinct” until the