The first Europeans to land on the shores of Connecticut were Dutch traders in 1614. They set up trading posts, purchased land from the Pequot Indians, and established a fort on the site of present day Hartford in 1633. English Puritans from Plymouth, Massachusetts built a trading post in Connecticut at the site of the town of Windsor.
The first permanent settlement was made in 1635 by the English. It was called Wethersfield. That same year, the settlement at Dorchester was established. Reverend Thomas Hooker and a group of colonists from Massachusetts settled Hartford in 1636. These three early Connecticut settlements united to form the Connecticut Colony. Many of the colonists bought land from the Mohican Indians and established farms.
Problems soon developed between the Pequot Indians and the colonists. The Pequot tribe wanted to claim the lands that had been purchased from the Mohicans. This led to the Pequot War in 1637. The colonists, led by Captain John Mason, defeated the Pequot later that year.
In 1639 the Connecticut Colony adopted the Fundamental Orders as its law. It described a form of government that was based on the will of the people. This document was the first written constitution in the New World and was part of the basis for the United States Constitution.
New Haven was founded as an independent colony in 1638. It was a Puritan church-state. Soon, the towns of Guilford, Milford, Stamford, Branford, and Southold joined this colony. Connecticut consisted of these two colonies - the Connecticut Colony and the New Haven colony, until 1664, when both were united as the result of a charter given to the Connecticut Colony by the King of England.
During the late 1600s, farms in the Connecticut Colony exported farm products to the West Indies. Several important industries developed during this time. They included clockmaking, shipbuilding, and silversmithing.
The colonists were growing increasing unhappy under the rule of the English monarchy. They wanted to have their own government rather than submit to a governor appointed by the King. They were also afraid that England would eventually take away their lands. In October of 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, the English governor who had been appointed by King Charles II, arrived in Connecticut to take away the colony's charter. At an assembly meeting, colonists refused to give it up. They hid it in the hollow part of a large oak tree. The tree became known as the "Charter Oak."
England began imposing stiff taxes and trade restrictions on all of the American colonies. The Revolutionary War began in 1775 and Connecticut joined the patriot forces. Nathan Hale and Governor Jonathan Trumbull were two of Connecticut's most famous patriots in the war for independence.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and that same year, Nathan Hale was captured by the British while on a spy mission for General Washington. Before being hanged, he spoke his famous words, "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
Only one Revolutionary War battle was fought in Connecticut. It was at New London in 1781. British forces captured a nearby fort and burned many of the buildings in town. Connecticut was an important supplier of gunpowder, salt, and flour for the Continental Army during this conflict.
The Revolution ended in 1781 and Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
During the early 1800s, Connecticut experienced tremendous growth as an industrial state. Many inventors lived and worked there. Eli Terry of East Hartford began to mass-produce clocks in 1808. The first silk mill in America was founded in 1810 in Mansfield. Samuel Colt invented the first repeating pistol in 1836, and Charles Goodyear patented a process for strengthening rubber in 1844.
Slavery was abolished in Connecticut in 1848. Connecticut joined with other northern states to support the Union cause at the time of the Civil War. Because of its industrial strength, the state was able to supply the Union army with many necessary items. These included weapons, army wagons, gunpowder, uniforms, brass buttons, and ships.