New Haven

 

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New Haven Colony. After the destruction of the Pequods in the summer of 1637, and peace was restored to the region of the Connecticut, there was a strong desire among the inhabitants of Massachusetts to emigrate to Connecticut. Rev. John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, Edward Hopkins, and others of less note, had arrived at Boston. They heard from those who had pursued the Pequods of the beautiful country stretching along Long Island Sound, and in the autumn (1637) Mr. Eaton and a small party visited the region. They arrived at a beautiful bay, and on the banks of a small stream that entered it they built a log hut, where some of the party wintered. The place had been called by Block, the Dutch discoverer of it, Roodenberg—" Red Hills" in allusion to the red cliffs a little inland.

In the spring of 1638, Mr. Davenport and some of his friends sailed for the spot where Eaton had built his hut. They named the beautiful spot New Haven. Under a wide-spreading oak Mr. Davenport preached on the ensuing Sabbath. They purchased land of the Indians, and proceeded to plant the seeds of a new State by framing articles of association which they called a "Plantation Covenant." In it they resolved "that, as in matters that concern the gathering and ordering of a church, so likewise in all public offices which concern civil order, as choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing of laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature," they would "be ordered by the rules which the Scriptures held forth."

So they began their independent settlement without reference to any government or country on the earth. The place where the hut was built was on the present corner of Church and George streets, New Haven, and their first temple of worship—the wide-spreading tree—stood at the intersection of George and College streets. This little community meditated and prayed for light concerning the best social and political organization for the government of the colony. When, in the summer of 1639, it was found that they were "nearly of one mind," they assembled in a barn to settle upon a plan of government "according to the Word of God"; Mr. Davenport prayed and preached earnestly, and proposed for their adoption four fundamental articles — namely, 1. That the Scriptures contain a perfect rule for the government of men in the family, in the church, and in the commonwealth; 2. That they would be ordered by the rules which the Scriptures hold forth; 3. That their purpose was to be admitted into church-fellowship according to Christ, as soon as God should fit them thereunto; and, 4, That they held themselves bound to establish such civil order, according to God, as would be likely to secure the greatest good to themselves and their posterity. These articles were unanimously adopted, and a plan was arranged to put a government into practical operation.

Seven Pillars of New Haven

It was agreed that church-membership should be granted to free burgesses or freemen endowed with political franchises, and that they only should choose magistrates and transact civil business of every kind; that twelve or more men should be chosen from the company and tried for their fitness, and these twelve should choose seven of their number as the seven pillars of the church. The twelve men were chosen, and after due deliberation they selected seven "pillars." Finally these "pillars" proceeded to organize a church. Their assistants, nine in number, were regarded as "free burgesses," and the sixteen chose Theophilus Eaton magistrate for one year. Four other persons were chosen deputies, and these constituted the legislature and executive department of the government of "Quinnipiack," so called from the Indian name of the stream that ran through the settlement. It was a sort of theocracy. They gave no pledge of allegiance to King or Parliament, nor any other authority on the face of the earth, excepting the civil government they had established. They resolved to have an annual General Court, and appointed a secretary and sheriff, and the teachings of the Bible were their guide in all things. They built a meeting-house, regulated the price of labor and commodities, and provided against attacks from the Indians. It was ordained that no person should settle among them without the consent of the community. In 1640 they called the settlement New Haven. The colony flourished in simplicity by itself until 1662, when it was annexed by charter to the colony in the valley, under the general title of CONNECTICUT. There the foundations of the State were finally laid. Population in 1890, 81,298; 1900, 108,027.

 

 

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