The Founding of New Haven
In spite of the menace of the Native Americans, Englishmen continued to settle in the land they claimed. Even while the Pequot war was going on a new colony had been founded, still further south upon the shores of New England. This colony was founded by a minister named John Davenport.
John Davenport had fled from persecution in England, and, followed by his congregation, including many wealthy people, had sought,—like so many other Puritans,—a refuge in New England. The newcomers however, would not join the other Puritans, but decided to found a colony all to themselves which should be ruled only by laws found in the Bible. They called their settlement New Haven, and here the law that none but church members should vote was very strictly enforced.
Each of the towns was governed by seven men known as the Pillars of the Church. These men served as judges, but no juries were allowed, because no mention of them is found in the Bible. The laws were very strict, but the famous pretended “Blue Laws” of New Haven, which people used to make fun of, never existed. In these it was pretended that there were such absurd laws as, “No one shall cook, make beds, sweep house, cut hair or shave on the Sabbath. No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day. No one shall keep Christmas, make minced pies, dance, play cards or play on any instrument of music except the drum, trumpet or jew’s-harp.” Some of the old Puritan laws seem to us indeed quaint enough, but there are none quite so absurd as these. They were invented by an early “tourist,” who sought to make fun of these earnest, God-fearing colonists.
The New Haven colonists, like those of Connecticut, had no charter from the King of England. They settled the land not by agreement with him, but by agreement with the Indians.
Davenport and his followers bought the land upon which they settled from the Indians. To one chief they gave “twelve coats of English trucking cloth, twelve alchemy spoons, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen of knives, twelve porringers, and four cases of French knives and scissors.” To another, “eleven coats of trucking cloth, and one coat of English cloth.”
The agreement was all duly and properly written out and signed by the chiefs, but, of course, as the chiefs could not write they made their marks. The first agreement was signed not only by the chief and his council, but also by the chief’s sister.
We have now heard of seven New England colonies being founded. But later on, as we shall see, Plymouth joined with Massachusetts, and New Haven with Connecticut, thus making only five New England colonies as we know them today. And of those five, one (Maine) was not recognised as a separate colony but as part of Massachusetts after 1677. It remained part of Massachusetts until 1820, when it entered the Union as a state.
Meanwhile Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven all joined together, promising to help each other in case of war with the Indians, Dutch, or French, who were constant dangers to them all alike. They called themselves the United Colonies of New England. This union, however, was only for defence. Each colony was still quite independent of the others and managed its own affairs as before. It was only the first shadow of the great Union which was to come many years later. It was also one more proof that the colonies were growing up and thinking for themselves for they asked no one’s leave to form this union. They thought it was necessary to their safety, so they entered into it. Only Rhode Island was not asked to join; there was still too much bitterness over religious matters between the settlers there and in the other colonies.
There were no more Puritan colonies founded, for Puritans ceased now to come to New England in large numbers. The reason was that the great fight between King and People, between Cavalier and Puritan had begun in old England. And when the Puritans won, and could have their own way at home, they were no longer so eager to set forth to seek a New England beyond the seas. So the Puritans ceased to cross the seas, and as we have seen, in their place many Cavaliers came to Virginia.