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Connecticut in the 18th century


Oliver Wolcott
Oliver Wolcott

The citizens of Connecticut took an active part in the events leading up to the American Revolution (1775-1783). In 1765 the colony sent delegates to the intercolonial assembly that met in New York City to demand that Parliament repeal the Stamp Act, which required all legal documents, newspapers, and pamphlets to carry a British tax stamp. The colony was also represented at the first Continental Congress in 1774. Two years later, Connecticut legislator and judge Roger Sherman helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Sherman and the other Connecticut delegates, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott, signed the declaration on behalf of the colony, an action endorsed by the vast majority of the colonists, including Governor Jonathan Trumbull. Reelected annually from 1769 to 1784, Trumbull was the only colonial governor to be retained in office after the outbreak of the revolution.

Except for isolated skirmishes with British troops at Stonington, Danbury, New Haven, and New London, little fighting occurred on Connecticut soil. But Connecticut troops contributed disproportionately to the American cause, and participated in almost every major battle of the revolution. Ethan Allen, Israel Putnam, and Nathan Hale, three heroes of the revolution, were originally from Connecticut, as was Benedict Arnold, the war hero turned traitor, who joined the British in 1779. During the war Connecticut became known as the Provisions State because it supplied food, arms, and ammunition to the Continental Army.

Connecticut was one of the original 13 states of the United States. Sherman, Oliver Ellsworth, and William Samuel Johnson served as Connecticut’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention, which met in Philadelphia in 1787.

When the states became deadlocked on the issue of national representation in Congress, Connecticut’s delegation introduced a plan that came to be known as the Connecticut, or Great, Compromise. It established the present form of the Congress of the United States: a lower house in which the states are represented on the basis of population and an upper house in which they are represented equally. On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

In 1786 Connecticut ceded to the U.S. government most of the western territory that it held, at least on paper, under the charter of 1662. The state retained only the Western Reserve, a strip of land on the south shore of Lake Erie in what is now Ohio. In 1792 part of the Western Reserve was given to Connecticut citizens as compensation for buildings burned by British raiding parties during the revolution. The remainder was sold in 1795 for $1.2 million, with the proceeds set aside for education.

In 1790 Connecticut had a total population of 237,946, or about 6 percent of the total population of the United States at that time. The state grew slowly in the next few decades, partly because many Connecticut residents emigrated to areas being settled in northern New England, New York, and Ohio. "Connecticut" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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