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Excerpt from the book:

The Founding of New England

by James Truslow Adams

Copyright 1921, 1949.

From the chapter "Attempts to Unify New England":

      For its size, New Haven was undoubtedly the wealthiest colony in New England, its assessed valuation, the year after it was planted, having been £ 33,000, or the present equivalent of, perhaps, $ 700,000. Its founders, under the leadership of the Reverend John Davenport, a Nonconformist London clergyman, and Theophilus Eaton, a schoolmate of his, had arrived in the early summer of 1637, just in time to take part in the Antinomian controversy and the taxes for the Pequot war. Mr. Davenport was requested to contribute to the former, and Mr. Eaton to the latter. Their company was a distinguished one, including several other wealthy London merchants besides Eaton; five ministers; four school-teachers, among whom was the first president of Harvard; the father of Elihu Yale, the founder of Yale University; and Michael Wigglesworth, the "lurid morning star" of New England verse. Both Davenport and Eaton had been, for some years, members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that company's colony made great efforts to retain the new body of settlers within its own bounds. While the leaders took under consideration the various offers made to them, they either found them unsatisfactory, or had already determined to establish an independent colony of their own. After Eaton had examined the country around Quinnipiack, it was decided to plant there, and seven men were left to guard the site during the winter, the whole company following in the spring. Not only were the resources of the colonists unusually ample, but their preparations seem to have been exceptionally complete, and the little town soon contained the most stately dwellings in all New England. Some idea of their scale may be gained from the reputed presence in Davenport's of thirteen fireplaces, and of nineteen in Eaton's. The intention, apparently, was not only to found a Puritan state, but to have it become the chief mercantile centre of the New World, which accounts for their having built, as one of their Massachusetts critics wrote, "as if trade and merchandize had been as inseparably annexed to them as the shadow is to the body, in the shining of the sun." One disaster followed another in their business ventures, however, and the dreams of the merchant-founders were never realized.

      Davenport and most of his company were not only Puritans, but of the strictest sect, and the Bible Commonwealth which they proceeded to form was of the most extreme type. Like the Connecticut and Rhode Island people, they were without a charter, and were mere squatters upon the soil; but in June, 1639, a meeting was held of the "free planters", to discuss a frame of government to replace the previously signed plantation covenant, now lost. We have no knowledge of what constituted a "free planter", but the term undoubtedly excluded a large number of males in the settlement. The proceedings took the form of queries put by Mr. Davenport, upon which those present voted by raising hands. As a result of the unanimous votes at this meeting, the fundamental agreement provided that the franchise should be restricted to church members, and that the free planters should choose twelve men, to whom should be intrusted the sole right of selecting from among the rest of the colonists those who should become church members and freemen, and who were to have the power of appointing magistrates from among themselves, of making and repealing laws, and, in fact, of performing public duties.

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