Early History

Native peoples, including Pequots, Mohegans, Paugussets, and Schaghticokes, have lived on the land now called Connecticut for more than 12,000 years. Their place names still appear across the state, including Shetucket, Quinnebaug, Housatonic, Quinnipiac, Noank, Mystic, and, of course, Connecticut. These places provided abundant resources for communities to flourish and connected them to their ancestors through stories, kinship, and belief systems. Visit the Pequot Museum and Tantaquidgeon Museum to learn more.

Kinship systems and trade networks connected tribes near and far. When European fishermen, travelers, and traders began to arrive in New England waters in the 1500s, new kinds of relationships developed. The Europeans traded goods like axes, hoes, kettles, mirrors, and bells for native animal pelts such as beaver.

Tensions emerged as English and Dutch trading posts developed in Saybrook and Hartford in the 1630s. Small conflicts escalated quickly into the Pequot War, which was won by English and Native allies. This led to the first Indian treaty – the Treaty of Hartford – in 1638, and soon after the creation of the first Indian reservations in North America.

In 1639, the Connecticut Colony wrote and adopted the Fundamental Orders. This document reflected our independent spirit and is considered by many to be the first written constitution of a democratic government. That’s why Connecticut is nicknamed "The Constitution State."

The colony grew, absorbing the New Haven and Saybrook colonies and negotiating its borders with New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. By the time of the American Revolution, there were about 200,000 Connecticans plus members of several tribes.

Connecticut played an important role in the American Revolution. Citizens fought in battles throughout the war, from the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 until the signing of the peace treaty with Great Britain. Our Revolutionary War heroes include General Israel Putnam, who led troops at Bunker Hill; Governor Jonathan Trumbull, who was the only governor to support the revolution; and soldier-spy Nathan Hale, famous for having “but one life to lose” for his country.

Our farmers and manufacturers contributed to the war effort, too. We became known as the “Provisions State” because of the provisions we supplied to help feed and equip General George Washington’s Continental Army and the Connecticut Militia.

During that era, Connecticut representatives played important roles in creating the documents that shaped our country: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States.

Our state was built on a strong foundation that helped our population and wealth grow throughout the 1700s and 1800s. Towns became cities and harbors became seaports. Jobs multiplied as small businesses grew into national and international companies. Public schools, libraries, and museums helped people learn, grow, and excel.

Connecticut’s strengths attract more and more people every year – people who come here to pursue their American dream.