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If the colonists of Connecticut opened the Bible, whether in the house of God or at home, they found that they owed this translation to King James I, "the principal mover and author thereof." In the text they saw the two commands, side by side, “ Fear God; Honor the King." They saw on the title-page, emblazoned, the armorial bearings of Great Britain, with the grand motto Dieu et mon droit; Honisoit qui mal y pense. God and my right; evil to him who evil thinks. If their favorite lyric poet, Dr. Watts, could eulogize King William and Queen Anne in the highest strains of his verse, as he does in the lyric poems then read by all the ministers and most of the people, we need not feel surprised that those ministers should eulogize them in speaking to their people. In the house of God prayers for the king and the royal family went up from the public altar. The king's name was connected with many of the forms of law and the king's attorney in Connecticut had his appropriate duties.
The ministers, then accustomed to study carefully the history of England, looked back to the time when the earth trembled beneath the tread of the bold crusaders under the lion-hearted King Richard, who went to Palestine to wrest the holy sepulcher from the Saracens; to the “ foughten fields” of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, where, under the conduct of kings and princes of England, the pride of France was humbled, and where the bones of their own ancestors were now lying with the named and nameless dead; or they might look, with softened hearts, to the church-yards of England, where their ancestors were reposing beneath the shadows of minsters and cathedrals, in which they once worshiped God. Some of them might have been accustomed every day at family prayers to send up supplications to the King of Kings, for a blessing on the king of England and the royal family, or perhaps some of them might every day have seen, in their own parlors, pictures of some of the royal family. The very coin used as a circulating medium from hand to hand, bore on it the image and superscription of the king
Under the influence of recollections and impressions like these, some of them may have shrunk back in pain at the idea of a political separation from England, their mother country. “The flesh will quiver where the pincers tear.”
It ought to be added that in Connecticut there was a considerable number of intelligent and worthy men, and some of these were Congregational ministers, who, from the first to the last, were loyal to the English king, and opposed to the Revolution, which separated Connecticut and the other colonies from England.
Until a short period before 1776, the people of Connecticut generally neither expected nor desired a political separation from England. Proof of this we have in the foregoing legislative document. What was the cause of the general movement in favor of the Revolution in 1776? It was a generous fellow-feeling for Massachusetts. If, then, it should be insinuated that Connecticut trotted after the “Bay horse,” it might be said in reply, that the interests of Connecticut were so allied with the interests of Massachusetts, that if the latter should be left unassisted to be prostrated in the dust, the former might be the next victim of ministerial vengeance.
Whenever there is public danger, every Christian people, under the lead of their best men, should fly to the All-wise, the All-good, and the All-powerful for deliverance.
The people of Connecticut, from 1636 to 1783, under the lead of their ministers, in seasons of danger, sought Him who controls the destinies of nations, and who led Israel by the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. Especially was this true from 1775, when the fires of revolution on the fields of Lexington and Bunker Hill ascended to the skies, shedding a lurid light over this quarter of the world, to 1783, when, by treaty, the king of England acknowledged Connecticut to be, what she claimed to be, a “free and independent state."
It is to be remembered that, during the French Wars, for a period before the Revolution, the Connecticut officers and Connecticut troops were associated with British officers and British troops in a common cause against the French. In
this cause they were successful; and as a fruit of their success the whole of Canada was ceded by the French to the English in 1763, by the treaty of Paris. Connecticut came in for her share of the glory acquired by England in these wars. Among the officers who distinguished themselves in these wars, were Major-General Phinehas Lyman, Colonel Israel Putnam, Colonel Nathaniel Whiting, Colonel Samuel Holden Parsons, Colonel Eliphalet Dyer, General Joseph Spencer, General Roger Wolcott, Colonel Elihu Chauncey, and others.
It is also to be remembered that Connecticut, in common with the other colonies, had warm and strong friends in the British Parliament, who were ready to defend the constitutional rights of the Americans, but were opposed to their political separation from the mother country.
The sentiments in favor of royalty filled the hearts of the people, and phrases of loyalty were familiar to their lips. These feelings were experienced and this language expressed, sometimes even after the war was over, as may be seen from the following anecdote:
"A boy in the town of Lebanon heard that General Washington was to pass that way, and went out to meet him, as he supposed, at the head of his army. Instead of that, he met a man alone, on horseback, of whom he inquired if General Washington was coming. The General replied, “I am the man. In astonishment, the boy, not knowing what to do or say, pulled off his hat, and with great violence threw it at the feet of the horse, running back at the same time at full speed, and crying at the top of his voice, “God Almighty bless your Majesty!" (See Family Memorial, by Rev. Dan. Huntington, p. 6.)
The American Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1765. The people of the colony were opposed to the Stamp Act, but the Governor and Legislature were not disposed to take very strong ground against it. “Rev. Stephen Johnson, of Lyme, seeing with pain the dangerous lethargy that had lulled the judges to sleep, and had taken strong hold of the council, began to write essays for the Connecticut Ga
zette, printed in New London, which he sent secretly to the printer by the hands of an Irish gentleman who was friendly to the cause of liberty.” “Other clergymen took up the warfare. They impugned the Stamp Act in their sermons; they classed its loathed name in their prayers with those of sin, Satan, and the mammon of unrighteousness. The people were soon roused to a sense of danger. The flames of opposition, so long suppressed, now began to break forth. The name of “Sons of Liberty,” given by Colonel Barre to the Americans, was adopted by the press, and sent to every part of the country. Societies, originating, as is believed, in Connecticut, and made up of men the most bold, if not the most responsible in the land, were suddenly formed, for the express, though secret, purpose of resisting the Stamp Act by violent means, should it become necessary. The members of these associations were called “Sons of Liberty.” The principal business reserved for them was that of compelling stamp masters and other officials to resign their places. They were also to see that no stamps were sold in the colony, and that all stamped paper should be taken whereever it could be found. This powerful institution soon extended itself into New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.” (See Hollister's History of Connecticut, vol. ii, p. 130--1.)
Such was the strong opposition made to the Stamp Act in the colonies, that Parliament repealed it in 1766.
“When the tidings of the ‘Boston Port Bill' reached Connecticut in May, 1774, the General Assembly was in session. A day of humiliation and prayer was ordered, on account of the threatening aspects of Divine Providence, on the liberties of the people, that they might call upon the God of all mercies to avert His judgments.” (See Hollister, vol. ii, p. 152.)
On this day of humiliation and prayer it was, doubtless, expected by the General Assembly that the ministers would address their people in strong terms in favor of liberty, and in opposition to the tyrannical encroachments of England.
“ DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
“ Act of Connecticut, June 14th, 1776. " At a General Assembly of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut in New England in America, holden at Hartford, in said Colony, by special order of the Governor, on the 14th day of June, A. Dom., 1776.
“WHEREAS the King and Parliament of Great Britain, by many acts of said Parliament have claimed and attempted to exercise powers incompatible with, and subversive of the ancient, just, and constitutional rights of this and the rest of the English Colonies in America, and have refused to listen to the many and frequent, humble, decent and dutiful petitions of redress of grievances and restoration of such their rights and liberties, and turning from them with neglect and contempt to support such claims, after a series of accumulated wrong and injury, have proceeded to invade said Colonies with Fleets and Armies, to destroy our towns, shed the blood of our countrymen, and involve us in the calamities incident to war ; and are endeavoring to reduce us to an abject surrender of our natural and stipulated rights, and subject our property to the most precarious dependence on their arbitrary will and pleasure, and our persons to slavery, and at length have declared us out of the King's protection, have engaged foreign mercenaries against us, and are evidently and strenuously seeking our ruin and destruction. “ These and many other transactions, too well known to need enumera
the painful experience and effects of which we have suffered and feel, make it evident, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that we have nothing to hope from the justice, humanity or temperate councils of the British King or his Parliament, and that all hopes of a reconciliation, upon just and equal terms, are delusory and vain. In this state of extreme danger, when no alternative is left us but absolute and indefinite submission to such claims as must terminate in the extreme of misery and wretchedness, or a total separation from the King of Great Britain, and renunciation of all connection with that nation, and a successful resistance to that force which is intended to effect our destruction. Appealing to that God who knows the secrets of all hearts, for the sincerity of former declarations of our desire to preserve our ancient and constitutional relation to that nation, and protesting solemnly against their oppression and injustice, which have driven us from them, and compelled us to use such means as God in his providence hath put in our power, for our necessary defense and preservation
“ Resolved unanimously by this Assembly, that the Delegates of this Colony in General Congress, be, and they are hereby instructed to propose to that respectable body, to declare the United American Colonies, free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and to give the assent of this Colony to such Declaration, when they shall judge it expedient and best, and to whatever means