Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

History of Early New Haven: A Connection to Our Past

Thomas O'Connor

Contents of Curriculum Unit 03.02.04:

To Guide Entry


This unit is designed to provide a distinct connection to early New Haven from our current prospectus as a modern city. We will first examine the native inhabitants and their interaction with early English settlers and try to determine the mindset, motivation, and goals of each group as related to the development of early New Haven. We will follow these groups from settlement to the colonial period, throughout their role in the Revolution, and to their adjustment as an independent democratic society in the Post-Revolutionary/Constitutional period. The early New Haven era has been divided into four areas of study as follows:

1. Settlement of the New Haven Colony. (Areas of note include Native Americans and Puritans and their role in shaping both the colony and the present day City.)
2. Pre-Revolutionary New Haven - Economic growth and self-government.
3. Revolutionary New Haven - Impact of the Revolution on New Haven and New Haven's role.
4. Post-Revolutionary New Haven- Shaping the Constitution and the emergence of a thriving community.

An overview of the general information to be provided to students will follow. This curriculum is designed to be flexible to the needs and interests of our students.

to top

Unit Purpose

By examining early New Haven history as a subset of the American Revolution and Colonial period, students will make a more personal connection to this period in American history. Students will examine the cultural values which came into contrast at this time and helped to shape the local economy and society. Students will be able to compare their understanding of early New Haven to the greater society as a whole at this time. They will be able to apply prior knowledge of Puritan social mores as well as the emerging political philosophies of the day to the shaping of early New Haven.

In addition, students will be able to develop a closer identity to their past as they compare and contrast present day New Haven with its respective past. As the diversity which shaped early New Haven is revealed and understood, students will identify the different cultures at play in shaping early New Haven. They will see how this diversity eventually attracted more and more cultures to New Haven at different times in history and how these groups continue to shape our City's future as we pay tribute to and study our past.

to top


Settlement of New Haven 1638 - 1663

New Haven Colony was established in 1638 by Englishmen, Theophilus Eaton and the Reverend John Davenport. The two men and their companions, set sail driven by the economic and religious motives which had inspired their predecessors, who had established the Massachusetts Bay Colony some years earlier. Puritan ministers had failed in their efforts to reform the Church of England during the reign of King Charles I and now looked to the New World with the aim of creating Bible communities there. They sought freedom from religious persecution in England. They also sought freedom from the rigid social class structure of English society, which was deeply entrenched with government and religious policies as established by the Monarchy and its Church of England. With freedom to pursue Puritan religious beliefs in the New World, came ample land and its associated riches.

Other members of Eaton and Davenport's group who eventually made their way to New Haven include yeoman farmers who were lured by the thought of unlimited access to land as well as tenant farmers and impoverished laborers, who saw an opportunity for a new start in life. Businessmen associated with joint stock companies were also members of the group and attracted by the opportunities for trade.

Businessman Theophilus Eaton and the Reverend John Davenport, were unable to secure royal approval for the group's passage, but managed to organize a group of immigrants to New England. They concealed their identities and charted a ship named the Hector. Approximately 250 people, including fifty male heads of families, set sail for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This group included the largest population of wealthy men ever to venture to New England from Britain, thereby indicating the growing desire for wealth and riches from the New World.

The Hector and its passengers reached Boston on June 6, 1637. At this time, the colony was being shaken by the Anne Hutchinson blasphemy controversy. There was also a rumor that Charles I was going to revoke the colony's charter. As they faced the tense and uncertain climate of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the new arrivals felt that the land offered to them was not suitable for farming, nor was it suitable for development as a trading post due to its location too far inland from adequate access to the water for trading. In the face of this adversity, the new settlers were told of the rich lands of the Quinnipiack. This they heard from Captain John Underhill, an officer of the Army operating against the Pequot Indians, who had served in the present day New Haven area and extolled the "rich and goodly meadows of Quinnipiack". Attracted by such descriptions, Eaton set out to visit this area between two mountains, or our present day East and West Rock, by the end of the same summer.

On August 30, 1637, Eaton left Boston with an exploring party. The group sailed down the coast to a place on the north shore of Long Island Sound. There they found a satisfactory harbor and decided to locate their settlement there. Seven men spent the first winter at the site, maintaining possession of the land until the rest of the colonists could come down from Massachusetts the following spring.

Eaton and Davenport made their company ready for the removal to the "new harbor", and set sail on March 30, 1638. The party reached its destination two weeks later. About 500 hundred colonists were present for the start of the new community on April 24, 1638. They immediately felt the presence of the natives, known as the Quinnipiacks, who resided in small villages around the harbor where they grew and harvested food, and hunted with bow and arrow. The Quinnipiack tribe was relatively free from attack by other natives because the Pequot had been nearly exterminated by the forces of John Mason in the Pequot War. And other local tribes had been weakened almost to extinction by a series of scourges which included Pequot raiders from the east, Mohawk marauders from the west, and finally a deadly plague.

Davenport and Eaton purchased the land area from the local natives in a series of transactions in November and December of 1638, and in May of 1645. The land was purchased in exchange for twelve coats of English trucking cloth, twelve alcumy spoons, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, and two dozen knives. This arrangement was agreed upon and signed by the Sachem of the Quinnipiacks, Momauguin. With this agreement, Momauquin also sought protection from the settlers against raiding Pequot and Mohawks.

This agreement provided English settlers with land on which to develop their new Puritan community shaped largely by the Bible. By the summer of 1638, under the direction of John Brockett, the settlers staked out a town plan in the form of nine symmetrical squares. The central section of this plot was reserved for a market place. Today this area is referred to as the New Haven Green. The other eight sections of land were allotted to the principal planters of the settlement for home building. By June of 1639, the settlers had accomplished much in the way of physical foundations and now could focus on the establishment of their Bible commonwealth. A major dilemma which faced them was that of the roles of church and state. These leaders were not attempting to transplant an English form of government, nor did they envision a democracy. Their objective was to establish a Bible commonwealth, a theocracy in a sense. Church membership determined privileges of franchise and office holding.

On June 6, 1639, seventy proprietors met in Robert Newman's barn (present site of Sillman College at the east end of Hillhouse Avenue), and signed the Fundamental Agreement. The agreement stipulated that only church members would ever be allowed to vote or hold public office. The proprietors chose 11 worthy men, who then chose seven of their own number to create a church in the new settlement. The church was established August 22, 1639. These seven men were referred to as the Seven Pillars, and once they had established the church, the Seven Pillars were expected to initiate a civil government.

The Seven Pillars were able to accomplish this on October 25, 1639, by converting themselves into the original members of the legislative and judicial assembly called the General Court, and added nine more worthy church members to that body. The members of the General Court agreed that the Scriptures "doe hold forth a perfect rule" for the governing of family, church, and commonwealth affairs. The laws which would guide political and judicial decisions were patterned almost entirely upon Biblical traditions. The meeting of the General Court "Held 1st of the 7th moneth 1640" (September 1, 1640), appears the simple declaration: "This toune now named Newhaven." "Newhaven" both honored the town of Sussex, England, and described the "new harbor" chosen for settlement.

The General Court also organized a militia company, which was generally referred to as the train band. All males between the ages of sixteen and sixty were enrolled. The band was divided into four squadrons; each squadron was headed by a sergeant or a corporal. Overall command of the militia consisted of a captain, a lieutenant, and an ensign. The militia kept itself prepared to repel invasions or Indian raids. Occasionally, the militia was called upon to deal with non-military emergencies such as breaks in the town dams..

Within two short years, the settlement of New Haven was able stake out the town plot, establish a civil government, construct a church for worship, and create a defense system for their newly formed society. The settlers of New Haven now turned their attention toward creating that successful trading settlement that had inspired the leaders to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the original settlers of New Haven hoped to create a Christian utopia based on Puritan ideals. The Puritan settlers of the area hoped to benefit from New Haven's geographic features, and use the harbor to create a commercial empire where they could control trade within Long Island Sound.

Colonial New Haven 1660 - 1775

By 1640 the colony of New Haven included Milford, Guilford, Branford, Southold on Long Island, and Stamford. Mercantile men of the colony saw New Haven as a major port in the area. They hoped that the colony of New Haven would not only be able to trade directly with England, but they envisioned the colony of New Haven as the port that would control trade up and down Long Island Sound. Leading New Haven merchants of the time extended their markets further south. They organized the Delaware Bay Company in 1640 to exploit whatever opportunities the Delaware Bay had to offer. On October 31, 1641 a New Haven town meeting approved all acts of the Delaware Bay Company, and voted itself authority over the Delaware Bay region. New Haven shipping merchants went on to develop their own system of triangular trade. Ships from New Haven would sail south down the Atlantic to Virginia, where they would pick up tobacco. The New Haven merchants would then sell their agricultural products and Virginia tobacco to the Dutch in New Amsterdam (New York). The Delaware Bay venture also provided an increased beaver pelt supply that they would ship to Boston to pay for English manufactured goods. Although this proved to be successful for a period of time, soon almost all shipment out of New Haven primarily went through the port of Boston. This allowed merchants at the port of Boston to drain off profits that would otherwise have come to local business in New Haven.

In an effort to re-establish direct trade with England, the people of New Haven built a sailing vessel that has come to be known as the "Great Shippe". In 1647, with the ship loaded with furs, hides, lumber, and other products, sailed out of the wintry harbor and was never seen again. The ship's loss was a serious one for New Haven, both emotionally and economically. New Haven never again organized another shipment to England. The idea of New Haven harbor as a major commercial port was also discouraged, as now, by the shallowness of the bay.

Local myth, and a ballad by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, says that the following summer a "phantom ship" rode in on the sunset clouds above the harbor. Suddenly, as the colonists rushed shoreward, the vessel's masts and sails collapsed, the great cloud darkened, and the image disappeared leaving only implications of tragedy.

Another event that had direct impact on New Haven during this period was the uprising in England by Oliver Cromwell. The uprising ended in the execution of King Charles I. When Charles II was restored to the British throne, two of the judges that ordered the death of Charles I fled England for New England. The judges landed secretly in New Haven in 1661. Both Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe were being pursued by the King's agents. Reverend Davenport preached a defiant sermon that urged the people of New Haven to "hide the outcasts." Whalley and Goffe were sheltered in the "Judges Cave" on West Rock. A third judge, named Colonel Dixwell joined Whalley and Goffe, and the three fled to Hadley, Massachusetts. The agents eventually became frustrated in the chase and gave up. Whalley and Goffe died in Hadley. Dixwell, however, changed his name and returned to New Haven. He would later be buried on the green in 1679. Three of New Haven's major streets are named after the judges (they come together at Broadway in the city's central district).

New Haven's suspected role in helping the fugitive judges was not soon forgotten by the British throne. And in 1662, a year after the judges' arrival, Charles II renewed the Charter of Connecticut, but permitted the leaders of Hartford to absorb the colony of New Haven into their domain. This was Charles II's way of paying back the leaders of New Haven for harboring the fugitives that he was after. As a result of New Haven's absorption by Hartford, New Haven Colony lost the old agreements and understandings they had with England. Independent initiatives of New Haven were largely overridden by the goals of the Connecticut Colony. And all outlying land answered now to Hartford.

Although New Haven had lost her independence, the union with the Connecticut Colony helped to bring about better economic times. In 1701 New Haven became the co-capital of the Connecticut Colony along with Hartford. This gave the discouraged and resentful citizens of New Haven a renewed feeling of hope. It was during this time that New Haven experienced a new spirit of openness, cooperation and compromise that encouraged commerce and other businesses. Membership of the church was now available to all citizens, public officials were now elected instead of appointed, and New Haven citizens now played an active part in governing their own town.

In 1701 the region's ministers organized and the General Court of Connecticut, who approved the establishment of a "collegiate school" at Saybrook. Eighteen years later it moved to New Haven and was renamed Yale College, after merchant benefactor Elihu Yale. The college found a site facing the Green on what is now College Street. Yale College would soon become a global leader in academic excellence as well as an economic contributor to New Haven.

As New Haven celebrated its 100th birthday in 1738, the settlement continued to grow. By 1738 the town had grown to about 1,000 residents and had 163 dwellings. And by 1752, the first signs of religious tolerance are seen in New Haven when the General Court acceded the formation of the Episcopal congregation. New Haven also established Connecticut's first newspaper, the Connecticut Gazette in 1775, with the help of Benjamin Franklin and his publisher James Parker. During the same time, New Haven experienced the first public planting of elm trees on the town square.

When England defeated France and gained control of French possessions in the New World during the French and Indian War (1756 - 1763), New Haven's commerce and prosperity grew even more. Better conditions attracted ambitious and talented people to the town. The increase in trade with the West Indies was very profitable and encouraged shipbuilding. By 1770 thirty ships were sailing out of New Haven for voyages to foreign countries. Prior to 1770, New Haven had only two ships for coastal trading, and only one was able to sail to the West Indies. Although New Haven experienced renewed economic growth through coastal trading at this time, New Haven's shallow harbor was still not experiencing the level of economic success compared to Boston and New York.

Revolutionary New Haven 1776 - 1783

By the time of the Revolutionary War began, New Haven had evolved from a colonial village into a growing town of about 3,500 citizens that would contribute men, money and arms to the revolutionary cause.

In 1765 the king and the English parliament, looking for revenue, imposed the Stamp Act as a form of colony taxation. New Haven was quick to join other colonies in protest. The king's local stamp master, Jared Ingersoll, was threatened with his life. Although there were Loyalists living in New Haven, there was new talk of independence and general patriot objections among the citizens of New Haven, to include a "Liberty Pole" on the Green..

A strong spirit of patriotism marked the people of New Haven from the very outset of the Revolutionary War. When news of the Battle of Lexington reached the town, Benedict Arnold, who was elected Captain of the Governor's Foot Guard, mustered his men to march to Cambridge to provide reinforcement for the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord. On April 22, 1775, Arnold and forty of his men marched to the town officials demanding the keys to the powder house that stored the town's gunpowder. Arnold and his men were met with refusal by some town officials who were Tories and loyal to the Crown. After Arnold threatened to break down the doors to the powder house, frightened officials handed over the keys.

Every Spring New Haven celebrates "Powder House Day" by reenacting the event. One hundred and fifty guardsmen, a fife and drum corps, and a military band march from the Goffe Street Armory to the Green behind their commander, who plays the part of Benedict Arnold.

After Arnolds' company left, in an effort to protect themselves from possible British attack, the New Haveners set up a signal fire on the east side of the harbor. When ever necessary it was lighted to warn the people in the surrounding countryside. All able-bodied men were expected to arm themselves to defend the town. During the next three years New Haven did its part in supplying men, food, and clothing to the Continental army. A powder mill was built in Westville, and New Haven was able to provide the army with ammunition. During this time there was a constant fear of attack.

Also at this time, the British, under command of General William Tryon, began to make raids along the Connecticut coast, robbing and burning towns. On July 5, 1779 a fleet of 48 British warships carrying 5,000 marines, sailors, and foot soldiers sailed up Long Island Sound and launched a two-pronged invasion of New Haven from the beaches at West Haven and East Haven. Reverend Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, went up to the chapel and through a telescope was able to verify that British soldiers were landing at West Haven.

British soldiers were first met with resistance by the Governor's Foot Guard, the artillery company, and a sizeable number of Yale students that marched to West Bridge, the road leading to West Haven. Once the British were able to overcome the first wave of resistance they marched toward Westville where the powder mill stood. The British soldiers tried to capture and destroy the mill. Their attempt was met with strong resistance and failed. British soldiers then advanced from Westville toward the center of the town, what is now Broadway. The fighting was fierce at Ditch Corner, where Whalley and Dixwell Avenues come together. At Broadway, British soldiers began destroying and burning property. At the corner of Chapel and York streets, the British positioned cannon, and fired down the street several times. Finally, the British reached the center of town and settled themselves on the Green.

While this was taking place, another body of British soldiers was landing on the east side of the harbor near what is now Lighthouse Point. After overcoming some resistance, the British troops were eventually able to make their way along the shore by Morris Cove and a small fort at Black Rock. Along the way, British soldiers continued to raid nearby farm houses. Some British troops got as far as the village of East Haven. Eventually the troops from the east side of the harbor crossed the Quinnipiac River and marched to the Green.

The next morning General Tryon assembled his men and withdrew from New Haven to attack and burn Fairfield and Norwalk. For a variety of tactical reasons the British did not burn the town. However, they left behind a plundered town with twenty-seven New Haveners dead and nineteen wounded some of them non-combatants.

While it has become regular practice, for American historians to emphasize Connecticut's role in the Revolutionary struggle mainly in terms of the "Supply State", it can not be forgotten that a New Haven contingent entered the battle early, under the command of a controversial figure, and that New Haven experienced the brunt of a strategically designed, full-scale invasion.

The New Haven community was divided in three different camps regarding colonial independence from Great Britain. One third was classified as Tories, another third patriot, and nearly another which third could not make up their minds. Yet, as the years wore on, between 1775 and 1781, a majority consensus did emerge in New Haven, and in the American Colonies, generally-a militant consensus that the colonies were, and of right ought to be, free and independent.

Post Revolutionary New Haven 1784 - 1794

When the conflict ended, New Haven was still a small, quiet, semi-rural seaport town. In 1784 the dwellings continued to be made mostly of wood, many of them painted red or blue, with some brick ones and a few built of stone. This period of time would see the transition of New Haven from a small, primarily agricultural town to a community that would become a city that would experience enormous urbanization, from population growth, growing commerce, and the establishment of a city infrastructure.

On January 8, 1784, the Connecticut General Assembly passed an act incorporating a portion of the Town of New Haven as the City of New Haven. At the time the town covered an area about ten miles from west to east by thirteen miles from south to north. Included within old boundary were the sections that later became West Haven, part of Orange, part of Amity (later to be Woodbridge and Bethany), Hamden, North Haven, and East Haven. Approximately 8,000 people lived in what was then the town, including 3,350 in the new city itself. The newly incorporated city occupied about 10 percent of the old town's acreage. The city's boundaries ran from the West River on the west over to the Mill River on the east and from the Mill River Meadows on the north down to the waterfront.

Once the city charter was granted by the General Assembly, New Haven immediately began to form a new structure of government. The new town government consisted of a mayor (Roger Sherman), four aldermen, and a council of 20, all ultimately responsible to the traditional Town Meeting. A Mayor's Court was empowered to deal with civil cases within the city and a host of new offices were created to better order city life and to regulate commerce transactions.

As part of New Haven's design for economic growth, immigration was encouraged by the town, which had in colonial times carefully guarded its residents and freely "warned out" transients. In 1784, almost immediately after the city charter was granted, the city voted to readmit to citizenship "such Tories as are of fair character and will be good and useful members of Society." At the same time, a distinguished city "Committee of Hospitality" was set up "to assist all such strangers as shall come to the city for the purpose of settlement therein." A decade later the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, one of the first in the country, pioneered in private and civic assistance to commerce and industry.

However, it is important to remember that immediately following the Revolution, the average New Havener spent most of his lifetime in the quieter pursuits of daily life, providing food, clothing, and shelter for the family. The typical New Havener was still a farmer. Even though most of the population lived in a cluster around the Green, it is proper to call their abodes "farmhouses", since most of the adult males went out each morning to work in the fields surrounding the town.

Life began early in a New Haven farmhouse, seven o'clock in the winter and six o'clock or earlier in summer. The fire in the fireplace was banked when the family retired. The first person up, usually the father, rekindled the fire in the kitchen with some curls of wood. Once the fire was blazing, the rest of the family was awakened. Household tasks began immediately. Someone went to the well and pulled up a fresh bucket of water. Throughout the day this pail, frequently refilled, was the only source of water for drinking, washing, and cooking. Usually, it was one of the family boys that went to the wood pile for wood for the fire.

In the meantime the mother, with the help of her daughters, prepared breakfast, a substantial meal in most households, consisting of bread and butter, smoked dried beef, cheese, broiled fish, or meat. Cider was the common drink for the family. At noontime, "dinner" was the main meal of the day, and along with the food already mentioned, it many fruits and vegetables. The lighter meal of the day, called "supper", included a variety of desserts such as preserved fruits, cakes, and torts. Along with the cooking, the women of the household were responsible for most of the household chores such as washing and mending of clothes, taking care of the domestic gardens, and the rearing of the young children.

During this era, New Haven, with its new charter, stood poised on the threshold of unprecedented urban growth. In spite of this, New Haven maintained the appearance of a small colonial town. The city had traded size for the advantages of a municipal charter. In addition to increased civic dignity the city government gained more clearly defined power to stimulate commerce and promote trade by improving wharves and roads. New Haven's central area and the adjoining waterfront contained in 1724, between 157 and 163 buildings of all types, including residential structures. By 1787, in the same general area, there were 466 houses, 103 stores, and 324 barns and shops. Public buildings were in the center of town, on the Green, or very close to it, and much of the retail took place there.

Prior to 1784 when New Haven became a city, most inhabitants had used descriptive terms to identify particular areas of the town, Cutler's Corner for the intersection of what is now Church and Chapel streets and Ditch Corner for the area of Broadway. There were, however, no official street designations until 1784, when the municipal government bestowed names on twenty-one of them. The original nine squares were to be bounded by Grove Street on the north, George on the south, York on the west, and State Street on the east. Between Grove and George streets and running parallel to them were Elm and Chapel streets. Between York and State streets the parallel streets were to be called College and Church. The later street was named for the Episcopal Church on its east side south of Chapel Street. The name of Elm Street called attention to the elm trees planted in the 1680s.

During Constitutional debate over ratification, Roger Sherman of New Haven helped to create the United States Constitution, which replaced the Articles of Confederation. Sherman resolved the problem concerning the number of senators and representatives each state would have in the national government. Sherman's Connecticut Compromise decided that each state would have two senators, but its number of representatives would be decided based on population of the state. Roger Sherman helped the Constitution get approved in Connecticut. He was the only person to sign all four key documents in early United States history; the Articles of Association in 1774; the Declaration of Independence in 1776; the Articles of Confederation in 1777; and the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Roger Sherman was elected New Haven's first Mayor in 1784.

to top

Academic Setting

My unit will be taught in a class called United States History I at Wilbur Cross High School. The Unit is designed to match our current class schedule. Class periods are fifty minutes in duration, and meet four times per week. The course is designed for tenth grade honors level students who are above, or at grade, level in their academic skills, both in reading and writing. The class utilizes their textbooks as a guide or framework for their curriculum. However, students in this class level also depend upon primary and secondary sources to analyze and evaluate historical information.

This unit will utilize a number of primary and secondary sources of the era in order for the students to meet the objectives of the lessons and the unit goals. These resources will encourage students to draw a connection to New Haven during, and after the colonial, era. The unit will also emphasize student based learning as a method to meet set educational objectives. Which include: primary sources, literature, cooperative learning exercises, debate, class discussion, geography, and CAPT based writing will be a part of this unit. The diversity of the lessons will also be effective for the block scheduling that is proposed for the next academic school year.

to top


Students will be able to:

1. To trace the origins of colonial development in New Haven
2. Describe, analyze, and evaluate the philosophical and religious beliefs that influenced the settlement of New Haven, and explain how these beliefs set the foundation for civic life, religion, politics, and government in New Haven
3. Will engage each other in conversation, and debates, which attempt to clarify issues faced by the original settlers of New Haven
4. Use geography skills to understand the importance and success of colonial New Haven
5. Identify and explain the significance of Puritan influence in colonial New Haven
6. Compare and contrast colonial New Haven to other Puritan settlements in New England
7. Analyze and evaluate key historical events in New Have within the time period of this unit
8. Summarize key elements of New Haven's economy during the time frame of this unit
9. Analyze and evaluate the principles of the New Haven government during the time frame of the unit.

to top


Early Settlement of New Haven

- Native Americans
- Geography of New Haven
- Puritan Influences
Pre-Revolutionary New Haven

- Self Government
- Growing Economy
- Developing Society
Revolutionary New Haven

- Role of New Haven during the War
- Contributions towards the War Effort
Post Revolutionary New Haven

- Development of New Haven: rural to urban
- Growth of a diverse society/economy
- A historical figure of note: Roger Sherman

to top

Lesson Plans: An overview of what is capable with the information provided

Lesson #1

Title: Class Discussion: Unit Overview

Duration: 50 Minutes

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. Summarize the areas of study that will be covered in the unit.

2. Understand the complexity of establishing a new society.

3. Understand the impact of Puritan ideals upon the new settlement.

Materials: K-W-L Chart

Opening: Teacher will begin class by asking the students open-ended questions such as: Why was New Haven settled? What impact did the physical landscape have on the settlement? Who were the Puritans, and what were their motives for settlement? Some of the topics addressed will include motives for migration to the New World, Puritan ideals, the influence of geography.

Activity: Throughout the class period, students are encouraged to comment on what they may know about the early history of New Haven. Students are also encouraged to engage one another in conversation in an effort to foster further learning of the unit through open discussion. Teacher will act as facilitator to keep the discussion on track. Teacher will post students responses on the board using the K-W-L Chart

Closure: Teacher will ask the students, from the questions they raised during their discussion, what they (as a class) would like to learn about during the unit. Teacher will post their comments on the board. Teacher will then review the unit to let each student know what is expected of them to be successful.

Lesson #2

Title: Geography of New Haven and the impact on Colonial Settlement

Duration: 100 Minutes (2 Class periods)

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. Examine geographic features of the New Haven area.

2. Analyze and synthesize how geographic features led to the settlement of the New Haven Colony.

3. Analyze and contrast different maps of New Haven to understand growth and development within the New Haven Colony.

4. Produce their own example of a settlement that takes into account physical features and the needs of the inhabitants

Materials: Map of New Haven, 1641, A Plan of the Town of New Haven with All the Buildings in 1748, Stiles Map of 1775, Current Map of New Haven, Chamber of Commerce, White Poster board, Markers, Handout which lists geographic and physical features.

Opening: Teacher will begin by introducing how the Puritan settlers were influenced to migrate to the New Haven area based on geography, climate, and of a potential area of land for becoming a trading settlement.

Activity: Students will work in cooperative learning groups as they analyze and evaluate the four different maps of the time period. Each group will be asked to address certain questions as they compare and contrast the different maps: What geographic features did the settlers see as a positive to migrate to the area? Are there any geographic features that serve as a negative influence, why? Does climate play a role in where people are willing to live, why or why not? What differences can be seen in the physical structures of each map? What can you deduce from these differences? How does geography influence a society and its economy? Students are encouraged to come up with their own questions to further understand the development of the New Haven Colony. Each group will then be asked to illustrate an example of their own settlement using the poster board and markers. The students are to record their various conclusions based on analysis of the maps of New Haven. They are also to incorporate all items listed on the handout in their analysis (geographic and physical features).

Closure: At the end of the second class period, students will present the settlements which they have created to the class. Each group is to provide their reasoning for why they settled in a certain geographic region, describe why they structured their settlement they way they did, describe how this influences the economy and their society.

Assignment/Assessment: Students will present their colonial settlement to the class for a grade.

Lesson #3

Title: The "Great Shippe" and its impact on the New Haven economy

Duration: 50 Minutes

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. Analyze and evaluate two forms of art: Poetry, Painting.
2. Understand the impact of the Great Ship had on the New Haven Colony both economically and emotionally.
3. Analyze how this event altered the New Haven economy.

Materials: Vision of the Phantom Ship, 1647, Return of the "Great Shippe", H. W. Longfellow

Opening: Teacher will begin class by discussing the idea of Triangular Trade and how New Haven had developed its own version of this trade pattern by exchanging products throughout different parts of the world. Teacher will ask students how this type of trade affected the New Haven Colony. Was this what the original settlers of New Haven wanted for their community, why or why not? Teacher will ask what might be the future of New Haven if they lost their merchant shipping business.

Activity: After class discussion, which addressed the questions above, the students will break out into their respective cooperative learning groups. Each group will read and discuss the Longfellow poem, the "Great Shippe." Each group will also analyze and evaluate the meaning of the painting, "Vision of the Phantom Ship." Each group will be asked how the two pieces of art are connected and what they tell us about this event. Each group is to determine, the impact this event had on the colonists of New Haven, economically and emotionally. Did this event change the course of New Haven, why or why not? Is the impact of this event still felt today? If so, how?

Closure: Each group will be asked to present their findings/opinions to the class, where each question should be answered. Teacher will allow for a period of question and answers as each groups completes their presentation. This closure activity will foster further discussion of the event, New Haven's economy, past and present, and the emotional impact felt by the colonists of New Haven.

Assignment: Students are to read the Terms and Conditions for the sale of Quinnipiack from the Indians (New Haven Colonial Records 1638 - 1649)

Lesson #4

Title: The Colonists Purchase Quinnipiack from the Indians

Duration: 100 Minutes (2 Class Periods)

Objectives: Students will be able to:

1. Read, analyze, and synthesize a primary document.

2. Analyze and understand the motives behind the Puritans for the purchase of the land.

3. Understand the position the local natives were in when agreeing to the sale.

Opening: Teacher will begin the class by discussing the primary source document of the terms and conditions for the purchase of the land, which was read for homework. Teacher will encourage open discussion on the fairness of the document, the motives of the Puritans for purchasing the land, the position the local Indians were in when agreeing to the sale of the land. These types of questions are to foster open discussion among the class that will raise debate on other issues.

Activity: Once the class has had an opportunity to discuss the reading, and all questions answered, the teacher will divide the room into three groups. One large group will represent the Puritans, another large group will represent the Indians, and a third smaller group will represent a neutral body (teacher will act as moderator within the neutral group). Students will take the rest of the first class to get a better understanding of the group of people they represent. Second class period, the class will conduct an informal debate over the purchase of Indian land by the New Haven Puritans. Each group is instructed to keep in mind some of the bigger questions that were discussed in the first class period. Each group will take turns presenting their arguments, with a chance for the other side to rebut.

Closure: The neutral group, at the end of class, will determine who presented the best case and which group was better represented.

to top


Teacher's List

Vision in the Sky, New haven's Early Years: 1638-1783, Myrna Kagan

From Revolution to Constitution: Connecticut 1763 to 1818, David M. Roth and Freeman Meyer

Fair Haven: A Journey through Time, Doris B. Townshend

The New Haven Green and the American Bicentennial, Rollin G. Osterweis

New Haven: an Illustrated History, Floyd Shumway and Richard Hegel

From Puritan to Yankee: character and the Social Order in Connecticut 1690-1765, Richard L. Bushman

Connecticut Joins the Revolution, Thomas C. Barrow

Roger Sherman: Puritan Politician, Christopher Collier

Connecticut War Governor: Jonathan Trumbull, David M. Roth

Journal of the New Haven Colonial Society: Vol. 31/No 1, Vol. 35/No 1, Vol. 38/No 1,

The Completion of Independence in New Haven: Pioneers of Culture and Industry, The New Haven Colony Historical Society

Student List

The Americans, McDougal Littel (pub)

Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Year 1638 - 1783, Myrna Kagan

The United States and Its People, Addison-Wesley (pub)

A Historical Album of Connecticut, Charles A. Wills

The Connecticut Colony, Dennis Brindell Fradin

Web Sites










Other Material

Map of New Haven, 1641. John Brockett, New Haven Colony Historical Society

A Plan of the Town of New Haven with All the Buildings in 1748.

Hon. Gen. Wadsworth, New Haven Colony Historical Society

Stiles Map of 1775, New Colony Historical Society

Return of the "Great Shippe," H. W. Longfellow

Vision of the Phantom Ship, 1647. Jesse Talbot, New Haven Colony Historical Society

to top


Atwater, Edward E. History of Colonial New Haven. Boston: Rand, Avery & Company, 1881

This book is the ultimate coverage of New Haven history. Without Mr. Atwater's meticulous recall of New Hew Haven, our history would be lost.

Calder, Isabel Macbeth. The New Haven Colony. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934

Ms. Calder is recommended by many historians and educators and lends great insight to the world before 1880.

Hoadly, Charles J. New Haven Colonial Records: 1638 - 1649. Hartford: Case, Lockwood, and Company, 1857

These volumes open the eyes of anyone who seeks to discover life in colonial New Haven. These records may be for the educator to read, but they are something to share with the children you teach to and everyone who has an interest in New Haven.

Hoadly, Charles J. New Haven Colonial Records: 1653 - 1655. Hartford: Case, Lockwood, and Company, 1858

Same as above. What a treasure we have locally.

Kagan, Myrna. Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Years 1638 - 1783. Hamden: Linnet Books, 1989

In my view, the best account of New Haven history that can be told and appreciated at all levels. I hope that all New Haven school children read this.

Leeney, Robert J. Elms, Arms, & Ivy: New Haven in the Twentieth Century. Montgomery: Community Communications, 2000

This is a new book that was written by Robert J. Leeney. Since his book, Mr. Leeney,

member of the New Haven Register news staff for 52 years, has written at least two articles of which I have read: "The day redcoats took the town", and "A local bow to freedom's birth." Every Sunday I look forward to more historical gems.

Osterweis, Rollin G. Three Centuries of New Haven: 1638 - 1938. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953

This book is the complete history of New Haven. With Mr. Atwater's recount you can not miss the true experience of New Haven growing.

Roth, David M., Meyer, Freedman. From Revolution to Constitution: Connecticut 1763 to 1818. Bridgeport: The Pequot Press, Connecticut 1975

This book gives great outside information to the Connecticut Colony.

Shumway, Floyd M. Early New Haven and Its Leadership. Thesis, New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1969

Through his thesis and book, he adds another piece to the puzzle. Through his commitment with the New Haven Colonial Historical Society, the history becomes even more complete.

to top


1. Osterweis, Rollin G. Three Centuries of New Haven: 1638 - 1938. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953. Pg. 8.

2. ibid, pg. 10

3. Atwater, Edward E. History of Colonial New Haven. Boston: Rand, Avery & Company, 1881. Pg. 69.

4. Osterweis, pg. 11

5. ibid, pg. 10

6. ibid, pg. 12

7. ibid, pg. 13

8. ibid, pg. 14

9. ibid, pg. 16

10. Shumway, Floyd M. Early New Haven and Its Leadership. Thesis, New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1969. Pg. 7.

11. Hoadly, Charles J. New Haven Colonial Records: 1638 - 1649. Hartford: Case, Lockwood, and Company, 1857. Vol. I. Pg. 20 - 21.

12. Osterweis, pg. 15-16

13. ibid, pg. 20

14. Shumway, pg. 11-12

15. Leeney, Robert J. Elms, Arms, & Ivy: New Haven in the Twentieth Century. Montgomery: Community Communications, 2000. Pg. 14.

16. Shumway, pg. 14

17. N.H. Col. Recds. I, p.20 - 21.

18. Atwater, pg. 192

19. Leeney, pg. 14

20. ibid, pg. 14

21. ibid, pg. 15

22. ibid, pg. 16

23. Kagan, Myrna. Vision in the Sky: New Haven's Early Years 1638 - 1783. Hamden: Linnet Books, 1989. Pg. 128.

24. Leeney, pg. 16

25. Leeney, pg. 16-17

26. Kagan, pg. 132

27. Leeney, pg. 17

28. Osterweis, pg. 54

29. Hoadly, Charles J. New Haven Colonial Records: 1653 - 1655. Hartford: Case, Lockwood, and Company, 1858. Vol. 34/No. 2, p.21).

30. Shumway, pg. 39

31. Roth, David M., Meyer, Freedman. From Revolution to Constitution: Connecticut 1763 to 1818. Bridgeport: The Pequot Press, Connecticut 1975. Pg. 69

32. ibid, pg. 69

33. NHCHS, Vol. 34/No. 2, p.23

34. ibid, pg. 23

to top

Contents of 2003 Volume II | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2018 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI