Immigration is a topic suitable for all grades who study aspects of American History. Therefore this unit will provide background, age appropriate resources, suggested lessons, and goals and objectives which can be applied to students at the primary, middle, and senior high school levels. The scope of New Haven's history is such that it can be incorporated into World History classes as well as any U. S. History curriculum. Given constraints of time and curriculum, this unit need not be applied as a whole to fulfil most goals and objectives. It is suggested that the teacher utilize any information or lesson which they feel will be appropriate for their students. By interweaving these unique bits of New Haven history with an exploration of United States immigration history, the students will be able to recognize concrete examples from their own neighborhoods.
The purpose and design of this unit will meet the following goals and objectives:
¥Student's study of World and U.S. History will gain new relevance as they realize how these subjects relate to their home city.
¥Students will understand the varied economic, religious, and political conditions that fueled immigration to New Haven over the past three hundred years.
¥Students will develop competence in utilizing primary sources to facilitate their study.
¥Students will demonstrate an appreciation for the power of diversity through examining the contributions of immigrants to New Haven.
"Those Who Built New Haven" will focus upon the unique nature of the immigration experience for individuals and ethnic groups within New Haven. From John Davenport, to Frank Pepe, each immigrant's story will be compelling to the diverse student body of this city as they encounter those that paved the way in New Haven.
The story of immigration in New Haven requires us to explore over three hundred and fifty years of the struggle and triumph that shaped the nature and quality of our city's heritage. Such a vast quantity of time must be divided into periods from which students can investigate the unique conditions that defined immigration to New Haven at that moment. Therefore, I have chosen to focus upon three centuries of immigration into New Haven and the economic, political, and religious motives for venturing here. By painting the immigrant's experience in New Haven with "broad strokes" I by no means intend to exclude or omit certain individuals or groups but rather encourage a more detailed analysis of a chosen topic by the student or teacher using the suggested resources. The background information is intended to illustrate the circumstances which prompted these individuals to immigrate to New Haven, and what conditions were like when they arrived. From these brief overviews, I hope to stimulate additional in depth research on the part of both teachers and students.
The Puritans: New Haven's First Immigrants
The first period I have chosen will focus upon the earliest immigrants to New Haven, specifically John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton and the three hundred and fifty followers who sought protection from religious persecution in this New Haven. This time period fits perfectly into the World History curriculum studies of the Reformation and Stuart Restoration. The religious and political upheaval in Europe directly influenced the first waves of immigrants to New Haven. Students who understand the origins and goals of Puritanism will certainly enjoy connecting these events with the founding of their city. Although the founders of a community are not often classified as "immigrants", it is appropriate and enlightening to research the motives and means which brought the first immigrants to our area.
Originally destined for Massachusetts Bay Colony, Davenport and his followers arrived there in 1637 as the Anne Hutchinson controversy was concluding. This lead them to question whether their hopes for creating a theocracy could be realized in such turmoil. Soldiers returning from the Pequot War informed them of a suitable natural harbor to the South in an area know as "Quinnipiac". They were also relieved to hear the natives were few in number and quite friendly.
Arriving in the spring of 1638, Davenport cautioned his followers to "beware the temptations of the wilderness" as they carved the original nine squares and set about building a colony which would be governed by the Bible. Over the next fifteen years the colony would focus upon building a religious utopia for "The Puritans did not believe in change, much less progress, for man's material betterment was to them a matter of little consequence as compared with his spiritual welfare."1
Despite their noble goals, Eaton and Davenport realized the economic necessity of establishing a prosperous colony. Unfortunately, the original journal of John Davenport was lost on the "Great Shippe" which was destined to sail to England and establish trading contracts. It sailed in January 1647 loaded with lumber, furs, and the journal which would have helped us further our understanding of this fascinating man. The founders had literally "put all their eggs in one basket" for, "The loss of the "Great Shippe" weakened the financial structure of the colony and thus played a significant part in its subsequent decline."2 Fortunately, some of Davenport's letters and sermons have survived and from these remarkable primary documents students will explore the unique beliefs, customs and laws of New Haven's first immigrants.
One of the most enlightening passages regarding life and conditions in early New Haven comes from Michael Wigglesworth, then seven years old, "Winter approaching we dwelt on a cellar partly underground covered with earth the first winter. But I remember that one great rain brake in upon us and drencht me so in my bed being asleep that I fell sick upon it; but the Lord in his mercy spar'd my life and restored by health"3 Historians believe the early settlers dug caves into the sides of the West Creek bed, which lies beneath the Richard C. Lee connector.
Following is a lesson designed to help students appreciate the harsh conditions under which New Haven's first immigrants existed.