“Thy life is a bitch, and then thouest dies.”
Punishment was everywhere and eternal with a vengeful God and a diabolical Devil according to Puritan Pioneers. By 1600, elsewhere in the world, much trade had developed between Europe and the Far East. A curiosity developed about the edge of the world, maybe it wasn’t flat after all, and they wondered if there was an ocean or a continent they needed to cross to get to China so they tried to sail through North America. During the first decade of the 1600’s, Dutchmen drove their ships up the Hudson River. In 1614 a Dutchman, Adrian Block, sailed up the Connecticut River as far as Enfield, and the French were exploring the Canadian wilderness.
The First People of North America, the Iroquois and the Mohawks, had governing charters, and the elders preserved the statutes verbally. Among them was an acceptance of individual freedom, and it’s reputed that many ideas of early American libertarianism and liberty were specifically derived from the Iroquois and the Mohawks.There was a lot of friendliness and trade between the natives and the European pioneers, but it was the elitists who actively promoted the slaughter of the indigenous people, what I call faith based genocide.
Plymouth Massachusetts became the first permanent European town in 1620 and other settlements began on the nearby east coast. The Puritans were a dominant force in the settlement, and despite escaping the clutches of tyrannical royalty in England they then imposed a ridiculously restrictive theocracy on themselves when they got here. For instance if you said a curse word , you might get your tongue nailed to a board in the center of town. Eventually the population drifted away from this religious extreme as they migrated away from The Puritans .
The 'tally ho' of English elitists, became the 'westward ho' of those disenchanted with the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and thus began the westward movement of Europeans in this country. Starting in the 1630’s, pioneers emigrated from Plymouth and Boston Massachusetts, and shortly after that the religious zealots went out among the countryside behind them; looking for towns that would support and sponsor their clergyness. Preachers were busy filling people with fear and damnation, keeping themselves employed.
If war and taxes didn’t grind you down, one religion or another was trying to capture your mind and control your town. Preachers ask, do we worship the Creator or the Creation? Most preachers seem to think we must worship God and to hell with the animals and trees. Christianity became a political party in 325 A.D. and rarely fosters any sort of respect for Mother Nature. Respect for the earth is even seen as Satan inspired by these idiots.
The non-Puritan pioneers were agriculturally independent and not necessarily religious, self sufficient working slobs who were ruled by good spirits and kindness and not a conquering tyranny, or absurd theocratic philosophy. Given the chance in Jamestown Virginia, the hired help of the wealthy English were all found missing one spring when fresh new rich preppies came to rule them with the intent to settle Virginia. All that was left, was a note that said “Gone to Croatan,” that was carved in the tree. Croatan were nearby Native Americans. Jamestown never became a permanent town.
In 1631 an Indian leader from the Podunk Tribe from the Connecticut River Valley invited people from Plymouth (1620) and Boston (founded 1628) to come and live in the valley of the broad river. He hoped that somehow his tribe would prosper. Settlers moved west, the first westward seeking pioneers. They were explorers and adventurers as much as the gold seekers 200 years later during the California Gold Rush. In Wethersfield they encountered a Dutch trading post that had been set up in 1632. In 1633 the first permanent settlement was built in Windsor. In 1634 Wethersfield became the first incorporated town. In 1635 an area between the two towns, called Hartford was founded. That is the exact sequence for the settling of the Connecticut River area by Europeans. A contentous issue in Connecticut, I just wanted to set the record straight.
Wethersfield, Hartford and Windsor commingled in trade. They held town meetings and in 1639 banded together into what they called “One Publick State or Commonwealth.” Inspired by Thomas Hooker’s iconoclastic sermons in which he outlined the principles of a just government, Roger Ludlow drew up a document for governing this new organization. The Fundamental Orders he created has been praised as the first practical constitution to declare that, “...The foundation of authority rests with the free consent of the people.” In 1650 the Code of 1650 became the bill of rights, so to speak for the Connecticut Colony, it was called the Ludlow code, and was written by Roger Ludlow also.
Stifling governments around the world led many to look for new homelands. Wethersfield, Hartford, and Windsor became known as the Connecticut Colony, and, at the time, was a good area for those wishing to work their craft and live honestly. The Flag and King were far away and forgotten, so it was a pity those pesky puritan preachers promoted patriarchal platitudes, and were always looking for recently settled towns and cowering fearful superstitious people to brainwash.
By 1662 the Connecticut Colony was a proud and thriving region. Self sufficient, with a couple cash crops such as the Red Wethersfield Onion which was known in all the ports of the world. The Governor sailed across the Atlantic to see the King of England. As a grand gesture the King extended the boundaries of the Connecticut Colony all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
As I noted before, most of the population paid lip service to the preachers who were whipping up an anti-native frenzy. The new world was filled with pagans, and a popular T-shirt back then would have been, “So little time, so many pagans to smite.” The Native American earth loving Pagans and Forest people that brought their magic with them becoming Hillbilly Granny Magic for one example.
The preachers used scare tactics suggesting these Native American pagans needed to be slaughtered for everyones safety. These moral high ground religious hypocrites saw the native population as troublesome and ungovernable and sought their extinction from the start although, as I said, the explorers traded with them.
The governor and the king had a splendid time and along with extending the borders he also legalized the Fundamental Orders. It was the most liberal document ever approved by an English monarch, ever; anywhere. Remember the English counted India, Africa, Hong Kong and many other places as part of the empire. Things went well for another 25 years as people peacefully farmed fertile floodlands. Their only government was the monthly town meetings which were guided by the spirit of The Fundamental Orders.
In the mid 1680’s one of the first sparks of The American revolutionary fervor burned right in my old hometown of Wethersfield. A previously unprecedented defiance, they succeeded in their refusal to pay a five pound fine, which was imposed on them by the Royal Courts. They held a public election and voted in favor of not paying.
Feisty, independent and developing fervent civic pride, The Connecticut Colony did not kowtow or patronize British leadership. And yes, they excluded many from voting but the evolution of personal liberty had to begin somewhere. It had to begin somehow. A lot of Third World countries are hundreds of years behind us in understanding the notion that all people deserve freedom and liberty. The Connecticut Colony was mostly taking care of themselves and enjoyed unprecedented economic freedom. This was something new because in the old peasant days there was always a king, prince, pope or bishop, duke or duchess to tax your labor, for their illegitimate wealth. In 1687 the new king, James the Second, took notice of the Connecticut Colony and unlike the friendly King in 1662, appointed a new governor who would be from England and not appointed by the colony. By that time, Old Saybrook and New Haven had become thriving port cities and had joined the Colony. The vile King James demanded Connecticut give up its precious charter, the now controversial Fundamental Orders. As he became aware of the autonomy granted the Connecticut Colony he immediately threw a spaz. “Authority is created from the free consent of the people!! This is an outrage!” The King sent a new Governor, Sir Edmund Andros, across the pond to try and govern this rabble.
Amid fits of anger he summoned Andros to physically pick up the charter so there would be no doubt where the authority lay. Andros sailed across the ocean and went to Wethersfield to endure a town meeting and listen to people rant and rave against his appointment and authority. Meeting day fell on Halloween and a long afternoon ensued for Andros who was forced to listen to declarations of defiance.
As evening wore on candles were lit at the center of the large table. Apparently the town narcoleptic fell asleep at the main table and knocked the candles over. When the candles were relit, Andros was stunned that the charter, the original copy of the Fundamental Orders that was in plain view, had disappeared even though no one had left the meeting! Tradition states that the Charter was thrown out the window to someone who traveled on horseback from the meeting place at the Wethersfield Cove to be hidden in an oak tree on a hill near the Hog River in Hartford and site of the current capital building. The Redcoats could search homes and possessions but would be hard pressed to figure out where else it was hidden.
(above picture is the Witch Tree near Lake Michigan)
The Charter Oak was an ancient white oak with a man sized cavity in it, chewed out by insects, and the document was probably tucked up inside the tree and corked about ten feet off the ground. As the years went by, it was a source of pride and mystery. An important part of the fuel that built our 1776 revolutionary machine, it is a symbol of American defiance against colonial authority.
America is an example of how coercive authority was given the boot and a permanent vacation. So many people in so many countries need to just grow a backbone and fight for their family and their future. Stop coming to America because the gravy boat can only sink. Men that allow tyranny or fascist and obnoxious zealotry should be ashamed of themselves, and need to learn from the freedom seeking activists of the Connecticut Colony so many years ago and their charter of freedom called the Fundamental Orders. In time, a cult developed on the hidden document. Someone hid it and kept it hidden, and the infamous tree became known as the Charter Oak. Ironic it now seems to a tree lover, that an oak tree saved the day. The old pagan religions often built their sacred places near an oak tree and followers of Perkunas had their eternal fires near oak trees: A pagan absolute recognizes that the oak tree has power. This whole story was interesting to me because there was a plaque commemorating the location of the Charter Oak on my paper route.
STOP RIGHT THERE! Let me interrupt here to explain myself real briefly. I just want to show how faulty my memory can be ON OCCASION, so be careful quoting me. As I say in the opening of My ebook, "The Final Slaughter", 'opinions expressed herein may at times resemble facts.' The commemorative plaque on my paper route was actually for the Wethersfield Elm which was the largest Elm tree east of the Rocky Mountains, no small feat, but for years my adult memory thought the memorial plaque on my paper route was for the Charter Oak. So feel free to correct me, but my research is usually accurate and people have told me this particular article has detailed accurate research.
(above tree is The Great Elm around 1900
The Charter Oak, a white oak, was huge and hollow. It was reputed to be 33 feet in its circumference at the base but was blown down in a hurricane in 1856. )When I wrote the original story of the Charter Oak in the Bicentennial year of 1976 my idea was to show the fire in the belly the original settlers in Wethersfield possessed. After a couple hundred years Wethersfield citizens became complacent with the “old families” running the Bored of Education and ruling other functions. Stuffy aristocrats you just wanted to slap upside the head.
The story of the Fundamental Orders and the Charter Oak is the story of the roots of our eventual American Independence. Interestingly, a couple years ago, the U.S. Mint allowed states to design quarters and Connecticut chose to use a representation of the Charter Oak. Rockin! Independence burned in their hearts and the spirit moved with the pioneers. They did not want to be toadies to royalty, and kissing feet, and rings, and kowtowing profusely was not on their agenda. Not with the fresh taste of freedom in their minds.
The following is from Wikipedia, “The Dutch explorer Adrian (or Adriaen) Block described, in his log in 1614, a tree, at the future site of Hartford, understood to be this one. In the 1630s, a delegation of local Indians is said to have approached Samuel Wyllys, the early settler who owned and cleared much of the land around it, encouraging its preservation and describing it as planted ceremonially, for the sake of peace, when their tribe first settled in the area.
“This tree has been the guide of our ancestors for centuries as to the time of the planting our corn; when the leaves are the size of a mouse’s ears, Then is the time to put the seed into the ground.” This previous quote is something I recently discovered as I updated the Charter Oak story for History of the Pagans. Important to note is that the local “Indians” knew that this tree was planted ceremoniously in the name of peace three hundred years previous and I find this fairly amazing. I tell how Baltic Pagans venerated their oaks and even told stories of ancestors of these great oaks and here is an example of our native american pagans and their astounding memory and what was sacred to them.
This Charter Oak story has a much deeper meaning to me now and deeper roots than I realized. The tree’s beginning was actually in the 1400’s when the oak was born and began to grow and planted innpeace. When the tree was 100 years old or so, it was ceremoniously consecrated to be THE OAK they used as their corn planting guide. A venerated oak in its youth and a symbol of the new American Nation during its maturity. In death its wood is in some much respected furniture, that I would like to purchase but probably can’t afford. Imagine then, the positive energy created by this one tree!
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of living in a town that is now 375 years old. Half the houses on my paper route were built before 1825, and the Town Green is a peaceful memorable place for playing baseball or flying kites, walking the dog, pushing a stroller and I can easily imagine the contemporaries of Paul Revere, the Post Riders, allowing their horses to graze while chatting with friends before taking the trip south to New Haven and Old Saybrook to deliver the mail.
Fourth of July is a lot more than waving flags to me and this story had its original inspiration from the Bicentennial. The ideas of the Revolutionary Era should remind us not to take our freedoms for granted. Today’s Moral High Ground Hypocrites, the religious right, are all about power, not liberty, and they have more power than numbers. Not all of our oppressors are hiding in caves plotting our destruction. Because if America is ever taken over I know I will create my own fundamental orders and fight with others to regain our freedom, we all would. All you need to remember is the spirit of America and that is this: The foundation of authority rests with the free consent of the people. Communism and Islamism could never take over in this country and foreign wars seem so absurd to me. It’s said they are fighting for our freedom but it seems we are only breeding resentment and bankrupting our future as many veterans’ lives are forever disrupted by life changing injuries fighting for the warrior elite’ agenda and not the peaceful world we all need.
A venerated oak in its youth and a symbol of the new American Nation during its maturity, imagine then, the positive energy created by this one tree!