Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford

Frederic Edwin Church, Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford, in 1636, oil on canvas - Wadsworth Atheneum and Connecticut History Illustrated

In early June of 1636, prominent Puritan religious leader Reverend Thomas Hooker left the Boston area with one hundred men, women, and children and set out for the Connecticut valley. The group traveled over one hundred miles through the wilderness and reached their destination in early July. Many members of the Hooker party settled in Hartford, while some located to nearby Wethersfield and Windsor, and others traveled north and settled Springfield, Massachusetts. The Reverend Hooker is responsible for founding the colony of Connecticut as well as helping to create the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the basic law of Connecticut from 1639 to 1662.

All this may sound a bit dry and antiquated, but in a powerful sermon in 1638, Hooker made a revolutionary statement and declared that this colony would not be governed by kings but by colonists. “The foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people,” he said, adding that the people would not only choose who governed them but would also limit the power of those chosen to lead.

In a new world, this was a brave new idea.

Learn More


Yale Law School. “The Avalon Project: Fundamental Orders of 1639,” 2016. Link.


“The Wadsworth Atheneum,” 2017. Link.

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