The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
New Wine Into Old Bottles

By the time His Majesty's Commissioners returned home in 1655, the movement for re-establishing the Confederacy was under way. New Haven Colony had been eliminated after an unsuccessful struggle by the diehards of the Colony to invoke the Articles of Confederation as a means of preventing absorption by the River Colony. Three colonies now remained. Though the extremities of empire on Long Island and in Maine had been cut from under them as a result of the restoration of the Stuarts, union could still be of great value. The advantages of union were demonstrated negatively by weaknesses of the Confederation after 1655--witness the failure to maintain a firm Indian policy, the loss of control of foreign affairs, the overawing of the colonies by the demands of the royal government to recognize the sovereignty of the king, and the general distrust sown among the colonies because of their different interpretations of the Articles of Confederation.

Though the walls of the Confederacy had crumbled in 1664 and the Commissioners in that year declared that their annual meetings would thenceforward be triennial, the colonies continued to choose their Commissioners annually. The apparent reason for this anomaly was to enable the Commissioners to get together informally during the interim periods in order to administer the funds for the Indian missionary work. Except for this continuity provided by the "Indian Worke," the Confederation in 1665 for all practical purposes may be said to have been dissolved. Connecticut was blamed by the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts for having disrupted the Confederacy,1 by their refusal to follow the advice of the Commissioners of the United Colonies in the dispute over the jurisdiction of New Haven. It is not surprising then that these two colonies felt it their responsibility, with Connecticut thus unconcerned, to "labor" in the future "to make it our great design to begett and maintayne Union."2

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