These territorial assumptions on the part of Massachusetts much increased the king's hostility. This probably would not have proved fatal had it not been re-enforced by the determination of the merchants and manufacturers of the mother-country to crush what they feared was becoming a rival power beyond seas. They insisted upon full enforcement of the Navigation Laws, which made America's foreign trade in a cruel degree subservient to English interest. So incorrigible was the colony, it was found that this end could be compassed only by the abrogation of the charter, so that English law might become immediately valid in Massachusetts, colonial laws to the contrary notwithstanding.
Accordingly, in 1684, the charter was vacated and the colonists ceased to be free, their old government with its popular representation giving way to an arbitrary commission.
The other New England colonies--Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Haven--had made haste to proclaim Charles II. so soon as restored to the throne, and to begin carrying on their governments in his name. That beautiful and able man, the younger Winthrop, sped to London on Connecticut's behalf, and, aided by his colony's friends at court, the Earls of Clarendon and Manchester and Viscount Say and Seal, in 1662 secured to Connecticut, now made to include New Haven, a charter so liberal that it continued till October 5, 1818, the ground law of the State, then to be supplanted only by a close vote. Under this paper, which declared all lands between the Narragansett River and the Pacific Ocean Connecticut territory, Connecticut received every whit of that right to govern itself which Charles was so sternly challenging in the case of Massachusetts.
From this time on, as indeed earlier, Connecticut was for many years perhaps the most delightful example of popular government in all history. Connecticut and New Haven together had about ten thousand inhabitants. Their rulers were just, wise, and of a mind truly to serve the people. Here none were persecuted for their faith. Education was universal. Few were poor, none very rich. Nearly all supplies were of domestic production, nothing as yet being exported but a few cattle.
Under the second Charles Rhode Island fared quite as well as Connecticut. This was remarkable, inasmuch as the little colony of three thousand souls, in their four towns of Providence, Newport, Portsmouth, and Warwick, insisted on "holding forth the lively experiment"--and it proved lively indeed--"of full liberty in religious concernments."
Charles did not oppose this, and Clarendon favored it, a motive of both here, as with Connecticut, being to rear in New England a power friendly to the Crown, that should rival and check Massachusetts. Both these commonwealths were granted absolute independence in all but name. No oath of allegiance to the king was demanded. Appeals to England were not provided for.
Manifestly the king would not grant so much. On the occasion of his confirming the charter he demanded that the oath of allegiance be taken by the people of the colony; that justice be administered there in his name; and that the franchise be extended to all freemen of sufficient substance, with the liberty to use in worship, public and private, the forms of the English Church. The people obeyed but in part, for they would not even appear to admit the king's will to be their law. The franchise was slightly extended, in a grudging way, but no new religious privileges were at this time conceded. Unfortunately political and religious liberty were now in conflict. It was worse for the Baptists and Quakers that the king favored them, and the treatment which they received in the colony inclined them to the royalist side in the controversy.
In July, 1664, commissioners arrived in Boston with full authority to investigate the administration of the New England charters. Such a procedure not being provided for in the Massachusetts document, the General Court, backed by the citizens almost to a man, successfully prevented complainants from appearing before the commission. The commissioners having summoned the colony as defendant in a certain case, a herald trumpeted proclamation through the streets, on the morning set for the trial, inhibiting all from aiding their designs. The trial collapsed, and the gentlemen who had ordered it, baffled and disgusted, moved on to New Hampshire, there also to be balked by a decree of the Massachusetts Governor and Council forbidding the towns so much as to meet at their behest.
See also: 1660-1661