From 1643 to 1684 Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven formed a confederation under the style of the United Colonies of New England. Maine, Providence, and Rhode Island sought membership, but were refused as being civilly and religiously out of harmony with the colonies named. Connecticut, offensive to the Dutch, and exposed to hostilities from them, was the most earnest for the union, while at the same time the most conservative as to its form. It was a loose league, leaving each colony independent save as to war and peace, Indian affairs, alliances and boundaries. Questions pertaining to these were to be settled by a commission of two delegates from each of the four colonies, meeting yearly, voting man by man, six out of the eight votes being necessary to bind.

The confederacy settled a boundary dispute between New Haven and New Netherland in 1650. It received and disbursed moneys, amounting some years to 600 pounds, for the propagation of the gospel in New England, sent over by the society which Parliament incorporated for that purpose in 1649. It was also of more or less service in securing united action against the savages in Philip's War. The union was, however, of Little immediate service, useful rather as an example for the far future. Its failure was due partly to the distance of the colonies apart, and to the strength of the instinct for local self-government, a distinguishing political trait of New England till our day. Its main weakness, however, was the overbearing power and manner of Massachusetts, especially after her assumption of Maine in 1652. In 1653 the Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut commissioners earnestly wished war with New Netherland, but Massachusetts proudly forbade--a plain violation of the articles. After this there was not much heart in the alliance. The last meeting of the commissioners occurred at Hartford, September 5, 1684.

See also: 1638


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