Gurdon Saltonstall

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Gurdon Saltonstall
Gurdon-Saltonstall.jpg
25ºcolonial governors of Connecticut
In office
1708–1724
Preceded by Fitz-John Winthrop
Succeeded by Joseph Talcott
Personal details
Born 27 March 1666
Haverhill, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Died 20 September 1724
New London, Colony of Connecticut
Profession governor

Gurdon Saltonstall (27 March 1666 – 20 September 1724) was governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1708 to 1724. Born into a distinguished family, Saltonstall became an accomplished and eminent Connecticut pastor. A close associate of Governor Fitz-John Winthrop, Saltonstall was appointed the colony's governor after Winthrop's death in 1707, and then reelected to the office annually until his own death.

Early life and pastor[edit]

Saltonstall was the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Ward) Saltonstall, a prominent north Massachusetts family active in Massachusetts politics since the 1630s. He received his bachelor's degree in 1684 from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied theology, and was awarded his masters degree in 1687.[1] It was at this time that Saltonstall first preached at First Christ Church in New London where he impressed congregants enough to warrant his appointment as the town's sole pastor.[2] Saltonstall soon grew close to the Connecticut's governor, Fitz-John Winthrop and became not simply an advisor in spiritual matters, but in civil ones as well.[3] When Governor Winthrop's health failed him, Saltonstall eventually began assuming executive responsibilities in the Governor's absence.[4] He was married to Mary Whittinghame (d. 1730), a granddaughter of Mayor of New York John Lawrence (1618–1699).[5]

Political Career[edit]

Upon Governor Winthrop's death in 1707, Saltonstall was appointed governor of the Colony of Connecticut by a special session of the legislature,[6] a decision that sparked some outcry because of Saltonstall's status as clergy. Saltonstall himself was hesitant to leave his church and take on the position of governor, which prompted the state assembly to aid his First Church of Christ in finding a replacement pastor. His selection was approved by voters in May of that year, and Saltonstall continued to be re-elected annually until his death.[7] Governor was just one of the influential positions held by Saltonstall, as he was appointed commander of the Connecticut militia and Chief Justice of its Superior Court.[8]

Saltonstall believed strongly in the power of traditional authority, a trademark of his time as clergyman and governor.[9] He was wholly intolerant of divergent Christian sects, and favored the enjoining of church and government into what he imagined would be a more effective system, an idea enumerated in the Saybrook Platform, a proposal mainly ascribed to him.[10] The governor also found opposition to his government, or dispute within it to be contemptible, and frequently threatened to resign if such discord was not discontinued.[11]

Saltonstall's support of established authority is also seen in his decision-making throughout Queen Anne's War, the second major intercolonial war over control of North America. The governor was a loyal supporter of the British cause, seeking to reduce colonial opposition to the war effort, and assisted it by increasing the recruitment and equipment of Connecticut militiamen sent to battle French forces. The Connecticut soldiers would eventually total 4,000 men, a sizable portion of the colony's 17,000 people. Because of the war's heavy costs, Connecticut's fiscal situation deteriorated, but Saltonstall's enthusiastic support of the Crown won the state much improved relations with Great Britain.[12]

The governor worked closely with Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley in peacefully resolving the problem of the "Equivalent Lands",[13] just one of many border disputes demanding his attention.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Portrait Gallery of Former Connecticut Chief Justices
  2. ^ New London County Historical Society, Records and papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume 1, p.5
  3. ^ Perry, Founders and Leaders of Connecticut 1633-1783 p.140
  4. ^ New London County Historical Society, Records and papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume 1, p.6
  5. ^ Historical Genealogy of the Lawrence Family by Thomas Lawrence (1858; page 23)
  6. ^ "New-Englander" 8(4): "Gurdon Saltonstall, Governor of Connecticut"; Anonymous; October 1844; pp. 495-503 page 496
  7. ^ "Gurdon Saltonstall pp. 495-503"
  8. ^ New London County Historical Society, Records and papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume 1, p.26
  9. ^ State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Portrait Gallery of Former Connecticut Chief Justices
  10. ^ New London County Historical Society, Records and papers of the New London County Historical Society, Volume 1, p.7
  11. ^ State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Portrait Gallery of Former Connecticut Chief Justices
  12. ^ Connecticut State Library, Gurdon Saltonstall'
  13. ^ "Vermont, The Green Mountain State" Vol. 1; by Walter Hill Crockett; Century History Co.; 1921; pp 137-138.
  14. ^ Perry, Founders and Leaders of Connecticut 1633-1783 p.141
Political offices
Preceded by
Fitz-John Winthrop
Governor of the Connecticut Colony
1708–24
Succeeded by
Joseph Talcott