Treaty of Hartford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The term Treaty of Hartford applies to three unrelated historic agreements negotiated at Hartford, Connecticut. The 1638 treaty divided the spoils of the Pequot War. The 1650 treaty defined a border between the Dutch New Netherland and English settlers in Connecticut and also defined a border between Dutch and English settlers on Long Island. In the 1786 treaty, following American independence, New York and Massachusetts reached agreement on their competing claims to western frontier lands.

1638 treaty[edit]

The Pequot War of 1636 and 1637 saw the virtual elimination of the Pequot Indians. The victors (English colonists and their Native American allies) met to decide on the division of the fruits of victory.

The Mohegan and Narragansett tribes and the three English settlements that would become the Connecticut River Colony in 1639, participated in the treaty. Surviving Pequot prisoners were divided between the tribes; each tribe received 80 captives, with 20 captives being awarded to Ninigret, a sachem of the Eastern Niantic who were allied with the Narragansett.[1]

The Pequot lands went to the Connecticut River towns. The other major feature of this treaty was to outlaw the Pequot name. Any survivors would be referred to in the future as Mohegans or Narragansett. No Pequot town or settlement would be allowed. This treaty was signed on September 21, 1638.[2]

1650 treaty[edit]

In 1650, Dutch Director-General of New Netherland Petrus Stuyvesant went to Hartford to negotiate a border with the governor of English Connecticut colony Edward Hopkins. The Dutch colony of New Netherland was feeling increased pressure from the rising number of English colonists at its borders.

Stuyvesant traded Connecticut land claims (the New Netherland claim encompassed the full length of the Connecticut River and as far east as Narragansett Bay) in order to get a clear boundary on Long Island. They agreed on a Connecticut line 50 Dutch miles west of the mouth of the Connecticut River. On Long Island, a line would be drawn south from the westernmost point of Oyster Bay, through modern Nassau County.

In practice, the treaty simply reflected changed facts on the ground. Settlement of the Dutch colony had clustered around the Hudson River with only isolated trading posts on the Connecticut (including Fort Hoop which would become Hartford, Connecticut). The exploding population of New England, and the splintering impulses of its religious-based colonies, had led to significant English settlement in the Connecticut River Valley, along the coast of Long Island Sound and on Eastern Long Island.

Back in Europe, the Dutch West India Company approved the treaty, but the English government, which rejected all Dutch claims in North America as illegitimate, did not. In America, however, the agreement held straight through the English conquest of New Netherland in 1664. Indeed, the border today between Connecticut and New York, and between Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, are, with some minor adjustments, those negotiated in 1650.

1786 treaty[edit]

The colonial charters for New York and Massachusetts both described their boundaries as extending westward to the Pacific Ocean.

However, both charters used distances from coastal rivers as their baselines, and thus both states could claim the same land. The area in dispute included all of western New York State west of, approximately, Seneca Lake, extending all the way to the Niagara River and Lake Erie, and north to south from the shore of Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border.

New York and Massachusetts agreed to divide the rights in question. The states agreed that all of the land in question, about 6 million acres (24,000 km²), would be recognized as part of New York State. Massachusetts, in return, obtained the right of preemption, that is, the title to all of the land, giving it the exclusive right to extinguish by purchase the possessory rights of the Indian tribes (except for a narrow strip along the Niagara River, the title to which was recognized to belong to New York).

The compact also provided that Massachusetts could sell or assign its preemptive rights, and in 1788 it sold its rights to the entire six million acres (24,000 km²) to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham for $1,000,000, payable in specie or in certain Massachusetts securities then trading at about 20 cents on the dollar, the money used to repay some of the state's debt from the Revolutionary War. See also: Phelps and Gorham Purchase, Holland Land Company, The Holland Purchase, The Morris Reserve and The Pulteney Association. Similar western boundary issues involving these and other states were resolved by the Northwest Ordinance passed by the Congress of the Confederation in July 1787.

Further reading[edit]

  • Daragh Grant, “The Treaty of Hartford (1638): Reconsidering Jurisdiction in Southern New England,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., 72, No. 3 (July 2015): 461-98. Pages 495-98 contain a transcript that reconstructs the 1638 Treaty from three later copies recorded in 1665, 1705, and 1743.
  • Alden Vaughan'; New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675; 1980, W.W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-00950-5. (1995 Reprint, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 0-8061-2718-X) contains a copy of the Treaty recorded in 1705.
  • Jaap Jacobs, “The Hartford Treaty: A European Perspective on a New World Conflict,” de Halve Maen 68 (1995), 74-9.
  • Ronald D. Cohen, “"The Hartford Treaty of 1650; Anglo-Dutch Cooperation in the Seventeenth Century”, New-York Historical Society Quarterly 52 (1969), 311-332.


  1. ^ Grant 2015, 497; Vaughan 1995, 341
  2. ^ Grant 2015, 497; Vaughan 1995, 341

External links[edit]