ePub 版

It is from these records of town, colony, and city, most of which are in manuscript, that the present volume is mainly derived. They have been carefully epitomized, and copies have been compared with originals. Records of the neighboring colonies and colonial literature in general have been laid under contribution. Publications of the New York Colonial Documents and of the Massachusetts Historical Society have been especially serviceable. They are quarries where no workman can fail to find some stone for his structure. By the aid of the former, the pathetic story of New Haven's conflict on the Delaware can be perfectly known; in the latter, Davenport, Eaton, and their friends draw their own portraits for us. The files of New Haven newspapers date from about the middle of the eighteenth century, and they have afforded much assistance.

In the beginning of the work the two Puritans who were the nucleus of the company receive consideration. The opinions which they entertained, the laws which they established, the usages which they followed, pass in review. Sir Thomas More did not sit down to write his "Utopia" with a clearer idea of his model State than Davenport and Eaton had when they framed their model of a State "whose design is Religion." The little village, stranded on the shore between an ocean and a wilderness, quietly assumed independence of earthly potentates. Nevertheless, like an ancient Grecian colony, it patterned itself after the example of the mothercity, and, in turn, began to send forth new settlements on either hand. A complete system of public instruction, crowned by a college such as grew up long after, was planned.

The division of the newly-acquired lands is followed step by step. The little settlement unconsciously reverted to the forms of village community-life, and the Germania of Tacitus was more than suggested in the town at Quinnipiac. In legislation, Mosaic decrees and the Common Law of England were curiously intermingled. In 1643, New Haven yielded to the forces that were even then beginning to make for American Union, and, from that time on, the progress of evolution is slow, continuous, and direct. Out of all this movement, after one hundred and fifty years, amid many warring political and social elements, a city emerges, and thus another germ-idea of the Quinnipiac fathers is finally realized. The narrative closes with a review of all the departments of the existing government in school-district, city, and town, and with a critical analysis of some salient features of the local organization and administration. So long a time and so much action cannot be fully treated in small space. The book is not so much a history as an historical essay; it is a study rather than a completed work.

It is safe to say that a constitutional history of the United States is yet to be written. Dr. Von Holst has not fulfilled the promise of his title. His work is a valuable criticism, from the standpoint of a foreigner, of the political history of our country, but no satisfactory constitutional or political history of the United States can appear until the constitutional and political development of the various national subdivisions has been exhaustively studied. Some one must, for instance, describe adequately the vast influence of New York State politics upon national affairs from the days of Burr and the Clintons to the times of Tweed and Tilden. Some one must do full justice to the connection between the growth of a State-banking system west of the Alleghanies and sundry prevalent financial opinions and doctrines about the powers of Congress.

But the constitutional and political history of the separate States will present so numerous and complicated tasks to the inquirer that no one historian can hope to bear the burden. That work is to be done at home, within the States themselves. Thus the fundamental character of the local historian's labor becomes apparent, for the evolution of our States is the story of the assimilation of localities. So far as the older States are concerned, this statement is obvious, and the newer States spring from the loins of Virginia and New England. Bancroft has written, "He that will understand the political character of New England must study the constitution of its towns, its schools, and its militia." Since the happy termination of the Civil War we have, not two civilizations, but one. In the ultimate analysis, therefore, the future authoritative history of the nation is seen to depend largely upon the history of the TownMeeting.

Connecticut is a small State, but it is old enough and large enough to have had crises of its own. Our knowledge of the more prominent political controversies of its colonial age is, perhaps, not small, yet the story of the Pequot War and of Uncas, which every one hears, is less important than the story of the Saybrook Platform, of which most people are ignorant. The management of the public lands has interested our political philosophers since 1777. The care of the States for the undivided lands within their own borders has attracted comparatively little attention. Histories speak of the conflicts between Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the Wyoming Valley, but the domestic influences that shaped Connecticut's course in that contest have not yet been brought entirely into the light. Moreover, the principles that influenced the various localities in dividing their own common lands, or in allotting new townships, have scarcely received the attention which is their due, for they lie at the founda

tion of our land laws. The "Toleration" controversy of 1814-18, in Connecticut, has been hitherto handled gingerly, if handled at all, by historians-always excepting the admirable work of Schouler-yet the triumph of the Tolerationists completed the triumph of the French Revolution in New England.

For whatever interest the constitutional history of the State of Connecticut may possess, New Haven and the region which it controls are, to no small extent, responsible. It will afford pleasure to the author if his pages may be found to reveal and explain some of those minor activities which New Haven, as one town among thousands, has added to the great sum of national well-doing.

C. H. L.


Berkeley, September 1, 1886.

« 上一頁繼續 »