A Comic History of the United States

by Livingston Hopkins

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Connecticut is an Indian word and signifies Long River. We know, because all the Indian dictionaries we ever read right through give this definition.

In 1636, if our memory serves us, Connecticut was claimed by both the Dutch and English, who had a long dispute about it. Neither faction comprehended what the dispute was about, as the Dutch did not understand English nor the English Dutch. All the Dutch knew was that 51their antagonists were tam Yankees, and the latter were equally clear that theirs were blarsted Dutchmen in the worst sense of the word, and thus the matter stood when, fortunately, an interpreter arrived through whom the quarrel was conducted more understandingly. It ended in favor of the English.

The Dutch, it would appear, turned out to be less blarsted than was at first supposed, and, shaking the dust from their wooden shoes, emigrated to New Jersey.

In the year 1636 it occurred to King Charles II to grant Connecticut a charter, which, considered as a charter, was a great hit. It gave the people the power to govern themselves. Whenever a Connecticutian traveled abroad folks said, “There goes 52the Governor of Connecticut,” and he really felt himself a man of consequence.

This charter was afterwards annulled by King James II on his accession to the throne, who feared, no doubt, that the people of Connecticut would govern themselves too much, as the population was increasing rapidly. He appointed a Governor from among his poor relations and sent him over to take charge of Connecticut.

Connecticut it seems rather took care of him than otherwise. He varied the monotony of a brief public career by making sundry excursions on rail-back, if we may be allowed the expression, under the auspices of an excited populace. He found the climate too hot to be agreeable, particularly as his subjects presented him with a 53beautiful Ulster overcoat of cold tar and goose feathers, and common politeness compelled him to wear it. Need we say the new Governor begged to be recalled?

In the meantime the charter given by Charles II was not destroyed. It was taken care of by Captain Wadsworth, who hid with it in a hollow oak tree, where he remained until the death of the despotic James, which, fortunately, was only about four years, when King William, a real nice man, ascended the throne, and he sat down and wrote to Captain Wadsworth, begging he would not inconvenience himself further on his (William’s) account. It was then that the Charter Oak gave back the faded document and Captain Wadsworth, both in a somewhat dilapidated condition.

While confined in the hollow tree the Captain beguiled the tedium of restricted liberty by inventing the wooden nutmeg, a number of which he whittled out of bits of wood taken from the walls of his prison. He subsisted almost exclusively upon these during the four years of his voluntary incarceration, and immediately after his release got out a patent on his invention, which he afterwards “swapped” off to a professor in Yale College, who, we understand, made a handsome fortune out of it.

Thus it ever is that patriotism and self-abnegation for the public weal meets with ample reward.


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