An important catalyst in the early colonization process was the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s inflexibility over matters of religious observance. Thomas Hooker, founder of Connecticut colony in 1636, Roger Williams (Rhode Island 1636) and John Wheelwright (New Hampshire 1638, then Wells, Maine) all left (or were banished) in order to enjoy freedom of religious practice. This diffusion process helped to create an increasingly robust and prosperous network of settlements. In due course reabsorption began: Connecticut took over Saybrook (1644) then New Haven (1662). The colonies were fed by a rising tide of migration across the Atlantic, enticed by promises of land. Threatened by this tide, the Dutch in New Amsterdam conceded substantial land claims to secure an agreed boundary with the Connecticut colony in the Treaty of Hartford (1650). It only provided a short-term solution since Britain would occupy the Dutch colonies in 1664. They would become part of the vast colonial domain of the Duke of York.
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