the Charter Oak

The charter oak is an important newspaper in our research on the underground railroad and abolitionists. It has a vast collection of news stories that helped further our research but the reason it is a called the charter oak has a long history behind it too.

There now stands another oak tree, a descendant of the legendary one. A large stone monument stands sentry and gives a brief synopsis of the Oak’s story. Which is this, from About.com:

“In 1662, Connecticut received its Royal Charter from England’s Charles II. A quarter century later, James II’s royal representatives attempted to seize the charter. Well, our Connecticut forebears were not about to take that lying down, even though the Brits threatened to split the state and divide its lands between Massachusetts and New York.

On October 26, 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, who had been appointed by the Crown as governor of all of New England, arrived in Hartford to demand the charter. What exactly happened during that evening’s showdown at Butler’s Tavern may never be ascertained, but the upshot is that, in the midst of heated debates between Connecticut leaders and the royal entourage over surrendering the Charter, the room was plunged into darkness when the candles that illuminated it were overturned.

This then lead to the writers of the charter oak to name their paper the Charter Oak, as a symbol of freedom and giving power to the people the charter oak was born.Image

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