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Thomas Hooker (b. July 1586 - d. 7 July 1647) was the Puritan founder of what would later be the American state of Connecticut.

Hooker was born in Marfield, Leicestershire in England to Puritan parents. After first attending Queens College in Cambridge then Emmanual College, Cambridge, he began his lifelong career as a Christian minister. He was invited to be a lecturer in Chelmsford. It is maintained that his sermons helped reform Chelmsford from a party-town to a more godly one.

At this time the leader of the Church of England, Archbishop William Laud, was becoming more powerful and tried to silence those who would not conform to the teachings of the Church of England. The church in Chelmsford fired Hooker who then formed a grammar school nearby.

Laud continued to harass Hooker, forcing him to leave England. Hooker preached for some time in Holland, but then joined fellow puritanical Englanders in a voyage to the New World. They settled in Newtown, Massachusetts (now Cambridge, MA) in 1633 where Hooker served as a pastor. A disagreement arose, however, between leaders of the community about how power should be distributed and what the rights of the citizens should be. One leader, John Cotton, held that only (male) members of the church who owned property should be able to vote, but Hooker thought that all men should be able to have a vote, even though he too wanted a godly community.

The difference could not be resolved, and in 1636 Hooker let a hundred people to found a new settlement in what is now Hartford, Connecticut. Two other settlements joined Hooker's to form the Connecticut Colony, and they put down on paper what is sometimes considered the first written constitution, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, in 1639.

Hooker died on 7 July 1647. Supposedly on his deathbed someone said to him, "Sir, you are going to receive the reward of all your labours." Hooker replied, "Brother, I am going to receive mercy."

"Every good and holy desire, though it lack the form, has in itself the substance and force of a prayer with God, who regards the moanings, groans and sighings of the heart." -- Thomas Hooker

Many biographies on the web are written by his religious heirs. One appears, along with selections of Hooker's writings at www.intoutreach.org/hooker.html . A more objective summary of Hooker's life can be found at www.britannia.com, as well as your favorite encyclopedia.

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