The Colony of Connecticut enjoyed an independent government under the Royal Charter granted in 1662. When James II became king, his representative, Sir Edmund Andros, arrived in Hartford to demand the surrender of the charter.
Legend states that during the meeting with Andros the candles blew out and someone grabbed the precious charter, ran into the night and stowed the document in a cavity of an old white oak. The charter could not be found and stayed safely secured beyond James’ reach. Andros ordered the colonial government dissolved but soon thereafter was himself recalled when King James abdicated. The next Crown determined that since the original Royal Charter had never been surrendered it was still valid.
The Charter Oak was a venerated landmark in Hartford until it toppled in 1856. Today in the Connecticut State Library among portraits of past Kings and Governors, a painting of the Charter Oak hangs above the original 1662 charter safe in a vault.