Matthew Wood and Reverend Gershom have polar opposite feelings about King James and his ruling decisions regarding the colony. Chapter 6 has a great scene in which these two men heatedly face off.
"I am mistaken," Matthew Wood challenged him, "because I do not favor knuckling under to this new King's governor?"
"Governor Andros was appointed by King James. Massachusetts has recognized that."
"Well, we here in Connecticut will never recognize it—never! Do you think we have labored and sacrificed all these years to build up a free government only to hand it over now without a murmur?"
Reverend Gershom is a Royalist. He believes in the concept of king and country. He lives in a colony that is technically under British rule; therefore, he should unwaveringly support the king. On the other side of the spectrum is Matthew Wood. He enjoys the distance from Britain's heavy-handed rule, and he has gotten used to a certain amount of independence because of that distance. The Connecticut charter also gives legal support to his attitude. He is frustrated and angered by the idea that a king can just strip that away on a whim. Ashby is a character that begins the story supporting the king, but he somewhat quickly moves to supporting the colony and the people that he interacts with. This is why he steals the charter.
These three men are representative of a larger population of feelings, and Wethersfield is representative of many towns and cities across multiple colonies. Wood and Gershom give readers the stereotypical "us versus them" picture that Americans tend to grow up with regarding the period leading into the Revolutionary war. While it is fun to see those two characters square off, I think Ashby is a much better character teaching tool. He shows readers that the choice was a definite struggle, and the choice wasn't always clear. Choosing to not support the king was a big deal and a difficult decision for many.