February 16: A National Statesman and the First Mayor of New Haven

  In the midst of the American Revolution, one of the most chaotic and turbulent times in the nation’s history, it seems fitting that one of the most even-tempered and widely trusted statesmen would hail from the Land of Steady Habits.  That statesman was Roger Sherman, and even though he was a reluctant public speaker,…

February 15: A Political Fight Turns Violent in Congress

  On February 15, 1798, a weeks-long spat between two fiery politicians turned violent when Connecticut Representative Roger Griswold walked up to Matthew Lyon of Vermont and, on the floor of Congress, began viciously attacking him with his walking stick.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Lyon grabbed a nearby pair of iron fireplace tongs and began…

February 14: A Towering Monument to Connecticut Industry

  In the rural town of East Canaan there stands a curious rectangular tower along the banks of the Blackberry River, constructed of massive slabs of marble, forty feet high and thirty feet wide at its base.  The tower is the last surviving example of the 19th century blast furnaces that were once common across…

February 13: Dorothy Hamill Goes for the Gold

  On this day in 1976, 19-year-old ice skater Dorothy Hamill captivated audiences worldwide with her masterful, gold-medal-winning performance at the 1976 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.  Unbeknownst to her at the time, her routine would catapult her to international stardom and set her on a path to becoming one of the most beloved U.S….

February 12: Sherlock Holmes’ “Farewell Tour”

  A scion of one of Connecticut’s oldest and most prominent families, world-famous actor and playwright William Hooker Gillette was born in Hartford in 1853.  He left Hartford at the age of 20 to seek his fame and fortune as an actor and stage producer and met with moderate success until 1899, when he landed…

February 11: Charles Dickens visits New Haven

  On the evening of February 7, 1842, three words spread throughout the streets of New Haven like wildfire, causing crowds of people to rush toward the city’s downtown Toutine Hotel: “Dickens has come!”  Just before 8:00pm that night, Charles Dickens had arrived at the city’s Union Station, traveling by rail from Hartford.  The man…

February 10: “General Tom Thumb” Marries “The Queen of Beauty”

  Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, legendary entertainer Charles Sherwood Stratton, a.k.a. “Tom Thumb,” began touring with the internationally famous showman and fellow Connectican P. T. Barnum at the tender age of five.  Stratton had first attracted Barnum’s attention because of his unusually small size — Stratton was a dwarf who never grew taller…

February 9: Connecticut’s 1st African-American Congressman

Today in 1953, future Congressman Gary A. Franks was born in Waterbury.  The youngest of six children in a family of limited means, his parents put a high value on education. All six of their children went to college, and three obtained doctoral degrees.  Gary was an All State high school basketball player, and went…

February 8: Defending the West from the Worst

  A descendant of the Joseph Wadsworth who protected his colony’s charter by hiding it in the legendary Charter Oak, Elijah Wadsworth would also be tasked with saving his people’s government. Not from a takeover, however, but from a British invasion. And not in Connecticut, but in in the part of Ohio once owned by…

February 7: Electric Boat Begins a Century of Submarine Building

  For over 100 years, Electric Boat has been the primary producer of submarines for the United States and allied countries around the world.  From its headquarters and shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and auxiliary shipyards located in Quonset, RI and Newport News, VA, Electric Boat has designed and built dozens of technologically-advanced submarines for the…

February 6: John Trumbull’s Paintings Revolutionize the U.S. Capitol

  At birth, few would have expected John Trumbull to live to age one, much less eighty-seven. Yet the infant born suffering multiple seizures daily slowly overcame that condition, and went on to spend a lifetime trying also to overcome his father’s censure of painting as a demeaning profession. In the process, he painted some…

February 5: World War I’s Most Decorated Pet

Today in 1918, an unlikely war hero in the shape of a small, short-tailed puppy arrived at the front lines in France alongside the 102d Regiment of the Yankee Division, a unit composed of mostly Connecticut soldiers who had been recruited in New Haven.  That puppy, named “Stubby” by his comrades on account of his…