January 9: Connecticut Votes to Join the United States

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union. While certain states, most notably New York and Virginia, remained skeptical of the new Constitution and required lots of convincing in order to…

January 8: Eli Whitney’s Best Idea Comes Home

  Eli Whitney, who died today in 1825, is best known for his invention of the cotton gin. But Whitney also left a lasting legacy on American manufacturing and society through his creation of the first “manufacturing community” in America, the factory village in southeast Hamden still known as Whitneyville.  Whitney’s manufactory was designed not…

January 7: The Explorer Who Became Connecticut’s Governor For Exactly One Day

  It would be an understatement to say that Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut’s famous archaeologist, explorer, professor, pilot, politician, and best-selling author who likely was the inspiration for the fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, accomplished much in his lifetime. It remains an irony, however, that one of Bingham’s most well-known accomplishments was also one of the…

January 6: The Inaugural Ball That Didn’t Happen

  Long known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut is home to scores of political and cultural traditions that span generations, including many that stretch back into the colonial era. One such tradition has been the Inaugural Ball, a ceremony filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance thrown for newly elected governors by the…

January 5: Ezra Warner Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time. Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…

January 4: A Girl with Soaring Ambitions.

  In the heady days of early American aviation, when tales of plucky pilots and ingenious innovators were a dime a dozen, few pilots stood out from the crowd as much as Mary Goodrich Jenson, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the state of Connecticut. Born in Hartford in 1907, young Mary…

January 3: But For a Hanging Chad, He Would Have Been Vice President

  Today in 2013, after over 40 years of public service to the people of Connecticut and having come within a few contested votes of being the nation’s first Vice President of Jewish faith, Senator Joseph Lieberman retired from politics. He decided not to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, a decision informed, no…

January 1: March 25th Is No Longer New Year’s Day

Today in 1752, Connecticans woke up to the realization that January first was, and henceforward always would be, New Year’s Day.  The year before, and for 597 years before that,  both in Old and New England,  New Year’s Day had  fallen on March 25th. Facing a year that began in mid-winter wasn’t the only calendar…

December 31: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War. After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 30: A Winter Mutiny at “Connecticut’s Valley Forge”

  When Americans think of the hardships faced by starving, shivering Continental Army troops during the harsh winters of the Revolutionary War, they usually remember the infamous winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania  in 1777–1778. What few realize, however, is that the eastern division of the Continental Army under the command of General Israel Putnam…