June 3: A Historic & Presidential Commencement at the Coast Guard Academy

  While the commencement ceremonies at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) are always filled with a dazzling degree of pomp and circumstance, the Academy’s 78th commencement, on June 3, 1964, was especially memorable. For the first time in history, the President of the United States delivered the commencement speech. Plans had been made…

June 2: A Symphony for Connecticut by a Superstar Composer

  Today in 1935, a packed house of 1,500 enthusiastic music lovers in Norfolk heard the world premiere of internationally renowned conductor and composer Henry Hadley’s latest work, “The Connecticut Symphony,” a piece composed to celebrate that year’s 300th anniversary of the Constitution state’s founding. Hadley, one of his era’s most popular and widely played…

June 1: America’s First Public Art Museum

  Today in 1842, Connecticut Governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating the first public art museum in the United States. Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building in Hartford that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus, and the institution officially opened two years…

May 31: Rev. Thomas Hooker Declares “the People” the Foundation of Government

  To many students of Connecticut history and colonial America, Thomas Hooker is considered the “founding father” of Connecticut. A Puritan minister who journeyed from England to Holland to Massachusetts in search of a place where he could preach his message of reformed Christianity free from persecution, Hooker served with distinction as the first established…

May 30: 12,000 Bridgeport Workers Mobilize to Support Striking Trolleymen

  Today in 1922, Bridgeport’s Central Labor Union issued a formal call to all its 12,000 members to support the striking trolleymen who worked for the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, triggering months of labor unrest in one of Connecticut’s largest cities. The Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company was the primary operator of electric trains,…

May 27: Organizing the Fight Against a Deadly Enemy

  From the earliest days of Connecticut history, fire posed one of the greatest mortal dangers to Connecticut residents — especially to the English settlers whose homes, barns, fences, and other structures were made of timber and often clustered closely together. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, before the advent of portable water pumps,…

May 26: The English Strike Back — Hundreds of Pequots Die at Mystic.

  Today in 1637, a month after a combined Pequot and Wangunk attack on the small colonial settlment of Wethersfield left nine dead and crippled the town’s food security, a group of 77 English soldiers and hundreds of their Mohegan and Narragansett allies retaliated by attacking and burning a Pequot village at Mystic Fort, near…

May 25: First He Invented the Soap Opera. Then He Entered Politics.

  When Chester Bowles and his friend William Benton founded the Benton and Bowles ad agency in 1929, they had two accounts and 12 thousand dollars. Seven years later – in the midst of the Great Depression – it was the sixth largest ad agency in America, with annual billing of over 10 million dollars….

May 24: New London Men First to Steam Aross the Atlantic.

  Today in 1819, the Age of Steam knocked on the door of the Age of Sail. Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London began the first steam-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in their hybrid steam-and-sail-powered ship S.S. Savannah. It was a voyage considered so risky, not a single paying passenger could be found…

May 23: A Vaccine for the Most Feared Disease of the 20th Century

  Today in 1955, hundreds of schoolchildren in the town of Stafford Springs lined up to be vaccinated against polio, as part of a massive statewide effort to protect young Connecticans from the deadly childhood disease. Polio was the most feared childhood illness of the 20th century. An untreatable virus which spread quickly and rarely…