November 9: The First Person Buried in New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery

  In the 1790s, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever swept throughout the eastern United States, hitting densely-populated urban centers like New Haven especially hard. As fever-related fatalities multiplied, the burying grounds located behind the churches on the New Haven green — which had been in operation for nearly 150 years at that point —…

November 7: Washington Slept Here — But Wasn’t Happy About It

  Throughout the eastern United States, claims that “George Washington slept here” at some local home or landmark are so exceedingly plentiful — and frequently fabricated to boost business — that the term has become something of a cliché. Connecticut, however, can point to many locations where George Washington did pass by or spend the…

November 3: Joshua Hempstead’s Remarkable Diary

  Born in New London in 1678, Joshua Hempstead lived a rather unremarkable life for a colonial freeman. He was one of nine children, and being the only son, he inherited his father’s house. After marrying in his early 20s, Joshua and his wife had nine children before she passed away in 1716. He never…

October 29: The First Issue of the Country’s “Oldest” Newspaper

  In October of 1764, 29-year-old Thomas Green, a fourth-generation printer, suddenly found himself out of a job working at the Connecticut Gazette print shop in New Haven. The Gazette, Connecticut’s very first newspaper, had been established several years earlier by the enterprising Benjamin Franklin, who had just sacked Green in order to install his…

October 17: Jupiter Hammon, First Published African-American Writer

  Jupiter Hammon, an enslaved man, poet, and devout Christian who became the first published African-American writer, was born on this day in 1711 on the Lloyd family estate on Long Island. While little is known about the finer details of Hammon’s life, as a boy, young Jupiter was educated alongside the Lloyd family’s children…

September 22: Nathan Hale Hanged as a Spy

  In early September 1776, the Continental Army was enduring some of the darkest days it would ever encounter in the entire Revolutionary War. George Washington and his troops had just been soundly defeated in the Battle of Brooklyn, and had just barely escaped annihilation during their retreat. It looked more and more likely that…

September 19: Remembering Old Saybrook’s “Battle of the Books”

  In 1701, the Connecticut General Assembly passed an act establishing a “Collegiate School” in hopes of creating a place “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences who [through] the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for [public] employment both in Church & Civil State.” For the first several years of…

September 8: Timothy Dwight IV Becomes President of Yale

  On this day in 1795, one day before Yale’s annual commencement ceremonies were scheduled to take place, the college officially instated Timothy Dwight IV as its new president. Dwight would be the eighth man to preside over the venerable college, which had been founded in 1701 and was the third-oldest institution of higher education…

September 6: Benedict Arnold’s Deadly Raid on New London and Groton

  Today in Connecticut history marks the anniversary of a horrible homecoming by one of Connecticut’s most infamous native sons — Benedict Arnold. In early September 1781, the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War was in full swing, with major battles waged across Virginia and North and South Carolina earlier in the year. With so…

August 28: John Hancock Gets Married in Fairfield

  Today in 1775, several members of prominent families from Connecticut and Massachusetts gathered at the Burr homestead in Fairfield, Connecticut to witness the marriage of one of America’s most famous patriots, John Hancock, to his fiancée Dorothy Quincy. 1775 had already been quite a memorable year for the couple. In April, John Hancock had…

August 20: John Fitch Launches a Transportation Revolution

  Today in 1787, Connecticut-born inventor John Fitch successfully sailed America’s first steamboat up the Delaware River in hopes of gathering financial support from influential members of Congress. Born in Windsor, Connecticut in 1743, Fitch displayed an insatiable drive for dabbling in mechanics at an early age. As a young man, he tried his hand…