March 14: Eli Whitney Patents the Cotton Gin

  Today in 1794, Eli Whitney, one of Connecticut’s most influential inventors, received a patent for the Cotton Gin, a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton by optimizing the time-intensive task of cleaning seeds from raw cotton bolls. Born in Massachusetts in 1765, Eli exhibited both interest in talent in manufacturing at an early…

March 9: War of 1812 Hero Isaac Hull Joins the Navy

  Today in 1798, 25-year-old Isaac Hull, who was destined to become one of the United States’ most famous heroes of the War of 1812, began his distinguished career in the Navy after accepting a commission as a 4th Lieutenant aboard the U.S. Frigate Constitution. Born in 1773 in Derby, Connecticut, young Isaac was raised…

March 1: Samuel Huntington Becomes the United States’ First President

  On this day in 1781, more than four years after they were first adopted by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation became the supreme law of the United States after being formally ratified by all thirteen states.  As a result, the previous sitting President of the Continental Congress — a Connecticut lawyer by…

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 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 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 3: The First Mass Murder in U.S. History

  One of the darkest days in Connecticut history occurred today in 1780, as 19-year-old Revolutionary War deserter Barnett Davenport brutally murdered his employer and his entire family in what many historians recognize as the first documented mass murder in American history. Born in New Milford in 1760, young Barnett was a troubled youth who,…

February 1: The Third State Census in Seven Years.

  Since 1790, people in the United States have participated in a census of the population once every ten years.  During the American Revolution, however, Connecticut conducted three censuses in only seven years, each in response to different demands created by the revolutionary struggle. The third and final count was conducted today in 1782, and…

January 9: Connecticut Joins 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…