November 9: 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 Diary

  Born in New London in 1678, Joshua Hempstead lived a rather unremarkable life for a colonial freeman.  He was one of nine children; being the only son, he inherited his father’s house and, after marrying in his early 20s, had nine children of his own with his wife before she passed away in 1716. …

October 29: The First Issue of the Connecticut Courant Published

  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 nephew…

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…

October 2: The First Company Governor’s Foot Guard

  One of the largest and most effusively celebrated civic holidays in 18th century Connecticut was Election Day, when the freemen of the colony gathered in town centers to cast their votes for local officials.  Many townspeople viewed Election Day as a fine excuse to gather together and socialize under the guise of exercising their…

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 16: Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton Killed at the Battle of Harlem Heights

  On this day in 1776, one of Connecticut’s most valiant heroes of the Revolutionary War, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, died while commanding his men at the Battle of Harlem Heights in New York City.  Born in Massachusetts but raised in Ashford, Connecticut since early childhood, Knowlton was a seasoned veteran who had served under…

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

  On this day 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 quite a memorable year for the couple. In April, John Hancock…