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…

August 20: John Fitch Shows Off America’s First Steamboat

  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…

August 13: Daniel Bissell Becomes a Spy for the Continental Army

    During the eight long years of the Revolutionary War, both British and American commanders employed creative and dangerous tactics in an attempt to gather valuable military intelligence that could give their armies an edge on the battlefield.  One common but incredibly risky method of obtaining such intelligence was to have a soldier pretend…

August 3: Connecticut Chooses its Delegates for First Continental Congress

  Today, Americans are so familiar with the imagery and historical stories surrounding the creation of the Declaration of Independence that they often forget just how radical an event it was.  The very notion that representatives from all thirteen American colonies would meet in secret to discuss a coordinated, organized resistance to British rule as…

July 22: Mohegan Minister Samson Occum Tours England

  Samson Occom, one of the Mohegan tribe’s most famous members and a direct descendant of the great 17th century tribal leader Uncas, was born in 1723 in southeastern Connecticut.  As a teenager, he converted to Christianity after attending one of the many revivals held throughout Connecticut as part of the first Great Awakening religious…

July 21: Testing the World’s First Military Submarine — in 1776

  While Connecticut has been home to an outsized share of American innovators and creative geniuses, few of them have had as long-lasting an impact as David Bushnell, inventor of the Turtle — the world’s first combat submarine. Born in Saybrook in 1740, Bushnell decided at age 30 to sell his share of the family…

July 16: The “Connecticut Compromise” Saves the U.S. Constitution

  On this day in 1787, the vision of a new federal government for the fledgling United States of America was saved from the scrap heap of history as the delegates to the Constitutional Convention narrowly voted to adopt a key provision known as the Connecticut Compromise (or, alternately, the Great Compromise). For weeks, delegates…