September 25: A Civil War “Dictator” Is Installed at the State Capitol

  The Siege of Petersburg was one of the most significant military campaigns of the final year of the Civil War. From June 1864 to March 1865, Union troops continuously besieged and harassed the Confederate railroad hub city of Petersburg, Virginia and surrounding environs.  The goal of the lengthy siege was to  deplete the Confederate…

September 24: Connecticut’s Whaling Industry Sets Sail For Extinction

  In the 19th century, New London, Connecticut was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the entire world, outranked only by Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Whale oil was a crucial and versatile resource that played a huge role in powering the Industrial Revolution, serving as both fuel for lamps and as a lubricant…

September 23: The First Hurricane in 180 Years Slams into Connecticut

  On the morning of September 23, 1815, the first major hurricane to hit New England in 180 years made landfall at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Since the word “hurricane” was virtually unknown in early America, residents later identified the monstrous storm as the “Great Storm” or “Great Gale” of September 1815. With estimated sustained winds…

September 13: The Highest-Ranking Union Officer Killed in the Civil War

  One of Connecticut’s most important Civil War figures, Major General John Sedgwick, was born in Cornwall today in 1813. After attending prestigious academies in Sharon and Cheshire, Sedgwick attended West Point and graduated in the Class of 1837 with several other future generals who served on both sides of the Civil War. These included…

September 2: Dog Parachuted From Hot-Air Balloon High Over Middletown

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century. Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

September 1: The Root of Connecticut’s Industrial Greatness

  The largely unknown man at the center of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford today in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius first revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and then made the Colt Firearms Company a worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root…

August 29: Wind Power for the Prairies

  During the first half of the 19th century, as thousands of Americans journeyed westward in search of new fortunes, necessity became the mother of invention as would-be farmers were forced to adapt to new climates and topographies that were unlike anything they had ever seen before. Since the Great Plains generally lacked the forests…

August 26: 42 Years After Independence, Connecticut Finally Gets A Constitution.

  Today in 1818, delegates to the state’s first ever Constitutional Convention gathered at the State House in Hartford for the first time, charged with the formidable task of restructuring Connecticut state government by creating the state’s first formally written constitution. Writing a new constitution was no small task, given the social, cultural, and political…