October 21: 1892 – When Columbus Stood For Inclusion & Columbus Day Came 9 Days Late

  At a time when immigrants – many from Italy – were pouring into America in numbers that seriously alarmed the “old stock” descendants of the original Puritan settlers, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s even-then-disputed “discovery” of America proved an ideal time for Connecticans to assess the contributions of newcomers while expressing a common patriotism….

October 18: They Stopped The Man, But His Truth Went Marching On

  Connecticut-born radical abolitionist John Brown was already a nationally polarizing figure by the time he staged his infamous raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Born in Torrington in 1800, Brown’s adult life was characterized by failed business ventures, repeated moves across the country, and an increasingly fanatical devotion to…

October 16: The United States’ First African-American Diplomat

  Today in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his grandfather was…

October 15: Connecticut Governor Resigns to Go to Russia

  Today in 1853, Thomas H. Seymour, one of Connecticut’s most accomplished — and controversial — 19th century politicians, stepped down as as Governor. He  resigned  to accept a nomination by the New Hampshire born and quite unlikely President (he was nominated by the Democrats on their 48th ballot) Franklin Pierce to serve as the…

October 10: Home-Schooled Wethersfield Native Engineers the Erie Canal

  Benjamin Wright, the chief engineer behind some of the most famous civil engineering projects in United States history — including the Erie Canal — was born to Grace and Ebenezer Wright of Wethersfield today in 1770. Ebenezer’s accumulated debts had forced young Benjamin to forego most of his formal schooling to take up odd…

October 7: Thomas Jefferson Opposes Connecticut’s State Church

  One of the central tenets of modern American political doctrine was borne out of a letter exchange between Connecticut Baptists and an American President that began today in Connecticut history. On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptists Association sent an eloquent letter to newly elected President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concerns about Connecticut’s backing…

October 4: The State’s Greatest Fair’s Final Run

  When it comes to annual autumn fair traditions, Connecticans have plenty of options to choose from. In non-COVID-19 years, there are dozens of local fairs held within the state, not to mention “The Big E” Eastern States Exposition located just over the Massachusetts border in West Springfield. For over 110 years, however, the Danbury Fair…

September 28: An Ag School with Ambition Planted at Mansfield

  Today in 1881, the small agricultural school that would later become the state of Connecticut’s flagship university held its first classes in a former orphanage building located in Mansfield. The Storrs Agricultural School, consisting of just three faculty members and thirteen students when it first opened, offered young men the opportunity to gain advanced…

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…