June 21: “Poor Judgment” Costs a Governor His Job

  “I acknowledge that my poor judgment brought us here,” said John Rowland to a sea of reporters standing on the back lawn of the Connecticut Governor’s Mansion in Hartford. The date was June 21, 2004, and Rowland was announcing his resignation amid a federal corruption investigation and impeachment inquiry. His Lieutenant Governor, M. Jodi…

June 18: Crowds Bloom at America’s Oldest Municipal Rose Garden

  For over a hundred years, crowds of visitors have flocked to Connecticut’s Elizabeth Park in June to see the thousands of roses in bloom in the park’s historic Rose Garden. One peak example of this annual pilgrimage occurred today in 1933, when nearly 15,000 people in one day — some from as far away…

June 17: The First Black Playwright To “Take a Giant Step” to Broadway

  Award-winning playwright and filmmaker Louis Peterson spent his career creating dramatic stories that explored conflict and relationships especially as they turned around issues of race. He achieved a number of firsts, becoming the first Black playwright to have his work produced on Broadway and one of the first Black Emmy nominees – but before…

June 16: The Liberty Bell’s Whistle-Stop Tour of Connecticut

  Today in 1903, just after 6:00 p.m., one of the most iconic symbols of American freedom — the Liberty Bell — arrived in Connecticut. Over the next 24 hours, it would visit five Connecticut cities and towns, giving tens of thousands of Connecticans a chance to see and be seen in its presence, before…

June 8: The Man Whose Songs the Soldiers Sang Dies in Hartford

  Henry Clay Work, one of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War era, died today in 1884 at age 51, while in Hartford visiting his mother. Work, who composed such still-sung songs as “Marching Through Georgia” and “Kingdom Coming” (you know the tune), was born in Middletown in 1832 into an activist family…

June 5: Mandatory “Registration Day” for Service in the Great War.

  The United States’ entry into World War I on April 6, 1917 marked the end of a long period of military non-intervention, resulting in a scramble to recruit men to fill the ranks of America’s army and navy to fight the enemy in Europe. After a national volunteer recruitment drive only attracted a fraction…

June 1: America’s First Public Art Museum

  Today in 1842, Connecticut Governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating the first public art museum in the United States. Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building in Hartford that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus, and the institution officially opened two years…

May 31: Rev. Thomas Hooker Declares “the People” the Foundation of Government

  To many students of Connecticut history and colonial America, Thomas Hooker is considered the “founding father” of Connecticut. A Puritan minister who journeyed from England to Holland to Massachusetts in search of a place where he could preach his message of reformed Christianity free from persecution, Hooker served with distinction as the first established…

May 20: A “Man’s Education” Taught at a Female Seminary

  Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé…

May 13: The Electric Car Debuts. In Hartford. In 1897.

  Today in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage. It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a top speed…

May 12: She Won More Acting Oscars Than Any Other Performer.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis, Frances McDormand and Jack Nicholson. But though she never attended a prize show to accept any of them in person, this actor from Hartford, born today in 1907, won four Oscars for her film performances, more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who retained close…

May 11: The 1796 State House: Connecticut’s Message to a New Nation

  In the early years of the American Republic, Connecticut held itself up to the nation as a model for creating the kind of stable, citizen-selected-and-run government that was central to the success of the American project. Thanks to the Royal Charter of 1662, which had given Connecticut virtual independence 114 years before the Declaration…