December 20: The Youngest Person Ever Executed in America.

  Today in 1786, in the town of New London, 12-year-old Hannah Occuish was hanged after being found guilty of murdering a six-year-old girl. Hannah’s execution marked the tragic end to a short life full of trials and tribulations. Born in 1774 to a Pequot mother and father of unknown ethnicity, Hannah was orphaned at…

December 18: “The Devil Made Him Do It”

  Today in 1981, the sentencing of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in a Danbury courtroom marked the end of one of the most bizarre court cases in Connecticut history. For the first and only time in U.S. history, a defendant on trial for murder argued that he could not be held responsible for his actions because…

December 5: America’s First Law School’s First Hire

  As a professor at the first law school established in the United States, Connecticut legal luminary James Gould helped educate some of the most important legal minds in early 19th-century America. Gould was born in Branford, Connecticut today in 1770. His parents initially doubted his promise as a scholar because of his exceptionally poor…

November 27: Connecticut Adds “or sex” to the State Constitution

  Today in 1974, frustrated at the slow pace with which other states were acting to amend the federal constitution, Connecticut amended its own state constitution, inserting the words “or sex” into a key provision of that document. Two years earlier, Connecticut had been one of over 30 states that voted to ratify the Equal…

September 14: Connecticut Ratifies the 19th Amendment, One State Too Late. Or Was It?

  Today in 1920, nearly 52 years after they first convened, members of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Association watched as the Connecticut General Assembly finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all American women the right to vote. For decades, Connecticut suffragists had picketed, petitioned, and frequently found themselves arrested as they…

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…

August 24: U. S. Navy Intercepts “The Long, Low Black Schooner” Amistad

  In early 1839, Portuguese slave traders captured dozens of native Mende Africans from the territory of modern-day Sierra Leone — technically, in violation of several international treaties — and sold them to two Spaniards in the slave markets of Havana, Cuba. On July 1, while en route to nearby plantations aboard the Spaniards’ schooner…

August 17: Catherine Flanagan’s Two (Very Different) Trips To Washington

  Today in 1917, 28-year-old Connecticut activist and women’s suffrage advocate Catherine Flanagan was arrested for picketing in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. Flanagan and a small group of fellow suffragists had been picketing for 12 days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and gold (the…

August 16: The Bar Unbarred — Connecticut’s First Woman Lawyer

  Today in 1843, Mary Hall was born in Marlborough, Connecticut. Growing up on a farm in antebellum America, when high Victorian culture placed an increasingly stringent emphasis on female domesticity, made her perhaps one of the most unlikely candidates to defy gender norms and become the first woman in Connecticut to be admitted to…