June 23: The Supreme Court Case New London Won, and Everybody Lost

  On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Kelo v. City of New London, a case that redefined — and vastly expanded — the permissible boundaries of eminent domain in the United States. In 2000, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC), acting under the city’s authority, moved to seize over 100 privately held…

June 4: America’s First “Lemon Law”

  Today in 1982, in response to an increasing number of consumer complaints about seriously defective new automobiles (colloquially called “lemons”), the Connecticut legislature passed the nation’s first “Lemon Law.” Introduced by freshman representative John J. Woodcock III of South Windsor, the law was loosely modeled on a set of consumer protections for automobile buyers…

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 21: Not So Fast! – America’s First Speed Limit Law

  Today in 1901, Connecticut became the first state in America to pass a law governing the speed of automobiles. According to the new law, cars were not to exceed 12 miles per hour within city limits and 15 miles per hour on rural or suburban roads, and were required to slow down whenever they…

April 19: Connecticut Ratifies the Bill of Rights — 150 Years Late

  Today in 1939, Connecticut became the last state in the the union to ratify the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights — 150 years after the list of amendments was first proposed. Why the delay? It certainly wasn’t because Connecticans didn’t care about securing individual rights. Connecticut’s colonial government codified one of the earliest sets…

January 26: The Talented — and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an…

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 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…