August 17: Suffragist Catherine Flanagan Arrested for Picketing

  Today in 1917, 28-year-old Connecticut activist and women’s suffrage advocate Catharine 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 twelve days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and gold (the…

August 16: Mary Hall, Connecticut’s First Female 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…

August 2: The Last Public Hanging in Connecticut

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s recorded history, however, public executions were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were also major community events, attracting hundreds if not thousands of onlookers to watch the morbid spectacle. Speeches and moralizing…

July 16: The “Connecticut Compromise” Saves the U.S. Constitution

  Today in 1787, the vision of a new federal government for the fledgling United States of America was saved from the scrap heap of history as the delegates to the Constitutional Convention narrowly voted to adopt a key provision known as the Connecticut Compromise (or, alternately, the Great Compromise). For weeks, delegates had been…

July 1: State Department of Corrections Created

  Today in 1968, the Connecticut General Assembly voted in favor of consolidating the state’s prisons into a single organization, creating the State Department of Corrections. Previously, every prison in the state had been independently managed, with its own Board of Directors, administrative staff, and policies for inmate behavior and rehabilitation. This sweeping reform of…

June 29: Governor Baldwin Signs Bill Requiring History in Schools

  Connecticut history made history on this day in 1943, when Governor Ray Baldwin signed a law setting new standards for citizenship education in Connecticut schools. The new law required that any college or grade school that received state funding — public or private — include a comprehensive study of American history and government in…

June 23: Eminent Domain Redefined in New London

  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 the year 2000, the New London Development Corporation, acting under the city’s authority, moved to seize over 100 privately-held…

June 7: Earning the Rights to Both Privacy and Birth Control.

  Today in 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional “right to privacy” for Americans by overturning a 92-year-old Connecticut law that outlawed the use of birth control. Back in 1873, during the apex of the Victorian era in the United States, Congress passed the Comstock Law, which outlawed “the circulation of obscene literature…

June 4: Connecticut Passes the Nation’s First “Lemon Law”

  On this day in 1982, in response to an increasing number of consumer complaints concerning the purchase of defective new automobiles (colloquially known as “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…

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 28: Preparing Connecticut Women for Full Citizenship

  On May 21, 1919, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation that would give American women the right to vote — legislation that would eventually become the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even though the legislation still had to be approved by the U.S. Senate and ratified by 3/4…

May 21: First Speed Limit Law in the U.S.

  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…