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 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 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…

August 2: Connecticut’s Final Public Hanging

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s history as colony and state,however, public executions with large crowds attending were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were major community events, attracting hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of onlookers to watch the…

July 16: Connecticut Saves the U S Constitutional Convention From Collapse

  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 advanced by delegates from Connecticut. That provision is known to history as the Connecticut Compromise…

July 1: Concerns Over Prison Unrest Produce the State Department of Correction

  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 Correction. 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: In the Middle of a World War, a Vote for History

  Connecticut history made history today 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 receiving state funding — public or private –had to include a comprehensive study of American history and government in its curriculum….

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 28: Preparing Connecticut Women to Exercise Their Rights as Citizens

  On May 21, 1919, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a constitutional amendment 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…

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…