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…

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…

February 27: He Killed the Cars That Killed the People Who Drove Them

  Today in 1934, consumer advocate, author, and political activist Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut. The son of Lebanese immigrants who operated a popular restaurant in the moderately sized Connecticut factory town, Nader displayed, at an early age, an insatiable appetite for reading and an incredible ability to retain information. These traits helped…

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…