December 6: Palko v. Connecticut Names Your Most Important Rights

  On December 6, 1937, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision that had a lasting impact on how American courts interpreted and applied the fundamental freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.  The landmark case, Palko v. Connecticut, specifically involved the application of the Fifth Amendment, which protects accused parties against double…

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.  Born in Branford, Connecticut on this date in 1770, Gould’s parents initially doubted his promise as a scholar on account of his…

September 15: Connecticans to Vote on a New State Constitution

  On September 15, 1818, three weeks after they first assembled at the state house in Hartford, delegates voted 134 to 61 to approve a newly-written state constitution and submit it to a vote of the people of Connecticut for ratification.  In a particularly radical, last-minute twist, the delegates also voted to require only a…

August 26: State Constitutional Convention Convenes in Hartford

  On this day in 1818, delegates to the state’s 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 a new, written constitution. Writing a new constitution was no small task, given the social, cultural, and political upheaval Connecticut…

August 24: Capture of the Slave Ship 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 16: Mary Hall, Connecticut’s First Female Lawyer

  On this day 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…

July 4: Delegates Selected for Connecticut’s New State Constitution

  Today in 1818, the voters in every Connecticut town gathered at 9:00 am to select their town’s delegates to a convention at Hartford that would produce – a few months later – the first state Constitution ratified by a vote of the people themselves. The constitutional convention was the result of a decades-long struggle…

June 7: Establishing A Constitutional Right to Privacy

    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…

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 West Hartford, the law was loosely modeled on a set…

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…