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…

August 26: Connecticut Finally Gets A Constitution.

  Today 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 the state’s first formally 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

  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…

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 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…

March 23: The “Mad Dog” Murders

  As a troubled teen, Hartford’s Joseph Taborsky had already acquired a long rap sheet for stealing, robbery, and other petty offenses by his early twenties.  On March 23, 1950, he decided to “celebrate” his twenty-fifth birthday with a crime-ridden night on the town, together with his younger brother, Albert.  Telling Albert they were going…

February 27: Before Him, Some Cars Were Unsafe At Any Speed.

  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 an insatiable appetite for reading and an incredible ability to retain information at an early age — traits that  helped…

February 19: Roger Sherman Baldwin, Governor and Abolitionist

On this day in 1863, in the midst of a bloody Civil War that pitted Americans against each other over questions of slavery and freedom, scores of Connecticans mourned the passing of Roger Sherman Baldwin, one of Connecticut’s most ardent abolitionist lawyers and accomplished politicians. Baldwin was born in 1793 to a well-to-do Connecticut family,…