August 10: The First Union General to Die in the Civil War

  Today in 1861, Eastford’s Nathaniel Lyon – a little-known figure the day before – instantly became one of the most celebrated figures in the United States when he was shot in the chest at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, making him the first Union General to die in the Civil War. Lyon’s death came as the…

July 13: Legislator P.T. Barnum Speaks While His Museum Burns

  On this day in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent.  Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz…

May 11: Connecticut’s Old State House Opens in 1796

  At the historic center of Hartford stands the Old State House, a beautiful federal-era building that served as Connecticut’s capitol for 83 years.  Designed by pioneering American architect Charles Bulfinch, the State House opened for business today in 1796, as the state legislature met insides its spacious chambers for the first time. Built with…

December 15: The Hartford Convention Discusses Secession

  Today in 1814, delegates from every New England state but Maine (which was not yet a state of its own, but still part of Massachusetts) met at the Old State House in Hartford to take action against what they saw as the federal government’s misguided and inept handling of the War of 1812. While…

October 20: Commemorating Thomas Hooker, Founder of Hartford

  On October 20, 1950, a crowd of several hundred Connecticans gathered in front of the Old State House in Hartford to observe the unveiling of a new, eight-foot-tall statue of Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister and “founding father” of Connecticut who founded the settlement of Hartford in 1636. Born in England in 1586, Thomas…

September 20: Establishing Connecticut’s Presence at the Big E

  One of the most enduring and beloved examples of New England regionalism is the annual Eastern States Exposition fair, colloquially known as “The Big E.”  Whereas most other states in the U.S. feature their own state fairs in the summer or fall seasons, the Big E represents all six New England states in one…