February 23: Connecticut Openly Defies a Hated President

  In the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson, who was elected to two consecutive terms as President of the United States, proved to be a constant thorn in the side of Connecticut’s political leaders. Virtually all the members of Connecticut’s political “Standing Order” were staunch Federalists who vehemently disagreed with Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican political agenda and…

February 16: A Founding Father Becomes a Mayor

  In the midst of the American Revolution, one of the most chaotic and turbulent times in the nation’s history, it seems fitting that one of the most even-tempered and widely trusted statesmen would hail from the Land of Steady Habits. That statesman was Roger Sherman, and even though he was a reluctant public speaker,…

February 15: These Congressmen Fought with More Than Words

On February 15, 1798, a weeks-long spat between two fiery politicians turned violent when Connecticut Representative Roger Griswold walked up to Matthew Lyon of Vermont and, on the floor of Congress, began viciously attacking him with his walking stick. Without a moment’s hesitation, Lyon grabbed a nearby pair of iron fireplace tongs and began defending…

February 8: Defending the West from the Worst

  A descendant of the Puritan Joseph Wadsworth who protected his colony’s charter by hiding it in the legendary Charter Oak, Elijah Wadsworth would also be tasked with saving his people’s government. Not from a takeover, however, but from a British invasion. And not in Connecticut, but in in the part of Ohio once owned…

February 6: An Unappreciated Son’s Revolutionary Art.

  At John Trumbull’s birth, few would have expected him to live to age one, much less 87. Yet the infant born suffering multiple seizures daily slowly overcame that condition, and went on to spend a lifetime trying also to overcome his father’s censure of painting as a demeaning profession. In his effort to show…

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…

January 9: Connecticut Votes to Join the United States

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union. While certain states, most notably New York and Virginia, remained skeptical of the new Constitution and required lots of convincing in order to…

November 7: Washington Slept Here — Not His Favorite Place

  Throughout the eastern United States, claims that “George Washington slept here” at some local home or landmark are so exceedingly plentiful — and frequently fabricated to boost business — that the term has become something of a cliché. Connecticut, however, can point to many locations where George Washington did pass by or spend the…

October 7: Thomas Jefferson Opposes Connecticut’s State Church

  One of the central tenets of modern American political doctrine was borne out of a  letter exchange between Connecticut Baptists and an American President that began today in Connecticut history. On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptists Association sent an eloquent letter to newly elected President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concerns about Connecticut’s backing…

September 22: Revolutionary War Hero Hanged

  In early September 1776, the Continental Army was enduring some of the darkest days it would ever encounter in the entire Revolutionary War. George Washington and his troops had just been soundly defeated in the Battle of Brooklyn, and had just barely escaped annihilation during their retreat. It looked more and more likely that…

September 16: A Heroic Death at the Battle of Harlem Heights

  Today in 1776, one of Connecticut’s most valiant heroes of the Revolutionary War, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, died while commanding his men at the Battle of Harlem Heights in New York City. Born in Massachusetts but raised in Ashford, Connecticut since early childhood, Knowlton was a seasoned veteran who had served under fellow Connectican…