May 5: The First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  Even though the U.S. Patent Act of 1790 allowed American citizens to apply for patents regardless of gender, women were discouraged from doing so due to local coverture laws that made it difficult, if not impossible, for a married woman to own property and titles independently of her husband. But today in 1809, nearly…

May 3: A Medal for the Common Soldier

  “The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus opened to all.” So said George Washington when he created the Badge of Military Merit, which he first awarded today in 1783, to two brave enlisted Connecticut soldiers at the Continental Army headquarters in Newburgh, New York. Prior to this,…

March 24: Joel Barlow, The Poet and Diplomat Who Died Far From Home

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late-18th century, was born today  in 1754 in the western Connecticut town of Redding. As a member of the Yale class of 1778, the bright young man found himself surrounded by an impressive crowd of…

March 14: Eli Whitney Patents the Machine That Would Lead to Civil War

  Today in 1794, Eli Whitney, one of Connecticut’s most influential inventors, received a patent for the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized cotton production by optimizing the laborious task of cleaning seeds from raw cotton bolls. Born in Massachusetts in 1765, Eli had exhibited both interest in, and talent at, manufacturing early in life,…

March 9: He Put the Iron in “Old Ironsides”

  Today in 1798, 25-year-old Isaac Hull, who was destined to become one of the United States’ most famous heroes of the War of 1812, began his distinguished career in the Navy after accepting a commission as a fourth lieutenant aboard the U.S. frigate Constitution. Born in 1773 in Derby, Connecticut, young Isaac was raised…

March 1: The First President of the United States — Samuel Huntington

  On this day in 1781, more than four years after they were first adopted by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation became the supreme law of the United States after being formally ratified by all 13 states. As a result, the previous sitting president of the Continental Congress — a Connecticut lawyer by…

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…