June 26: Education Pioneer Sarah Pierce Born in Litchfield

  On this day in 1767, education pioneer Sarah Pierce was born in Litchfield. As a teenager, her older brother sent her to New York after the death of her father, to learn to become a teacher so she could financially support herself and her siblings. Upon her return to Litchfield in 1792, Pierce opened…

May 5: Mary Kies Becomes First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  On this day in 1809, Mary Kies of Killingly, Connecticut became the first woman in American history to obtain a patent.  Kies’ invention was described as “a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread.” Little is known about Kies or the specifics of her patent, which was destroyed in 1836…

May 3: Connecticut Patriots Receive the First “Purple Hearts”

  On this day in 1783, General George Washington awarded the Badge of Military Merit to two brave Connecticut soldiers at the Continental Army headquarters in Newburgh, New York. The last few years of the Revolutionary War, which would formally end in September 1783, were particularly grueling for American soldiers; a frustrating lack of progress…

March 25: America’s First Episcopal Bishop

  At a meeting held in Woodbury, Connecticut on March 25, 1783, ten clergymen concerned with providing for the future of the Episcopal Church named Samuel Seabury to be the first bishop of the new United States of America.  Seabury was born near New London on November 30, 1729, and had lived in Connecticut for…

March 24: Joel Barlow, Revolutionary American Poet and Diplomat

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late 18th century, was born on this day 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…

March 14: Eli Whitney Patents the Cotton Gin

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

March 9: War of 1812 Hero Isaac Hull Joins the Navy

  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 4th Lieutenant aboard the U.S. Frigate Constitution. Born in 1773 in Derby, Connecticut, young Isaac was raised…

March 1: Samuel Huntington Becomes the United States’ First President

  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 thirteen states.  As a result, the previous sitting President of the Continental Congress — a Connecticut lawyer by…

February 23: Connecticut Openly Defies President Jefferson’s National Embargo

  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 National Statesman and the First Mayor of New Haven

  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,…