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 20: Bringing Connecticut to “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…

September 11: Nineteen Years. Still Like Yesterday.

  Today in Connecticut history, we remember the victims. On September 11, 2001, the course of United States history was forever altered as terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing two into the Twin Towers in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and the fourth into a field in western Pennsylvania. With…

August 26: 42 Years After Independence, Connecticut Finally Gets A Constitution.

  Today in 1818, delegates to the state’s first ever 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…

August 21: The Death of the Charter Oak

  In the early morning hours of August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak — the ancient living symbol of Connecticut’s most cherished values and icon of its core identity — crashed  to a ground-shaking death amid the fierce winds and blinding rain of an overnight summer storm. The giant white oak had stood atop a…

August 15: A Century of Suntans and Sojourns

    On August 15, 2013, the Connecticut State Parks system celebrated its centennial by launching a Summer Outdoor “Sojourn” (a portmanteau of “Summer Outdoor Journey”) that linked the northeast and southwest corners of the state in a single, 195-mile journey. The Sojourn began in Quaddick State Park in Thompson and ended in Sherwood Island…

August 2: Connecticut’s Final Public Hanging

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s history as colony and state,however, public executions with large crowds attending were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were major community events, attracting hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of onlookers to watch the…

July 5: Connecticut’s Other (for 177 Years) State Capitol

  From 1701 through 1878, the Colony (and later State) of Connecticut had not one, but two capital cities: Hartford and New Haven. During these 177 years of shared governance, each co-capital built a series of State Houses to host the Connecticut General Assembly, which would meet in Hartford and New Haven on alternating years….

July 2: Connecticut Refuses to Fight for the United States

  It would be a gross understatement to say that the War of 1812 was unpopular in Connecticut. As a region, New England was fiercely opposed to the War of 1812, which the Yankees collectively viewed as a frivolous and economically disastrous war waged by President James Madison against the British Empire. But Connecticut took…

June 2: A Symphony for Connecticut by a Superstar Composer

  Today in 1935, a packed house of 1,500 enthusiastic music lovers in Norfolk heard the world premiere of internationally renowned conductor and composer Henry Hadley’s latest work, “The Connecticut Symphony,” a piece composed to celebrate that year’s 300th anniversary of the Constitution state’s founding. Hadley, one of his era’s most popular and widely played…

May 11: Connecticut’s New State House Sends a Message to America

  In the early years of the American Republic, Connecticut held itself up to the nation as a model for creating the kind of stable, citizen-selected-and-run government that was central to the success of the American project.  Thanks to the Royal Charter of 1662, which had given Connecticut virtual independence 114 years before the Declaration…