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The State


Cover of a book titled "The Negro Motorist Green Book" with other text

Navigating Connecticut Safely: The Green Book’s Role in African American Travel

In the mid-20th century, during the era of Jim Crow, the Green Book helped African American travelers find safe restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other businesses while on the road.

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Print showing three men working in a printshop preparing a plate for the press and operating the press, circa 1642

Thomas Short – Connecticut’s First Official Printer

Thomas Short became the Connecticut Colony’s first official printer in 1708, printing the laws and proclamations for the colonial legislature as well as the colony’s first book.

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Engraving drawing of several buildings

John Warner Barber’s Engravings Chronicle Connecticut History

John Warner Barber chronicled 19th-century Connecticut history through his historical writing and hundreds of engravings—many of which still exist today.

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Newspaper clipping with a large photograph of two people getting married with the headline "More than Partners"

Connecticut Issues Same-Sex Marriage Licenses for the First Time – Today In History: November 12

On November 12, 2008, Connecticut issued its first marriage licenses for same-sex couples after Kerrigan et al. v. Commissioner of Public Health et al..

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Industrial scene where several men are working at a manufactured gas plant

Early Connecticut Gas Light Companies

The first private gas light companies in Connecticut appeared just before 1850 in New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport.

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Poster with a blue and red flag and several people underneath cheering

Army-Navy “E” Award Honors Connecticut for Support Against the Axis Powers

During WWII, the US military bestowed 175 Connecticut war plants with the Army-Navy “E” Award for outstanding production contributions to the army and navy.

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Two photos stitched together. Left photo is a three story house with an extension. Right photo is an Italianate Victorian building.

The Amos Bull House and Sterling Opera House: The First Connecticut Listings on the National Register of Historic Places – Who Knew?

The Amos Bull House in Hartford and the Sterling Opera House in Derby are tied for Connecticut’s first listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Segregation Picket line-Noah Webster School, Hartford

Black History Resources

February 1, 2023 • The State

Resources to learn more about Connecticut’s contributions to the narrative of Black history in America.

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Connecticut Turnpike Opens – Today in History: January 2

On January 2, 1958, Governor Abraham Ribicoff officially opened the Connecticut Turnpike—today the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike—to traffic.

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Creative License, or Fundamental Fact?

In 1973, the state legislature mandated that Connecticut’s license plates should display the state slogan “Constitution State.”

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Advertisement for Isaac Doolittle's bell foundry

Early Church Bell Founders

Church bells served many important functions in early New England. Consequently, skilled bellfounders in Connecticut found themselves in high demand.

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Illustration of the Connecticut Charter boundary, 1662

From the State Historian: The Map That Wasn’t a Map

The Charter of 1662 described Connecticut boundaries that extended all the way to the the Pacific Ocean!

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The Connecticut Poll Tax

November 16, 2022 • Law, Politics and Government, The State

The Connecticut poll tax lasted for almost 300 years and encompassed four different variants.

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Connecticut Residents Did Not Let Veterans Day “Go Commercial.”

Despite passage of the federal Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968, Connecticut residents were largely reluctant to move Veterans Day observances from November 11.

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April 18, 1991 Headline after State Senate approved gay-rights bill - Hartford Courant

Eighteen Years in the Making: Connecticut’s 1991 Gay Rights Law

Connecticut’s 1991 “gay-rights law” was one of the state’s first LGBTQ+ civil rights laws and prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and credit.

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Map – Connecticut Landmarks of the Constitution

A map of some of the Connecticut Landmarks of the Constitution researched and published by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Blue background with a seal in the middle. Banner under the seal with Latin words.

Connecticut’s Official State Flag – Who Knew?

While Connecticut used variations of flags for state functions, the legislature did not adopt an official state flag until 1897.

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Map showing a newly laid road in relationship to the Talcott Mountain Turnpike

Early Turnpikes Provided Solution to Lack of Reliable Roads

September 3, 2022 • The State, Transportation

Although few of the privately managed toll-roads of the 1800s proved profitable for investors, state commerce benefited in the long run.

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A small building on the back of a trailer. Two men are walking beside the building

The Connecticut Houses that Ended Up in Massachusetts

Old Sturbridge Village moved numerous historical CT buildings, but evidence of their existence still lives on in historic maps, photographs, and memories.

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The Long, Ambiguous History of Connecticut’s Blue Laws

July 24, 2022 • Everyday Life, Law, The State

Connecticut’s blue laws are a series of laws based on puritan values that restrict or ban certain “morally questionable” activities on days of worship or rest.

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Connecticut State Park Picture Plan

Preserving Connecticut’s Natural Beauty: Connecticut’s First State Parks

Sherwood Island, Mount Tom, Macedonia Brook, and Kent Falls are among the earliest lands set aside as the parks movement took hold in the state.

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Detail of Warwick patent copy by John Winthrop, Jr., 1662

The Charter of 1662

The Connecticut Charter, which provided the basis for Connecticut government until 1818, was secured because of Connecticut’s realization after the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660 that the government of the colony lacked any legal foundation.

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Savin Rock Amusement Park, 1930s

Connecticut’s Youngest City – Who Knew?

June 29, 2022 • The State, Orange, West Haven, Who Knew?

The city of West Haven, incorporated in 1961, is Connecticut’s youngest city but one of the state’s oldest settlements.

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A group of people standing on a pier with the mast of a ship in the background. One person in the foreground is holding a drum and another person is holding a folder

Connecticut’s First Known Juneteenth Celebration in Norwich – Who Knew?

In 1989, the Norwich Branch of the NAACP organized the first official Juneteenth celebration in Connecticut—several other towns followed suit in subsequent years and decades.

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Map of the state of Connecticut showing Indian trails, villages and sachemdoms

Andover to Woodstock: How Connecticut Ended Up with 169 Towns

Religious mandates, the difficulties of colonial-era travel, and industrialization are a few of the forces that gave rise to the proliferation of towns in our state.

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Shad Hat

Mad about Shad: Connecticut’s Love Affair with an Oily Fish

Some Connecticut River towns continue to hold an annual shad festival, replete with a “Shad Queen” and a feast known as a “shad planking.”

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

The Unsteady Meaning of “The Land of Steady Habits”

Connecticut’s description as “the land of steady habits” has been used to stand for a wide list of subjects, from beer drinking to sushi to hair bobbing.

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Soldiers with cannons, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery

The Complicated Realities of Connecticut and the Civil War

Citizens’ dedication on the battlefield and home front did not always signal agreement on key issues of the day.

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The Revolution of 1817

The Connecticut gubernatorial election of 1817 transferred power from the Federalists to the Republican Party, ending the Congregational Church’s domination.

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Gold Hall circa 1900, a men's dormitory named in honor of UConn trustee T. S. Gold. The building burned down in 1914

The First University of Connecticut Trustees

When the University of Connecticut started life as the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881, Governor Hobart Bigelow appointed its first eight trustees—all with agricultural backgrounds.

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State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Norwich, Conn.

The White Plague: Progressive-Era Tuberculosis Treatments in Connecticut

Treatments for tuberculosis included everything from exposure to extremes in temperature to regimens involving access to the outdoors.

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Dry Nutmegs

The Storied History behind Connecticut’s Nicknames

October 14, 2021 • Popular Culture, The State

Though Connecticut’s official nickname is the “Constitution State,” it has been known by many names throughout the centuries.

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Norwich City Hall, Union Square, Norwich, New London County

Site Lines: Monuments to Connecticut’s Lost County Government

County government operated in Connecticut in one form or another for nearly 300 years before the state abolished it in 1960.

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Nathan Hale Statue, Hartford

Nathan Hale Hanged in New York – Today in History: September 22

On September 22, 1776, the British hanged Revolutionary War soldier Nathan Hale, a school teacher from Coventry, Connecticut, for spying.

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Thomas Hooker: Connecticut’s Founding Father

A powerful and popular preacher, Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans out of Massachusetts in 1636 to settle new lands that eventually became the city of Hartford.

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The Importance of Being Puritan: Church and State in Colonial Connecticut

Connecticut Protestants wanted to cleanse the church of what they saw as corruption, and to return to the simplicity and purity of early Christian worship.

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“’No Taxation without Representation’: Black Voting in Connecticut

In 1870, Connecticut ratified the 15th Amendment, but poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and other means of disenfranchising African Americans remained in place.

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Colonial currency from Connecticut Colony. Signed by Elisha Williams, Thomas Seymour, and Benjamin Payne

Connecticut’s Early Commercial Banks

After observing the financial success of commercial banks in Boston and New York City, wealthy elites in Connecticut pressured the Connecticut General Assembly to grant charters for privately owned commercial banks in Hartford, New Haven, and New London in 1792.

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Hope on the Wall: Connecticut’s New Deal Post Office Murals

Between 1934 and 1943, the federal government placed murals in twenty-three Connecticut post offices.

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Capitol, Hartford, Connecticut

The State Cantata – Today in History: June 3

On June 3, 2003, the Connecticut General Assembly designated The Nutmeg, Homeland of Liberty by Dr. Stanley L. Ralph as the State Cantata.

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Timeline: Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut

A timeline displaying the major events leading to Connecticut statehood, including its settlement by the Dutch, the origins of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, the founding of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies, and Connecticut’s acquisition of a formal charter from England.

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Connecticut’s Loyal Subjects: Toryism and the American Revolution

Loyalists in Connecticut, often acting on beliefs tied to relegion, proved particularly prominent in Fairfield County. Many of them fled to Canada rather than face imprisonment at New-Gate.

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Gun Wheel of the First Light Battery, Connecticut Volunteers

A wheel damaged in battle now resides at the Connecticut State Capitol to commemorate the Civil War service of the First Light Battery Connecticut Volunteers.

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Hartford Whalers Logo

The Hartford Whalers: Connecticut’s Last Major League Sports Franchise

Major league hockey debuted in Hartford in 1975 and the Hartford Whalers remained a staple of the Connecticut landscape for twenty-three years.

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20th-century photograph of shad nets

A Tale of Shad, the State Fish

The aquatic inhabitant, shad, has a long history of influencing foodways, income, and culture in the region.

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Thomas Jefferson and the Embargo of 1807

Connecticut and the Embargo Act of 1807

The Embargo Act of 1807 stifled Connecticut trade with Europe, but ultimately boosted local manufacturing.

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Starr Mill

Buckling Up For Auto Safety

Connecticut joined several other states and the District of Columbia mandating seat belt usage for children and adults in automobiles in 1985.

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Hat-factory With Hose-house On The Hill, Danbury

Rivers of Outrage

Pollution of Connecticut’s waters by industrial waste and sewage in the decades after the Civil War was arguably the state’s first modern environmental crisis.

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Connecticut River and Mt. Holyoke Range from Mountain Park, Connecticut

The Connecticut Valley Authority That Never Was

In the early 20th century, supporters of the New Deal tried to recreate the Tennessee Valley Authority in the Connecticut River Valley.

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Hartford and New Haven: A Tale of Two Capitals

Before the expense of having two capital cities became too great, both Hartford and New Haven served that function. Hartford became the sole capital in 1875.

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President Richard Nixon visits Hartford

The 42-Day Income Tax

In 1971, to eliminate the state’s budget deficit, Connecticut legislators approved a tax on income. Just forty-two days later, they repealed it, instead voting to increase the state’s sales tax.

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Honiss Oyster House, Hartford

Oystering in Connecticut, from Colonial Times to the 21st Century

Why tasty Crassostrea virginica deserves its honored title as state shellfish.

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Trolley Campaigners Storm Small Towns and Votes for Women is the Battle Cry

In the wake of a 1912 trolley campaign, the woman’s suffrage movement rapidly gained ground across Connecticut.

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Cornerstone Set – Today in History: May 25

May 25, 2020 • Architecture, The State, Hartford

On May 25, 1909, the cornerstone was laid for the new State Library and Supreme Court building in Hartford.

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Exterior of the Connecticut State Building

Take Me to the Fair: Connecticut Exhibits at the International Expositions

Connecticut took part in many of the great World’s Fairs, especially those held in North America.

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An Orderly and Decent Government

An Orderly and Decent Government is an exhibition on the history of representative government in Connecticut developed by the CT Humanities in April 2000.

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The Old State House, Hartford

Where It All Happened: Connecticut’s Old State House

Connecticut’s Old State House is a memorial to many of the legislative advances made in Connecticut during the most formative years of the United States.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: A New State, A New Constitution, 1776-1818

The American Revolution prompted enormous political and social changes in other states, but Connecticut remained a “land of steady habits” until 1817 brought change to state government.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: A Society in Ferment, 1819-1865

Industry, immigration, and urbanization characterized Connecticut in the 19th century.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1888-1905

Connecticut’s ancient system of town-based representation ensured the continuation of small town values and perspectives.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Establishing Self Government, 1634-1776

Puritans from Massachusetts settled early Connecticut towns, and in 1639 drew up “The Fundamental Orders” by which they would be governed.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1634-1776

In 1698 the General Court reorganized itself to deal more effectively with Connecticut’s complex new problems.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1634-1776

After the Pequot War, New settlers and speculators sought to establish new towns from the colony’s undistributed lands.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1819-1865

During the early 19th century, the General Assembly was slow to deal with rising crime, poverty and the other social costs of a rapidly changing society.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1888-1905

Stimulated by immigration and industrialization, Connecticut cities expanded rapidly

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1888-1905

Connecticut saw its population of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe swell in the last decades of the 19th century.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: A Clash of Cultures, 1888-1905

In the last decades of the 19th century, Connecticut was transformed by a massive flood of immigrants fleeing political and economic instability.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1929-1964

Connecticut attempted to reorganize it state government by streamlining its agencies and rejected a number of socially progressive programs.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1905-1929

Early 20th century life in Connecticut was marked by the election of 1912, US entry into World War I, and the Great Depression.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1776-1818

During the American Revolution, loyalists were common in Connecticut. Those sympathetic to the patriot cause helped provide for the Continental army.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1905-1929

With war’s end, suffrage advocates stepped up their campaign for equal rights.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1929-1964

Organized labor grew strong during wartime while discriminatory practices in housing and education persisted throughout the state.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1866-1887

The late 1800s witnessed significant challenges to Connecticut’s voting and taxation laws.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1929-1964

The era of Wilbur Cross and the Great Depression transitioned into World War II and state control by Democrat mastermind John Bailey.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1965-Now

Connecticut recast its constitution, reapportioned its House and Senate, and struggled with providing equal rights to all races and socio-economic classes in the state.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: A Co-Equal Branch of Government, 1965-Now

Connecticut replaced town-based representation with legislative districts while the state struggled to supply equal opportunities across race and class lines.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1866-1887

In 1873, the legislature began to look more closely at the problems of Connecticut’s workers.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1965-Now

The 1965 state constitution helped redistribute populations more evenly into districts. It was also a period of new representation for women and African Americans in the state government.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Crisis and Recovery, 1929-1964

World War II helped bring an end to the Great Depression in Connecticut. Following the war, the growth of the suburbs redefined life in the state.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1965-Now

The state generated revenue for urban renewal and social programs through gaming and income tax initiatives.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: The Rise of the Factory, 1866-1887

In the years following the Civil War, Connecticut’s transformation to an urban, industrial state intensified.

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Dedication of the New State Capitol, 1876

Imagining Connecticut

Who are we? What traditions and accomplishments define us as a state and shape our lives today?

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The Yankee Peddler

The Yankee Peddler 1850

Yankee peddlers were a common sight in the Connecticut countryside in the mid-19th century.

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Dedication of the New State Capitol, 1876

New State Capitol 1878

By the 1870s, the State’s practice of having dual capitols in Hartford and New Haven was considered awkward and ineffective.

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Map of Connecticut showing the settlements in 1670

Connecticut’s Oldest English Settlement

The original Windsor settlement contained not only the town of Windsor but also what eventually became the towns of Enfield, Suffield, Simsbury, and others.

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