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Politics and Government


Hard Times: Governor Wilbur Cross and the Great Depression in Connecticut

In addition to having a section of the Merritt Parkway named after him, Governor Wilbur Cross helped see Connecticut through the Great Depression and several natural disasters.

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Governor Ribicoff

Abraham Ribicoff: Kennedy Confidant and Connecticut’s First Jewish Governor

Abraham Ribicoff rose from a New Britain tenement to become Connecticut’s first Jewish governor and a confidant of President John F. Kennedy.

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Rally – Today in History: March 5

On March 5, 1860, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Republicans of…

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Governor Trumbull becomes first governor in the nation to qualify for a pilot's license

John H. Trumbull: Connecticut’s “Flying Governor”

In 1926, at the age of 53, Connecticut governor John H. Trumbull received his pilot’s license. Piloting flights to his own appointments, he became known as “The Flying Governor.”

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Governor Ribicoff

Abraham Ribicoff dies – Today in History: February 22

On February 22, 1998, Abraham Ribicoff died. An American Democratic…

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Roger Griswold Starts a Brawl in Congress – Today in History: February 15

On February 15, 1798, Roger Griswold, a US House Representative…

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The U.S. frigate United States capturing H.B.M frigate Macedonian

Site Lines: The Mysterious Blue Lights

During the War of 1812, warning signals in the form of two blue lights prevented US ships from slipping past the British blockade of New London’s harbor. This left officials and the public to wonder: who was lighting these “torches of treason,” and why?

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Placard commemorating the adoption of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The Fundamental Orders: Connecticut’s Role in Early Constitutional Government

Embracing the ideals supported by Hartford founder the Rev. Thomas Hooker, the Fundamental Orders represent what many consider to be the first written constitution in the Western world.

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Connecticut Ratifies US Constitution – Today in History: January 9

On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to…

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Lounsbury Elected Governor – Today in History: January 4

On January 4th 1899, George Edward Lounsbury was elected the…

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Chief G’tinemong/Ralph W. Sturges

This Mohegan Chief is remembered for successfully guiding the Tribe through the final stages of Federal Recognition, which it obtained in 1994.

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German American Bund parade

Southbury Takes On the Nazis

In the late 1930s, in an attempt to avoid a…

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The Connecticut Poll Tax

November 9, 2018 • Law, Politics and Government, The State

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

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Samuel A. Foote

Samuel Foot: A Trader Turned Governor

Samuel Foot was a West India trader from Cheshire, Connecticut,…

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John F. Kennedy campaigning in New Haven, 1960

The Kennedys in Connecticut – Today in History: November 6

November 6, 2018 • New Haven, Politics and Government

On November 6, 1960, forty-eight hours before the Presidential election, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts addressed a street rally in New Haven.

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Picking Tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley

Literacy Tests and the Right To Vote

Connecticut was the first state to require a literacy test of would-be voters and, even as the practice came under fire as a tool of discrimination, the state held steady until 1970.

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

Hiding the Charter: Images of Joseph Wadsworth’s Legendary Action

Overshadowed by the famed oak, Joseph Wadsworth, “the hero of the Charter,” has become the Rodney Dangerfield of Connecticut history—he doesn’t get any respect—or much recognition.

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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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Byram River, Pemberwick, October 16, 1955

Byram River Flood – Today in History: October 15

A few minutes before 11:00 pm on October 15, 1955,…

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Detail of the French army's map of its route across Connecticut in Bolton

Site Lines: Mapping Rochambeau’s March across Connecticut

Moving troops and materiel over long distances during the Revolutionary War required accurate maps, most of which were in British hands, until French allies came to the rebelling colonists’ aid.

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Howard Chandler Christy, Signing of the Constitution

The US Constitutional Convention: America Forms a Bicameral Legislature

In the summer of 1787, Connecticut delegate helped shape the drafting of the US Constitution through his proposal for a bicameral legislature.

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John F. Weir, Roger Sherman, ca. 1902

Roger Sherman, Revolutionary and Dedicated Public Servant

An author of the Connecticut Compromise, Roger Sherman is also the only person to have signed all four of the most significant documents in our nation’s early history.

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Henry Deming: Mayor of Hartford and New Orleans

Henry Deming served as mayor of Hartford and then as the provisional mayor of New Orleans during the Civil War before writing a biography of Ulysses S. Grant.

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Pierre Eugene Du Simetière, Silas Deane. Member of Congress

The Rise and Fall of Silas Deane, American Patriot

Esteemed by his fellow patriots as a savvy diplomat who helped cement a strategic alliance with France during the American Revolution, Deane spent his final years under a cloud of suspicion.

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Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Governor Jonathan Trumbull Dies – Today in History: August 17

On August 17, 1785, Connecticut’s first governor, Jonathan Trumbull, died….

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Senator Brandegee Stonewalls Women’s Suffrage

Senator Frank Brandegee of New London vehemently opposed progressive legislation at the national level, particularly when it came to the issue of women’s suffrage.

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U.S. Frigate Constitution, Isaac Hull, Esqr., commander

Fame and Infamy for the Hulls of Derby

Two Connecticut men, uncle and nephew, had starring roles—one in defeat and one in victory—during the War of 1812.

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Roger Sherman

The Connecticut Compromise – Today in History: July 16

On July 16, 1787, a plan proposed by Roger Sherman…

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The Platt Amendment – Today in History: June 12

Orville Platt from Meriden presented the Platt Amendment to Congress in 1901. It essentially made Cuba an American protectorate.

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First Meetinghouse in Hartford

The Free Consent of the People: Thomas Hooker and the Fundamental Orders

Government formed with the consent of the people was a radical idea in the age of nations ruled by monarchs, emperors, and tsars.

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Chester Bowles

Governor Chester Bowles Dies – Today in History: May 25

May 25, 2018 • Essex, Politics and Government

On May 25, 1986, Chester Bowles, a Connecticut governor, Congressional…

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First Woman Elected as US State Governor Born – Today in History: May 10

On May 10, 1919, Ella Grasso, née Ella Rosa Giovanna…

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An Orderly and Decent Government

The following is a digital presentation of An Orderly and…

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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: Business and Government, 1905-1929

The early years of the 20th century were a time of vigorous political and social reform.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1776-1818

The freedom won in the American Revolution did not spread to African Americans. The Constitution of 1818 formed the basis for state government until 1965.

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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. The outlines of the modern legislative system began to emerge.

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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: 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: Searching for the Common Good, 1905-1929

J. Henry Roraback dominated Connecticut like no political leader before him.

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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: 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: Significant Events & Developments, 1776-1818

With its limited supply of fertile land either occupied or exhausted, one of Connecticut’s principal exports in the post-Revolutionary years was people.

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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: 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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St. Anthony Comstock, the Village nuisance

Connecticut and the Comstock Law

The federal Comstock Law of 1873 made it illegal to…

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A Successful Lawyer and Politician Who Never Went to College

Chauncey Fitch Cleveland was a lawyer and politician who served…

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Congressional pugilists

Roger Griswold Starts a Brawl in Congress – Today in History: February 15

On February 15, 1798, Roger Griswold, a US House Representative…

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Uriah Tracy

Uriah Tracy Authors the Rules for Impeachment

Uriah Tracy was an attorney and politician who took up…

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The U.S. frigate United States capturing H.B.M frigate Macedonian

Site Lines: The Mysterious Blue Lights

During the War of 1812, warning signals in the form of two blue lights prevented US ships from slipping past the British blockade of New London’s harbor. This left officials and the public to wonder: who was lighting these “torches of treason,” and why?

Read

Lounsbury Elected Governor – Today in History: January 4

On January 4th 1899, George Edward Lounsbury was elected the…

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The Hartford Convention or Leap no leap

The Hartford Convention or Leap no Leap

December 15, 2017 • Arts, Politics and Government, War of 1812

A political cartoon lampoons radical members of New England’s Federalist party by poking fun at their motivations for gathering in Hartford to end the War of 1812.

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The Revolution of 1817

The Connecticut gubernatorial election of 1817 transferred power from the Federalists to the Republican Party, bringing an end to life dominated by the Congregational Church.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation, Matthew Griswold, New Haven, 1785

Governor Griswold’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

This broadside (a large piece of paper printed on only…

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Congressional pugilists

Roger Griswold: A Governor Not Afraid To Challenge Authority

Roger Griswold was a lawyer, judge, and politician who spent…

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Wide Awakes banner

Hartford Wide-Awakes – Today in History: July 26

On July 26, 1860, the Hartford Wide-Awakes welcomed the Newark,…

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Lyman Hall memorial, Center Street Cemetery

Wallingford Native Son Signed the Declaration of Independence

Lyman Hall was a doctor, minister, and statesman from Connecticut…

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Anna E. Dickinson

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson at Touro Hall – Today in History: March 24

On March 24, 1863, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, a 20-year-old Quaker…

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Kimberly Mansion, Glastonbury

The Smith Sisters, Their Cows, and Women’s Rights in Glastonbury

By refusing to pay unfair taxes, these siblings became national symbols of discrimination suffered by women and of the struggle of the individual against government.

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Clare Boothe Luce Changed Perceptions about Women in Business and Politics

Clare Boothe Luce became the first woman to represent Connecticut in the US House of Representatives and later became an ambassador to Italy.

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Governor Ribicoff

Abraham Ribicoff dies – Today in History: February 22

On February 22, 1998, Abraham Ribicoff died. An American Democratic…

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Detail from a map of Hayt

Ebenezer Bassett’s Historic Journey

This educator, activist, and associate of Frederick Douglass served the US as its first African American ambassador.

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Airmen returning home, Bradley Field, Windsor Locks

Bradley Airport’s Military Origins

In 1941, with war raging on the European continent, the…

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Connecticut Ratifies US Constitution – Today in History: January 9

On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to…

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Governor Ella Grasso

The Education of Ella Grasso

The daughter of Italian immigrants becomes Connecticut’s first woman governor.

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Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut

From the State Historian: Discovering the Explorer Hiram Bingham III

Of all the Connecticans who have left their mark in distant places, perhaps none made a more lasting—or more controversial—impression than this explorer.

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Maria Sanchez and Alejandro La Luz, Puerto Rican spokesmen, Hartford

Maria Sánchez, State Representative and Community Advocate

The first Latina elected to the Connecticut General Assembly started as a grassroots activist for Hartford’s Puerto Rican community.

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Elizabeth T. Bentley, 1948

Elizabeth Bentley Born – Today in History: January 1

On January 1, 1908, Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was born in…

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Chief G’tinemong/Ralph W. Sturges

This Mohegan Chief is remembered for successfully guiding the Tribe through the final stages of Federal Recognition, which it obtained in 1994.

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Workers on the Charter farm on Crystal Lake Road, Ellington

William Pinney Does It All for Ellington

William N. Pinney’s life was one of public service. A…

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Dodd Gun Bill Becomes Law

Thomas J. Dodd and the Gun Control Act of 1968

Written in December 1791, the Second Amendment to the United…

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Ralph Earl, Oliver Wolcott

Oliver Wolcott Dies – Today in History: December 1

On December 1, 1797, signer of the Declaration of Independence…

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Governor Wilbur L. Cross

Video: 1938 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Connecticut Governor Wilbur L. Cross reading his 1938 Thanksgiving Proclamation to his cabinet. This was the first sound film ever made featuring a Governor of Connecticut.

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The Articles of Confederation: America’s First Constitution

The Articles of Confederation loosely served as the nation’s first formal governing document, until ultimately being replaced by the US Constitution.

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Election day, Main Street, Hartford

When Elections in Hartford Were a Piece of Cake

Unlike today, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Election Day met with great celebration.

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New-Gate Prison courtyard

Notorious New-Gate Prison

A failed Simsbury copper mine is now a national historic landmark in East Granby.

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Senator William Wallace Eaton

William Eaton, a Peace Democrat and Civil War Opponent

This 19th- century Connecticut politician took a controversial stand against a war that would divide the Union and decrease states’ rights.

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General Nathaniel Lyon

From the State Historian: The Final Journey of Nathaniel Lyon

The first Union general to die in the Civil War, this soldier from Eastford received national attention as mourners from Missouri to Connecticut gathered to pay tribute.

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The southeast block of West Street, Litchfield as it looked in the Civil War era, 1867

The Peace Movement in Litchfield

Connecticut saw no combat on its soil during the Civil War. Yet, the conflict left its mark on the state in ways that historians are still sorting out. This account details the war’s impact on two Connecticut towns.

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State Representative William A. O'Neill and State Senator David M. Barry

William O’Neill: Climbing Up the Political Ladder

Connecticut’s 84th governor, William Atchison O’Neill, was born in Hartford on…

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Mayor Lee (center) of New Haven, looking at Knights of Columbus building model

Richard Lee’s Urban Renewal in New Haven

Thanks largely to his efforts at Urban Renewal, New Haven’s Richard C. Lee became one of the most celebrated and well-known mayors of the 20th century.

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Orville Platt Helps Define International Relations after the Spanish-American War

Orville Platt was a powerful Republican senator from Washington, Connecticut. He presented the Platt Amendment to Congress.

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James Lukens McConaughy sworn in as Governor by Chief Justice William M. Maltbie

Did You Know a Connecticut Governor Was a US Spy?

In late 1943 James Lukens McConaughy became Deputy Director in Charge of Schools and Training for the precursor of the Central Intelligence agency.

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Amos Doolittle, The looking glass for 1787. A house divided against itself cannot stand

The War Connecticut Hated

For most Connecticans, the War of 1812 was as much a war mounted by the federal government against New England as it was a conflict with Great Britain.

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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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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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Connecticut Suffragists, 1919

Connecticut Suffragists 1919

Despite the fact that the women in this well-known photograph…

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Placard commemorating the adoption of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The Fundamental Orders: Connecticut’s Role in Early Constitutional Government

Embracing the ideals supported by Hartford founder the Rev. Thomas Hooker, the Fundamental Orders represent what many consider to be the first written constitution in the Western world.

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The Fundamental Orders

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The Fundamental Orders, inspired by Thomas Hooker’s sermon of May…

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The Old State House, Hartford

The Hartford Convention – Today in History: December 15

On December 15, 1814, delegates to the Hartford Convention met…

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John Warner Barber, Public square or green, in New Haven

A Separate Place: The New Haven Colony, 1638-1665

In 1638, Puritan leader John Davenport led a group of settlers out of Boston, ultimately founding what became the New Haven Colony.

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Capital Punishment in Connecticut: Changing Views

Connecticut’s struggles with the issue of capital punishment date back…

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Amos Doolittle, The looking glass for 1787. A house divided against itself cannot stand

The Connecticut Ratification Convention

Though approved at a renegade convention on September 17, 1787, the US Constitution did not become “the supreme law of the land” until 9 of the 13 states ratified the document.

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

The Legend of the Charter Oak

This Charles D. Brownell painting from the mid-1850s epitomizes the…

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Oliver Ellsworth

Senator Oliver Ellsworth’s Judiciary Act

When the United States Senate first convened in 1789, many…

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Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford

Hooker’s Journey to Hartford

In early June of 1636, prominent Puritan religious leader Reverend…

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Soldier, Patriot, and Politician: The Life of Oliver Wolcott

Oliver Wolcott served in military in the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution, but was also a popular member of the Continental Congress and governor of Connecticut.

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Am I not a man and a brother?

Early Anti-slavery Advocates in 18th-century Connecticut

Ideals advanced during the American Revolution inspired many of the state’s religious and political leaders to question and oppose slavery in the late 1700s.

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Ella Grasso at the Danbury Fair, ca. 1975-80

America’s First Woman Governor: Ella Grasso, 1919-1981

Born to Italian immigrant parents in Windsor Locks, Grasso held state and federal offices at a time when women politicians were rare.

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Charles McLean Andrews and Evangeline Walker Andrews

Charles McLean Andrews was one of the most distinguished historians of his time, generally recognized as the master of American colonial history.

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Hartford classroom, 1957

Five Minutes that Changed Connecticut: Simon Bernstein and the 1965 Connecticut Education Amendment

“There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.”

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Tomb of Lady Fenwick, Saybrook Point

An Old Saybrook Borough has a Stately History

The Borough of Fenwick, a well-known summer community in Old…

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Bridge on the grounds of Gillette's Castle

A Public Responsibility: Conservation and Development in the 20th Century

The seemingly contradictory calls to use or preserve the state’s natural resources are, in fact, closely related efforts that increasingly work in tandem—but not without conflict.

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James Trenchard, View from the Green Woods towards Canaan and Salisbury, in Connecticut

Dynamic Tensions: Conservation and Development up to the 1920s

From indigenous practices to Progressive-era projects, changing attitudes toward natural resources have shaped and reshaped the state’s landscape.

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A Remarkable Signature – Who Knew?

….that Roger Sherman, Connecticut merchant, lawyer, and statesman, was the…

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A plan of the first Society in Lebanon

Exploring Early Connecticut Mapmaking

Renderings of the terrain served a variety of purposes, from supporting colonists’ land claims as well as tribal counterclaims to settling religious disputes and even adorning the homes of the well-off.

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William E. Simonds

William Edgar Simonds: A Schoolteacher Turned Civil War Hero

Born into a destitute family, William Edgar Simonds originally set…

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Elias Perkins: One of Lisbon’s Most Accomplished Public Servants

Elias Perkins’s career in public service lasted nearly half a…

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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…

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View of the New Haven Green

A Puritan Landscape New Haven Town Green

On April 24, 1638 Rev. John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton…

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Creative License, or Fundamental Fact?

Investigating Connecticut’s claim to be “The Constitution State.”

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Litchfield's Constitution Oak

The Constitution Oak

Connecticut, the “Constitution State,” has a unique history of state constitutions. The “constitution” celebrated on our license plates is the Fundamental Orders of 1638.

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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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Chinese Educational Mission: the college, Hartford

Yung Wing, the Chinese Educational Mission, and Transnational Connecticut

In their respective tragic but inspiring final American acts, Yung and the Mission reflect the worst and best of the Chinese Exclusion Act era.

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Mohegan Federal Recognition

“We are no longer the little old tribe that lives upon the hill. We are now the Nation that lives upon the hill.”

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Herbert Abrams Self Portrait

Herbert Abrams Immortalizes the Nation’s Leaders

Herbert Abrams was an American painter whose portraits hang in…

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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…

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Hotchkiss House, Prospect

The Legacy of David Miles Hotchkiss

David Miles Hotchkiss was an educator, abolitionist, and public servant…

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Advertisement for harness racing at Charter Oak Park, West Hartford

Connecticut’s “The Legend of the Charter Oak”

Charter Oak Bridge. Charter Oak State College. Charter Oak Park. Why are so many places and things in Connecticut named after a tree?

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Robertson Field, also known as Robertson Airport, Plainville

Plainville Has Been Flying High for Over 100 Years

The town of Plainville claims a special relationship with aviation…

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

The Unsteady Meaning of “The Land of Steady Habits”

Throughout the centuries, this well known phrase has been used to stand for—or has been used as a foil against—a remarkable list of subjects, from beer drinking (for) and sushi (for) to showing movies on Sundays (against) and hair bobbing by women (against).

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: Old State House

Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures is a series of 50 five-minute film vignettes that profiles a variety of the state’s most notable cultural resources.

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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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Silas Deane House, Wethersfield

Site Lines: Silas Deane

Despite Deane’s role in securing French supplies and support for the American Revolution, his accomplishments have long been obscured by whispers of treason, a spy’s double-dealing, and his own sudden death.

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Video – Hidden History: Old Hartford State House

Your Town’s History in Video: Old Hartford State House

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