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Revolution and the New Nation


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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Illustration of "The Connecticut Courant", Oct. 29, 1764

The Oldest Continuously Published Newspaper – Today in History: October 29

On October 29, 1764, New Haven printer Thomas Green established…

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Whitneyville Armory, Whitney's Improved Fire-Arms, from an advertisement, ca. 1862

The Whitney Armory Helps Progress in Hamden

Eli Whitney is famous for the cotton gin. His invention…

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Pulling Down the Statue of King George II, New York City

Mariann Wolcott and Ralph Earl – Opposites Come Together and Make History

The story of Mariann Wolcott and Ralph Earl captures much of the complexity the Revolutionary War brought to the lives and interactions of ordinary citizens.

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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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Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold Turns and Burns New London

September 6, 1781 was a brutal and terrifying day for Connecticut citizens living on both sides of New London harbor, along the Thames River.

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David Bushnell and his Revolutionary Submarine

How a farmer’s son became the Father of Submarine Warfare during the American Revolution.

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Caleb Brewster and the Culper Spy Ring

Caleb Brewster used his knowledge of Long Island Sound to serve as a member of the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

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Shaker advertisement to board horses, 1884

Enfield’s Shaker Legacy

Shaking Quakers settled in Enfield and created the packaged seed business.

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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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Detail from the map Colony of Connecticut in North-America by Moses Park

East Haven’s Revolutionary Salt Works

East Haven’s Amos Morris helped supply Americans with salt (essential for preserving food) during critical shortages brought on by the American Revolution.

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Dressing Table. Probably made in 1783 by the shop of Eliphalet Chapin

Connecticut Valley Style: Eliphalet Chapin Inspires a Tradition of Craft

Favoring local cherry and pine woods, this furniture maker introduced Philadelphia-style flair to New England consumers.

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Joel Barlow

The Hartford Wits

Eventually taking the name the “Hartford Wits,” some of the most influential figures of the 18th century got together to write poetry that documented the state of the times.

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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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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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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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A receipt for two prints of John Trumbull paintings

Jeremiah Wadsworth, “foremost in every enterprise”

Had this Hartford merchant lived in another era, his wealth and influence might have made him comparable to a 19th-century financial tycoon or a 20th-century venture capitalist.

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The Burning of Danbury

In April of 1777, British forces under Major General William Tryon led a raid on patriot supplies stored in Danbury, Connecticut.

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Ralph Earl, The Battle of Lexington, April 19th, 1775 etched by Amos Doolittle

News From Lexington: Contemporary Views of the Opening Battles of the American Revolution

A rare set of prints by New Haven printer Amos Doolittle depicts the momentous events of April 19, 1775.

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Ivoryton's Comstock, Cheney Co. produced a variety of ivory goods

Phineas Pratt’s Machine for Making Combs – Today in History: April 12

On April 12, 1799, Phineas Pratt of Ivoryton, Connecticut, a…

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Detail from View of Essex, Centerbrook & Ivoryton, Conn. 1881

The British Raid on Essex

On a cold April night in 1814 a British raiding force rowed six miles up the Connecticut River to burn the privateers of Essex, then known as Pettipaug. The raiders torched 27 ships and took or destroyed thousands of dollars’ in other supplies.

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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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Valley Forge, 1777

A Connecticut Slave in George Washington’s Army

Nero Hawley, born into slavery in Connecticut in the 18th…

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A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean by John Ledyard

First General Copyright Law – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1783, Connecticut became the first state to…

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Colonel William Douglas

William Douglas: A Colonial Hero’s Sacrifice

William Douglas was a successful merchant and military leader who…

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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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Timothy Dwight

Timothy Dwight Dies – Today in History: January 11

On January 11, 1817, Timothy Dwight (theologian, educator, poet, and…

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Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys

Ethan Allen Born – Today in History: January 10

On January 10, 1738, future hero of the Revolutionary War…

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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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God admonishing his people of their duty, as parents and masters

A Most Unusual Criminal Execution in New London

On December 20, 1786, a crowd gathered behind New London’s…

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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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The Stonington Battle Flag

The Stonington Battle Flag

On August 10, 1814, during a lull in the attack by the British on Stonington, citizens nailed a large US flag–a banner of defiance–to a pole above the battery.

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Leffingwell Inn, Norwichtown

Christopher Leffingwell Born – Today in History: June 11

On June 11, 1734, businessman and civic leader Christopher Leffingwell…

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Fight at Ridgefield

Battle at Ridgefield – Today in History: April 27

On April 27, 1777, American forces under the command of…

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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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Litchfield’s Revolutionary War Soldiers’ Tree

The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, and became an international event 11 years later when Birdsley Northrup of Kent, Connecticut, introduced the concept to Japan.

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Benedict Arnold: America’s Most Famous Traitor

Benedict Arnold of Norwich was one of the great Continental army heroes of the American Revolution before committing treason and joining the British army.

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William C. Redfield

William Redfield Born – Today in History: March 26

On March 26, 1789, William C. Redfield, the noted American…

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Israel Putnam: A Youthful Trailblazer Turned Colonial Militiaman

Israel Putnam served with distinction in the Seven Years’ War and in the Revolutionary War, particularly at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

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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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A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean by John Ledyard

First General Copyright Law – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1783, Connecticut became the first state to…

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Colonel William Douglas

William Douglas: A Colonial Hero’s Sacrifice

William Douglas was a successful merchant and military leader who…

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Timothy Dwight

Timothy Dwight Dies – Today in History: January 11

On January 11, 1817, Timothy Dwight (theologian, educator, poet, and…

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Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys

Ethan Allen Born – Today in History: January 10

On January 10, 1738, future hero of the Revolutionary War…

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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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God admonishing his people of their duty, as parents and masters

A Most Unusual Criminal Execution in New London

On December 20, 1786, a crowd gathered behind New London’s…

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Enoch Smith Woods, Colonel Thomas Knowlton

Thomas Knowlton: A Small Town’s National Hero

Thomas Knowlton is arguably Ashford’s most widely recognized war hero….

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Horse pistol ca. 1799, Simeon North

Government Orders Horse Pistols – Today in History: March 9

On March 9, 1799, the government issued its first contract…

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Illustration of Hebron by John Warner Barber

Changing Sentiments on Slavery in Colonial Hebron

Residents of Hebron rescued local slaves Lowis and Cesar Peters, and their children, from South Carolina slave traders. After emancipation, the rescued family became farmers in town.

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Valley Forge, 1777

A Connecticut Slave in George Washington’s Army

Nero Hawley, born into slavery in Connecticut in the 18th…

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John Fitch's steamboat model

John Fitch Born – Today in History: January 21

On January 21, 1743, John Fitch, an inventor and pioneer…

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Writing-arm chair attributed to Ebenezer Tracy

Ebenezer Tracy Made Some of the Finest 18th-Century Furniture

Ebenezer Tracy was a carpenter from Lisbon, Connecticut, who specialized…

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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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The White Pine Acts – Who Knew?

The British government made it illegal for colonials to cut down white pine trees over 24 inches in diameter—preserving the trees for use as masts on British naval ships.

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Illustration of Lorenzo Carter's first cabin

Putting Cleveland on the Map: Lorenzo Carter on the Ohio Frontier

Lorenzo Carter was a Connecticut native who became the first…

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Detail from A Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve, from actual Survey, surveyed by Seth Pease

New Connecticut on Lake Erie: Connecticut’s Western Reserve

If you drive through the area of Ohio still called the Western Reserve today, you will find towns named Norwich, Saybrook, New London, Litchfield, Mansfield, and Plymouth.

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Connecticut, from the Best Authorities

Stamford’s Three-Gun Armada

During the Revolutionary War, American privateers utilized armed whaling boats…

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Hannah Bunce Watson: One of America’s First Female Publishers

Hannah Bunce Watson was one of the first female publishers in America. Her leadership helped the Hartford Courant) survive one of the most challenging times in its history.

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Detail of A New and Correct Map of the United States by Abel Buell

An Uncommonly Ingenious Mechanic: Abel Buell of Connecticut

This Yankee jack-of-all-trades created the first map of the new United States to be printed and published in America.

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Map of the West Indies, 1717

Connecticut and the West Indies: Sugar Spurs Trans-Atlantic Trade

This profitable exchange brought wealth and sought-after goods to the state but came at the price of supporting slavery in the bargain.

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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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Copy of Map of Windsor, shewing the parishes, the roads, and houses by Seth Pease

Seth Pease Surveys New Lands

This Suffield native’s work in “New Connecticut” and other Western territories reveals how the new nation took stock of its expanding borders.

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Captain Nathaniel Shaw Mansion, New London

New London’s Sound Defense

The use of privateers to supplement naval forces and wage…

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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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Venture Smith's headstone

Venture Smith, from Slavery to Freedom

Smith’s account sheds light on the experience of enslaved and free blacks in 18th-century 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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Connecticut in the French and Indian War

Connecticut troops sustained demoralizing losses before a reinvigorated British military turned the tide of the French and Indian War.

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Count de Rochambeau - French general of the land forces in America reviewing the French troops

Rochambeau Returns Over and Over to Andover

Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, was a French nobleman…

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American Chairs, Made in Connecticut

While the Windsor chair’s style and manufacture emerged in England in the early 1700s, it became extremely popular in North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. Numerous Connecticut workshops used a system of apprentices and indentured servants to produce these fashionable chairs.

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: Samuel Huntington

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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