Categories: Constitution of 1818

Exploring the Legacy of Connecticut’s 1818 Constitution: Scholars & Programs


Douglas Arnold

Dr. Douglas M. Arnold is a historian of the early American republic with degrees from Bates College and Princeton University. He has edited nine volumes of The Public Records of the State of Connecticut. Three of those volumes (XVIII–XX, 1816-1820) document the background, drafting, and impact of Connecticut’s Constitution of 1818. Dr. Arnold’s in-depth introductions to those volumes put the constitution in context.

Dr. Arnold can lecture and consult on the central themes of the period, including
• the constitutional and religious background
• shifting political alignments (Federalists, Republicans, and Tolerationists)
• the role of Governor Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
• the 1818 constitutional convention, and
• the political aftermath, including fiscal reform.

For booking, contact Douglas Arnold at:

Richard Buel, Jr.

Dr. Richard Buel Jr., professor emeritus of history, taught at Wesleyan University for forty years, during which time he published several books books devoted to Connecticut’s history, including Dear Liberty: Connecticut’s Mobilization for the Revolutionary War (1980) and with Joy D. Buel, The Way of Duty; a Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America (1984). With George J. Willauer he edited the Acorn Club volume, Original Discontents: Commentaries on the Creation of Connecticut’s Constitution of 1818 (2007) and subsequently The Peopling of New Connecticut: From the Land of Steady Habits to the Western Reserve (2011). His America on the Brink (2005) also dealt with Connecticut during the War of 1812, though in the larger context of national politics. He is also qualified to talk about the political background of Connecticut’s constitutional revision of 1818.

For booking, contact Richard Buel Jr. at:

Robert Imholt

Dr. Robert Imholt is Professor Emeritus of History at Albertus Magnus College and past-president of the New England Historical Association. He has published articles on Connecticut in the early republic in Connecticut History Review and The New England Quarterly. Topics for presentations include “The Constitution of 1818 and Religious Disestablishment in Connecticut” and “The Constitution of 1818 in State and National Contexts.”

For booking, contact Robert Imholt at:
Phone: (203) 248-2453

Walter Woodward

Dr. Walter Woodward is Connecticut’s state historian and an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut.

His talk is “Trouble in the Land of Steady Habits: How We Got to the Constitution of 1818.”
Summary: Connecticut in 1818 was in many ways eerily similar to Connecticut in 2018: A troubled state, seeking a new direction. This lecture highlights the perfect storm of crises — environmental, economic, demographic, religious, and political — which converged in the middle of the eighteen-teens (1810s) to force the state to rethink the ways it had been conducting its affairs for the previous two centuries. The comprehensive nature of these problems, and the accidental events that ultimately produced Connecticut’s constitutional transformation, offer essential insights for our equally-challenging time.

For booking, contact Rachel Smith at:
Phone: (959) 200-3865

If you are looking for a scholar to address a particular subject not covered above, please contact us at so that we can better address your needs.


Share the sights, sounds and themes of 1818 with your patrons, students and other family groups.

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the Connecticut Constitution of 1818 and Connecticut Humanities is commemorating by offering programs that celebrate our state’s exciting history and the document’s lasting impacts.

Connecticut Humanities can help you bring the following history-enriched experiences to your venue by sharing the cost with you! For each program, when sites pay 25 percent of the total fee, Connecticut Humanities covers the remaining 75 percent. The final cost to you ranges from $65 to $225, depending on which performer you select. Book Discussions are a flat rate of $50. (Available through June 30, 2018, or while funding lasts.)

Please contact Susan Muro for availability, pricing and to schedule a program!

P: (860) 937-6542


Connecticut’s Path to the 1818 Constitution: Unraveling the Established Order in the Land of Steady Habits
Appearing in period attire of the early 19th century, and using folksongs, sea chanteys, and soldier and sailor songs from and about the early 1800s (including some original compositions), Tom Callinan (made Connecticut’s first Official State Troubadour in 1991), provides a musical overview to the period, which culminated with the need to create a new constitution in 1818.

Music of the Early 1818s
Popular songs of the past have always been a reflection of the cultural, political, economic and social events we think of as “history.” We gain insight about the past by listening to the songs that were popular at any given time. Rick Spencer and Dawn Indermuehle present a program of songs that were well known and popular in Connecticut during the time of our 1818 Constitution. The presentation also includes information about the significant events and people of the day!

Stories from the 1818 Era
What’s happening in Connecticut and around the world in 1818? Industry, immigration, music, literature, and a 13-stripe flag just to name a few. Storyteller Carolyn Stearns has over fifteen stories to share from the era. Hear her tell about the three Wolcott men who shaped Connecticut and our constitution’s history; the Constitution Oak; or the Hartford-built USS Sea Gull which became a pirate chaser for the US Navy. Carolyn tailors her performance and story selection based on the needs and ages of the audience. Her warm and welcoming manner make learning about our state’s magnificent history come alive!

Book Discussions

Noah Webster’s Fighting Words
by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Mircea Catusanu
Noah Webster, famous for writing the first dictionary of the English language as spoken in the United States, was known in his day for his bold ideas and strong opinions about, well, everything. Spelling. Politics. Laws. You name it – he had something to say about it. He even commented on his own opinions! With a red pencil in hand, Noah often marked up work that he had already published.

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass get together for tea and conversation. They recount their similar stories fighting to win rights for women and African Americans. Some people had rights, while others had none. Why shouldn’t they have them, too?

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