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Connecticut is a state of the northeast United States. It was admitted as one of the original Thirteen Colonies in 1788. Connecticut's coastline was explored by Dutch navigators after 1614, and in 1635 colonists from Massachusetts Bay began to settle in the Connecticut River valley. The Fundamental Orders, a constitution based on the consent of the governed, was adopted by the colony in 1639. Hartford is the capital and Bridgeport the largest city. Population: 3,510,000.

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History

Connecticut

Before the arrival of European settlers in the 1500s and 1600s, Connecticut was home to a number of indigenous peoples. The Dutch navigator, Adriaen Block, was the first European of record to explore the area, sailing up the Connecticut River in 1614, and though the Dutch established a trading post, it was the British who fully colonized the area In 1633, Dutch colonists built a fort and trading post near present-day Hartford, but soon lost control to English Puritans migrating south from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Dutch settlers of Manhattan Island, New York, and the Puritans and Pilgrims from Massachusetts, learned of the fertility of the soil on the Connecticut River, and both laid claim to territory, but both hesitated for awhile in making any settlement. However, in October, 1633 (three years after Winthrop's Fleet had started the populating the Massachusetts Bay Colony), a small vessel sailed from Plymouth, with the design of erecting a trading-house on the bank of the Connecticut; but when they had sailed up the river to the location of the present city of Hartford, they found the Dutch had gotten there before them, and had erected a fort.

The Dutch forbade them to advance and threatened to fire upon them. The English ignored the threats and sailed right past them! They landed at a spot within the limits of the present town of Windsor, and built a trading-house there. Windsor is approximately 40 miles inland, to the north, from the Long Island Sound coast.

The next movement towards settling Connecticut was in July, 1635, when at Wethersfield a settlement was made. This settlement is about 10 miles south, or closer to the coast, than Windsor had been. Since Windsor was just a trading post, Wethersfield, then was the first English settlement in Connecticut, five year after the Massachusetts Bay Colony had begun and fifteen years after the beginning of the Plymouth Colony.

The next settlement was at or near the first intrusion into Connecticut, at the Plymouth trading-house, in the summer of 1635, by people from Dorchester. They gave the settlement the name of Windsor. The next year, Mr. Hooker, with his congregation, removed from Cambridge (then Newtown) to Connecticut and founded the town of Hartford, in between Windsor and Wetherfield. These three towns, Wethersfield, Windsor and Hartford, soon associated, and chose magistrates to regulate their common interests. At about this same time, in 1635, John Winthrop, the younger, had established a fort on the coast at Saybrook, near the mouth of the Connecticut River.

The Pequot War ensued in 1637, culminating in the destruction of the Pequot Indian Camp and massacre of many Indians by the white settlers. At the close of the Indian troubles, in 1639, George Fenwick arrived from England, and came over to take charge of the colony by authority of the "Company". New Haven, on the coast, west of Saybrook, was settled about this time, followed by Milford, yet further west on the coast, then Guilford, Fairfield, Stratford, and, in 1660, Norwich was settled.

English settlements, established in the 1630s at Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford, united in 1639 to form the Connecticut Colony and adopted the Fundamental Orders. Connecticut played a prominent role in the Revolutionary War, serving as the Continental Army's major supplier. Sometimes called the “Arsenal of the Nation,” the state became one of the most industrialized in the nation.

From the first, Connecticut enjoyed a great measure of political independence, proclaiming in its Fundamental Orders of 1639 a democratic principle of government based on the will of the people. These Fundamental Orders are said to have been the first written Constitution of a democratic government; that's why Connecticut today is nicknamed "The Constitution State." Meanwhile, the Puritan colony at New Haven adopted its own Fundamental Agreement, proclaiming the Scriptures to be the supreme law in civil affairs. Despite their differences, the two colonies were joined (under a royal charter in 1662), and together they formed one of the more fiercely independent of the original 13 British colonies, defying the crown as early as 1687 and contributing huge numbers of troops to the Revolutionary War effort.

Connecticut's homogeneous, community centered form of government, out of the mainstream of royal imperial affairs, remained focused on the town and its people. With events of the impending Revolution espousing the principles of freedom of expression, Connecticut began to move away from a solely town focus and look out toward the broader community of colonies opposing Royal authority. Connecticut people fought on both sides of the conflict, with many Loyalists migrating north and east to Canada and its eastern provinces.

During the American Revolution, Connecticut gave freely of her blood and wealth. Her soldiers were on the battle line from Quebec to Carolina. It was General Israel Putnam at the battle of Bunker Hill who cried: "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" Patriot-spy Nathan Hale, as he was about to be hanged by the British, said: "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

By the end of the Revolution family farms were unable to support the large number of young people in the area. The population boom made it necessary for more and more descendants of original settlers to leave for the north, west, and south to provide for themselves and their families. Cheaper, available land elsewhere provided much of the motivation. Farms gave way to the newly burgeoning Industrial Revolution, and new ethnic groups wended their ways along the Long Island Shoreline of Connecticut's growing metropolitan areas.

To George Washington, Connecticut was "The Provision State" because of supplies contributed to his army by Gov. Jonathan Trumbull - the only Colonial governor, incidentally, to support the cause of America's independence from Great Britain.

After independence was secured, Connecticut quickly got down to business. Textile and paper mills, along with metal forges and shipyards, were the state's industrial mainstays and attracted immigrants from across Europe, such as the Portuguese who settled in Mystic. Once the trauma of the Civil War passed, industrialization increased, slowed only by the hard times of the Great Depression.

From 1703 to 1875, Connecticut had two capitals; sessions of the General Assembly met alternately in Hartford and New Haven. Since then, the capital has been Hartford.

Connecticut has prospered with the growing importance of service industries, especially insurance (dozens of companies are headquartered in the state, with Hartford being the unofficial insurance capital). Its proximity to New York City makes Connecticut an important business center, as well as the site of many of New York's suburbs. Thus, the state's fortunes are tied very closely to the economic health of New York and the nation.

Trivia

  • The first telephone book ever issued contained only fifty names. The New Haven District Telephone Company published it in New Haven in February 1878.
  • The USS Nautilus - the world's first nuclear powered submarine was built in Groton in 1954.
  • Connecticut and Rhode Island never ratified the 18th Amendment (Prohibition).
  • In 1705, copper was discovered in Simsbury. Later, the copper mine became the infamous New-Gate Prison of the Revolutionary War. Doctor Samuel Higley of Simsbury started the first copper coinage in America in 1737.
  • The Scoville Memorial Library is the United States oldest public library. The library collection began in 1771, when Richard Smith, owner of a local blast furnace, used community contributions to buy 200 books in London. Patrons could borrow and return books on the third Monday of every third month. Fees were collected for damages, the most common being "greasing" by wax dripped from the candles by which the patrons read.
  • On April 9, 1810, a Salisbury town meeting voted to authorize the "selectmen draw upon the town treasurer for the sum of one hundred dollars" to purchase more books for the Scoville Memorial Library collection, making the library the first publicly supported free town library in the United States.
  • Mary Kies, of South Killingly was the first woman to receive a U.S. patent. On May 15th, 1809 for a method of weaving straw with silk.
  • On January 28, 1878, 21 venturous citizens of New Haven became the world's first subscribers to telephone exchange service.
  • America's first trade association was founded in Naugatuck Valley.
  • Cattle branding in the United States began in Connecticut when farmers were required by law to mark all of their pigs.
  • In Hartford, you may not, under any circumstances, cross the street walking on your hands!
  • Connecticut is home to the oldest U.S. newspaper still being published: The Hartford Courant, established in 1764.
  • Connecticut has approx. 144 newspapers published in the State (daily, Sunday, weekly and monthly).
  • Connecticut is home to the first hamburger (1895), Polaroid camera (1934), helicopter (1939), and color television (1948).
  • The first automobile law was passed by the state of CT in 1901. The speed limit was set at 12 miles per hour.
  • The first lollipop-making machine opened for business in New Haven in 1908. George Smith named the treat after a popular racehorse.
  • Ella Grasso was elected in her own right to be a state governor in 1974.
  • In 1937, Connecticut became the first state to issue permanent license plates for cars.
  • The World Wrestling Federation or the WWF is headquartered in Stamford.
  • Bristol, CT is considered the "Mum City" of the USA because of the many Chrysanthemums grown and sold to various states and Canada
  • In 1784, New Haven was incorporated as a city.
  • Danbury, An important military depot for the American Revolutionary armies was burned and looted in April 1777 by the British under Major General William Tryon.
  • The first blast furnace in Connecticut was built in Lakeville in 1762.
  • The Submarine Force Museum in Groton is home of the historic ship Nautilus (SSN 571). It is the official submarine museum of the United States Navy.
  • Connecticut State insect is the Praying Mantis.
  • Connecticut's most important crops are dairy, poultry, forest and nursery, tobacco, vegetables and fruit.
  • Connecticut's motto is Qui Transtulit Sustinet -- "He Who Transplanted Still Sustains".
  • In colonial New Haven cut pumpkins were used as guides for haircuts to ensure a round uniform style. Because of this fashion, these New Englanders were nicknamed "pumpkin-heads."
  • The name Middlebury derives from the central position the Town's meetinghouse occupies, six miles from three older neighbors, Waterbury, Southbury, and Woodbury.
  • The first human inhabitants of present-day Burlington were members of the Tunxis Tribe, who belonged to a confederation of Algonquian Indians. Legend holds they used the area as a hunting ground.
  • The first English settlers of Connecticut arrived in 1636, settling the plantations of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield.
  • The Monroe Town seal is in the form of a circle with the words "Town of Monroe Connecticut" written in the outer rim of the seal. Inside this outer circle is a profile of a bust of James Monroe, who was the fifth President of the United States, serving from 1817-1825.
  • Originally, Montville, along with Groton and Waterford, was a part of New London. New London was settled in 1646 under the name of Pequot, so called after the Pequot Indians, the name changing to New London in 1658.
  • B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill is the only steam-powered Cider Mill in the United States and is located in Mystic.
  • 7-year-old James Thorsell designed the New Hartford "Town Bicentennial Emblem".
  • New Milford's worst disaster struck in 1902 when the main business section centered on Bank Street was almost completely leveled by the "Great Fire".
  • Named in 1724 for the stony character of the hilly countryside, North Stonington was incorporated in 1807.
  • The manufacturing of the first safety fuse started in Simsbury in 1836.
  • In 1728, the first steel mill operating in America was located in Simsbury.
  • Wallingford has earned a worldwide reputation for the production of silverware.
  • The first expert in the treatment of Asiatic cholera was Dr. Henry Bronson in 1832. He was a professor at Yale Medical School.
  • The first golf tournament in Connecticut for women only was held in Waterbury on June 12, 1917.
  • West Hartford is the birthplace of Noah Webster, the author of the first dictionary published in 1807.
  • Although West Haven is Connecticut's youngest city, being incorporated in 1972, it is a community that dates back over 360 years, making it one of the oldest settlements in the country.
  • PEZ® Candy is made in the city of Orange.
  • Thomas Sanford made the first friction matches in Beacon Falls in 1834.
  • Some of the world's most famous cloth is woven in the Stafford textile mills.
  • The town of Washington was incorporated in 1779, being named in honor of General George Washington.
  • Hartford has remained the capital city of Connecticut since 1875.

External links

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