Roger Sherman


American political leader, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born at Newton, Massachusetts, on the 19th of April 1721 (old style.) He removed with his parents to Stoughton in 1723, attended the country school there, and at an early age learned the cobbler's trade in his father's shop.

Removing to New Milford, Connecticut, in 1743, he worked as county surveyor, engaged in mercantile pursuits, studied law, and in 1754 was admitted to the bar. He represented New Milford in the Connecticut Assembly in 1755-1756 and again in 1758-1761. From 1761 until his death New Haven was his home.

He was once more a member of the Connecticut Assembly in 1764-1766, was one of the governor's assistants in 1766-1785, a judge of the Connecticut superior court in 1766-1789, treasurer of Yale College in 1765-1776, a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774-1781 and again in 1783-1784, a member of the Connecticut Committee of Safety in 1777-1779 and in 1782, mayor of New Haven in 1784-1793, a delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787 and to the Connecticut Ratification Convention of the same year, and a member of the Federal House of Representatives in 1789-1791 and of the United States Senate in 1791-1793.

He was on the committee which drafted the Declaration of Independence, and also on that which drafted the Articles of Confederation. His greatest public service, however, was performed in the Federal Constitutional Convention. In the bitter conflict between the large state party and the small state party he and his colleagues, Oliver Ellsworth and William Samuel Johnson, acted as peacemakers. Their share in bringing about the final settlement, which provided for equal representation in one house and proportional representation in the other, was so important that the settlement itself has come to be called the "Connecticut Compromise." He helped to defeat the proposal to give Congress a veto on state legislation, showing that it was illogical to confer such a power, since the constitution itself is the law of the land and no state act contravening it is legal.

In the Federal Congress (1789-1793) he favored the assumption of the state debts, the establishment of a national bank and the adoption of a protective tariff policy. Although strongly opposed to slavery, he refused to support the Parker resolution of 1789 providing for a duty of ten dollars per head on negroes brought from Africa, on the ground that it emphasized the property element in slavery. He died in New Haven on the 23rd of July 1793. Sherman was not a deep and original thinker like James Wilson, nor was he a brilliant leader like Alexander Hamilton; but owing to his conservative temperament, his sound judgment and his wide experience he was well qualified to lead the compromise cause in the convention of 1787.

Two of Shermans grandsons, William M. Evarts and George F. Hoar, were prominent in the later history of the country.

Anthony Comstock


Anti-obscenity advocate responsible for decades of censorship in American letters. Comstock began his decency crusade in the early 1870s, launching raids against Manhattan booksellers sidelining in erotic books, bringing him to the attention of the New York Young Men's Christian Association. He made his first major case in 1872 in his attempt to suppress an account of an affair between minister Henry Ward Beecher and one of his parishioners, published by Victoria Woodhull, a women's rights activist. His tactic was to employ an 1864 law prohibiting the distribution of nebulously-defined "obscene" publications and images through the U.S. mail: Comstock requested a copy of the book using a pseudonym, and then filed suit.

Comstock's success in this case led to the YMCA appointing him secretary of their New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in November 1872. Comstock used his stature to lobby for stronger obscenity law, realized in the 1873 act for the "Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use", which came to be known as the Comstock Act, extending the 1864 law to allow for the seizure of obscene materials from the mail by federal marshals. Comstock was deputized as a special agent in the New York Post Office, empowering him to inspect the mail, seize what smut he found there, and arrest the senders responsible.

Comstock wielded his power as inevitable censor for the next forty years. He was feared and despised by publishers of literature, suppressing the work of authors including D. H. Lawrence and Theodore Dreiser. Any artwork involving nudity was banned, as were medical texts on abortion, contraception, and even the subliminal girlie rags of scholarly physiology textbooks -- casualties of Comstock's parallel attacks on quackery and other frauds. George Bernard Shaw coined the term "comstockery" to refer to Comstock's rampant censorship; Shaw himself was the target of legal proceedings to keep his Mrs. Warren's Profession (1905) from being performed, due to its theme of prostitution, but the tactic backfired when Comstock lost the case and his negative publicity made the play only more successful. By his death in 1915, Comstock claimed to have pulped over 160 tons of literature, and had brought about the suicide of 15 people.

Peter Paul Halajian


Peter Paul Halajian was an Armenian immigrant to America in the 1880s, who worked a full-time job in a rubber factory and worked part-time running a fruit stand with his daughters. The fruit business slowly became his mainstay, especially after he started making candies at home and selling them to commuters at train stations in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley. Since Americans had difficulty pronouncing his last name, he simply left it off his sign when he moved his snack stand into a more permanent business. By the late 1910s Halajian had 'Peter Paul' snack shops in both Torrington and Naugatuck, and in 1919, with six business partners, he formed the Peter Paul Manufacturing Company of Connecticut.

The company's first success was the Konabar, a blended coconut, fruit, and nut concoction covered with chocolate, but it was the introduction of the Mounds bar in 1922 that made Peter Paul a major player in the candy business. Almond Joy was introduced in 1946, almost twenty years after Halajian's death. His company was purchased by Cadbury Schweppes in 1978, then acquired by Hershey in 1988.

Louis Buchalter

Louis Buchalter AKA Lepke, the head of Murder Incorporated, served time in a Connecticut reform school in 1916 for theft.

Silas Deane

From  NNDB

American diplomat, born in Groton, Connecticut, on the 24th of December 1737. He graduated at Yale in 1758 and in 1761 was admitted to the bar, but instead of practicing became a merchant at Wethersfield, Connecticut. He took an active part in the movements in Connecticut preceding the War of Independence, and from 1774 to 1776 was a delegate from Connecticut to the Continental Congress.

Early in 1776 he was sent to France by Congress, in a semi-official capacity, as a secret agent to induce the French government to lend its financial aid to the colonies. Subsequently he became, with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, one of the regularly accredited commissioners to France from Congress.

 On arriving in Paris, Deane at once opened negotiations with Vergennes and Beaumarchais, securing through the latter the shipment of many vessel loads of arms and munitions of war to America. He also enlisted the services of a number of Continental soldiers of fortune, among whom were the Marquis de Lafayette, Baron Johann De Kalb and Thomas Conway.

His carelessness in keeping account of his receipts and expenditures, and the differences between himself and Arthur Lee regarding the contracts with Beaumarchais, eventually led, in November 1777, to his recall to face charges, of which Lee's complaints formed the basis. Before returning to America, however, he signed on the 6th of February 1778 the treaties of amity and commerce and of alliance which he and the other commissioners had successfully negotiated.

In America he was defended by John Jay and John Adams, and after stating his case to Congress was allowed to return to Paris (1781) to settle his affairs. Differences with various French officials led to his retirement to Holland, where he remained until after the treaty of peace had been signed, when he settled in England.

 The publication of some "intercepted" letters in Rivington's Royal Gazette in New York (1781), in which Deane declared his belief that the struggle for independence was hopeless and counselled a return to British allegiance, aroused such animosity against him in America that for some years he remained in England. He died on shipboard in Deal harbor, England, on the 23rd of September 1789 after having embarked for America on a Boston packet. No evidence of his dishonesty was ever discovered, and Congress recognized the validity of his claims by voting $37,000 to his heirs in 1842.

He published his defense in An Address to the Free and Independent Citizens of the United States of North America (Hartford, Connecticut, and London, 1784). The Correspondence of Silas Deane was published in the Connecticut Historical Society's Collections, vol. H.; and The Deane Papers, in 5 vols., in the New York Historical Society's Collections (1887-90).

Ann Coulter

Commentator Ann Coulter was bornon December 8, 1961 and raised in New Canaan

Ted Knight

Actor Ted Knight (Born Tadeus Wladyslaw Konopka) was born on December 7, 1923 and raised in Terryville, Connecticut, USA

Medal of Honor Winners

Christopher Flynn: Corporal, Company K, 14th Connecticut Infantry. Won the medal of honor at Gettysburg, Pa., 3 July 1863. Born in Ireland and entered service at: Sprague, Conn.. Citation: Capture of flag of 52d North Carolina Infantry (C.S.A.).

Edwin Michael Neville Born in Waterbury Ct.on January 27, 1843. Died October 4, 1886. Was Captain in the Union Army in Company C, 1st Connecticut Cavalry. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on April 6, 1865 at Deatonsville (Sailor's Creek), Virginia. He served under George Custer and General Sheridan who said of him that he was the bravest officer he had ever known. Captain Neville is buried in the Old Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Waterbury

Richard Ryan: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1851, Connecticut. Accredited to: Connecticut. G.O. No.: 207, 23 March 1876. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Hartford, Ryan displayed gallant conduct in jumping overboard at Norfolk, Va., and rescuing from drowning one of the crew of that vessel, 4 March 1876.

James T Murphy: Private, Company L, 1st Connecticut Artillery. Place and Date: At Petersburg, Va., 25 March 1865. Entered Service At: New Haven, Conn. Birth: Canada. Date Of Issue: 29 October 1886. Citation: A piece of artillery having been silenced by the enemy, this soldier voluntarily ass1sted in working the piece, conducting himself throughout the engagement in a gallant and fearless manner

Sam Horne: Captain, Company H, 11th Connecticut Infantry. Awarded the medal of honor at Fort Harrison, Va., 29 September 1864. Born in Ireland and entered service at Winsted, Conn. Citation: While acting as an aide and carrying an important message, was severely wounded and his horse killed but delivered the order and rejoined his general.

James Henry O'Rourke

James Henry O'Rourke (September 1, 1850 - January 8, 1919), nicknamed "Orator Jim", was an American professional baseball player in the National Association and Major League Baseball who played primarily as a left fielder. In the era before the establishment of the 60'6" distance between the batter and the pitcher in 1893, he ranked behind only Cap Anson in career games played (1644), hits (2146), at-bats (6884), doubles (392) and total bases (2936), and behind only Harry Stovey in runs scored (1370).

He was born in East Bridgeport, Connecticut. On April 22, 1876, he made the first base hit in National League history. After leaving the major leagues following the 1893 season, he continued to play in the minor leagues until he was over 50 years old; in 1904 he made a final appearance with the New York Giants under manager and friend John McGraw, becoming at age 54 the oldest player ever to appear in the National League and the oldest player to ever hit safely in a major league game. He returned to the minors as president of the Connecticut League, and in 1912 returned to the field to catch a complete minor league game at the age of 60.

O'Rourke died of pneumonia at age 68 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 as one of the earliest inductees from the 19th century. His older brother John O'Rourke and his son James "Queenie" O'Rourke also played in the majors.

"O'Rourke has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. As a thrower, too, he stands pre-eminent, being credited with a throw of 365 feet, the next to the longest yet accomplished by any player." — The Sporting Life

Christopher James Berman

Sportscaster Christopher James Berman AKA Boomer was born in Cheshire in 1955.

Bill of rights

On April 19 1939, Connecticut approves Bill of Rights

Michael Bergin

Waterbury born actor Michael Bergin played "Jack 'J.D.' Darius" (1997-2001) on the TV series "Baywatch" (1989-2001). He played "Kip Rogers" in the movie "The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy" (2000). He played "Vince" in the movie "Wolves of Wall Street" (2002).

willie pep

Guglielmo Papaleo (September 19, 1922 - November 23, 2006) was an American boxer who was better known as Willie Pep. Pep fought a total of 242 bouts during his 26 year career, a considerable number of fights even for a fighter of his era. His final record was 230-11-1 with 65 knockouts. Pep, known for his speed and finesse, is considered to be one of the best fighters of the 20th century and was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

Karen Carpenter

The late singer Karen Carpenter was born in New Haven in 1950.

1904 John J Sirica US federal judge at the Watergate hearings was born in Waterbury in 1904 to Ferdinand and Rose Zinno Sirica, both of whom were Italian immigrants

Amy Brenneman

Actor Amy Brenneman was born in New London in 1964

Laura Anne Ingraham

Conservative talk show host Laura Anne Ingraham was born in 1964. Ingraham grew up in a Glastonbury

Katharine Hepburn

The yacht (Irene Selznick) rented was 125 feet long, carrying a crew of eight and four passengers, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Irene and me. We sailed from Balboa, on the California coast, for Catalina, hardly a seafaring voyage, but I was so in awe of Hepburn and Tracy, I was seasick the entire voyage. The few times we dropped anchor, I went swimming with Hepburn and retook my stomach. My eyesight returned to normal and I noticed that Hepburn's green eye shadow didn't come off even in the water. Self-invented, she was flamboyantly unadorned. The eye shadow was her only makeup. She did bring two huge, bulging fortnighters for what was only a weekend; all day long, she changed into identical spotless, patched white (pants) and spotless patched white shirts." Arthur Laurents, Original Story, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, p. 83

P.T. Barnum

In 1842, P.T. Barnum [had a chance encounter with] that miniature concoction who was to make him rich beyond belief and famous beyond his wildest dreams. Four-year-old Charles S. Stratton was no bigger than a doll. All at once at seven months, measuring 25 inches and weighing 15 pounds, the child had simply stopped growing. ... Sherwood Stratton, the boy's carpenter father, was only too happy to rent his little son out for a trial month at $3.00 a week plus room and board. ... Speedily printed museum posters testified to the thorough 'Barnumizing' Charles Stratton underwent; the four-year-old carpenter's kid from Bridgeport had been transformed overnight into General Tom Thumb, an 11-year-old marvel just arrived from Europe and engaged at 'extraordinary expense.' ... Barnum himself was the schoolteacher, training his small charge first in manners, then in memorizing little quips and speedy comebacks, finally the words and actions for a number of dress-up roles he would play. ... Tom, who was a natural mimic, would strike poses and in other ways imitate well-known individuals, including Cupid, Hercules, and Napoleon. ... From later-published scripts we know [how their routines] started off: 'You being a general, perhaps you will tell us what army you command?' 'Cupid's artillery,' the General would reply. . ...

"Instead of being bitter over his littleness, Tom seemed to glory in it, almost as if it were his own special blessing. He loved to strut out on the stage and show what he could do to an audience. ... Of course, Tom's childhood suffered from his full-time occupation as an adult. At five he learned to drink wine at meals, at seven to smoke cigars. ... He loved money and hoarded it. ... At the start of 1845, Barnum allowed the Strattons to become full partners in the Thumb adventure [and they became] 'absolutely deranged with such golden success.' ...

"By 1862, Barnum was watching his wealthy Bridgeport neighbor Charles Stratton (alias Tom Thumb) sail his yacht and drive his thoroughbreds and smoke his cigars. ... [Barnum soon added as an act] Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump who was a 21-year-old beauty from Middleborough, Massachusetts, and only 32 inches tall. ... Tom Thumb took one look at the museum's dainty addition and fell head over heels in love. ... [Sixteen years later] in 1878, Lavinia's sister Minnie died painfully while giving birth to a full-sized baby, not the miniature child she and her husband had expected. ... [After this and another friend's tragic death] Tom Thumb was never the same. ... [In 1883], Tom died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 46."

Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, P.T. Barnum, Knopf, Copyright 1995 by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, pp. 48-275.

Consider the whale

Consider the whale. Hunted since antiquity, by the nineteenth century it had become an economic engine that helped turn the United States into a powerhouse. Every square inch of it could be turned into something, so the whale afforded one-stop shopping for a fast-growing nation: material for the manufacture of paint and varnish; textiles and leather; candles and soap; clothing and of course food (the tongue was a particular delicacy). The whale was especially beloved by the finer sex, surrendering its body parts for corsets, collars, parasols, perfume, hairbrushes, and red fabric dye. (This last product was derived from, of all things, the whale's excrement.) Most valuable was whale oil, a lubricant for all sorts of machinery but most crucially used for lamp fuel. As the author Eric Jay Dolin declares in Leviathan, 'American whale oil lit the world.'

"Out of a worldwide fleet of 900 whaling ships, 735 of them were American, hunting in all four oceans. Between 1835 and 1872, these ships reaped nearly 300,000 whales, an average of more than 7,700 a year. In a good year, the total take from oil and baleen (the whale's bonelike 'teeth') exceeded $10 million, today's equivalent of roughly $200 million. Whaling was dangerous and difficult work, but it was the fifth-largest industry in the United States, employing 70,000 people.

"And then what appeared to be an inexhaustible resource was - quite suddenly and, in retrospect, quite obviously - heading toward exhaustion. Too many ships were hunting for too few whales. A ship that once took a year at sea to fill its hold with whale oil now needed four years. Oil prices spiked accordingly, rocking the economy back home. Today, such an industry might be considered 'too big to fail,' but the whaling industry was failing indeed, with grim repercussions for all America.

"That's when a retired railway man named Edwin L. Drake, using a steam engine to power a drill through seventy feet of shale and bedrock, struck oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The future bubbled to the surface. Why risk life and limb chasing underwater leviathans around the world, having to catch and carve them up, when so much energy was just waiting, in the nation's basement, to be pumped upstairs?

"Oil was not only a cheap and simple fix but, like the whale, extraordinarily versatile. It could be used as lamp oil, a lubricant, and as a fuel for automobiles and home heating; it could be made into plastic and even nylon stockings. The new oil industry also provided lots of jobs for unemployed whalers and, as a bonus, functioned as the original Endangered Species Act, saving the whale from near-certain extinction."

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Superfreakonomics, William Morrow, Copyright 2009 by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, pp. 142-143.

Ralph Nader

Princeton and Harvard graduate Ralph Nader was born on February 27, 1934 in Winsted Connecticut. The son of Lebanese immigrants. Ralph grew speaking Arabic and English, as did his sister, Laura, a noted anthropologist. Ralph gained national fame with his 1965 book Unsafe At Any Speed, which exposed the automobile industry's irresponsibility when it came to designing safe cars. His youthful followers became known as "Nader's Raiders." He ran for president in 1996 and 2000 as a candidate for the Green Party. Critics accused Nader of taking votes away from Democrat Al Gore. He ran again, as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008.

Ethan Allen

A dedicated writer, Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1738. He was a hero of the American Revolution who led the small force that captured Fort Ticonderoga without bloodshed in 1775. The fort contained much needed supplies and ammunition.

New England tidbits and proverbs

New England Proverb

"Money is flat and meant to be piled."

New England Historical Tidbit
Most dollar bills in circulation were probably printed on paper produced by the Crane Paper Company of Dalton MA, main paper supplier to the US Mint.

New England Proverb
"A good word now is worth ten on a headstone."

New England Proverb
"Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves."

New England Historical Tidbit
Boston’s subway system was the first to be built in the western hemisphere.

 New England Proverb
"Cut your sail according to your cloth."

New England Historical Tidbit
Great Barrington Mass. was the first town in the world to have electric street lights, in 1886.

New England Saltbox

“Though the New England Saltbox is thought of as a quintessentially American design, it was actually imported from England by the early colonists. The Saltbox developed during the Tudor era when the traditional one-room deep English cottage was enlarged with a lean-to at the rear to add extra living space. This change created the distinctive asymmetric gable roof, which is short on one side of the house and long on the other.” Jim Kemp. American Vernacular: Regional Influence in Architecture and Interior Design. Washington, D.C.: The American Institute of Architects Press, 1990. p39.

Today’s New England Proverb
"A deaf husband and a blind wife are always a happy couple."

Actor Ernest Borgnine

“I got a job immediately after leaving high school; I was lucky - three dollars a week and all I could eat, working on a vegetable truck.” Ernest Borgnine

“I had a horse in Mexico one time that I rode. He was just bones when I got him. I started feeding him bread and everything else. I called him Bimbo after the bread down there. "Here Bimbo," and he'd come running. He knew me, God bless him. I often wondered what happened to him.” Ernest Borgnine

Actor Ernest Borgnine was born as Ermes Effron Borgnino in Hamden, Connecticut on January 24, 1917. Borgnine spent ten years in the U.S. Navy (1935-45) before studying acting. In 1951, after four years at Virginia's Barter Theater and a role on Broadway, he went to Hollywood.

Although he is best known for his role in McHale's Navy (1962-66), his performances as a sadistic sergeant in From Here to Eternity (1953), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) are perfect. It is the art of acting at its best. He won a well-deserved Oscar for his work in Marty (1955), one of the best films ever made.

New England Historical Tidbit
9000 BC Sailors from Asia reach what is now New England.