Connecticut History: 6 Events That Shaped the State


By Morgan Chilson


Connecticut may be the third smallest state in area in the country, but its rich history traces back to the original 13 colonies.

Here are six historic events that were critical in shaping this New England state:

1. Connecticut's history can be traced 50 long before the English settlers from Plymouth Colony established trading posts there in the 1600s. Native American Indians have been in the state for thousands of years. The Pequot Tribe, for instance, was prominent in the area and had about 8,000 members in the early 17th century. But conflict with the early settlers devastated the tribe during the Pequot War of 1636-1639, leaving just 151 tribal members in 1774. The numbers of Pequots in the Mashantucket area began to grow again in the early 1970s.


2. The Connecticut and New Haven colonies joined with Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth to create the New England Confederation in 1643. Although a main supply area for the Continental Colony, the state saw little fighting during the Revolutionary War. Connecticut became one of the first states to pass the U.S. Constitution.

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe, a Connecticut native, published "Uncle Tom's Cabin," an important literary push in 1851 to abolish slavery. "Abraham Lincoln reportedly said to her, 'You're the little lady who started this (Civil) war,'" says Connecticut Still Revolutionary.

4. Although many Connecticut citizens supported the Civil War through fighting, manufacturing munitions and in other ways, the state population was divided almost equally on whether to support the North or the South. Many in the state raised peace flags, asking for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and violently opposed war participation. The state leaned more toward the side of those supporting emancipation, but most were not abolitionists. "The state's residents may have ultimately supported emancipation, but they were not advocates of black civic equality — they were not abolitionists," author Matthew Warshauer wrote. "This legacy of racial intolerance, as well as that of the sacrifices of Connecticut soldiers and those on the home front, is symbolized in the state's Civil War monuments. That today we understand the war as the death knell of slavery does not mean that those who fought the conflict meant it to be so. It was a result of the war, but not an intent."

5. In a frivolous bit of history that's brought joy to millions, Connecticut Yale University students invented the Frisbee, reports Connecticut Still Revolutionary. They were playing around with empty pie tins from Mrs. Frisbie Pies in Bridgeport.

6. In 1954, the Electric Boat Co. built the first nuclear submarine in Groton, Connecticut. President Harry S. Truman laid the keel in 1952 and it took 18 months to build the submarine, called The Nautilus, says The Submarine Force Museum, where the Nautilus can be seen today.