Connecticut History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Connecticut History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Connecticut history.

Before Europeans arrive in what is now Connecticut, the area is home to thousands of Native Americans of various Algonquin tribes, including the Pequot and the Mohicans. The Native Americans give the state its name: Connecticut comes from the Native American word Quinatucquet, meaning "beside the long tidal river."

One of the original 13 colonies and one of the six New England states, Connecticut is located in the northeastern corner of the country. Initially an agricultural community, by the mid-19th century textile and machine manufacturing had become the dominant industries. In area it is the third smallest U.S. state, but it ranks among the most densely populated.

17th Century Connecticut History Timeline

1614 - The first Europeans we saw landing on Connecticut shores were Dutch traders who sailed up the Connecticut River around the year 1614, and landed near Hartford.

1633 -

  • Dutch traders had purchased land from the Pequot Tribe and made a permanent settlement.
  • John Oldham and others explore and trade along the Connecticut River.
  • Plymouth Colony sends William Holmes to found a trading post at Windsor.

1634 - Wethersfield founded by people from Massachusetts

1635 -

  • First English settlers in Windsor arrive in summer.
  • Fort erected at Saybrook by Lion Gardiner.
  • Group from Dorchester, Massachusetts join Windsor settlement.

1636 - One of the most famous early Connecticut settlers, the Reverend Thomas Hooker, traveled from Massachusetts with a group of colonists. They founded the town of Hartford, which soon became an important center of government and trade.

1637 - Trouble began between the settlers and the Pequot Indians. The Indians wanted to take the lands that had been purchased from the Mohegans. In that year, Captain John Mason led the colonists to victory over the Pequots.

1639 - Because they wanted to create a plan for the type of government they wanted, Thomas Hooker, John Haynes and Roger Ludlow wrote a document which has been called the first written constitution. This was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut Many historians have said that this was the basis for the United States Constitution. It was adopted in 1639 by Freeman of Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. At the same time, the first Governor, John Haynes, was chosen.

1643 - Connecticut joins in forming the New England Confederation.

1646 - New London founded by John Winthrop, Jr.

1650 - Code of laws drawn up by Roger Ludlow and adopted by legislature.

1660 - the colonists had become uneasy about their legal standing with England. The colonies were still under English rule then, but there were many disagreements about land claims.

1662 - Governor John Winthrop went to England in 1662 to talk to King Charles II. He returned with a royal charter This document was important because it gave the colony a legal basis and the approval of the King.

1665 -

  • Union of New Haven and Connecticut Colonies completed.
  • The first division of any Connecticut town - Lyme's separation from Saybrook.

1675 - 76 - Connecticut participates in King Philip's War which was fought in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

1687 - In October of 1687, the English Governor, Sir Edmund Andros, who had been appointed by King James, came to Connecticut to take away the charter and the colonists' legal rights. A large assembly was called to discuss the situation, and the charter was put on a table. Suddenly, someone put out the candles, and in the darkness the charter was taken away. Captain Wadsworth of Hartford is credited with taking the charter and placing it in a hollow spot in a large oak tree. This tree became known as the Charter Oak. I like to think that some of my ancestors who had not yet left for the winter, sat in the branches of the tree and guarded the charter.

1689 - Connecticut resumes government under charter.

18th Century Connecticut History Timeline

1701 - Collegiate School authorized by General Assembly.

1708 - Saybrook Platform permits churches to join regional consociations.

1717 -

  • New Haven State House erected on the Green.
  • Collegiate School moves to New Haven; called Yale the next year.

1740 -

  • Manufacture of tinware begun at Berlin by Edward and William Pattison.
  • Height of religious "Great Awakening".

1745 - Connecticut troops under Roger Wolcott help capture Louisburg.

1755 - Connecticut Gazette of New Haven, the Colony's first newspaper, printed by James Parker at New Haven.

1763 - Brick State House erected on New Haven Green.

1764 - Connecticut Courant, the oldest American newspaper in continuous existence to the present, launched at Hartford by Thomas Green.

1765 - The English Parliament passed a law called the Stamp Act . This law said that the American Colonies would have to pay to have official seals, or stamps, as they were called, placed on all printed documents such as deeds, licenses or newspapers. Newspapers included the Connecticut Gazette of New Haven, the Colony's first newspaper (1755), and the Connecticut (Hartford) Courant (1764), the oldest American newspaper in continuous existence.

1766 - Governor Thomas Fitch who refused to reject the Stamp Act defeated by William Pitkin.

1767 - Still needing to raise money, the English Parliament again attempted to tax the American Colonies by passing the Townshend Act in 1767. This act placed a tax on goods sent to the American Colonies from England. The most famous example of this was the tax on tea. In 1767, tea was as important to most people as coffee is to many people today. So, they were not happy about a higher price for their tea. For awhile some people refused to buy the tea, but that that did not last long.

1774 -

  • Connecticut officially extends jurisdiction over Susquehanna Company area in Northern Pennsylvania.
  • The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to begin to establish the rights of the colonies. All of the colonies sent representatives. Silas Deane, Eliphalet Dyer and Roger Sherman represented Connecticut.

1775 -

  • Connecticut men help plan and carry out seizure of Ft. Ticonderoga.
  • First gun powder mill in Connecticut started in East Hartford.
  • As soon as the news of the uprising at Lexington, Massachusetts in April of 1775 reached Connecticut, several thousand militiamen left Connecticut for Massachusetts. They were under the command of Colonel Israel Putnam from Pomfret. Soon promoted to General, it was General Putnam who said at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, "Don't fire until you see the white of their eyes."

1776 - Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams and Oliver Wolcott signed the Declaration of Independence for Connecticut. Most Connecticut citizens supported it, but not all. In that same year, a young Connecticut patriot, Nathan Hale, was captured by the British while on a spy mission for General Washington. Before he was executed, Nathan Hale said, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." You may see the statue of Nathan Hale at the State Capitol Building.

1777 - British troops under General Tryon raid Danbury.

1799 -

  • British troops under General Tryon raid New Haven, Fairfield and Norwalk.
  • Eli Whitney procures his first Federal musket contract. In his Haddam armory, Whitney produces high quality, machine made muskets with standard, interchangeable parts using unskilled labor. This was a major contribution to modern manufacturing processes.

1781 -

  • One major Revolutionary War battle was fought in Connecticut. This was at New London. On September 6, 1781, British forces under Benedict Arnold landed at New London on the banks of the Thames River. They captured Fort Griswold and burned many buildings in the town.
  • Washington and Rochambeau confer at Webb House in Wethersfield.

1783 - Meeting of 10 Anglican clergy at Glebe House, Woodbury, leads to consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury and beginning of Protestant Episcopal Church in United States.

1784 -

  • Tapping Reeve established the first law school in the United States in Litchfield.
  • Earliest Connecticut cities incorporated - Hartford, Middletown, New Haven, New London and Norwich.
  • Governor Trumbull retires from governorship.
  • Connecticut relinquishes Westmoreland area to Pennsylvania.
  • Act passed providing for emancipation at age of twenty - five of all Negroes born after March 1784.

1785 - First Register and Manual published.

1787 - Connecticut sent three representatives to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention; Oliver Ellsworth, William Samuel Johnson and Roger Sherman. They made a great contribution to the new Constitution by proposing the "Connecticut Compromise." This compromise settled the issue of representation in the new congress. In the Senate all states would be represented equally. In the House of Representatives they would be represented according to the size of their populations. This compromise is still part of the United States Constitution.

1788 - On January 9, 1788, the Convention at Hartford approved the Federal Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40. Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the Constitution and to become a state in the United States of America.

1789 - Oliver Ellsworth and William Samuel Johnson begin service as first United States Senators from Connecticut.

1792 -

  • First turnpike road company, New London to Norwich, incorporated.
  • First banks established at Hartford, New London and New Haven.

1793 - 96 - Old State House, Hartford, erected; designed by Charles Bulfinch.

1795 -

  • Connecticut Western Reserve lands (now Northeastern Ohio) sold for $1,200,000 and the proceeds were used to establish the School Fund.
  • First insurance company incorporated as the Mutual Assurance Company of the City of Norwich.

1796 - Thomas Hubbard starts Courier at Norwich. In 1860 paper merges with the Morning Bulletin and continues as Norwich Bulletin to present.

1799 - Eli Whitney procures his first Federal musket contract; within next decade develops a system of interchangable parts, applicable to industries.

19th Century Connecticut History Timeline

1802 - Brass industry begun at Waterbury by Abel Porter and associates.

1806 - Noah Webster publishes the first abbreviated edition of his dictionary of the American language. The full edition published in 1828 contained 70,000 entries and largely replaced English dictionaries. The American language now had a legitimate reference source.

1810 - Hartford Fire Insurance Company incorporated.

1812 - Joseph Barber starts Columbian Register at New Haven. In 1911 combined with New Haven Register and continues as Register to present.

1812 - 14 - War of 1812 unpopular in Connecticut; new manufactures, especially textiles, boom.

1814 - The Hartford Convention was held at the Old State House. This meeting of Federalist leaders from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, secretly adopted seven proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution that were later accused of being treasonous.

1815 - First steamboat voyage up the Connecticut River to Hartford.

1817 -

  • Hartford Times founded by Frederick D. Bolles and John M. Niles.
  • Federalists defeated by reformers in political revolution.
  • Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet establishes a school for the deaf in West Hartford on April 15, 1817. Among his first pupils is Alice Cogswell, the daughter of a Hartford Doctor who was a member of the group who asked Reverend Gallaudet to leave France and open this badly needed school.

1818 - New Constitution adopted by convention in Hartford and approved by voters; ends system of established church.

1820 - Captain Nathaniel Palmer of Stonington discovers the continent of Antarctica.

1822 - Captain John Davis of New Haven becomes first man to set foot on the Antarctic Continent.

1823 - Washington College (now Trinity) founded in Hartford.

1827 - "New" State House erected in New Haven; Ithiel Town, architect.

1828 - The Farmington Canal is opened. Running from New Haven through Farmington to the Massachusetts line, the canal operated until 1844. Boats on the canal carried goods such as sugar, coffee and flour. Canals were eventually replaced by railroads.

1831 -

  • Wesleyan University founded in Middletown.
  • Mutual Insurance Company of Hartford founded.

1832 - First Connecticut railroad incorporated as the Boston, Norwich and New London.

1835 -

  • Revolver patented by Colt.
  • The First American music school is opened in Salem, Connecticut. Oramel Whittlesey establishes Music Vale Seminary.

1838 - Railroad completed between New Haven and Hartford.

1839 to 1841 - The Amistad affair.

1840's and 1850's - Peak of whaling from Connecticut ports and especially from New London.

1842 - The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford's first public museum, was established.

1843 -

  • Charles Goodyear develops vulcanizing process for rubber.
  • Civil rights of Jews protected through act guaranteeing equal privileges with Christians in forming religious societies.

1844 - Dr. Horace Wells uses anesthesia at Hartford.

1846 - Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, the first life insurance company, chartered in Connecticut.

1847 - First American agricultural experiment station - at Yale.

1848 - Slavery is abolished in Connecticut.

1849 - First teachers' college founded at New Britain (now Central Connecticut State University).

1851 - Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company started (under another name) in Hartford.

1853 - Aetna Life Insurance Company started in Hartford.

1860 - Lincoln speaks in several Connecticut cities.

1861-65 - Approximately 55,000 men serve in Union Army; William Buckingham wartime governor.

1864 - Travelers Insurance issues its first policy.

1865 - Connecticut General Life Insurance Company founded.

1868 - Land at Groton given by Connecticut to US Navy for a naval station; in April.

1875 - Hartford made sole capital city.

1877 - The first telephone exchange in the world is opened in New Haven, Connecticut.

1879 - New Capitol building in Hartford completed; Richard Upjohn, architect.

1881 - Storrs Agricultural College founded (became University of Connecticut in 1939).

1890 - Disputed election causes Morgan Bulkeley to continue two extra years as governor (1891 - 93).

1897 - Manufacture of automobiles begun by Pope Manufacturing Company of

20th Century Connecticut History Timeline

1900 - First United States Navy Submarine, Holland, constructed by Electric Boat Company.

1901 - First American state law regulating automobile speeds.

1902 - Constitutional Convention held; proposed new constitution defeated in a statewide referendum.

1905 - General Assembly adopted public accommodations act ordering full and equal service in all places of public accommodation.

1907 - The first Boy Scout Troop in Connecticut (Troop 1) was established in East Hartford.

1910 - US Coast Guard Academy moves to New London.

1911 - Connecticut College for Women founded at New London.

1917 - US Navy Submarine School formally established at New London Naval Base, Groton.

1917-18 - Approximately 67,000 Connecticut men serve in World War 1.

1920 - University of New Haven founded.

1927 - University of Bridgeport founded.

1932 - St. Joseph College founded in West Hartford.

1936 - Floods cause enormous damage in Connecticut River Valley.

1938 -

  • The 1938 hurricane produces heavy loss of life and property. Want to know about the Great Hurricane of 1938?
  • First section of Merritt Parkway opened.

1939 - First section of Wilbur Cross Parkway opened.

1941-45 - Approximately 210,000 Connecticut men serve in World War II.

1943 - General Assembly established Inter - Racial Commission, recognized as the nation's first statutory civil rights agency.

1944 - Ringling Brothers Circus tent fire in Hartford.

1947 - Fair Employment Practices Act adopted Outlawing job discrimination.

1950-52 - Approximately 52,000 Connecticut men serve in Korean War,

1954 - Nautilus, world's first atomic - Powered submarine, launched at Groton.

1955 -

  • Serious floods cause heavy damage and loss of life.
  • Shakespeare Memorial Theater opened at Stratford.

1957 -

  • University of Hartford founded.
  • Ground broken for first building in New Haven's Oak Street redevelopment area.

1958 - 129 - mile Connecticut Turnpike opened.

1959 - General Assembly votes to abolish county government (effective 1960); also to abolish local justice courts and establish district courts.

1960 - Ground broken for first building in Hartford's Front Street redevelopment area; now known as Constitution plaza.

1961 - New state circuit court system goes into effect.

1962-75 - Approximately 104,000 Connecticut men and women served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War era.

1964 - General Assembly creates six Congressional districts reasonably equal in population.

1965 - Constitutional Convention held. New Constitution approved by voters.

1966 - First elections held for reapportioned General Assembly under new Constitution.

1972 - Under constitutional amendment adopted in 1970, General Assembly held first annual session since 1886.

1974 - Ella Grasso, first woman elected Governor in Connecticut.

1978 - Common pleas and juvenile courts become part of the superior court.

1982 - Appellate Court created by Constitutional Amendment (Effective July 1, 1983.)

1990 - Eunice S. Groark, first woman elected lieutenant governor in Connecticut.

21st Century Connecticut History Timeline

2000 - June 1, 2000, the ConneCT Kids Website opens for Connecticut's kids at

2001 - Reapportionment Commission creates five Congressional districts due to national population shifts identified in the 2000 census.

2001 - 9/11 Terrorist attacks on New York City kill 152 Connecticut citizens.

2005 - Connecticut first state to adopt civil unions for same-sex couples without being directed to do so by a court.

2006 - M. Jodi Rell becomes Connecticut's second female Governor elected in her own right.

2008 - Connecticut becomes one of the first three states to perform marriages of same-sex couples.

Source: State of Connecticut. ConneCT
Source: Connecticut Historical Commission


US History Overview
US History Guide
America's history is not static. It's fluid. It changes, grows, becomes richer, and more complex when any individual interacts with it.