Firsts in Connecticut History


A fascinating look at some of the important “firsts” in the history of Connecticut, from 1639 to1900.

Every state has much to be proud of, and Connecticut is no exception. A trip through the years will produce many interesting and informative tidbits about the importance of this New England state.

1600’s Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

In 1639 the first constitutional document- the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut-promoting the principle that ‘the free consent of the people is the foundation of authority,’ was adopted at Hartford.

In 1640 the first American public election defying the Royal Courts was held at Wethersfield.

IN 1647 the first license for off-shore whaling was issued at Hartford.

In 1670 the initial survey was conducted for the first American turnpike to join New London and Norwich.

1680 saw the first carding mill in America set up in Wethersfield.

1700’s First American Copper Produced in Simsbury

In 1724 the first American copper coins were produced in Simsbury by blacksmith Samuel Higley.

In 1738 America’s first theological seminary was established at Bethlehem by the Rev. Jospeh Bellamy; the first federal prison was established in East Granby, and the first American warship- the 16 gun ‘Oliver Cromwell’, was constructed at Essex.

In 1744 the first American-made steel was manufactured by Samuel Higley at Simsbury.

In 1774, the town of Mansfield endorsed ‘a declaration of freedom’ from the British crown-almost two years before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

In 1775 the first underwater torpedo boat used in actual warfare was produced by Daniel Bushnell of Westbrook.

In 1775 East Granby became the site of the first Federal prison.

In 1782 the first law school in America was founded by Judge Tapping Reeve at Litchfield.

In 1783 Abel Buell of New Haven engraved the first American map of the United States.

In 1794 Eli Whitney patented his invention- the cotton gin- which was later produced in New Haven.

1800’s The First Patent Issued to a Woman

In 1809 the first patent issued to a woman was granted to Mary Kies of South Killingly, for her model of a silk and straw weaving machine.

In 1812 the Middletown Woolen Manufacturing Company used steam for the first time in manufacturing.

In 1817 the first school for the deaf was founded in Hartford.

In 1820 at Wethersfield, the first American plows were manufactured.

In 1828, in Thompsonville, the first carpet mill in America was established.

In 1833, Amini Clark of Meriden patented the first American coffee mill .

In 1845, Elias Howe of New Hartford invented the first sewing machine.

In 1878 New Haven installed the first commercial telephone switchboard.

In 1891 Sperry and Hutchinson introduced the first American trading stamps at Bridgeport.

In 1898 the first automobile insurance in America was issued at Hartford.


  1. Connecticut: The American Guide Series, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, copyright by Wilbur. L. Cross