January 5 – Sarasota

Today was our longest mileage day … but, despite some early brisk winds out of the northwest

one of our most enjoyable and one with virtually no slowdowns

Heading west along I-10, paralleling the Florida-Georgia border, we are always curious to see the warning signs alerting motorists to watch out for bears.

While our day was pretty good in all respects, we observed several others for whom today brought unexpected stress.

Near Tampa, we passed our fourth, and thankfully last, Confederate flag

something rarely if ever seen in the north.

We arrived at Sun N Fun, our home for the next four months in just shy of 5½ hours, a record trip from Jacksonville.

This evening we met Debbie’s brother, Dick and wife Kate at Glory Days for an early dinner.  We all love the place as it serves the best meatloaf we’ve discovered anywhere!

The restaurant is located in “University City” (or “UT”), a huge complex of over 100 stores and dozens of restaurants.  Little did we know about the incredible Christmas lighting display at UT.  So, back to our motorhome to grab my camera and then a return to the light show.

The lights on many of the displays were constantly changing colors every few seconds.

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January 4 – Visiting with Chip and Debby

We woke to a beautiful

but ominous sky … recalling the old adage, “Red sky night, sailor’s delight … Red sky at dawn sailors take warn“.  Shortly thereafter the heavens opened up!

Later in the day we drove to Ponte Verde to see Chip and Debby’s new “winter” retreat.  Then a great lunch before heading back to Jacksonville.

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January 3 – Florida

Today was our shortest both in terms of time and mileage.  Leaving around 8:30, the normal time we tend to get on the road, we needed to find ways to make the 171 mile trip last longer as our next campground charged an additional fee for early arrivals.  Part one of our plan was reducing our speed to just under 60 MPH.  Just eight miles after getting back on I-95, as we crossed into

we noticed a Road Work sign;

interestingly the distance from the South Carolina border to Florida was exactly 112 miles.  Fortunately, most of the work had been completed and there were no slowdowns for construction or any other reason.

A little over half way through Georgia, we stopped at a rest area and then just eleven miles further on another stop for gas.  With a great deal of major tree removal along the border of the highway, there was little of interest to see.  As a result, we tried to find curious things along the roadway to keep us from getting too board.

Still dealing with 10-15 MPH winds

Yet, another Confederate flag

A realistic paint job in the rear of a motorhome

The first median flowers of the season … an endearing legacy from Lady Bird Johnson

Billowing smoke – although we never could see the source

After entering

and with only13 miles to go and an hour-plus to kill, we made another stop at the Florida Welcome Center where we had our lunch outside at a picnic table in 80-degree temperatures – the first time we seen these temperatures since last summer!

Turning off at our exit, we had to drive around two unfortunate drivers.

This evening we met up with my cousin Chip and wife Debby Burt for an early dinner






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January 2 – Down Day

Beautiful sunrise …

Unfortunately, our plans to get together with my cousin Bob and wife MJ Newbert had to be cancelled when Bob called suffering from the first cold he’s had in many years.  Perhaps we’ll be able to visit with them on our trip home in May.

We decided to take a down day … with a walk being our major accomplishment.

This afternoon, we sat along the marina board walk with a cup of coffee, reading and gazing out over the river.

A large yacht moored alongside the marina’s gas dock

Sunset Grille, where we’d had our New Year’s Eve dinner

Viewing area beyond the restaurant


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January 1, 2020 – Happy New Year

After a mid-morning walk, we decided to do a little sightseeing on Hilton Head. With no destination in particular, we took a side road toward the north side of Hilton Head Island.

Within the first half-mile, we discovered no less than three historic African American churches.

This bell hung in the church’s bell tower from 1889 until 1967

Across the street from the latter was the Cherry Hill School

We continued exploring several other secondary roads, some hosting a dichotomy of small communities of Gullah … a people who are the descendants of enslaved Africans who inhabit the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia whose culture and religion and even Gullah language are unique … intermixed with newer housing developments and golf courses.

Our next stop was at Shelter Cove, an inlet and safe harbor for yachts and small watercraft.

as well as some “natives”.

One yacht owner, in particular had had his boat decked out for the Christmas season.

Before leaving the harbor area, we stopped in at the Marina’s Ship’s Store. There we saw one of the best models of the USS Constitution we’ve run across.

I received my Navy commission aboard this historic ship in June 1964

On a more serious note, the residents of Shelter Cove had dedicated a unique memorial to its and our nation’s veterans.

Along the many bike trails which crisscross Hilton Head Island there are painted palmetto trees on the bike paths indicating various historic locations.

We had intended to do some additional exploring but we continued to run into a requirement for passes … which cost money … such as driving to see the Harbor Lighthouse (which fortunately we’d visited in the past).

So, back to our motorhome, we settled in and Debbie got to watch most of the Rose Bowl Parade.

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December 31 – New Year’s Eve in Hilton Head

Another long drive today, but with relative light traffic … although we still haad some gusty winds out of the west.

Since leaving home, we have been surprised at how few police we’d seen thus far, particularly as it is a holiday period when many people are traveling long distances and the TV news had been reporting increased police presence. However, we did spot a couple of travelers who had the opportunity to meet some of North and South Carolina’s finest … up close and personal!

The only real traffic hold-up we had began after passing highway warning signs announcing

several miles in advance. The traffic quickly began to slow to a crawl in both southbound lanes, Then from our rear we heard the unmistakable whine of an ambulance trying to make its way past the stalled traffic, often straddling the shoulder.

Approaching the pinch point where the two lanes had to merge to a single line, annoying drivers persisted in speeding down the cleared right lane

in an effort to drive as far as possible before having to edge ahead of so many other courteous drivers who had “zippered” in an orderly manner. However, the real frustration was when we saw that the mile-long, one lane restriction was apparently unnecessary as there was zero work apparently being done, despite two trucks parked in the blocked lane and no evidence of any highway department personnel in sight.

There was, however, some levity along the way on the rear of two vehicles which passed us.

A Scuba business

We made it to Hilton Head by early afternoon where we have a beautiful and private site

with a view of the Intercoastal Waterway out the front window of our motorhome.

This evening we had our New Year’s Eve dinner at the Sunset Grille

Leaving the restaurant, we took a few minutes to enjoy the adjoining marina

ant the heard the unmistakable sound of fireworks across the water.

Under crystal clear skies, the southern constellation of Orion and its recognizable “K” was clearly visible from the patio of our RV site.

Once again, by the time the ball drops over Times Square, we’ll likely have been fast asleep for some time.


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December 30 – For our Friends back home … it hit a balmy 76 here today!

After taking part in the campgrounds courtesy waffle breakfast, we continued our otherwise fairly boring journey south … hoping to get as far south as possible before a cold front with predicted strong winds and possible thunderstorms crossed through the I-95 corridor.

The most interesting thing we saw as the Woof.Bus, an old school bus which had been converted into a mobile vet’s office and treatment vehicle.

Debbie, however, not surprisingly focused her attention on old and dilapidated barns.

 Over the course of our travels, we never cease to be amazed at the things people so desperately want to get rid of that they simply discard them along major highways.

Anyone need a burgundy arm chair?

While the rain storm fortunately petered out, the winds

out of the southwest were strong enough to occasionally buffet our motorhome and make driving a periodic challenge.

Between the Richmond area and the intersection of I-75 and I-4, just east of Tampa, four large Confederate flags can’t be missed.

We arrived in our Wade, NC campground around 1:00 PM.  After being able to eat our lunch outside under partly sunny skies and a temperature reading of 76o, we “crashed” for the remainder of the afternoon.

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December 29 – Heading for Warmer Climes

With Christmas over, we had our motorhome de-winterized before bringing it over the clubhouse parking lot

where we were able to load it for our winter trip to Sarasota.

With heavy rains forecast along our intended route down I-95, we opted for an early start to get as far south as possible before encounter the precipitation.  However, we were driving in a light fog as far south as the Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Shortly after rejoining I-95, we ran into the predicted rain.

However, the traffic was surprisingly light and we made our first 200 miles (including one stop) in just shy of 3½ hours.  Then we got to Lorton, VA.

For some still unknown reason, the traffic then begins to back up and speeds can drop to zero.

Then, just as suddenly, it will spread out and highway speeds can again be achieved.  However, the cause for the traffic jams remain a mystery … no construction, no visible accident and no other cause we could determine.  And, this was not unusual, every year we find similar traffic conditions south of Lorton … as do nearly every other driver we speak with.

The bottom line was it took us some three hours to cover the final 90 miles!

By the time we reached Ashland, VA

the rain had pretty much stopped, although more is expected later this evening.

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Sept – 27 – The End of Another RV Road Trip

As with the last day of each of our prior trips, our drive home was with mixed emotions … especially for me.  While we enjoy getting home, there is something about our vagabond routine and life-style on the road which I will miss before striking out on our next trip.  And, this trip, in particular was special haivng completed visiting both the "official" presidential libraries/museums and final five state capitols (NY, VT, ME, RI and CT) we'd not previously toured; family (brother-and sister-in-law John and Judi Melby, cousin Sandy and Jeff Fitts, Diana Louis, cousin Sue and Bob Goodrich, friends Jean and Joe Dominguez, our daughter Nancy & family, brother-and-sister-in-law Dick Louis and Kate Morse and cousin Barbara and Ned Jenec), friends (Dorothy Milne and John & Jeanne Milne) and attending the memorial weekend in remembrance of our friend Ken Grenier, where we renewed many old acquaintences. 

We had a beautiful sunny day with almost no winds to contend with during the entire trip.  Before we even exited our Moodus, CT campground, we passed a motorhome whose driver had obviosuly been behind the wheel for way too long.

Next, was a home-made travel trailer built ot look like a caboose.

Before crossing a partially fog-shrouded Connecticut River

on the narrow East Haddem bridge

we passed by the Goodspeed Opera House

Goodspeed’s beginnings date back to 1963 when it opened our doors as a professional musical theater in an historic building on the banks of the Connecticut River in East Haddam. From 1968 to 2014, Goodspeed transformed from a struggling entity into a non-profit arts organization with a mission to discover rarely produced musicals from the repertoire, reworking them and bringing them to life. The theater has produced over 250 musicals, including over 70 world premieres, and exported 21 productions to Broadway.  Goodspeed stands as the first regional theater in America to earn two special Tony Awards, one in 1980 for outstanding contributions to the American musical and a second in 1995 for distinguished achievement for a regional theater.

We spotted the former Goodspeed Train Depot,

a Tractor on a roof and Chainsaw being used as a wind vane,

more signs that despite near record temperatures fall was not far away,

and crops in a freshly tilled field.

Merging onto I-95 in Old Saybrook, CT we spotted the first of several motorists who were clearly having a bad day.

There was a beautifully resotred wooden boat

as we were approaching New Haven

Then we spotted a couple of other motorists who must have figured it was not their day.

So far, the traffic had moved along at or close to the 65 MPH speed limit.  Then, the first and longer of two slowdowns this one lasting some 20-plus minutes caused by a highway tree trimming crew.  There was an osprey nest build near the top of a high-tension wire tower in Bridegport.

Then, traffic delay number two,

the result of major construciton rebuiilding the exit ramps off I-95 onto I-287 with two lanes merging into one and intermittend "stops".  Once on I-287, the normally sluggish traffic moved right along and we were soon crossing the recently opened, nearly $4 billion Mario C. Coumo Birdge (which replaced the TapanZee in October 2018).

There was a pickle truck,

the third driver who was not going ot make it home on time for dinner

a sign you have to "study" to read

Get it?

and yet another traveler who, despite his obvious rush, found time to meet a local state policeman.

Crossing the Delaware River just five miles form home

on the new Scudder Mill Bridge was a breeze

although now tolled.

Once back at Shady Brook, it took us a little more than two hours to unload, return our coach to the gated lot where we store it and pick-up our accumulated mail at the post office and get back home before the clock struck five … "wine time"!

Later I accessed my EZ-Pass account where I discovered that the toll for an RV on the new Scudder Mill Bridge was a staggering $17.00 … the most we've ever paid for any bridge and almost as expensive as the toll to drive from home to the Pennsylvania/Ohio state line!



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Sept 26 – Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford

This morning we drove 24 miles to Hartford to visit and tour Connecticut's state capitol … our 50th!

From the time we approached the Connecticut State House it was clear it was one of the most architectually magnificent.

The capitol's dome is 54 feet in diameter and rises 257 feet above the hill top on which it stands.  Surrounding the gold dome are twleve allegorial statues (two of each of six muses) strategically placed such that from any angle six are always visible.  Adorning the stairways to the third flood are replicas of these statues.



Education and Law

Force and War



On the facades of the capitol are 26 Gothic niches for sculptures (eight of these niches are presently empty – to be filled in the future)

and 17 tympana (carved scenes above the portals, several of whch are also empty) depicting notable events in the state's history.

The current building is the third capitol building for the State of Connecticut since the American Revolution.  Prior to its occupancy, the state legislature, formally the General Assembly of Connecticut met alternately in New Haven



and Hartford.  The First State House in Hartford served from 1720 until 1796,

Built circa 1720

when the adjacent and recently completed Old State House designed by Charles Bulfinch opened

Internet Photos

After the Civil War, it became evident a single capitol was desirable and a competition between the two cities began.  Ultimately, Hartford and the new sole capital needed one central capitol building. 

The Connecticut state capitol building dominates a high point of ground overlooking Busnell Park, on property once owned by Washington College (not Trinity College).  When Hartford won out over New Haven at the seat of state government, a commission was established to secure a site and select an architect to design a monumental structure that would symbolize the wealth and power of the state and its ties to its European cultural past.

The original design called for a modern secular Gothic brick building with a clock tower. In keeping with not only the allocated budget of $900,000, but for the then popular public architecture of the day.  However, the clock tower concept met with resistance by the Board of Capitol Commissioners who preferred a dome.  The budget was increased to $2.5 million and redesigned in a High Victorian Gothic style.

The exterior is of marble from East Canaan, Connecticut and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island.  The building is roughly rectangular, the interior spaces organized around two open interior courts that run vertically to large skylights. In the center is a third circular open rotunda beneath the dome.  The larger hall of the House of Representatives forms an extension on the south side.

The interior floors are inlaid with white marble and red slate from Connecticut and colored marble from Italy while the stenciling, stained glass windows and light fixtures were designed by a Boston company.

Atop the gold leaf dome originally stood the Genius of Connecticut, a 17’ 10” tall figure of a woman holding a wreath of Mountain Laurel (the state flower) in her left hand and a wreath of white oak (the state tree) leaves adorns her head.  Her outstretched wings symbolize protection of Connecticut’s people.  Weighing 6,000 pounds, the statue was cast of bronze in Munich and sat atop the state house until 1938 when the great hurricane of that year damaged it.  Fearing it would topple, it was removed to the interior of the capitol.

Original Genius of Connecticut

An identical replica has been made and hopefully someday will be mounted on the capitol dome

Looking up from beneath the statue the interior of the domcan be seen far above

Climbing to the second and thrid floors the details of the dome's intricate painting become visible.

Actualy, our tour began in the adjacent Legislative Office Building (LOB) which is connected to the Capitol by an underground tunnel.  The LOB is pretty remarkable itself.


Marble column is the only marble in the LOB which came from Conencticut

Stylized eagle rests atop the marble column

We really didn't apprecaite the three-dimensional floor pattern until looking at our pictures

State Seal – The grape vines represent the first three settlemnts in the Connecticut Colony (Windsor, Wethersfield and Hartford) or the first three colonies (New Haven, Saybrook and Connecticut which became Harford in 1665).  The motto translates to "He who is transplanted still sustains"

 Legislative Hearing Room

Each hearing room is named after the center panel on its door.  These panels are made of individual pices of wood, incluing those which make up the writing on the above panel.  Some 20,000-plus pieces were required to complete the paanel's image.

 We then returned to the Capitol via a moving walkway

beside which were a number of extremely interesting and historic images

The Charter Oak

Christening of the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) in 1954 – the world's first atomic-powered submarine

Harriett Beacher Stowe – author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"

Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum – est 1842

James Mars (1790-1880) was a Connecticut slave who, with his family, refused to follow his master, a minister named Thompson, to Virginia, where he would have been denied the emancipation guaranteed him at age twenty-five under Connecticut law.  With the help of the white citizens of Norfolk, Connecticut, Mars successfully evaded his master's attempts to kidnap and smuggle him across state lines. In his later life, he enjoyed a prominent place in New England's African American community

Connecticut native Samuel Clemens – aka Mark Twain

Merritt Parkway in 1939

Pvt. Henry Cornwall – First Connecticut Casualty of the Civil War – 1862

Windsor Tobacco fields and barn

Campaign for women's sufferage

Wethersfield Academy for Women – founded in 1804

A Yankee Peddler

The Algonquin Man

and a series of posters addressing the suicide crisis, in part the result of the opiod crisis.

The architecture throughout the building is nothing short of breathtaking.

Much of the color throughout the building is made from silver and gold leaf as, when originally painted, it was thought the silver and gold would reflect the then-used gas lighting better

Some of the many statues and artifacts on display throughout the building.

Typical chandelier 

Connecticut's Liberty Bell – President Truman had 55 cast, one for each state and territory, part of a plan to help sell U.S. bonds

Forlorn Soldier – Oldest Wooden Statue in America

Fountain fed from an undergournd brook from whch legislators in the early days of the building drew water to give to their horses

Governor WIlliam A. Buckingham – Often working around the clock, the governor felt personally obliged to give his all to the state, even investing his own capital to help fund the war.  On several occasions he took out personal loans to pay soldiers for their service.  During the war, the governor kept in close contact with Union leaders, including President Lincoln, who recognized the remarkable effort that he put forth.  However, the governor had to fight opposition in Connecticut.  Criticism for the war and the Union littered the papers, but Buckingham kept Connecticut largely unified.

Hand-carved Wooden hallway bench


John FItch

Joseph Hawley

Nathan Hale

Orville Hitchcock Platt

Prudence Crandall – A Quaker abolitionist and teacher, Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) defied prevailing patterns of racial discrimination when she opened one of the first schools for African American girls in Connecticut in 1833.  Though supported by leading anti-slavery activists, Crandall, a white woman, faced legal harassment and social ridicule for her efforts to educate free blacks in the North.

Born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island on September 3, 1803 to farmers Pardon and Esther Carpenter Crandall, Prudence Crandall moved with her family to Canterbury, Connecticut when she was ten years old. She attended the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence, where she studied arithmetic, Latin and science—subjects not typical for women but embraced by Quakers who believed in equal educational opportunities.  She taught briefly in Plainfield, and in 1831 opened a private girl’s academy in Canterbury, where she initially taught daughters from the town’s wealthiest families.  Ranked as one of the state’s best schools, her rigorous curriculum provided female students with an education comparable to that of prominent schools for boys.

In 1832, Crandall admitted Sarah Harris, an African American woman from a successful family, who sought to become a teacher. Local white parents were outraged, urging Crandall to expel Harris.  She refused.  When white parents withdrew their children, Crandall transformed her boarding school into one for African American girls.  That, too, met with hostility from local white men who feared that it would draw more African Americans into their community and would lead to interracial marriage.  White Canterbury townspeople continuously protested Crandall’s school.  

When African American students ventured beyond the school, they were met with taunts, threats and violence. Some whites pelted them with eggs, stones or manure. When Crandall continued undaunted, the Canterbury legislature passed its 1833 “Black Law” (repealed in 1838), making it illegal to run a school teaching African American students from a state other than Connecticut. Crandall was arrested and jailed.  Her first trial ended in a hung jury; the second trial resulted in her conviction, which was overturned by a higher court.  On the night of September 9,1834, an angry mob broke most of the school’s windows and smashed furniture.  Fearing for her students’ safety, Crandall finally closed the school.

Early phone booth with a double door to ensure privacy


Allegedly the remnant of an oak tree containing pieces of artillery fire that were supposedly from the Civil War battle of Chickamauga.

Figurehead for the USS Connecticut, the flagship for the "Great White Fleet" that sailed around the world on a goodwill misison arranged by Preident Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

Figurehead of the USS Hartford

Sloop USS Hartford – flagship of Admiral David Farragut at the Battle of Manilia Bay, where he famously declared, "Damn the torpedoes."

Vietnam Memorial in Miniature – Three soldiers

Vietnam Memorial in Miniature – Nurses Memorial

Korean War Memorial in Miniature

World War II Iwo Jima Memorial in Miniature


Connecticut recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor


House Chamber

Hallway outside the House Chamber

Collumbus water dispenser


Senate Chamber

Behind the Dais is the Charter Oak Chair (or Wishing Chair – the seat of the Lieutenant Governor who is the presiding office and president of the Senate).  Legend has it that if one makes a wish while sitting in the chair it will eventualy become true … and many Lieutenant Governors have, indeed wished to become Governor and ultimately done so.

What do you suppose we wished for?

Governor's Office

Unfortunately, the Governor was in a conference and our schedule did not permit us to remain around to meet him, we were able to see his outer office.

As with other state capitols, there are always statues and monuments of note, recognizing the state's history and its veterans who have defended our natiion since the Revolution.

Marquis de Lafayette

Col. Thomas Knowlton  is widely recognized war hero. His service during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution are memorialized.   Knowlton first saw military action when he enlisted as a private in Colonel Phineas Lyman’s Connecticut provincial regiment in 1757 during the Seven Years’ War (known in America as the French and Indian War).  He fought in numerous important battles during the war, including the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga in 1758.  His service culminated with the siege of Havana in 1762, by which time he had risen to the rank of second lieutenant.


Civil War's Andersonville Prison Memorial

Corning Fountain features Native Americans representing local tribes, with a deer on top.  The city’s name literally means “hart ford,” as in “a place where deer cross a river,”

First Connecticut Heavy Artillary (1860) – Internet photo

Nearby buildigns we had time to see included

Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts

Unitarian Chuch

City skyscraper and landmark – Traveler's Building



After leaving the Capitol building, we walked across the street to the Supreme Court building. 

Old wall drinking fountain

As the Court was hearing a Freedome of Speech case (I listened in for several minutes), we could obviously not wander around it and take pictures.  However, the following photo from the Internet does capture some of the grandeur of the court room.

We were, however, able to visit the state library in the building


Despite the fact that the library's volumes have been digitized, thousands of hard copy documents are stoerd in a seven story repository

as well as the state museum, also in the Supreme Court building. 

There are four tile inlays with representations of the state's history

One of the first displays we encountered held the history of a toy almost everyone has played with at one time or another … the Frisbee.  It antecedents date to the Frisbe Pie Company.

Apparently the bakers at the Frisbe Pie Company took delight is scaling empty pie plates.

Eventually, the Frisbee as we know it receivet a U.S. Patent.

In an adjacent room was what we were told was the most comprehensive collection of guns made by the Colt Manufacturing Company.


There were many display cases with samples of the multitude of everyday products which were manufactured in the state.


There is an early mechanical voting machine, patented in the 1890s and still used up through the 1956 elections

and a special casting recognizing the contributions fo Pratt Whitney to the state and City of Hartford. 

Parenthetically, my dad worked for Pratt Whitney (which was the largest manufacturer of air craft engines for American forces) during World War II … and the reason I was born just 1½ from the Capitol at St. Francis Hospital.

However, the most important exhibits involved Connecticut's three most important historical documents

The Fundamental Orders (1639)

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was an early agreement between the colonial communities of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor that established a representative government based on the example of a number of Massachusetts colonies.  It's arguably the very first constitution of the American colonies and expanded Representative Government by allowing land owners to vote.  Inspired by Thomas Hooker's sermon of May 31, 1638, they provided the framework for the government of Connecticut colony from 1639 to 1662.   It expanded the idea of Representative Government by allowing non-church members to vote and limits the power of government.  This document is also the justification for Connecticut being called the "Constitution State".

The Royal Charter of 1662 – signed by King Charles II

After the English Parliament restored the monarchy in 1660, and King Charles II assumed the English throne, Connecticut which had never been officially recognized as a colony by the British government, the General Court determined that the independence of Connecticut must be legitimized.  Governor John Winthrop, Jr. was sent as an emissary to negotiate with the English government, and set sail for England on July 23, 1661.  He proved successful in his mission, and the English attorney general approved a bill for incorporation of the Connecticut Charter. The document was returned to Connecticut after being officially sealed and registered, and was adopted by the General Court on October 9, 1662

Charles’s death in 1685 brought his brother, James II, to the throne.  King James disapproved of the Royal Charters and demanded their return. The charters interfered with James’s plan to establish the Dominion of New England.

In 1687, Sir Edmond Andros, the Royal Governor of the Dominion, met with leaders of the Connecticut colony in Hartford.  Debates continued for hours as the colonists steadfastly refused to give up the Charter.  According to legend, all of the candles in the meeting house suddenly blew out and, during the confusion, the Charter disappeared.  It was hidden in the trunk of a large white oak tree where it was protected from the King and from Andros.  Despite Connecticut’s resistance, it became part of the Dominion of New England for the next two years. In 1689 James II was overthrown and Andros lost power in the colonies. The Connecticut Charter emerged from hiding and was used to govern Connecticut until 1818.

Internet Photo

On August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak, estimated at nearly 1,000 years old, fell down during a violent storm. Original artifacts made from its wood, along with numerous images, are on display at the Connecticut Historical Society and continue to tell the legend today.

The State Constitution of 1818

Unlike most of the original colonies, Connecticut did not adopt a constitution when it became a state. Instead, it continued to operate under a charter granted by King Charles II to the Connecticut Colony in 1662.  Under the charter the general assembly had pretty much unchecked power.  Although in other respects the way the state operated was extremely democratic in principle (elections were held every six months, for example), it didn’t quite work that way in practice.

A convention met in the Old State House in Hartford from August 26 to September 16, 1818.  There were about 200 delegates, one or two from each town in the state. Governor Wolcott was elected president of the convention.  A 24-member drafting committee submitted a document for consideration.  After some changes to the committee’s draft, on September 15, 1818, approved the finished product by a vote of 134 to 61.

The constitution had to be approved by a majority vote of the state’s electors.  The vote was close.  On October 5, 1818, the electors ratified the constitution by a vote of 13,918 to 12,364.  As a result of the process the promise of the Preamble to the Connecticut Constitution was realized. The constitution was established by “the people of Connecticut.”

The Connecticut Constitution begins with a Declaration of Rights which has remained surprisingly intact during the last 200 years. A lthough there is a substantial overlap with the Bill of Rights to the Federal Constitution adopted in 1791, the overlap isn’t complete.  Connecticut’s Declaration of Rights contains some rights not provided in the federal version, and some rights that are provided in both versions have been treated more expansively by the Connecticut courts than by the federal courts. 

It contains three important rights not found in the Federal Bill of Rights. Section 1 provides “that all men when they form a social compact are equal in rights; and that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive public emoluments or privileges from the community.” Section 10 provides that “No person shall be arrested, detained or punished, except in cases clearly warranted by law.” Section 12 provides that “All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.”

After leaving Hartford, we had lunch with Debbies cousin Barbara and her husband Ned.  While it was wonderfult to see them we were shcoked to learn that it had been 19 years since we'd last been together.







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