Ahead of our Fall 2018 special issue commemorating the 200th anniversary of the state’s first constitution, learn more about the political climate of 1818 at these free Conversations at Noon at the Old State House, presented by CPAN and co-sponsored by Connecticut Explored with support from Connecticut Humanities.
Lectures are free and held from noon to 1 p.m. Bring a bag lunch. Watch for three additional Conversations at Noon this fall. For more information visit ctoldstatehouse.org.
The Fall 2012 “Is This the Land of Steady Habits?” issue is good advanced reading. Purchase that issue at ctexplored.org/shop.
February 22, 2018 Trouble in the Land of Steady Habits: How We Got to the Constitution of 1818
Dr. Walter Woodward, State Historian
Dr. Walter Woodward will focus on how Connecticut in 1818 was similar to Connecticut in 2018: a troubled state, seeking a new direction. His lecture will highlight the perfect storm of crises–environmental, economic, demographic, religious, and political–that converged in the middle of the 1810s to force the state to rethink the ways it had been conducting its affairs for the previous two centuries. The comprehensive nature of the problem, and the accidental events that ultimately produced the constitutional transformation offer essential insights for our equally challenged time.
March 22, 2018 “The Collapse of Connecticut’s Federalist Hegemony: a Necessary Prelude to the Constitutional Convention of 1818”
Dr. Richard Buel Jr., professor emeritus, Wesleyan University
Dr. Richard Buel will examine what led to the collapse of Connecticut’s Standing Order, and how the new Tolerationist Party formed and took control of the governorship and legislature, calling for the first constitutional convention. (See also David Corrigan’s “Connecticut’s Ruling Aristocracy,” Fall 2012)
April 17, 2018 “The Debates at the 1818 Constitutional Convention”
Wesley Horton, president, Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society
Wesley Horton will explore the role of newspapers in reporting the convention debates, discuss speeches arguing the major issues, and review the constitution’s articles and their status today. (See also Horton’s “The Land of Steady Constitutional Habits,” Fall 2012)
Part II: Fall 2018
September 18, 2018 “The Constitution of 1818: A Milestone in Church-State Relations in Connecticut”
Robert J. Imholt, Professor Emeritus, Albertus Magnus College
Dr. Robert Imholt will examine how the new constitution removed the congregational church as the official, tax-supported church of the state, a status that had evolved over the previous century and was an impetus for further change in the 19th century. While other Protestant Christian denominations got expanded rights, non-Christian religions did not–yet.
October 16, 2018 “How White or Black Must the Voter Be: The Parameters of Suffrage and the Constitution of 1818″
Dr. Peter Hinks, independent historian, Dr. Bruce Stark, retired archivist
Dr. Peter Hinks and Dr. Bruce Stark will discuss black suffrage after 1783 and if any were designated freemen (meaning registered voters) from the late 18th century until the state added the qualification to vote of “white” in 1814. The speakers will explore the role of race and class in the character of voting in Connecticut through 1818.
November 13, 2018 Why the Constitution of 1818 Matters Today
Judge Henry Cohn and Judge Jon Blue
Judges Henry Cohn and Jon Blue will explore the origin of the 1818 Constitution, its Declaration of Rights, and its sections on religion and education. They will also discuss the impact of the 1818 Constitution on current law, including the Constitution of 1965.
CPAN will also offer a themed tour of Connecticut’s Old State House–the location of the Constitutional Convention in 1818. The building was modified to accommodate the three branches of government enacted with the new constitution: the addition of an office for the governor and modifications of the Senate chamber.