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Arts & Culture

Connecticut in the Civil War

Credit Dawn Kay / Creative Commons
Objects from the Civil War

Here's a little bit of Civil War history that seems to have started here in Connecticut. It was in this month of February in 1860 that Cassius Clay, a Kentucky planter turned anti-slavery crusader spoke in Hartford not far from where we're doing this show today. He was accompanied by a torch-bearing honor guard in capes and caps. The Hartford Courant called these young men "wide-awakes." 

The wide-awakes became a phenomenon in Northern states, a youthful and sometimes aggressive obsession of Republican sentiment. By September, a New York newspaper estimated there were 400,000 wide-awakes.

But, not all of our history from that period falls on the side of the angels of our better nature. We're in our downtown Hartford pop-up studio at 231 Trumbull Street to explore Connecticut's checkered Civil War legacy. 

Leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.


  • Professor Matt Warshaur is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University, author of  "Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival" and a board member of the Connecticut Humanities
  • Dr. Frank Mitchell is the Interim Assistant Director & Curator of the Amistad Center at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

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