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In honor of Connecticut Magazine’s 50th anniversary year, throughout 2021 State Historian Walter Woodward is highlighting some of the moments that have helped shaped our state throughout its history.

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Benedict Arnold

Sept. 6, 1781

The American traitor Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,700 British soldiers who attacked and burned his former hometown of New London, and simultaneously killed many of the American defenders of Groton’s Fort Griswold after they surrendered.

Sept. 7, 1979

ESPN, the world’s first cable network dedicated exclusively to sports programming, signed on the air in Bristol. The dream of former Hartford Whalers communication director Bill Rasmussen, ESPN became a world-wide game changer in sports, media and popular culture.

FROM THE CONNECTICUT MAGAZINE ARCHIVES: With the launch of ESPN, "Television Goes (Even More) Sports Crazy" (September 1979)

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Martin Luther King Jr.

Sept. 12, 1944

After spending a student-summer working in Simsbury’s tobacco fields, 15-year-old Martin Luther King returned to Atlanta a changed person. Having experienced — for the first time — the absence of racial segregation while in Connecticut, he said “the very idea of separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect.” The rest is history. 

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Nathan Hale was hanged in September 1776

Sept. 22, 1776

Connecticut hero Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy in New York City. Though he may not have said “I regret I have but one life to lose for my country,” all accounts agreed he met his fate with honorable composure. (NYPL Digital Collections)

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Sept. 26, 1633

A small band of English traders from Plymouth, Massachusetts, sailed past an openly hostile Dutch trading fort at Hartford to establish their own trading post farther up the Connecticut River. They were the first English settlers of Windsor, Connecticut’s first English settlement (though some in Wethersfield would beg to differ).

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Sept. 28, 1881

The first classes were held at the new Storrs Agricultural School in Mansfield. Today, as the University of Connecticut, it is New England’s top public university, educating over 26,000 students at five campuses.

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Babe Ruth

Sept. 30, 1945

Babe Ruth played baseball for the last time at Bulkeley Stadium in Hartford, as a guest pinch-hitter for the Savitt Gems in a game against the New Britain Codys. Though 51 and 10 years retired, the “Sultan of Swat” drew thousands of adoring fans to what would, because of illness, turn out to be his final game.

Today in Connecticut History with Walter Woodward can be heard daily on Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR). Subscribe to stories at TodayinCTHistory.com.