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Revolutionary New Haven at NHM

New Haven, Conn. (April 5, 2021)—The innocuous appearance of the new research publication “New Haven Town Records, 1769 – 1819,” edited by historian Peter J. Malia, belies the fact that within its covers lies a virtual “Who’s Who” of New Haven during the American Revolution. Malia will discuss how New Haven’s revolutionary experience forever changed New Haven and its people in a presentation based on his book on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 6 p.m., via Zoom. Register here.

The New Haven Museum’s commemoration of the city’s 383rd birthday, Malia’s presentation, “Revolutionary New Haven,” will feature historic events that took place during the most eventful half-century in American history. Highlights include:

  • A known hothead and leader in the Sons of Liberty, Benedict Arnold’s militia mates chose him as their captain of the famed Second Company, Governor’s Foot Guard setting the stage for what is today known as Powder House Day in New Haven.

  • Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, also helped found the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He became a vocal critic of revolutionary France and the rise of Napoleon.

  • James Hillhouse not only led troops against the British invasion of New Haven in 1779, he directed the effort to plant elm trees throughout the downtown area, which earned New Haven the nickname Elm City.

  • From 1770 to 1800, New Haven suffered through a number of pandemics, including smallpox, yellow fever, and typhoid, leading to the creation of Connecticut’s first hospital.

“New Haven Town Records, 1769 – 1819” is based on the manuscript minutes of town meetings recorded by Samuel Bishop, Jr., and Elisha Munson, who served as successive town clerks for nearly a century of New Haven’s storied history. “These manuscript records are examples of the hidden gems tucked away in town halls and historical societies all around the country,” Malia explains. “If we want to really know how and why our predecessors thought and acted in building this country, the answers are right here in front of us. We just have to look.”

“New Haven’s history is a lynchpin to understanding our nation’s early history,” Malia says. “These documents are literal transcripts of town meetings, so they stand as raw, history in the making without the bias of time or interpretation—they are as close to actually being there as we will ever be.” “New Haven Town Records, 1769 – 1819” is available at the New Haven Museum Shop, through The Connecticut Press website, at area bookstores, and online.

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